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ErikH2000
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icon Deflectomundo! (+3)  
Introduction

Before I work up to an explanation of the contest rules, let me give you this warm-up puzzle to try out. To enter the contest, you'll need to solve a more difficult puzzle of a similar kind.



Each square of the above 8x8 grid will contain a forward deflector, a backward deflector, or nothing at all. Your job is to deduce what each square contains given some clues. Imagine that laser beams are shot through the grid, entering at each column and row along the perimeter. If there are no deflectors in the path of the beam, it will continue straight across the grid and exit on the opposite side, like so:



If a deflector is in the beam's path, the beam will turn 90 degrees in one of two directions depending on the type of deflector. A forward deflector (shaped like a forward slash) sends a south beam west, and a west beam south. I suppose to be thorough I should also point out that a north beam will be deflected east, and an east beam deflected north. But you can just look at the shape of the deflector and intuitively guess this behavior, if you just think of the deflector as a polished mirror that reflects the light of a laser beam. An example of a forward deflector is shown below.



A backward deflector (shaped like a backward slash) sends a south beam east, and an east beam south. An example of a backward deflector is shown below.



A collection of deflectors can produce more convoluted paths with multiple turns.



Returning to the unsolved puzzle, you'll see symbols along the perimeter. They come in pairs and mark the endpoints of one beam's route across the grid. Note that sending a beam into the grid from either end will always follow the same path. So the question to answer is: how can deflectors be placed on the grid to produce beams with endpoints matching the symbols?

Below in secret tags is the answer to the puzzle shown at the beginning of this post. Try to solve the puzzle before looking at the secreted answer.

Click here to view the secret text


The Actual Contest

You'll be racing against other players to solve a deflector puzzle first. Four different puzzles will be released at 6 hour intervals on February 20th, The idea here is that people from different time zones won't be unfairly disadvantaged. You'll be allowed to enter just one, so choose the puzzle time most convenient to you.


Puzzle 1 - Local Time:02-20-2006 at 12:00 AM
Puzzle 2 - Local Time:02-20-2006 at 06:00 AM
Puzzle 3 - Local Time:02-20-2006 at 12:00 PM
Puzzle 4 - Local Time:02-20-2006 at 06:00 PM


The times above are already adjusted to match your local timezone. Just be sure your timezone is set correctly in your profile.

Submitting a Contest Answer

The puzzles will be posted later in separate topics on the "Contests" board. You enter your answer in a reply post to these topics. With forum magic, your reply post will only be visible to you and me in the puzzle topic, so you don't have to worry about other people seeing your answer. Likewise, you won't be able to see other players' answers that are posted.

Your answer should follow the format, row letter + column number + deflector type. Order the list of deflector coordinates by row and column so I don't go crazy checking everybodys' answers. So for example the answer could look like this: "A7/ C3\\ C5\\ D1\\ D3/ G8/ H2\\".

You can only post one answer. If you see a mistake you made in your posted answer, it is too late to correct it. Don't edit your post. I won't know if you've tried to change your answer or not, so if you edit your post, I'll have to disqualify you.

Winning

Your standing among other players will be judged by the time elapsed when you give your answer since the release of the puzzle to which you are answering. So if one player solves puzzle 1 in an hour, and a second player solves puzzle 4 in a half hour, the second player has beaten the first.

Everyone who provides a correct answer to a puzzle will get 4 rank points, regardless of how much time the solution took. If you aren't able to solve a puzzle, you should still provide a description of how far you got before giving up. If you at least tried, I'll give you participation credit for the contest.

The fastest player is the winner, and will receive 100 rank points and an item of his choosing from The Prize Pile. Second place winner gets 50 rank points, and third place winner gets 25 rank points. Any participants who have never entered a contest with us before, get an extra 10 rank points.

Strategy

It's a timed contest, so you want to be pretty fast at figuring these puzzles out before it begins. Your speed can be improved with practice. You could play some computer games similar to this one such as Aargon, Chromatron, or Black Box. You could also make your own puzzles like the example. It's pretty easy--just fill in a grid randomly with deflectors, determine the endpoints, and then make a copy of the grid with just the endpoints. You might not be good enough at forgetting the positions of the deflectors, in which case you could get somebody else to make puzzles for you or perhaps exchange puzzles with each other.

On contest day, you'll want to have some scratch medium available that is good for fast work. Maybe you like plain old paper and pencil. Maybe opening a copy of notepad is better for you.

-Erik

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[Last edited by ErikH2000 at 02-16-2006 07:19 PM]
02-05-2006 at 02:39 AM
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coppro
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icon Re: Deflectomundo! (+1)  
If there is more than one solution, are they both valid? *Signs up for the one on the 19 at 5PM in my time, 12AM on the 20 GMT*
02-05-2006 at 02:57 AM
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Swivel
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icon Re: Deflectomundo! (0)  
Erik... by a harder puzzle, do you mean a bigger one? Or is it going to be a problem of a similar kind, but with an added element (like a horizontal/vertical deflector)?
02-05-2006 at 03:01 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
coppro wrote:
If there is more than one solution, are they both valid?

Yes, but you only get to enter one solution. (Adding that to the rules above.)
quote:
*Signs up for the one on the 19 at 5PM in my time, 12AM on the 20 GMT*

Cool! Who else is playing?

-Erik

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02-05-2006 at 03:05 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
Swivel wrote:
Erik... by a harder puzzle, do you mean a bigger one? Or is it going to be a problem of a similar kind, but with an added element (like a horizontal/vertical deflector)?

It will just be bigger and/or have a higher density of deflectors. I would like to get an idea of how hard this first test puzzle is for people before making the contest puzzles.

-Erik

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02-05-2006 at 03:06 AM
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ErikH2000
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I am curious who has been able to solve the test puzzle and about how long did it take you? I'm aiming for a contest puzzle that will take the winner about an hour to solve.

-Erik

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02-05-2006 at 03:12 AM
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Rabscuttle
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icon Re: Deflectomundo! (+1)  
Here's another solution to the test puzzle.

Click here to view the secret text


Didn't take too long to solve, I basically just added stuff and it fell into place.



[Last edited by Rabscuttle at 02-05-2006 03:17 AM]
02-05-2006 at 03:15 AM
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coppro
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icon Re: Deflectomundo! (+1)  
I was done before my post, with a solution significantly more complicated than the one suggested. Attached is another.
02-05-2006 at 03:20 AM
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Swivel
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icon Re: Deflectomundo! (+1)  
I too got a different solution that involved 16 deflectors.

I'm not sure what to say about NP and P here.

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[Last edited by Swivel at 02-05-2006 03:33 AM]
02-05-2006 at 03:33 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
Rabscuttle wrote:
Here's another solution to the test puzzle.

Yeah, that works too.

Okay, I can see that my contest puzzles will need to be much harder.

-Erik

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02-05-2006 at 03:37 AM
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icon Re: Deflectomundo! (+2)  
Here's a solution with a maximum (I believe) number of deflectors. :)

[Last edited by Rabscuttle at 02-05-2006 05:47 AM]
02-05-2006 at 03:45 AM
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gamer_extreme_101
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quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
Puzzle 1 - Local Time:02-20-2006 at 12:00 AM
Puzzle 2 - Local Time:02-20-2006 at 06:00 AM
Puzzle 3 - Local Time:02-20-2006 at 12:00 PM
Puzzle 4 - Local Time:02-20-2006 at 06:00 PM
Hmmm... at the first time, I'll most likely be at work. The second time I'll be asleep, the third and fourth times I'll be in school. Bad timing, Erik! Bad timing!

Then again, I may be able to do the first one depending on my boss's schedualing abilities. No promises, though.

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02-05-2006 at 04:45 AM
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TripleM
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Question: I don't know whether this puzzle is too complicated to handle with a computer program or not, but is there any rule saying you aren't allowed to write a computer program to solve it? I don't really see how you could say you aren't allowed and enforce that, but still.
02-05-2006 at 06:14 AM
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ErikH2000
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For every contest, there is pretty much always a collection of ways to gain an unfair advantage that can't be enforced against with rules. This would be one of them. I have to rely on people's honor not to use it.

-Erik

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02-05-2006 at 07:35 AM
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Dali
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Where do we tell the time that matches our local timezone?
If the times are GMT, me it will be 19:00.
02-05-2006 at 08:25 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
Dali wrote:
Where do we tell the time that matches our local timezone?
If the times are GMT, me it will be 19:00.

Dali, it's under the "profile" link at the top of the page. Then choose "Modify" tab and look for the timezone settings.

-Erik

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02-05-2006 at 08:58 AM
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Alneyan
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The times displayed above already match your local time; make sure your time zone is correct in your profile, and you're ready to go.

Let me see: the first time is one a.m. for me, the second time is one minute after my train has departed for school, the third time is at school, the last time is still at school. I'll sign up for the fourth time zone (18 BST/GMT, I think), though I may pick another time zone if the schedule changes.
02-05-2006 at 08:58 AM
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Dali
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Okay.
Then I'll take Puzzle 4.

EDIT: I'm truly sorry, I was going to take puzzle 3 but arrived at 16:00 GMT at home. If it's forbidden, then,...I can't win.

[Last edited by Dali at 02-20-2006 04:07 PM]
02-05-2006 at 09:44 AM
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Ezlo
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I'm going to lose, but I'll take puzzle 1.
02-05-2006 at 12:38 PM
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Chaco
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I think I can work this out. Gimme a few minutes.

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02-05-2006 at 01:12 PM
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Mattcrampy
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Before I enter, I'm clearly going to have to sort out the weirdness I've encountered with this forum and timezones. (My timezone is GMT +10, and that's what it is in my profile. I think it's got something to do with daylight savings or something.) I'd hate to put down my name for a time when it turns out the puzzle got released an hour earlier.

I'll probably be doing puzzle three, though.

I also arrived at a solution that substituted A4 for B1. I think the process you're using to generate these has a few bugs, Erik.

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[Last edited by Mattcrampy at 02-05-2006 01:21 PM]
02-05-2006 at 01:20 PM
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icon Re: Deflectomundo! (0)  
Solved the test puzzle in 10 minutes.

My solution was also different than your intended one.

Anyway, I'll take Puzzle 1, as that'll be on a Sunday and I will thus have free time.

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[Last edited by Chaco at 02-05-2006 01:25 PM]
02-05-2006 at 01:24 PM
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krammer
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OK. So either midnight on Sunday (I will probably be asleep), 6am on Monday (definitely asleep), 12 noon on Monday (when lectures end) or 6pm on Monday (which is dinner time - and dinner is served only for 30 minutes).

Ho-hum. I think puzzle 3, as I can be back in my room for 10 past 12. So put me down for that one.

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02-05-2006 at 01:26 PM
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Oh yeah, I forgot. I will commit to doing one of the puzzles, but I'll probably lose due to timing issues.

About solving the puzzles:
1. Your solution depends upon where you start.
2. Once you put down a reflector, mark where reflectors can't go (because it would interfere) with a small circle or something. In my solution, all 64 squares were either covered with small circles or reflectors.
02-05-2006 at 01:47 PM
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KevG
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icon Re: Deflectomundo! (0)  
I'm in. Do we have to declare ahead of time which round we'll play? I'd like to do round 3, but I can't guarantee I'll be home from work. If we have to declare ahead of time I'll be in round 4.

02-05-2006 at 01:49 PM
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I guess I will try the first puzzle.
02-05-2006 at 02:12 PM
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Chaco
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quote:
Swivel wrote:
About solving the puzzles:
1. Your solution depends upon where you start.
2. Once you put down a reflector, mark where reflectors can't go (because it would interfere) with a small circle or something. In my solution, all 64 squares were either covered with small circles or reflectors.


That's basically the logic I used to solve the small puzzle.

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02-05-2006 at 03:55 PM
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Doom
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I've never done these kinds of puzzles before, but I still managed to solve the puzzle in the first post in only 3 minutes and 34 seconds. My solution was almost identical to Erik's. Only one mirror was at a different place.

I'm forced to take part in puzzle #4.
02-05-2006 at 04:17 PM
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larrymurk
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I can say I spent 5 minutes drawing lines on it in paint and did NOT get a solution.
02-05-2006 at 05:30 PM
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Chaco
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Most of my 10 minutes was drawing the lines in Photoshop. I'm glad I won't have to do that again (but longer).

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