First, the Mind Sports Olympiad Sudoku/Kenken competition on Friday 22nd Aug: as usual, there were just over a dozen entrants, and this year the test was pretty stiff - I suspect the organisers had underestimated how hard Kenken is once the puzzles start getting bigger than 6x6 and there are no givens. Things started badly when I misread the start time, and turned up after the contest had begun; however, I finished the 14 puzzles, with checking, in 80 minutes, and waited another hour before going back to work. Nobody else had handed in at that point - but then came the longest wait ever for marking results, fully 8 days. Surely in this modern age, some method of communicating the results was possible? Still, being marked correct made everything OK - and congrats to the UKPA's David Collison, who took bronze too.
Then, the Times Sudoku Comp on Saturday 29th Aug. A fascinating mixup between the organisers and puzzle providers led to the standard of puzzle being much harder than usual (Super Fiendish rather than Fiendish was the prevailing view), and this meant that only 9 competitors out of 90 had a fully-correct 4 puzzles in each of the two one-hour sessions. 7 of the 8 finalists had been in finals before (and two had won the event), but it was 20-year-old Nina Rowe who finished first, in 20 minutes. This was very galling for me, as I was just finishing my fourth puzzle, and so resigned myself to a 40-minute wait for results as a prelude to a 1-year wait for another crack at the title. But in fact, Nina had erred on the tough Puzzle 2 (which I also broke when I tried again two days later!), and I won this competition for the first time. Bad luck to Tom Collyer, who finished second, having comprehensively whipped me in both heats, and who will know that it was my annoyingly unscientific method that allowed me to get there first - perhaps by chance.
A week later, I was teaming up with Tom and four other members of the UKPA for a puzzle hunt in London called Girls and Boys Come out to Play. Ten excellent puzzles and a fair bit of walking later, we put Humpty back together again, and greatly enjoyed the process. Not really a competition this time, as lunch-breaks and asking for hints are entirely up to each team, but we were pleased to reach the final venue ahead of the other six teams! And it was a great chance to introduce my daughter to the world of puzzles, so thanks to my teamies for their tolerance.