Here at Google we like puzzles. A lot. We do them to relax, we use them in recruiting campaigns, and we're even a sponsor of the World Puzzle Championship. So, as Google's official in-house puzzle geek, I'm pleased to report that recently, after a two-year dry spell, Team USA finally recaptured the World Puzzle Championship title, our eighth victory in the 13-year history of the championship.

In fact, "13" was a common theme for this year's contest, which was held in Opatija, Croatia, a small town on the Adriatic Coast; all the individual rounds had 13 puzzles, and all the time limits were multiples of 13 minutes. Some of the more interesting events included a "relay" round where the solution to each puzzle was needed to solve the next puzzle, and two rounds where information from the 12 initial puzzles were needed to solve the final 13th puzzle. Here's an example of one particularly nasty brain-teaser from that round:

(For those readers who haven't solved it already, shade in nine regions such that no two shaded regions touch (even at a corner) and that eight of them "point" in different directions. The numbers outside the grid tell you how many shaded regions there should be in that row or column.)

I wound up placing 5th in the individual rankings; first place went to Niels Roest from The Netherlands in a very impressive comeback victory in the playoffs. But the most enjoyable aspect of the trip may have been the travel itself, which took us from Munich, Germany to Trieste, Italy, through Slovenia and across the Istrian peninsula to the Hotel Ambasador (yes, only one S), where I enjoyed a stunning 180-degree view of the Mediterranean from my room (when I wasn't solving puzzles, of course).

I can't wait to try out for next year's competition in Hungary!

Wei-Hwa Huang
Software Engineer