Imagine you’re a ninja, trying to master your deadly grappling hook. Or perhaps you’re a chess grand master, outsmarting your opponent’s every move. Or even a Taoist philosopher, explaining the deep truths of the world to your followers.

It’s situations like these that you’ll face in Google Code Jam, our annual coding contest in which some of the best coders from around the world write programs to solve tough algorithmic problems. We believe that one of the best ways to sharpen your coding skills and stretch them creatively is through healthy competition. The intense experience of confronting a problem, conveying your solution to your computer and seeing the results emerge is a thrill unlike any other.

Today we’re opening registration for Google Code Jam 2011. Coding will begin on May 6 with our qualification round, where competitors will have as much as a day to plan their approach to our first few problems. From there, the contest heats up quickly: the remaining contestants will engage in several two-and-a-half hour rounds, wrangling each time with three to four algorithmic problems that range in difficulty from simple to fiendish. For each problem, you’ll wield the programming language of your choice, crafting the perfect algorithm to pit against the gauntlet of our test data. Construct your code flawlessly and you’ll be on to the next problem; solve enough problems, and you’ll make your way to the next round. If you continue to succeed, you might find yourself sitting on a flight to the finals.

The challenge begins in just over a month. If you’re a killer coder and you’re ready to compete, sign up on our website; while you’re there, make sure to check out the puzzles of the past few years to get a sense of what’s to come, and to hone your skills. If you’re one of the top 25 competitors, we’ll bring you to our Tokyo office to spar against your fellow coders. In the end, only one person will bring home the $10,000 top prize—and the title of Code Jam Champion.