Judge plays spoilsport during Aug Cook-Off amid record participation.

5 min read

They say that the problem with plenty is that one doesn’t quite know where to start from. It seems I too am faced with the same dilemma: where should I start from to write this post about our eventful Silver Jubliee August Cook-Off? For eventful, it definitely was.

The August Cook-Off can be credited for keeping all of us at CodeChef on our toes for the whole duration of the contest and more. No prizes for guessing the winner of this contest :), its none other than Gennady Korotkevich. Egor Kulikov comes up second behind him just like our short contest rankings. 🙂

From the very start, the August Cook-Off was special to us. Our 25th Cook-Off is a milestone in our journey; the journey that started with the single idea of providing a competitive platform to the Indian programming community to hone their skills and fight it out with the best in the world. To have come up with 24 challenging Cook-Offs, and counting, is an achievement we are all proud of. So this Silver Jubliee Cook-Off had to be special.

We began sharp on time with a problem set of five with varying levels of difficulty. Within ten minutes, we  had our first hit with yeputons opening his account with NOCODING. Others soon followed him, with NOCODING seeing a flurry of submissions. It turned out to be the most solved problem of the contest, with 835 successful submissions. YNOUTPUT was the next to be solved and it too saw a large number of solutions submitted for it. In fact, the downpour of submissions for these two actually saw the Judge at SPOJ get overloaded and slow down, but more on that in its due place.

After NOCODING and YNOUTPUT, the coders started tackling the comparatively harder problems of the set. CHEFPASS and LEBINARY were solved after some deliberation, the last of the set to see a hit was UNFRIEND. It garnered only 17 successful submissions.

With such a set, it seems the key to win the August Cook-Off was to be the first to solve all the five problems with speed and minimal penalties; none if possible. And that is precisely the strategy our hands-down winner of the contest seems to have followed. Welcome back, Gennady! He had given a miss to just the July Cook-Off, but we sure were hoping that he would turn up for our Silver Jubliee one. Gennady showed up within a few minutes of the contest and as expected of him, went on a rampage through the set. He was through with the whole set well within the first seventy five minutes of the contest! What more, he turned out to be the only one to have done so with zero penalties! It took a while for his peers to catch up with him, but EgorK soon completed the set and staked his claim at the second place. Within the first ninety minutes of the contest, we had our potential first and second rank holders and both of them stuck to their places till the end. Many congratulations to both Gennady and EgorK!

Here, have a look at our Top Ten winners for the August Cook-Off:

1.  gennady.korotkevich
2.  EgorK
3.  mikhailOK
4.  dzhulgakov
5.  yeputons
6.  mmaxio
7.  piob
8.  ilyakor
9.  KADR
10. acube

We have a debutant at the ranks this time. A round of applause for piob, who has made it to the 7th position on the leader board on his very first attempt at any of our contests ever! Seems we have a new coder to watch out for. Congratulations piob! We hope to see him frequently in future contests, with similar brilliance.

Let’s come back to the problem-set itself. A special Cook-Off, like our Silver Jubliee August Cook-Off, needed a special problem-set. And that is exactly what our problem setter, Shilp Gupta, presented us with. And how can one forget the role of our veteran problem tester, Hiroto Sekido? We thank both of them to have worked as a super efficient team to come up with such a special set for our milestone Cook-Off.

Special how, you ask. Wouldn’t you call a problem-set special if it notches the highest number of total users CodeChef has ever seen for a Cook-Off? Yes people, we saw landmark participation for a landmark Cook-Off! The stats say it all.

Length of Contest Unique Participants Total Number of Submissions User who have solved at least one problem
2.5 hours 1041 3856 839
Country Total Participants Average Score per User
IN 821 0.92
Rest of World 220 1.86

It seems we end up breaking our own records with each successive contest. Here we were, celebrating the highest participation for a Cook-Off in July, ruing a little about the fact we fell just 7 short of achieving 1000 users. And here we are now, again celebration a record breaking participation with more than 1040 users! Ah, the bliss we feel. 🙂

Without a doubt, the August Cook-Off has given us enough reasons to celebrate, but it has also given us one to apologize to the community for. We were forty five minutes into the contest when suddenly we start registering complaints from all over. It seems that the Judge was taking forever to verify the submissions and give the results to the coders for their solutions. Some had been waiting for more than twenty minutes! Digging deeper into the matter we found out that the sudden barrage of submissions for NOCODING and YNOUTPUT had sent the Judge at SPOJ in a tizzy and it was finding it difficult to verify the large number of test cases for NOCODING AND YNOUTPUT. At one point in time there were close to 600 submissions waiting in the queue to be judged!! We decided to break for a few minutes to let the judge cool off and catch up with the speed of our coders submitting solutions. This period also allowed our problem setter and tester to retrospect and they finally came up with a plan of reducing the number of test cases for both these problems. We finally had to pause the submissions for a period of twenty minutes, from 10:30 PM to 10:50 PM. We crossed our fingers and resumed the contest hoping reducing the test cases would help and it did :). Phew! We were relieved to say the least. To be fair to the community it was decided that the contest be extended for twenty minutes, till 12:20 AM. I am sure that was of great help to all. We will ensure that this situation does not come up again in future contests. Once again, we are really grateful to Shilp and Hiroto for helping us firefight the situation down. Thank you guys!

We would also like to thanks the users for bearing with us during the problem. We are also looking forward to hear your views and solutions of the same. Your feedback really means the world to us and a little help is always welcome. Also, do write back to let us know what you thought of our 25th Silver Jubliee Cook-Off and anything and everything that you think we need to hear about. And oh yes, here are the editorials for the August Cook-Off. For them, we have Shilp Gupta to thank for once again as he is also the editorialist for the August Cook-Off. Get back to us on those too and we will convey your feedback to him.

As I come to the end of this long post, it seems I have successfully managed to write about everything that I wanted to. Strange for a post that I did not know where to begin from. 🙂 Just the one thing that remains is to remind you folks of the upcoming September Long Contest, though I am sure that needs no reminding of. We can assure you that we at CodeChef are every bit as excited as you to meet the September Challenge head-on. The kitchen is ablaze with related activity and aromas of the cooking problems are most appetizing. Before our chefs serve you a helping of those on 1st of September, do try your hand at the problems of the August Cook-Off which are now available in the practice section for you to attempt and improve on.

‘Tis time to say goodbye coders. This is the space you got to watch out for news from the kitchen. Till the next time, it is me saying Adios Amigos! 🙂

-Ankita

Team CodeChef

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