To wear the Sudoku crown, you must solve any number of puzzles

The Dai-Vunk rematch was highly anticipated, but Kota Morinishi, 34, from Tokyo, a four-time world champion who works in information technology, took an early lead, fueled by a sack of candy ever offered by the captain of his team.

Ms. Dye had a rough start: In the 2nd round of 10 she made mistakes or “broke” the same puzzle three times. finally deleted the whole thing and restarted. In Round 3, while concentrating on fixing two broken puzzles, he forgot one puzzle and did not complete it before time ran out.

Mr Vunk finished Lap 3 with three minutes to spare – “It could have been better,” he said – putting him in first place, with Ms Dye second.

Byron Calver, 38, a Toronto civil servant who sat next to Ms. Dai, was not thrilled with his appearance. (His best finish was fifth, in 2010, but he had trained too hard and burned out, he said. Now, after a break, he was trying to regain what he had lost: ‚ÄúDiscovering your mortality by being bad at Sudoku, The Byron Culver Story,” he said.) When asked how Round 4 went, he said, “It didn’t.” It included Sudokus with numerical constraints. “I did really well in math, I just forgot how to do Sudoku,” he said.

And at least once that day, in desperation, Mr. Culver resorted to a “wild bisection” – “bisection” meaning “guess” as Sudoku is called. Usually, it’s a calculated guesswork of trial and error, exploring one of two clear paths presented by a partially completed puzzle. But in such an either-or gambit, only one path is right. Mr. Culver’s dichotomy was more reckless, he said, “in that it was motivated more by blind hope in the absence of a clear path forward than by any reasonable expectation that progress would result.”

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