Resurgence, Persistence and A Mystery Unveiled – January 2013 Challenge had it all!

4 min read

It was that time of the month again when we sit down at our desks and watch the best programming minds around the globe lock horns with each other. And like always we were all excited about our first contest of the year, the January Challenge 2013. Amid the flooding Happy New Year messages and people making all those “New Year resolution” jokes (are they still funny?) we began our contest on a pleasing note. However, up until then, like anyone, we were unaware of what lies in the future. And we are glad that we weren’t. After all, what’s the fun in knowing that. But now that it’s all over, let us take you back to the days of January Challenge 2013, which was nothing short of a roller coaster.

Starting a contest on the first morning of the year always has its complications (you know them) and we had ours; as we had only six problems to start the contest. However, that did not put us off, as our problem setters were working briskly on the remaining four. The problem setting apron for the first contest of the year was donned by Vitaliy HerasymivDavid StolpKhadar BashaVitalij Kozhukhivskij, Vinayak Garg, Ivan Zdomsky, Anton Lunyov, Vivek Hamirwasia,  Kaushik Iska and Hiroto Sekido, while the multitasking Anton Lunyov, who also set one of the problems, did the duty of problem testing and editorials.

We started the contest bang on time and like the New Year messages, the submission started flowing. Getting the first submission within 5 minutes into the contest and over 200 submissions within an hour, hinted a promising contest ahead and we were all set for it. As the contest progressed, the number of submissions started barging in for problems SALARY and CVOTE, which made it evident that those were the comparatively easier ones among the first six. By the time the first day got over, we had around five thousand submissions from over one thousand users and the race to the top was on.

The second day brought to us, the seventh problem of the contest, ANDOOR. And as soon as it was served, the submissions started to flow in. However, after a plethora of wrong submissions, first accepted submission came from the mighty ACRush, on the third day. By this time, we had seven problems listed and the contest was nicely stirred. The addition of eighth and ninth problems, CUCUMBER and THREEDIF respectively, further elevated the excitement of the contest. Up to now, we were halfway down the proposed 10-day duration of the contest.

With nine problems on the list, the contest was nicely placed featuring ACRush comfortably sitting atop the global rank list and djdolls on the Indian side. And yes, for all those who are still wondering about the mystery surrounding djdolls, we would gladly like to inform you that he isn’t a mystery any more and you can read all about it here.

While we were busy playing Sherlock Holmes, a lot was happening at the top of the table, with Damians and mugurelionut constantly challenging the persistence of ACRush. In between, we got the tenth problem, the HOB, a couple of days before the scheduled end of the contest. Now, considering the fact that there were some irregularities from our side in serving the problem set (which we are very apologetic about) and only a couple of days left to go before the contest got over, we, in agreement with our problem setting panel, decided to give the contest an extension of three days covering another weekend.

Extending the contest over another weekend brought mixed reactions of rage and excitement from all quarters, as the eagerness for the editorials was soaring high. However, we strive to do what is fair and that is what we tried, by giving everyone some more time to have a fair crack at all the problems. The second weekend went smoothly with plenty of pleased participants enjoying another exciting weekend of the contest, though there were some sparks flowing here and there. But a weekend without some action is not a good weekend. Is it?

Going into the weekend we did expect some shuffling of positions in the rank list, but what we got was least expected and far from all that we had in our minds. And for that matter, it will not be wrong to say that it was beyond any one’s expectation. The long reign of ACRush at the top was put to an end by a sudden resurgence of Indian juggernaut rudradevbasak (did we hear some cheer; we think we did). And like many of you, we were stunned as well. After all, we had last seen him participating in COOK20!

The sudden rise of rudradevbasak to the top had us all thinking (read applauding & smiling), but while we were praising his potential, we came across a shocker which changed the whole context of the contest. His glory came on account of an uncaught bug (yes, we know, another apology is needed) into the problem statement of KILOWHAT. Thus, we braced ourselves for all those “unprofessional behaviour” and “thrashing” posts and comments, as we hopped onto fixing the bug. Our problem tester and setter fixed the bug in a jiffy, thus putting an end to rudradevbasak’s reign at the top.

The last-minute detection of the bug in the problem placed us at the receiving end of the rage of all the participants. However, while we are gravely apologetic about it, all we can say is that as humans we all are entitled to make some mistakes. Aren’t we? Even rudradevbasak, who benefited from the bug admitted of it in one of his comments here. We don’t want to use that comment in our defence, but all we can say is we would try harder to present to you an even more streamlined contest in future. With all those ups and downs, in the end, the contest shaped up nicely giving amazing results with three Indian coders namely balakrishnan_vrudradevbasak, and djdolls in the global top ten rank. So, all we can say is all’s well that ends well.

Now, let’s take you through to the contest rankings.

Top ten ranked globally were:

The top twenty rankers from India were:

Some other key figures for the contest are:

  • Total Users: 3228
  • Total Submissions: 55515
  • Number of distinct users with correct submissions: 2623
  • Total users from India: 2609
  • Total users not from India: 619

In the end, we thoroughly enjoyed the January Challenge 2013 and hope that you did the same. We’d like to thank our problem setters, the problem tester and editorialist for putting their hearts into every problem and editorials, who gave us such a nail-biting contest. As we move forward, we take a lot of learning from the January Challenge 2013, all of which will be put into presenting to you even better contest next time around.

After putting up this question and receiving your feedback, we have already acted upon it and we announce that from now on the Long Challenge will be conducted on the first Friday of every month in place of starting from the 1st of every month. This is to ensure that participants from most of the countries can have 2 weekends to participate in the contest.

If you still have some suggestions, queries, or just a pat on the back, you can always write to us at

Till next time, so long everybody.

Team CodeChef

EDIT: We’ve updated the list of top 20 Indian winners featuring seven contestants sharing the twentieth spot.

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