WEOI 2024

A delegation of eight Swiss participants and 3.5 leaders spent a weekend in London to participate at WEOI.

Benjamin Schmid

A delegation of eight Swiss participants and 3.5 leaders spent a weekend in London to participate at WEOI. Below, the participants share their experiences, and on our Flickr you can find accompanying pictures.

Friday 28. June

Today (definitely writing this “today” because we always write the blogposts on time, in fact, our flattering punctuality is most certainly a recurring theme this weekend) we met at Zurich Airport at 8:15. At 8:14, two people were already at the meeting point.

While waiting for the others, we discussed on how to partition Benjamins humongous check-in baggage to accommodate a small bag with at most two t-shirts. After deciding that this partitioning was enough problem-solving for the day, we instead moved on to getting distracted by the Kardashians ad on our flight tickets.

After going through security and passport control (somehow everyone managed to bring their passport, great achievement), we ate muffins and didn’t sing Happy Birthday for Yaël. As we still had a lot of time until the flight, we decided to play some Tichu. Devastingly, some participants (cough cough Hannah) preferred sleeping over joining in on the fun. Let me tell you, they missed out.

Not only did the sleepy-heads ruin our fun, but also did the leaders force us to interrupt the Tichu ceremony to move spots numerous times, without any apparent reason (they blamed it on a change of gates but this was obviously an excuse). Nevertheless we persevered and managed to play a couple more rounds. This was also accustomed by the fact that our flight was delayed by over an hour due to “technical [skill] issues”.

Unfortunately, the rest of the journey to London wasn’t eventful enough to be reported about (i.e. more sleeping by even more people). Ferdinand and Yaël tried to solve some old problems to pass the time.

After getting off the train, everyone realized that they were very hungry but the torturing by the leaders continued, they did not allow us to eat until we were close to our hotel. Luckily, Yaël decided to make a “Sitzstreik”, leaving the leaders no other option than to cave in. The only question that remained was which traditional English food we should try first. In the end, we decided to eat at Subway. In fact, this would be the most English meal we would have.

Well nourished, we continued our adventurous hike to the hotel. On the way there, we even met the Dutch delegation. At the hotel, we first picked up Anna, Luca, Mark, and Hongjia, before discussing what we should do next for over 20 minutes. Fortunately, Anna was nice enough to give us a tour of London, where we learned about a lot of “Great” disasters, like the Great Fire of London or the Great Plague, and also learned where all the Royal money is hidden. We continued to go to the first official event, which was at a bar with a lot of arcade games. Astonishingly, we were half an hour early, but it was all for nothing! They let us in at first, but kicked us out again just when we started to play Tichu (even more tyrants). So we spent half an hour outside and returned on time (actually on time). We had a fun time playing games, eating fast food, drinking lemonades and having limited success at socializing (with our frontman Ferdinand, while us the wing(wo)men stayed behind to cover the fronts on Super Mario Tennis).

After saying goodbye to the Irish team, we headed back to the hotel. We tried to find the shortest path back to the hotel in typical SOI fashion, which means that everyone assumed that someone else knew the way. We ended up running into the Irish team which stayed at the same hotel, but which was heading into the opposite direction. At this point we realized that something has gone wrong with our collective pathfinding algorithm. With the help of the Irish team, we managed to get back to the hotel and decided to get some rest for the contest tomorrow.

  • Written by Ferdinand Studios, our creative director, and his FerdiAssistants.

Saturday 29. June

At 3am in Switzerland, Jerry wakes up. He has 11 hours till the contest starts, and only 3.5 hours of sleep to support him. Will he make it? Over in London, we agreed to meet at 8:00, so naturally at 8:10 we headed for Jane Street. At Jane Street, after thorough security checks of our names being checked twice, we finally infiltrated the official sponsors of every olympiad (unverified). After a quick breakfast (scrambled eggs disguised as a burger) we were herded into the main contest room, where we were to experience the highs and lows of the contest.

As in any olympiad, it started off with a very standard opening ceremony. Alas, a more interesting thing arrived: Jerry (unlike Rösti) arrived, miraculously. There was a talk about esoteric programming languages, whereafter we were treated to a short lunch before the expected and surprisingly only fifteen minutes delayed start of the five hour contest.

The problemset was easier than expected (This would also show in the rankings). Two of the tasks were very ad-hoc, both relatively easy. There was also a doable tree-dp task. The only true challenge was the last subtask of the hardest task, which required binary lifting and an annoying implementation.

After the contest, we discussed the scores amongst each other and discovered that we were not all a wunderkid, but instead the problemset was just easier than last year’s WEOI. The evening was otherwise uneventful as we were locked into Jane Street until 9pm, being served mediocre pizza for our troubles. Finally, at 9pm, we set off to the hotel, and after some navigational difficulties, successfully arrived with all the participants.

In the evening, while some participants dropped dead in their bed, the others decided it was time to play some games with the Irish delegation. After playing way too much codenames, Ferdigames, and Irish snap, our brains were completely fried and we were surprised to find the clock showing 2 am, leaving us with a healthy six hours of “potential” sleep.

Sunday 30. June

We started Sunday morning by waiting 20 minutes in the cold London wind for everyone to wake up and go down to the hotel entrance. Luckily, being Swiss, we are used to the cold. After even the sleepiest people were ready, we took a group photo with a nice background. We then walked for about 10 minutes to the Jane Street headquarters for today’s breakfast. The meal wasn’t beating any stereotypes, as it consisted of bacon, eggs and beans, but it tasted very good nonetheless. The vegetarians among us didn’t have to go hungry either, as there was an alternative option of hashbrowns and vegetables. For dessert, we could choose between yogurt with fresh berries and exotic fruits. After breakfast, a Portuguese leader gave a very interesting talk about his work and area of study, graphs and networks. He showed us how patterns and groups emerge when analyzing different graphs, such as those formed by social media connections or Facebook friends. At the end of the talk, we all hoped the awards ceremony would start soon but were kept in suspense a bit longer, as the solution presentation was up first. After the solutions were known and the mistakes made during the contest realized, it was finally time for the medals. Switzerland did quite well with three gold medals and two bronzes, although there was some disappointment in the team from people who had unfortunately just missed the cutoff. Before leaving for our flight, there was still some time to socialize and eat lunch, which was again quite British with roast beef and potatoes, as well as a vegetarian Wellington option. After lunch we had to leave, as the Jane Street office had to be gotten ready for another event, but not before getting some merch such as t-shirts and even a Rubik’s cube. While walking to the train station, we took a last look at London’s sights before leaving.