Sunday, May 19, 2024

Blue Steel and a short Marathon - 06.28.07 10:30 AM EDT

By jmzero
TopCoder Member

On Wednesday night TopCoder treated us to a dinner and show at the "Tournament of Kings." Jousting, fireworks, and hand-to-hand combat to the death proved to be welcome relaxation after the stress of TopCoder competition. At the event, the TopCoder section was assigned to cheer for Spain, though I think some of the competitors sympathies may have drifted more towards cheering for the Russian champion. I particularly noticed andrewzta seemed a bit unwilling to cheer on our fated-to-lose-anyway Spaniard.

Tournament Scores

I'm sorry I was unable to get an actual photo of the event, but they said there was no picture-taking allowed and I didn't want an argument with the gigantic man standing in front of us in tight black pants. Not only did he clearly have the strength to crush a contraband camera with his eyebrows, but he had the breeze-tossed blond hair and permanent "blue steel" expression of a man who'd done battle with many a romance-novel villain. No, I'm sorry but my camera was staying well out of sight.

But while I can't show it to you, the show was great. I was particularly impressed by the "human tower" acrobatic work; I have no idea how one man can be strong enough to support the weight of 8 others and still be agile enough to do a difficult tumbling run (on a dirt surface, no less). I also appreciated the effort that must go into presenting live jousting. Real unpredictable animals, splintering lances, and a live audience must make for a nerve-wracking performance.

Back to the competition front, below are the marathon standings just before the end of competition:

Marathon Scores

Here Mojito1 is enjoying a slight lead - but the nature of marathon scoring is such that his victory is far from certain. In some past matches, preliminary and final scoring have shown only a fleeting resemblance - so for the other competitors there's still plenty of room to hope. Leaving the competition area, early favorite saarixx commented that this "just wasn't [his] problem - maybe in a week, but not in 8 hours". All of the competitors I caught up with noted the difficulty of the problem and the challenges of addressing it in such a short timespan (short for a marathon problem at least). Regardless of the eventual winner, my impression was that the first marathon competition was a smashing success, and I think this impression was shared by the many spectators who watched or who tried their hand at piloting a ship themselves.