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2001 TopCoder Invitational Recap

On November 2-3, 2001, 16 of the top computer programmers in the country descended upon the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut for the semifinals and final of the 2001 TopCoder Invitational. The tournaments purse was $250,000, with the winner receiving $100,000.

The tournament began in September with 256 of TopCoder's top-rated members competing in three online elimination rounds, which reduced the field to the final 16.

8:00am - SEMIFINAL A

dmwright, mathgodleo, Sord, and ZorbaTHut got the semifinal rounds started at 8:00 am on Friday morning. dmwright, the top-rated coder for the Invitational, had a 1187.32 to 1138.80 lead over Sord after the "Coding Phase", in which they both coded all three problems. ZorbaTHut and mathgodleo, who completed two of the three problems, were third and fourth, respectively. In the "Challenge Phase", dmwright successfully challenged the 250-point submission of ZorbaTHut for 50 points to secure the round win and advance to the finals with 1237.32 final points. mathgodleo successfully challenged the 1000-pointer of ZorbaTHut for 50 points, and moved into second place when ZorbaTHut successfully challenged the 250-point submission of Sord, and the 500-pointer from Sord failed the system test. Sord finished third in the room, while ZorbaTHut came in fourth.

11:00am - SEMIFINAL B

In the second morning session, three of the four coders finished all three problems during the "Coding Phase", with only 64.61 points separating them. kyotov (1169.90) was in first, followed by jonmac (1154.56) and sundberg (1105.29). dziegler was in fourth with 447.62 points. In the "Challenge Phase", jonmac successfully challenged the 1000-point code of kyotov causing him to lose the 731.36 points he earned from that problem. Those 50 points were all jonmac needed to win the room and advance to the finals. sundberg, dziegler, and kyotov finished second, third and fourth, respectively.

3:00pm - SEMIFINAL C

In the first round of the afternoon, NDBronson put on an impressive display as the only member in his round to complete all three problems in the "Coding Phase", earning 1144.79 points. Logan and malpt submitted code for two of the problems, while ColinMacLeod submitted code for one. NDBronson was 1-for-2 in the "Challenge Phase", and watched all three of his codes pass the system test to win the round and advance to the finals. Logan finished second in the round, as both of his submissions passed the system test, while malpt and ColinMacLeod finished third and fourth, respectively.

6:00pm - SEMIFINAL D

The final afternoon round produced the biggest surprise of the day, as qubits, the 2001 TopCoder Collegiate Challenge champion was upset. stevevai, who successfully coded the 250-point problem, but had his 500-pointer fail the system test, was the round winner. milhouse, the leader after the "Coding Phase", finished second, with ambrose and qubits finishing third and fourth, respectively. A failed challenge and the failure of his 500-point submission, caused qubits to fall short in his bid for his second major TopCoder championship.


With the top-two seeds of the tournament, dmwright and jonmac, the top-rated coder at the time, NDBronson, and a Collegiate Challenge finalist, stevevai, all in the finals, a close, suspenseful match is what was expected, and a close, suspenseful match is what took place. dmwright had the lead at the conclusion of the "Coding Phase" with 1298.32 points. NDBronson (1277.43) and jonmac (1143.22), who like dmwright submitted code for all three problems were a close second and third, while stevevai was fourth with 498.59 points, having completed two of the three problems. As the "Challenge Phase" began, jonmac, who had lost in the finals of the Collegiate Challenge to qubits by 7.64 points, went on the offensive. He first challenged the 1000-point submission of dmwright, but failed and lost 50 points. Not losing his composure, he regrouped and successfully challenged the 1000-pointer of NDBronson, regaining the 50 points he lost, and most importantly causing NDBronson to lose 627.83 points and fall to third. In an even more dramatic event, stevevai successfully challenged the 250-point code of dmwright. This resulted in dmwright losing the 225.97 points he earned on that problem, and falling to second place, 70.87 points (1143.22 to 1072.35) behind the 2001 TopCoder Invitational champion jonmac.