Olympiad Problem Solving Championship

Organisation: MSO, in collaboration with the GIPF Centre
Place: Olympiad Conference Centre, London, GB
Date: Saturday, August 28, 1999
Format: 2 hours time to solve 12 problems

Championship regulations

The first GIPF Problem Solving Championship ever

And that… well, some won't forget that day lightly. To summarize what happened in three words: blood, sweat and tears. What had announced itself as an enjoyable afternoon of puzzling, turned out to be 2 hours of extreme suffering. Ben Player got in a panic almost immediately after having opened the envelop with 12 problems. And he was not the only one: by the time Ben resigned (after about 10 minutes) faint plumes of steam were coming out of the ears of quite a few of the participants and, to judge by the number of heads that sunk deeper and deeper between the respective shoulders, most would have liked to follow Ben's example…

This asks for a word of explanation: I had worked myself half in a coma to assemble a series of 12 GIPF-problems. The MSO is an event that is unique in its kind, attended by the best players from everywhere, so I wanted a real challenge for the GIPF-players. Weeks and weeks and weeks I stared at diagrams and juggled desperately with pieces on the GIPF-board, attempting what I hadn't done before: putting together really hard GIPF-problems without bugs nor backdoors. My great fear was that is was something beyond my level; that the Problem Solving Championship was going to be a big laugh. Problems: too evident. Solutions: far too easy. Peanuts! But, inexperienced as I was in the matter, I got that completely wrong. The rules were simple: 2 hours to solve 12 problems. The problems were another story…. As time passed by, the participants got paler and paler; sighs and moans everywhere, desperately shaking heads with glassy eyes, as if most were not thinking about the problems any more, but, if not about the meaning of life, then at least why they had decided to come to London.

I apologized a first time after having collected the sheets with answers, and a second time - as thoroughly as I could - after having corrected the answers. I had little other choice than to acknowledge that the problems had been too difficult.

But back to the point: the problems were difficult, okay, but they were difficult for everybody and, thus, the championship concerned a pure and straight contest. No fuss, no differences, no bad moves to hide behind. At the start each players got an envelope with the problems, a GIPF-board, 18 white and 18 black pieces, a pencil and a clock. And 2 hours later, there was a winner: Yoshitomo Ikkai. He appeared to dispose of the most analytical mind and found 7 of the 12 solutions. In fact, he found 8 solutions, but he didn't note down the last one conform the rules. A fantastic achievement, which resulted in a well deserved gold medal. Just behind him came a Belgian trio with 6 correct solutions: Kurt Vandenbranden, Aksel De Meester and Werner Dupont. Kurt was awarded with silver and Aksel with bronze, for as it was mentioned in the regulations that, in the event of a tie, the one with the fewest wrong answers would get the advantage. That was a true pity for Werner, because he had solved a 7th problem, but unfortunately he made a mess of the notes he made.

Pl. Name Right Wrong Blanco Score  
1. Yoshitomo Ikkai (J) 7 2 3 7 gold
2. Kurt VandenBranden (B)  6 3 3 6 - 3 silver
3. Aksel De Meester (B) 6 5 1 6 - 5 bronze
4. Werner Dupont (B) 6 6 0 6 - 6  
5. Patrick Van de Perre (B) 4 3 5 4  
6. Rita Pauwels (B) 3 8 1 3 - 8  
  Koen de Jongh (NL) 3 8 1 3 - 8  
8. Karel Daelemans (B) 3 9 0 3 - 9  
9. Gianni Cottogni (I) 2 2 8 2  
10. Fred Kok (NL) 1 11 0 1  
11. Ben Player (GB) 0 0 0 0  

GIPF, TAMSK, ZÈRTZ, DVONN and YINSH ® & © Don & Co NV. Content © Kris Burm. All rights reserved.