World Puzzle Championship History
1995, Poiana Brasov, Romania

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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...

Team standings:

1. U.S.A

2. Czech Republic 17305
3. Hungary 16250
4. Romania 15979
5. Turkey 14992
6. Germany 13995
7. Croatia 13926
8. Russia 12516
9. Japan 12187
10. The Netherlands 12066


1. Wei-Hua Huang


2. Istvan Gyorgy


3. Pavel Kalhous


4. Zack Butler


5. Ron Osher


6. Petr Vejchoda


7. Markus Gegenheimer


8. Karoly Kresz


9. Robert Babilon


10. Pero Galogaza


World Puzzle Championship History
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