Puzzles & Quizzes

The World Puzzle Championship is the Olympics of Logic — Would You Make the Team?

Imagine training for an Olympics without stepping foot in a gym. You barely need to break a sweat. The only physical demands for these games is flipping to the back page of the newspaper and furiously scribbling your pencil. This is what — we're guessing — serves as preparation for the World Puzzle Championship (WPC). Got what it takes?

These Puzzles Are For Pros Only

The WPC is no joke. After all, TIME magazine called it "the most extreme test of pure logical-reasoning power on the planet." The international competition presents competitors with puzzles that can be solved by people in any part of the world. In fact, crossword editor of the New York Times and NPR Will Shortz founded the WPC in 1992 as a perhaps fairer alternative to an international crossword competition at the time.

"My idea," Shortz told TIME, "was that we would have a true competition that would be equal for all countries. It would not involve word puzzles like crosswords. It would involve things like — nowadays — sudoku, KenKen, number puzzles, logic puzzles, picture puzzles. Things that everyone can do equally, no matter what their language and culture." Since the first competition in New York City, the contest has been held in a different city around the world every year.

If you're a puzzle dabbler who thinks you might have a shot, just know that a lot of the competitors literally solve puzzles full time. As TIME explains, "[...] the puzzles are really hard. Unearthly hard — so hard that it's hard to even explain how hard they are. At the WPC there are point bonuses just for finishing all the puzzles in a single round, but not many players claim them. In 2012 one round featured 21 puzzles in which each of the answers was linked to the others, and no instructions were given for any of them; before you could solve the puzzles, you had to deduce what the rules were." Well then.

Okay, you still think you have a chance? Godspeed, buddy. There is a way you can audition to join your country's puzzle team that heads out to the WPC, though. According to Logic Masters India (LMI), the Indian representative of the World Puzzle Federation, "individuals should contact their national member to the World Puzzle Federation (WPF), as listed on the WPF Member's Page. Each member country is obliged to conduct open, national qualifying tournaments. [...] One can participate in the championship as a competitor (A/B team), captain, member of team delegation (WPF delegate or guest) or organizer. A team consists of 4 members. Only WPF members can compete at the championship."

Try A Puzzle From The WPC

This puzzle made an appearance at the 2012 World Puzzle Championship. It is a poker puzzle, as explained here by the New York Times: You have a deck of 28 cards: 8 through ace in four suits. Arrange 25 of these cards in the five-by-five grid so that the 12 named poker hands appear in the rows, columns, and diagonals. The location of some cards and suits are given.

Once you've taken a crack at that beast, check the solution below. For the full, exhausting 18-step solution to this problem, check out the New York Times article. Did you somehow, maybe, by some ungodly miracle solve it?

If you think you've got the skills to compete, why not tackle some puzzles for real? "Will Shortz's Puzzle Master Workout" is waiting for you.

Here's The Answer

Can You Solve The Rabbit Race Logic Puzzle?

Written by Joanie Faletto September 18, 2017

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