Sep 02, 2011 - Claremont, Calif. -
The win also garnered Mebane a spot on the national team that will compete in the World Puzzle Championship this November in Eger, Hungary.
The Harvey Mudd College senior was one of more than 500 competitors in the annual contest, which challenges participants to solve up to 23 puzzles in two-and-a-half hours. Points are assigned to each puzzle based upon difficulty and the time estimate for completing it. Bonus points are awarded for finishing early.
Mebane, who won third place in last year’s competition, finished eight minutes early earning a 415 score—the highest recorded in the competition’s 12-year history.
He credits his achievement to the application of logical methods, checking his work and rigorous pre-competition practice.
“I used to be atrociously slow at Sudoku and Kakuro. Even though I don’t like either, I sat down and worked through a lot of them and asked Thomas Snyder (WPC teammate and former World Sudoku Champion) for some tips,” Mebane said. “I’m still not a world-class Sudoku solver, but it no longer kills my performance.”
Passionate about puzzles, Mebane maintains a blog featuring his own puzzle creations. He has also authored two competitions at Logic Masters India, which holds monthly puzzle and Sudoku contests.
“Authors are encouraged to make the tests accessible for a wide range of levels, so it’s a good way for someone to get a feel for what these competitions are like,” Mebane said.
The U.S. Puzzle Championship is administered online, using an encrypted file. At a specified time, a password appears and contestants print off the puzzles and solve as many as they can in the two-and-a-half-hour allotted time period. Answers are submitted via an online form, scores are tabulated and the winners announced.
Open to contestants worldwide, this year’s competition drew participants from 34 countries (U.S. included). The top four U.S. contestants were Mebane, Thomas Snyder, William Blatt and Dan Katz, with respective scores of 415, 349, 309 and 305.
Media Contact: Judy Augsburger