I've gone away and solved the puzzles, not quite under time pressure as I got interrupted towards the end. Nevertheless, I've done a review:
Enjoyment: N/A (doesn't seem appropriate without the full competition experience)
Favourite Puzzle: Dead or Alive Arrows Sudoku
Unfortunately missing this round means I've hit a 0 for writing the UK round, and a 0 for this round, so everything else is going to count. I really need a good couple of last rounds - I suspect the final UK reckoning is going to be very tight between Heather, Mark and myself.
These were fine, and a good solid level of difficulty, but a bit disappointing to not have clue symmetry. The solving was also a bit same-y - if I'd have to guess (I don't know, I certainly might be wrong!) then I'd say they'd come from a generator.
6 Cloned Shape Sudoku (37 points)
I found the shaded groups on top of the grid to be a little annoying, but it didn't hinder the solve. I'm pretty sure the rules of Clone Sudoku cover this so I'm not sure the new name was entirely warranted. I made a small mistake on the first pass, but the puzzle itself solved nicely.
7 Ratio Sudoku (55 points)
Seemed to solve smoothly enough. It was a little fiddly in places but the points here seem generous to me.
8 X-Sums Sudoku (47 points)
The opening to the puzzle reminded me of a puzzle I have recently written. This did not stop me making a stupid error (writing 53 next to the 8 clue in the top right) on the first pass, but again this solved nicely enough
9 Sum Nine Sudoku (28 points)
This is equivalent to (No) Tens Sudoku, with the 9 in this puzzle playing the role of 5 in Tens (indeed it could also play the role of 1 in "Elevens"). I used this variation in the 2014 WSC, primarily because I had a bunch of puzzles which didn't have a given 9 in them but which never quite made it into a more coherent theme. I think I called it No Nines Sudoku. The points here seemed to be slightly stingy.
10 Antikinght Sudoku (46 points)
I think I may have mentioned "Anti-Knight" previously. Oh well. I've also mentioned it's a type I need a bit of improvement on (Diagonal is the other), and I had to start this, move on, and come back to it. Fairly standard fare though, nice enough.
11 Diagonal Skyscrapers Sudoku (69 points)
Skyscrapers Sudoku usually leave me a little cold, particular when you have a bunch of givens. I just think that the logic in skyscrapers works perfectly well as a Latin square, and the 3rd box constraint that sudoku imposes just gets in the way. Anyway, solved nicely enough, a bit fiddly perhaps.
12 Average Arrows Sudoku (87 points)
This is probably verging more into "Puzzle" territory - I certainly had a lot of annotation outside the paper trying to work out the combinations along various arrows. Not really to my taste I'm afraid, but probably worth the points as it was challenging.
13 Dead or Alive Arrows Sudoku (66 points)
I don't like the name here. I particularly disliked the presentation - the borders on the arrows were much too thick (looks like 1px, instead of a recommended 0.5), too dark (looks like black rather than a recommend light grey) and basically made writing in the grid very frustrating as it was very hard to tell what you had written. I am not at all surprised there were lots of mistakes on this puzzle. That all said, it is a very nice extension of the eliminate variant and I think it works well. The arrows also made a lovely GP motif in the grid, and I think despite the sub-optimal graphics and title this is still my favourite puzzle from the round.
1. Bastien Vial-Jaime (869.3 points)
2. Seungjae Kwak (856.8)
3. Hideaki Jo Japan (845.2)
Spyridon Sofos of Greece finishing in 11th place is a new name to me.
1. Mark Goodliffe (465)
2. Heather Golding (442)
3. Michael Collins (366)
Mark on 2586 points is slightly ahead of Heather on 2564 points - both having done all 6 rounds. At this stage, they are both looking to improve on their two weakest rounds to push their scores up.
I have done 4 rounds and have 1863 points. I have two rounds left to go, and my target is to get as close to 3000 as possible, and ideally beat that. Optimistically I might finish 30th, but I suspect this will be closer to 40th, plus or minus a couple of places.
Whatever happens, i think all 3 of us will beat the previous best series result for the UK, which was Mark's 55th in 2016.