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2006 Google U.S. Puzzle Championship is Open 75

Fortran IV writes "Registration is open until June 15 for the 2006 Google U.S. Puzzle Championship, to be held Saturday, June 17, 2006—it's 25 or so mind-bending pencil-and-paper puzzles that you have 2-1/2 very short hours to solve. The USPC is a qualifying test to choose 2 members for the U.S. team at the 2006 World Puzzle Championship to be held in Borovets, Bulgaria in October. For a mild taste of the puzzles try the 2006 Practice Test (as has been noted here in the past, if you can't get the Practice Test open you should probably give the real thing a pass!) For more of a workout the real tests for 2005 and 2004 are still available."
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2006 Google U.S. Puzzle Championship is Open

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  • Oh noes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kelz (611260) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:24PM (#15507266)
    Practice tests /.ed, .5KB/sec.

    Note: Don't try to open the practice tests in IE/Firefox (with adobe reader), save to desktop.
    • too late..... Theres an extension that avoids opening PDF directly, gotta install it.
      • Re:Oh noes (Score:2, Interesting)

        by brenddie (897982)
        extension for pdf download []
      • Re:Oh noes (Score:5, Informative)

        by Volanin (935080) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:02PM (#15507384)
        Theres an extension that avoids opening PDF directly, gotta install it.

        Although extensions are cool, this is overkill.
        This is a configuration in the Adobe Reader for that.
        Just go EDIT, PREFERENCES, INTERNET... and uncheck Display PDF in Browser.
        • This is a configuration in the Adobe Reader for that. Just go EDIT, PREFERENCES, INTERNET... and uncheck Display PDF in Browser.

          Thanks for that! Just updated settings on my system. BUT, I woul dlove to have a lightweight (i.e. small and quick-to-load) alternative to Adobe Acrobat for viewing (and printing) PDF files. I'e grown accustomed to some of the quirks of the user interface, my main complaint with Acrobat is its slow startup speed. That, and at least on my system, Acrobat 6.0 has a working set

          • The newer version (7?) is much, much faster.
            • The newer version (7?) is much, much faster.

              Glad to hear it! BUT...

              1. I recall some (privacy?) issues about Acrobat v7. Not certain. It's too late at night for me to remember WHAT that issue was -- but it made a strong impression on me to NOT want ot load v7.
              2. Much Much Faster is GREAT! What about its size? 35MB for v6 on Windows XP Home/SP2. Did they manage to shrink it, to?
              3. Does it launch faster by preloading itself? I'd rather not have it consume umpteen MB of RAM at system boot just so it can la
          • It looks like ghostscript might be useful for this? Has anyone tried it?

            Yup -- I've been using gv to read PDFs in linux. It's fast, it's practically everywhere and I hapen to be familiar with the interface from over a decade of noodling with PostScript.

            It ain't much to write home about, I'd say (no such thing as 'search for a keyword' etc) but for the usual reading of a normal document it's sure adequate. I like that I can mark particular pages and then print or save only those pages. Handy feature, t

          • If you're running Windows, there's Foxit Reader []. It's a 1.5 MB download, uses less memory, and loads almost instantly. In about 2 years of use, I've only encountered a single PDF that it wouldn't open.

            If you're not on Windows, there's xpdf [], Evince [], kpdf [], gv [], and probably a dozen others.

          • Getting rid of all the plugins that you do not use will make it load very quickly indeed. Below I paste from []

            Adobe Reader 7.0 is much faster than Adobe Reader 6.0.x, so if you're using Windows 2000 or later, the first thing to try is upgrading to Adobe Reader 7.0.

            Adobe Reader 6.0 can be dreadfully slow. You can speed it up by disabling unused Adobe Reader plugins. To do this, move all files and folders that are in the Adobe Reader plug_ins folder
    • Note: Don't try to open the practice tests in IE/Firefox (with adobe reader), save to desktop. It might be OK if you use Adobe Reader 7 with Adobe Reader Speed Launch. I hated Acrobat 6 because it was so slow on startup, especially the browser plugin. But with version 7, it's blazingly fast. If you don't have it yet, get it. If you use PDFs at all, it'll save you lots of time.
  • Well, for the anagrams part of the puzzles, you can use my site: Anagrammer []
  • Took 20 minutes to download 288KB and now cant even open it.
    I guess this is part of the puzzle...
  • Bandwidth issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:09PM (#15507398)
    I have done this for a couple years now. Being /.ed now is an annoyance, on puzzle day I couldn't get the password for over 20 minutes, then at the end, you can't submit your answers because everyone else was also trying. In a timed contest, this can really mess you up. Lets hope between now and the 17th they get their network issues resolved.
  • the 3rd "annual" puzzle is now in force. please remember that "teh" and "pwn'd" are "funny" words and not "real" words when attempting this puzzle
  • Hmm (Score:2, Informative)

    Wouldn't open for me after I downloaded it. Weird.
  • by JelloJoe (977764) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:43PM (#15507488)
    One of the more hardcore puzzling events each year is held at MIT. I competed in it this year and had a blast. For more info, go here []
  • by babbling (952366) on Friday June 09, 2006 @11:27PM (#15507590)
    Is the difficulty similar to the difficulty of the real quiz? It doesn't seem that difficult.

    Q1 is just a Sudoku that doesn't seem too hard.
    Q2 can be solved with matrices.
    Q3 involves finding the features easiest to compare and comparing all tiles with that feature (eg. one groundhog, two groundhogs, three groundhogs), comparing them, and then crossing out tiles that are definitely not similar to any others.
    • Actually, I noticed after posting that the later questions are worth significantly more points, and do seem a fair bit harder.



    • The method I used for the groundhog version was to assign a numeric value to each seperate groundhog "pose", then writing the total at the bottom of each square. Then it's just a matter of checking the totals and seeing if squares that equal the same value are identical. Works pretty well - you can also immediately cross-off the tiles that are obviously not similar with only a few figures and such.

      • I barely got it in six minutes. I quickly eliminated by visual inspection the possibility of any matches among singles and duos of groundhogs. That saves you 9 of 36 tiles. For the remaining 27, I encoded them based on the groundhogs head orientation top to bottom -- S for center, L for left, R for right, and Z for sleeping. This was the hardest part of the puzzle because I was copying from my computer screen -- if I had a printout it would have been much easier. Then, I circled all the strings that st
    • I think that at 6 minutes per puzzle, they're quite hard enough.
    • Q1 Sudoku was really easy.

      Q2 Can't be solved with matrices/linear algebra alone. There are 10 unknowns and only 5 constraints arising from the balancing. The other constraints (using #s 1-10 exactly once) are nonlinear. I haven't finished it yet.

      Q3 was really easy. but very boring!

      Q4 was straight-forward-- a bit tedious though. You can reason your way through about 60% of the puzzle, and then the right answer sort of pops out at you.

      Q5 seems annoying; I didn't try it.
  • Mirrors (Score:3, Informative)

    by pojo (526049) * on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:15AM (#15507854)
    Mirrordot [] has the test mirrored.

    The test [], password: apple.
    The instructions [], password: grail.

  • by DuranDuran (252246) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @03:57AM (#15508164)
    Here's a puzzle for the organizers:

    Why bother password protecting a test file from two and three years ago?

  • my 4 yr old did Q.3 in about 15 minutes.
  • Methinks that the designers were influenced by the Dan Brown book "The DaVinci Code". Using "apple" as a password? Could be a coincidence, but I doubt it...
  • How would you do the last two other than trying alot of combinations?

A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start, and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim. -- Leibnitz