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Organisational improvisation

The last individual round of the WSC was cut at no notice from 30 minutes to 20 minutes for the single puzzle "because we have decided it is too easy". Sure enough after about six minutes the first cry of "Finished" went up and began to be echoed all round the hall. It seemed there was only one lady collecting the scripts (and writing the times down on them) as she began to exclaim "Oh!" after each call. There was even a note in her voice suggesting competitors should stop doing this to her.

Of course, we had to ignore this and crack on with the puzzle, and I was surprised that when I finished, my paper was collected by another of the (best) competitors, who had finished quickly and decided to become an extra invigilator to fix the problem. In the other half of the room I saw another of the top solvers doing the same. I was very impressed at the ingenuity and selflessness behind poachers turning gamekeepers so suddenly.

Less impressive were the official organisers on that final day: first one round was delayed by an hour - it turned out that the printers had sent through two batches of answers the evening before rather than one of puzzles and one of answers. When I complained that this was going to make me miss my flight, I was reassured that one of the team rounds had been cancelled, as late testing revealed the puzzle was broken (whether ambiguous or impossible I don't know). And then the same late testing had determined that the round mentioned above should be shorter than planned - all in all, quite a lot of failures in the preparation. All serving to remind one how smooth the London tournament was last year; well done to the UKPA.

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