Report filed by Zack Butler, 9/29/97
U.S.A. Wins In Brasov
Contested on Oct 23-26 in the resort town of Poiana Brasov, Romania, the World
Puzzle Championship (Campionatul Mondial de Rebus) was won by the
American team who narrowly defeated the team from the Czech Republic by a
final score of 17463 to 17305.
I was honored to be chosen for the team, and (if I do say so myself) did quite well,
finishing fourth as an individual. Wei-Hwa Huang of the U.S. won the
individual title. Also on the U.S. team were Ron Osher, the defending individual
World Champion, who was fifth, and Nick Baxter, who ended up 19th.
So what type of puzzles are used at the World Puzzle Championships? Ideally, all
are language-neutral and culture-neutral. Language-neutral puzzles are, as the
name would imply, puzzles that require no knowledge of any specific language,
and include mazes, visual logic puzzles, and other (much) more devious items.
Many puzzles (especially this year) have involved the use of the Latin alphabet in
puzzles such as fill-ins (a word list and a grid are given and the solver must
determine how the words fit in the grid), but these are somewhat biased against
those people who do not use this alphabet (even if all the words are Albanian), and
will not be used next year. (The Dutch are hosting next year and have promised.)
Here is my personal recap of the trip and competition:
The whole time was great -- people from all over the world in friendly competition
trying to communicate and often succeeding. The English-speaking clique (us, the
token Canadian, the Dutch, some of the Germans and Hungarians, one Czech)
hung out together all week and only seriously tried to drink each other under the
table after the competition was over.
It started out on Monday when we hiked down a ski area after riding a somewhat
rickety gondola up. This was quite exciting, except for Helene Hovanec, the
American "observer," who sprained her ankle and was a bit slowed up for the rest
of the week.
Monday night was the official opening party, which was a lavish affair and included
a Vegas-style show starring showgirls and the most famous singer in Romania.
Tuesday and Wednesday were the competition, totaling 9-1/2 hours, which
induced neck strain in all but the most relaxed competitors.
Again a lavish dinner each night, with some shopping at a department store (sort
of odd) before dinner on Wednesday.
On Thursday we went to visit "Dracula's Castle" (rather a disappointment, both
architecturally and mythologically), but I bought a cheap wool sweater at the nearby
market (25000 lei or about $11).
At every dinner we listened to hours of Romanian folk music and each night we
heard the latest Euro-techno-pop in the hotel bar.
After the competition concluded on Thursday
night an intrepid group stayed up partying until sunrise, getting our only
sleep in the bus back to Bucharest.
Some more stories i could tell (let me know if you want to know):
Ron and I teach Beate English!
Stanley gets questioned by cops at the Bucharest airport!
I buy plates!
and much much more...