Vitaly Novikov

The fifth season of the Sherlock Mahjong Mysteries Solving Contest is over. It is the most successful mystery solving contest so far. Twenty-seven contestants from seven countries tried their best to get prizes. Thanks to all participants and congratulations to the winners!

Here is an attempt to look behind the scenes of the contest, to show it from author's eyes.

And we kindly ask that you post comments about your participation in the contest, how did you feel solving mysteries, what was good, what was not. Your ideas can help to make next contest even better.

As the author of the mysteries and as the coordinator of the contest, I must answer several questions after the contest is over. The first is "Will we do it again?" -- well, I will try my best for the new season to take place.

This year the scheme was copied from the previous season. Yet, it became a trap for unexpected reason: there were so many participants so that any relieving of their participation within contest has lead to situation of multiple winners. Even timestamp rule did not help a lot since the winner has been selected based on the LAST mystery only. For instance, some other participants had better "average place" then winner of the 5th season contest.

Ideas for the next season

Two main drivers have lead to multiple standings: too long time for solving mystery and attitude of the author allowing contestants to send their second and third tries of replies. As a consequence all active contestants have managed to solve most part of mysteries.

    Proposal for the next season may look like:
  • to reduce solving time from six to four or five days,
  • 1 SHP "early bonus" will be given ONLY to the first three contestants who will send PERFECT answers for the current mystery,
  • the second and further attempts will be accepted only after "early bonus" will be distributed.

Comment: surely, since the contest is mutinational and hence multilingual any explanations will be given if mystery text has ambiguity.

Your comments are welcome!

Dear contestants! Please leave your comments on the 5th season Sherlock contest. This is not an official poll. Simply express your ideas and feelings trying to cover the following points:

  • why did your participate in contest?
  • were mysteries too difficult/ too easy/ just about right?
  • how many mysteries would be an ideal contest?
  • why you did not participate (or leave the contest in the middle of it) -- prizes quality/ mystery quality/ it's difficult to write in English/ too lazy to write answers?

People in this conversation

Comments (3)

  • Guest - Menno Deij - van Rijswijk

    Hi Vitaly,

    Thank you again for organizing the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries of Mahjong! Please find my feedback below.

    Best wishes,

    Menno Deij - van Rijswijk

    > why did your participate in contest?
    I enjoy playing Mahjong and I was tipped by Nicole to participate when she shared the announcement on Facebook. It was a lot of fun and I had to really think outside the box for some of the mysteries.

    > were mysteries too difficult/ too easy/ just about right?
    The mysteries were just about right I think, one or two were too easy. None were too difficult.

    > how many mysteries would be an ideal contest?
    Anywhere between 5 and 10 I think.

    Your proposal for the next season is very reasonable, except that participants can have an advantage depending on which timezone they are in. For example, I usually found the next mystery at breakfast time here in The Netherlands, but in your country it would already be end of morning and even further east it is afternoon. Maybe that should be a reason not to give bonus based on time-stamp; maybe make new rules for bonus. For example: bonus for perfect solution in one attempt only. Or bonus if all mysteries solved correctly.

    Another idea I have is that it would be nice if people could send in their mysteries for you to use. I have a few ideas for mysteries ;) Of course, how to handle this when the author also participates in the contest you need to think about.

    Comment last edited on about 2 weeks ago by Vitaly Novikov
  • Guest - Cyrille


    Once again I enjoyed this contest. I like mahjong, mysteries and even more mahjong mysteries.
    Before sending some critics and suggestions I would like to thank Vitaly for the time he spent (reading answers, answering...).

    In my opinion, a contest over 10 weeks is a bit too long (6 weeks could be better). Maybe it would be good to reduce the number of mysteries or the delay between two mysteries.
    This year I found some mysteries were a bit easy. But globally the contest was very interesting.
    I don't really like timestamp as a criteria for ranking. If you have time for the mystery only several hours after it is published, your ranking will not be good, even if you solve the problem in 2 minutes. Some mysteries could be the occasion of bonus points on a different criteria. For example, in the last mystery we had to find a hand with many fans. An extra point could have been given for the greatest number of fans (and then timestamp if there is still some ties).

    Comment last edited on about 2 weeks ago by Vitaly Novikov
  • Guest - KingFloche (Florent DESCAMPS)

    Hi Vitaly,

    First, thanks for this Sherlock Holmes season. It's always a pleasure to solve some situations that I ever thought about. In order to solve your mysteries, I had to think in a different way. I practice a lot this game, that's why I wanted to resolve these mysteries. 10 mysteries/season seems a good deal. I think, you could reduce time between mysteries, One week is too much. Some mysteries were simple like Irregular maximum, chow duel or Three men in a boat. However, some ohers were kind of complicated. I had to set up a game to solve it like charleston or trap for a dragon.
    I think, you can reduced submit by players. Like 3 tries to solve a mystery, otherwise you get none points.
    Could be better instead of time stamp.

    Anyway, we will wait for the 6 season and be ready to solve it.
    Keep playing mahjong will be our blood ;).

    Florent D

    Comment last edited on about 1 week ago by Vitaly Novikov

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