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Report on WPF General Assembly (via Zoom) of April 11th, 2021

Present: Will Shortz (chairman), Haijun Zhang, Vladimir Portugalov, Jan Zvěřina (Board members), Matúš Demiger (WPF director), 35 members and guests.

Opening

Will introduced the WPF's new director, Matúš Demiger (Slovakia). Matúš thanked the former director, Prasanna Seshadri, for his previous work and smooth transition.

Matúš listed his first priorities: an audit of ongoing projects, expanding the reach of the WPF on social media, and discussions with the other candidates for WPF director -- George Wong, Rishi Puri, and Tawan Sunathvanichkul -- about their ideas and potential for cooperation. He said his discussions with them are nearly done, and he will report the results to the Board and members soon.

Appointing the treasurer

Will brought up an issue initially raised by Markus Roth (Switzerland). According to the WPF's bylaws, the WPF treasurer is to be selected from among the Board members. As none of the current members wanted this responsibility, though, the Board voted at its last meeting to make Prasanna the treasurer. Prasanna is very familiar with the WPF finances by his previous work as director, and he'd work together with Wei-Hwa Huang (USA), who manages the accounts.

Markus asked for a formal vote to approve this departure from the bylaws. It was approved unanimously.

Update on Shanghai

Will reported that, because of travel restrictions to China on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, Haijun and his colleagues propose to postpone the 2021 Shanghai WSC and WPC to 2023. No members expressed objections. A formal vote will be held later.

Options for 2022

It was previously agreed that the 2022 championships will be held in Toronto, Canada, jointly organized by Canada and the U.S. Will confirmed that the offer is still valid. However, since the 2020 and 2021 WSCs and WPCs have been canceled, he worried that holding back-to-back championships in North America and China in 2022 and 2023 would mean a five-year gap (2019-24) between championships in Europe -- even though a majority of WPF members are European. He asked if any European members would be interested in hosting the championships next year instead.

Tomasz Krajewski (Poland) expressed a potential interest in holding them in Poland. He promised a response in a few weeks.

György István (Hungary) said Hungary could organize the championships in 2022. However, with the continued uncertainty over the course of the pandemic and restrictions on international travel, he felt he couldn't make a commitment before next year.

Will expressed concern about postponing the decision until next year, because the hotel in Toronto that the 2022 team has selected would need a decision before then. Also, he felt that the prospects for travel by autumn 2022 look favorable.

Prasanna asked Will about the progress in preparations for Toronto. Will said that the work on puzzles has not started yet, but they have a venue and a team of organizers.

Matúš mentioned that a European Sudoku Championship may be held in spring 2022. If Toronto remains the organizer of the 2022 WSC and WPC, Europeans would still have an opportunity to attend an in-person tournament next year.

Will suggested waiting for potential offers from Poland and other countries before making a decision at the next General Assembly. Will confirmed that the offer for Toronto is open for 2024 and subsequent years.

Online event 2021

Will asked members about a proposal to hold an unofficial online WPF event, in place of the regular WSC and WPC, this autumn. If such an event were held, what should it look like?

Prasanna suggested patterning it after the annual 24-Hour Puzzle Championship in Hungary -- holding it in a solid one-day block. This would make the event equal for participants in every time zone.

Matúš suggested patterning it after the LMI Puzzle Marathons in India and hold the event over a whole week. Participants could choose when they want to solve the rounds. The disadvantage of this option is that there would be no way to prevent cheating.

Will suggested that any competition should differ from the GP's and other online competitions currently being held.

Tom Collyer (U.K.) suggested holding qualifying rounds on a regional or continental basis.

Will asked what side events, discussions, or presentations that members would like to see besides the solving competitions.

Matúš asked the 2021 Chinese hosts whether their puzzles for Shanghai are available for an online event. Haijun answered that China is not ready to host an online event. Yanzhe Qiu (China) mentioned that some Chinese authors might provide themed puzzles that could be used.

Prasanna confirmed that the LMI website could host the event. In that case, Indian authors would be interested in creating some of the sudoku.

Wei-Hwa Huang (USA) suggested holding multiple events with various authors.

Ferhat Çalapkulu (Turkey) suggested having multiple tournaments that differ from those being held now. He proposed team competitions, head-to-head contests, or other formats that would be fun to watch and streamable on YouTube.

Rene Gilhuijs (Netherlands) emphasized the idea of holding team competitions to make the event more interesting.

Will asked Matúš, Tawan, and Anthea McMillan (Australia) to form a committee to collect ideas and comments and prepare a proposal (or proposals) within a month. WPF members will discuss the proposals and then hold a vote at the next General Assembly.