PHILADELPHIA, November 23, 2009 – The Philadelphia Inquirer Sudoku National Championship today announced the final winners in the advanced solving division, held on October 24, 2009. First place was awarded to Tammy McLeod from Los Angeles, CA. She is awarded $10,000. Thomas Snyder from Palo Alto, CA, won second place and $4,000. Chris Narrikkattu was awarded third place and $3,000 as a result of the disqualification of Eugene Varshavsky. Mr. Narrikkattu had placed immediately behind Mr. Varshavsky in a qualifying round.
Mr. Varshavsky was disqualified by Championship Director Will Shortz after his visibly poor on-stage performance during the championship finals led to an investigation. After qualifying for the finals by solving three puzzles in 14 minutes, Mr. Varshavsky entered only three digits of the final round puzzle after eight minutes. The investigation was conducted by Championship Director Will Shortz and Director of Judging Nick Baxter.
“Over the last three years the Championship has established a reputation as the championship for everyone and has a strong following in the advanced, intermediate and beginner sudoku community,” said Philadelphia Inquirer Sudoku National Championship Director Will Shortz. “The integrity of this competition is our highest priority and therefore, when we observed the inconsistent results in the advanced finals we commenced an investigation.”
The investigation included a review of completed puzzle booklets, interviews with some solvers, including Mr. Varshavsky, as well as other steps. A puzzle-solving re-examination of Mr. Varshavsky was conducted in which he was given the opportunity to solve a number of advanced and intermediate puzzles. Two of these were the very same puzzles he fully completed during the competition. After 23 minutes, he could fill in only 11 digits combined for the two puzzles before indicating he could go no further. His performance on other puzzles in this session was similarly well below expectations.
“The re-examination results were very much consistent with Mr. Varshavsky’s on-stage performance,” said Mr. Shortz. “Based on his re-examination performance, we have concluded that Eugene Varshavsky alone could not have solved the Round 3 puzzles during the Championship and, therefore, based on the rules of the championship which prohibit ‘outside help’ and grant the right to disqualify, have decided to disqualify him from his third place Advanced Division prize.”
“We are very pleased that a very thorough and professional investigation has been conducted and that the final results of the advanced round for the 2009 Philadelphia Inquirer Sudoku National Championship can now be announced,” said Edward Mahlman, Chief Marketing Officer of Philadelphia Media Holdings. “We are extremely grateful to Will Shortz and Nick Baxter for their diligence and hard work, and we look forward to the 2010 championship.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer Sudoku National Championship is the world’s largest puzzle competition and attracts a national and international field of contestants from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. This year the oldest participant was 93 and the youngest was 8. The championship includes three main skill divisions – beginner, intermediate and advanced. In addition to the winners of those three categories, prizes were also awarded to 27 more players who competed in a variety of age groups ranging from under 10 years to greater than 81 years. There were a total of 646 contestants and 183 spectators.
Other winners included Natan Tsyrulnik of Shelton, Connecticut, in the beginner division and Davis Borucki of Columbia, South Carolina, in the intermediate division. Borucki took home $3,000 in prize money and Tsyrulnik took home a check for $1,000. For more information please visit www.philly.com/sudoku.