Board Meeting: Tuesday, 1st October, 2019

Attended by: Will Shortz (Chairman), Zoran Tanasic (Treasurer), Vladimir Portugalov (Board Member), Haijun Zhang (Board Member) & Prasanna Seshadri (Director)

WSPC 2020:

Background: Haijun had shared his presentation on an update of China’s efforts towards hosting WSPC 2020 with the Board and the Board wanted to discuss a few matters pertaining to it.  

Discussions: The following points were discussed –

1.       The fact that the competition would be at a distance of 20-30 minutes from the main hotel was a concern brought up and solutions were discussed.

2.        The participation fee originally shared did not match the figures predicted in 2018, so this had been communicated to Haijun via email. In response, he changed the breakdown to fit the earlier 2018 presentation.

3.       As part of the fee breakdown, the recent system of gradual increments of fee was used. So the board asked Haijun if teams would have to submit names as well before the deadline or whether just giving a number of participants is enough. Haijun said the names are mandatory so that they can comply with hotel restrictions, but the names can then be changed at a later date.

4.       Another query was whether just names and registration was enough before the deadline or the payment would also have to be made, and Haijun confirmed that the payment would also have to be made.

Rules & Regulations:

Backgroundh: The WPF had shared a proposal with members via email of an updated set of Rules, Regulations, Statutes and Guidebook.  Here the board discussed some of these rule changes further to confirm the topics.

Discussions: The following discussions took place regarding the rules topics –

1.       It was originally planned to suggest that the WPF membership fee should be increased only for new applicants for their first year. In other words there would be a 100 Euro “sign on” fee for new members. However, after discussing the losses shown in budgeting, the board decided to propose a permanent increase in Membership Fees.

2.       A section of the updated rules that suggested that members be required to share an annual report of progress in their respective countries was removed. Instead, the board noted that the WPF can mention to the members that such reports are encouraged and would be helpful, but aren’t mandatory.

3.       A section of the updated rules that suggested that potential hosts bidding for a year of WSC-WPC should give some accounting of their expenses was removed. Instead, the board decided to approach recent hosts to share information on a voluntary basis to put together a rough estimate of budgeting for the event that may help future hosts.

WSPC 2021:

Background: Will Shortz, Nick Baxter, Thomas Snyder and team want to host the event in Toronto in 2021. The bid was discussed here.

Discussions: The bid would be that the USA provides the puzzles while the event itself is hosted in Canada. Will and the rest of the USA and Canada team who are involved are eager to bring the WSPC to North America. The only concern was that doing so would be very costly and the participation fee may need to be proportionately high.

WPF Website:

Background: Vladimir has built a new website for the WPF, and the progress on this front was discussed here.

Discussions: The website’s structure and framework are done, but we need to transfer data and integrate it with the forum. Apart from this, Vladimir talked about long term plans, starting a new communication and content strategy with a new role known as Content Manager. With the help of this new role and the new website the WPF can start using social media more and share new content to promote and publicize puzzles.

The only concern is that the transferring of data will take time as it has to be done manually.

Membership Fee Delays:

Background: Prasanna noted a concern that many members paid Membership fees months after the invoices and this made it difficult to keep track of accounts and so on.

Discussions: The board discussed some potential penalties to incentivize timely payment. The suggestions included adding on a late fee of 50 Euros after 30th June, and keeping a clear deadline of 30th August at which point the member will lose membership for the year.

Open General Assembly: Tuesday, 1st October, 2019

Supervised & hosted by: Will Shortz (Chairman), Vladimir Portugalov (Board Member), Haijun Zhang (Board Member) & Prasanna Seshadri (Director)


Will gave a brief introduction of the Board members and Director, and made a quick summary of the work done over the past year.

Scoring System by Michael Smit:

Michael Smit of Germany gave a presentation about the scoring system used at this year’s WSPC, which he has designed. Some of its features that he showed were:

- The scoring system can be used over a wide range of competitions, and has full packages for management of an entire event, including accommodation, meals, transport, tours, etc.

- The software makes it easy to sort through different competitor categories.

- The details can automatically be transferred to the software from a registration excel sheet.

- It would be easy to be shared to future hosts because all that is needed is web access, the software is hosted on the internet.

Apart from this, Michael noted that he will be available to update and adapt the software in the future should it get used.

WSPC 2021:

Will gave details on the bid for 2021 by USA & Canada. The event would be held in Toronto, Canada. The organizing team would include Will himself, Thomas Snyder, Nick Baxter, Craig Kasper and many other prominent members of the puzzle community.

The organizers thought of this over USA because its difficult right now for some countries to get a visa for the USA with the political climate as it is. Plus, Toronto is a great city anyway.

The puzzles would be handled by Thomas, Nick and other authors, mostly from the USA.

The Championship would probably be in October. Will proposed that the participation fee would be no higher than 800 Euros, and that countries that can’t afford this may contact the WPF.

Will said there may be a few rounds of WPC on electronic devices. One of the benefits of this put forth was that the scoring process would be sped up. People wanted to know more about this, like the kind of puzzles that may be used. Will said there won’t be any radical change to the WPC that requires some added training of any sort, and it will be a small proportion. The types and other details will be released maybe a year in advance or by June 2021 at latest. Someone also asked whether the devices will be provided with the organizers, and Will said they would be, but obviously can’t be a takeaway goody like other WPC rounds.

After some concerns over cost of the event, Will explained that the cost for the hosts would actually be something like 1000 Euros per person, but Will and Thomas are willing to cover the balance and charge no more than 800 Euros for the first five participants. After further concerns on this fee, Will said he will think over it. Further discussion was tabled for the members GA the next day.

There was a question whether the outing could be to Niagara falls and Will said that is likely.

Board Elections:

Elections were held for two positions on the board vacated by Will and Yuhei Kusui of Japan. The candidates included Jan Zverina and Will himself who was contesting to be re-elected.

We heard speeches from both candidates.

Jan noted that most of his points were made on his post on the WPF forum, which was shared to all members before the event. Most importantly, Jan wanted to make efforts to help the WPF be more active in promotion, run a European Championship akin to the Asian Sudoku Championship and bring back the World Junior Championship.

Will kept it short and noted that as the founder of the WPF he cares deeply about it and is one of the more active board members in responding to emails.

Shanghai 2020:

Tantan Dai of China made a presentation updating progress for WSPC 2020 Shanghai. The dates, hotel were released but in subsequent meetings this was taken back and needs to be updated, so we will not share this information here, so as to avoid confusion.

Tantan also noted that the hosts were planning a night tour for the excursion. There was a concern that this would make it difficult to wake up for the competition the next day and Tantan said this would be considered. One suggestion was made to hold the tour twice on Day 2 of WSC and Day 3 of WPC but this wasn’t confirmed by the hosts.

The concern about commute from hotel to competition hall was pointed out and noted, with the explanation that a lighter schedule would be considered.

Tantan also noted that China required help with making puzzles for WPC and the WPF would need to find suitable authors for the event.

The biggest concern was that the event within the original dates runs from Wednesday to Wednesday. Tantan and Haijun discussed this and said they would look into it.

Note of thanks and conclusion:

Will concluded proceedings. The WPF thanks the German team for putting together the event and all the participants who attended it this year.

Members’ General Assembly: Wednesday, 2nd October, 2019

Supervised & hosted by: Will Shortz (Chairman), Zoran Tanasic (Treasurer), Gareth Moore (Board Member), Haijun Zhang (Board Member) & Prasanna Seshadri (Director)

Attended by: Belarus*, Bulgaria, Canada*, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Korea, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia*, Switzerland, Turkey, UK**, USA.

* Personal Members

** Non-member representative

“What is a Sudoku?” Presentation by Tom Collyer:

The head of the “What is a Sudoku?” Committee, Tom Collyer, gave a detailed report on the committee’s decisions and proposals. This report is shared with members separately. The discussion that came out of it was that the WPF needs to elect a permanent panel to be an advisory board of sorts to monitor Sudoku variants and types used at the WSC.

There were questions about whether this would be before or after the WSC and Tom said that this should be a decision the WPF needs to make as the committee was simply tasked with defining Sudoku and its variants.

The goal of the committee wouldn’t be to constrain creativity of authors but to simply provide a report on WPF competitions that go on through the year and whether they followed a proportion of usage of Sudoku varieties that the WPF would ideally decide.

There was a concern mentioned of it becoming like a “Sudoku police” situation. This concern was noted but under guidance from the WPF it wouldn’t be about restricting innovation and more about just achieving a proper balance to engage Sudoku enthusiasts fairly.

Tom suggested that the permanent panel can have 3 members to start with.

Scoring Software:

Michael Smit gave a quick recap on the scoring software. It was discussed that partial bonus is already a feature while normalizing results isn’t yet a feature but can be built in. The software is largely self-explanatory according to Michael and he reiterated that he could be contacted if any updates or changes are required. The technology used in building it is the latest, HTML, Javascript, ASP, SQL.

Isabelle tested the working of the whole software over the course of the competition and the software could be optimized to smart phones if needed.

This was 1 year of effort for Michael. Will noted that this could be an important add-on to membership benefits if the WPF purchased it.

At this point, a question was put to the members as a show of hands, asking how many think this software is useful. There were 3 members who put their hands up and Pal Madarassy of Hungary explained that for the 24 HPC their excel systems are simpler and easier to transfer to a new organizer in his opinion. Existing systems could be a reason why the software may not be used by members.

The decision on further steps regarding the software were tabled for the board meeting later in the week.

Board Elections:

Since it was 2 candidates for 2 positions, a quick show of hands was asked to see how many approve of both candidates, and it was a unanimous approval. Will continues on the Board and Jan has now joined.

WPF Rules and Regulations, Statutes and Guidebook:

There were many discussions regarding this topic as each point updated in the rules proposal sent out to members was discussed in detail. The most important points that were up for discussion were the membership fee, participation fees set by hosts, playoffs at the World Championships. There were many other points discussed too.

For the interests of this report, we will not be covering these discussions in detail. The only important notes were:

- A motion to increase the membership fee to 450 Euros was declined with a 9-6 majority.

- The proposals of penalties for fee payment delay were approved. There will be a 50 Euro penalty if Membership fees are not paid by 30th June, and the Membership for the year would officially get cancelled on the 30th of August.

However, the follow-up on these discussions will be to approach each topic one at a time, get members’ thoughts on each one, and act on them to keep or change the necessary rules. This will be done over the next few months.

Financial Aid:

One point brought up during the Rules discussion was financial aid. There was a concern that if the Membership fee is increased, then the financial Aid would also increase to the countries that apply, causing an imbalance. Here it was clarified by Prasanna that financial aid is not based on Membership fee at all, but more on a country’s ability to participate at the World Championships and its contributions to the WPF community. The membership fee is a separate expense undertaken by the member.

WPF Website:

Vladimir and Prasanna gave an update about the WPF website, noting that the base is laid out and all that remains is transfer of data. Vladimir mentioned again that he plans to work on a new communication and content strategy once the new website is launched.

WPF Registration:

The WPF currently has a seat in the Netherlands’ Chamber of Commerce. This is the official registration of the WPF. Hns Eendebak used to maintain it. Rene Gilhuijs of WCPN agreed to look into it for this year and see whether he or someone from WCPN can continue maintaining it. If not the WPF would need to shift its registration to another country.

WSPC 2020:

The concern of the event dates being Wednesday to Wednesday was reiterated. The members had a concern that they would technically need to take 2 weeks leave instead of 1. Haijun noted that due to Chinese festival time, these dates were the cheapest available for the 5-star hotel they had booked. The members generally favoured a lower quality hotel than the 5 star one the Chinese team were planning to host in if it meant getting a venue from weekend to weekend at affordable prices. In response to this, Haijun said that he will look into changing the dates and booking a new hotel, and would update the WPF within a month with the relevant information.

WSPC 2021:

There was still concern over the participation fee. There was a suggestion to turn the WSPC into a 5 day event with some overlapping rounds to have lower pricing. In general, Will wasn’t in favour of a radical change and said that he would rethink the bid, discuss with the rest of his team, and make the bid via email. The vote on the host of 2021 was postponed as there were no other candidates.

Other topics:

- There was some concern over printing the IB and solutions. In general, it was agreed upon that this was on the hosts’ discretion to allow for an option for participants to vote out of receiving printed copies of these documents since they either make printed copies themselves anyway (in case of IB) or don’t need them (in case of solutions).

Meeting with Peter Grabarchuk: Thursday, 3rd October, 2019

Attended by: Will Shortz, Vladimir Portugalov, Haijun Zhang, Jan Zverina, Zoran Tanasic & Prasanna Seshadri (Director)


In the lead up to WSPC 2019, there was an approach from Peter Grabarchuk to host the WSC and WPC for two consecutive years, in the Ukraine and then in the USA. While Peter’s ideas were interesting, he then reacted uncooperatively to the necessary procedure to take his bid forward within the WPF’s rules and regulations. It quickly became apparent that the idea wouldn’t work out, but Peter wanted to meet the WPF Board again in person to discuss his bid and ideas.


The meeting in Germany was consistent with the mail conversations that came before it – In general, Peter asked for an unreasonable amount of control of the WPF, did not really have a clear bid for the actual Championship, and rather relied on making grandiose statements and criticizing the puzzle community for being weak minded and regressive. Members who attended the 2014 presentation of Puzzlium in the UK will recognize this pattern of communication from Peter. After the meeting the WPF board decided again not to proceed with an association with Peter.

Board Meeting: Thursday, 3rd October, 2019

Attended by: Will Shortz, Vladimir Portugalov, Haijun Zhang, Jan Zverina, Zoran Tanasic & Prasanna Seshadri (Director)

Introductions & appointments:

There was a quick introduction to the new board member, Jan, followed by an election for positions of Chairman, Treasurer and 2020 WSC-WPC WPF Competition Liaison. After some discussion, it was agreed that Will should continue as Chairman, while Jan was nominated to be the Competition Liaison for 2020. Zoran agreed to continue as the Treasurer.

WSPC 2020:

Haijun noted that he is looking for a different hotel, to accommodate a weekend to weekend schedule. It is likely that China will find a 3* hotel fitting the pricing of the event for this purpose.

The Board also discussed the fact that China would need help with 50% of the puzzles for WPC and some countries were shortlisted to approach for puzzle help for the event, who Prasanna would contact for the same.

Other Discussions:

- There was some discussion about the meetings held over the week.

- Will said he would look at updating the bid for 2021 to have 700 Euros as the maximum participation fee for the A-team participants. Prasanna pointed out that the A-team may differ from WSC to WPC, and Will said he will look into it.

- Playoffs at the WSC and WPC were discussed again, whether they should be mandatory and so on. It was decided that this would also be decided along with the finalized rules and regulations over online communication with the members.

- Membership Fees were another matter discussed in this same vein.

Scoring Software:

The board discussed Michael Smit’s offer. It was decided to let countries deal with Michael individually. Haijun said China were interested and would like to know the price, and was told to contact Michael Smit directly over it. Prasanna asked why there was the talk of a WPF scoring software in the first place and it was said that the scoring software was done one year in 2016 and was just thought good to continue, but not if it has a high cost and members aren’t interested.

“What is a Sudoku?” Report:

Will noted that Tom’s presentation had an impressive and beautiful framework for defining Sudoku and its variants. Asked whether we should accept and build on it, Will said yes. Zoran said there was a lot of detail but very little definitive points. Prasanna noted that the WPF could add the definitive points like a proportion of Sudokus to be used for the WSC, like it has a 40-40-20 proportion followed in the WPF Sudoku GP. Vladimir said that since Tom didn’t have a section for “does not look like but solves like” yet, the Board should wait on the final presentation before taking a final call. After that we can look into the suggestions of the report of an advisory panel for Sudoku and prescribing percentages for WSC and so on.

Competition Liaison & WPF assistance :

Vladimir noted that the organization of the WSPC isn’t as smooth as one would hope and certain things need to be invented as hosts go along. Considering this it would be good to have information from past hosts regarding expenses and unforeseen circumstances they faced and so on. It would be useful for the WPF to build a checklist out of this information and use it for future Championships to aid hosts.