bmerry's blog

By bmerry, history, 4 weeks ago, In English,

I've been thinking of retiring from algorithm contests for a while, having failed to qualify for any on-sites in 2017 or 2018 (I'm excluding DCJ from algorithm contests). This is definitely a young person's game and I can feel I'm not as sharp as I used to be. I still love problem solving, but when I'm under time pressure and just can't see the solution and know my rating is going to crash, I get so stressed and frustrated that I don't enjoy it any more.

Now that both my Topcoder and Codeforces ratings are back over 3000 I've decided to retire from rated contests so that I'll go out on a high. I will most likely continue to do unrated contests where if I have a bad day I can just walk away instead of stressing myself out. I might also get more involved in testing contests.

 
 
 
 
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4 weeks ago, # |
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There might be other ways:

1) Take part in virtual contest after the rated contest gets over.

2) Create another account and enjoy coding. No one's judging you there.

Age is just a number! If you performed exceptionally well in past, then you can always repeat that if you don't give up.

Cheers and "b merry"!

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4 weeks ago, # |
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I've decided to retire from rated contests so that I'll go out on a high. Why? Algorithmic contest are not like other sports where your failure affects your country/club, you already have achieved great feats in algorithmic contest and also no one will judge you based on your current rating. Also how is it possible to enjoy unrated contest and not rated contest for people like you who I think enjoy competing.

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Yeah i agree with you. Most of us won't get that feeling when you are top 10 in a div1 contest or when you have solved 6 problems from a div+ div2 contest in under 1 hour.

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Did you even read his post. He said clearly he didn't enjoy competing (as of now), so you are basically ignoring his choice and saying something like "wow you are high rated/well known you must enjoy competing" which is like, the opposite of what he said. And you say "how is it possible to enjoy unrated contest and not rated contest" but he just explained it in the blog, if you'd read it.

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      4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      I didn't meant to say this if it sounded so. I was trying to say similar thing which coder said in his comment.

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You were one of the people I followed and learned from when I started competing. Congrats on an awesome contest career -- hope to see you writing tutorials and staying involved in the future!

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Good luck for future!

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I'm a fanboy here, so you'll be missed. That said if you're not enjoying it at the moment then no point continuing to frustrate yourself. Good luck with whatever is next and hope we get to see you back here eventually.

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It's always strange to hear "I'm not so good now" from someone so extremely good ;p

If you don't enjoy during it anymore, it's a good decision to stop. It doesn't mean you can't go back one day.

I hope you stay in the community :)

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You shouldn't care about rating at all when you are past your peak

Things will become much easier and you can enjoy problem solving again

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I also start stressing when i participate badly and i lose my confidence and concentration which is really bad but i am an expert who fell to specialist and who is trying to get to div1 while you are a legendary grandmaster.

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Well, at least you made it back up!

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      yes, but when you are trying to get higher and then i have -100 it feels really bad.

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F

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I recall your editorials bmerry from back I just started "seriously" training CP at school in 2004. I want to say thank you for your efforts in popularization of the CP at that time. Although I am semi-retired myself now and not practicing anymore for more than 5 years, it is clear that it is very hard to stay at high level continuously even if you are genius. So it might be essential to quit smoothly. Congratulations on your comeback and wish you apply your programming skills where they are needed the most!

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Seems like 2018 is the year for South African Legends, first AB retired from International Cricket and now you are taking retirement from rated contests. Sad.

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You are exactly shine star! I believe you will back one day.

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Hey Bruce!

I have many happy memories of competing against you during the years, and you have definitely been one of the greats of our "sport" for a long long time. It's been a pleasure. Good luck in whatever lies ahead for you!

(And should you wish to test some problems for the upcoming TCO onsites, get in touch with me ;) )

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Thanks for the comments everyone! I didn't expect quite so many people to be reading blog posts on a week day :-)

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;-;

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I am sorry for being harsh, But I never imagined it will come the day that one of the veterans of the topcoder golden era (Tomek, SnapDragon, Petr) is yet compalaining about being afraid of rank drop or managing contest time.

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    time is everything... yes there was a time when petr and tomek used to dominate topcoder... but tomek has retired ... petr is no longer vintage petr... but i dont think petr cared 4 ratings

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I am also retiring, not because I am too old for this, but because I am stupid

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All hail Lord Bruce!

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Don't worry, you're not alone. I completely sympathize. It's hard to feel like you're constantly competing against your younger self, and never quite measuring up! Ratings just make it worse. But I hope you'll continue to be involved in programming contests (and ICPC judging). They're still fun, even when you're old, wrinkly, and your brain has turned to mush. ;)

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Don't worry, I still plan to do GCJ, DCJ, Yandex (assuming it doesn't go by without me noticing as usual), maybe Hacker Cup, IPSC, some CF educational rounds, and more. And now and then they'll make me feel old and past it, but at least they won't show me ratings graphs to keep reminding me :-) And I've submitted problems for the ICPC finals, so hopefully I'll see you in Portugal.

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Hey Bruce! Thanks for everything you've done for the community. I'm glad I had a chance to compete against you and talk you at several occasions. Always pleasure to meet you and I hope you still stay around even if not as an active contestant. Good luck & have fun with whatever will keep you busy from now on!

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FFF

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F

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You are target on codeforces. So it's enough :)

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It's ok, your rating is just a number. You don't have anything to prove anymore after being in the top 20 of CPists in the world (and probably in the top 5 in your age category).

I understand why people like Bjorn Borg want to retire while being at the top, in order to not live the big descent to hell, but it's something you'll live anyway, your eternal rating above 3000 reminding you of your past level is also hard to live.

Even if your rating decreases in the future, nothing and nobody can take away your pasts achievements. Personally, I would prefer seeing a curve decreasing as my level decreases (which will definitely happen at some point, we all finish at 0 rating) rather than having the feeling that I'm somehow an imposter amongst my color.

It is your decision, but my opinion is that your approach to competition is not relaxed enough. Ranking is one thing, stakes are another. It is enjoyable to compete with the best, regardless of the result.

I know you're at a stratospheric level compared to me, but maybe blue people can teach you one thing : accepting not being the very best (As everyone but one person in the world at a time must)

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You're still a kid. I am over 60 and just started with CP. I'm already blue and plan to be purple in the next weeks. Besides, I'm an actor, not a programmer, so it's not my kind of thing.

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What makes you think that you are not as sharp as you used to be? Here your rating is only 33 points below your maximum and I doubt you can't set a new record. On topcoder it is not as high as it was, say, in 2012, but it is not the first time it falls.

There are some other facts to take into account. Problems might have become a little more challenging than in the past, the level of competitors got higher, your brain might have actually got sharper to avoid thinking about wrong solutions, and it may feel worse to have no solution compared to having a completely wrong one. I feel like it is difficult to do a fair comparison to a younger self.

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    No, I still come up with wrong ideas too. Ever had one of those days where you can just feel that your brain isn't working well, your thinking is going around in circles and you can see that the solution should look sort of like this but you just can't pin down the details logically? And some days you just look at a problem and almost immediately see a solution and why it is correct? I'm having a lot more of the former and a lot less of the latter.

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      Lool, i have a lot of bad days like that too. But i think in my case this days happen when i am not in the mood for cp but i am still pushing myself.

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I have been thinking about taking this decision a long time ago, I solute your courage Sir.

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Every programmer die twice, first after retiring and second after pass away. :(

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    Or once if he passed away before retiring.

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      Iranian have an idiom that say bite your tongue, it means hope never happen. So bite your tongue. :)

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It was always a pleasure to see you on standings, both at major competitions and at regular Codeforces rounds, especially in the past three years when I was monitoring most of them.

As far as I understood from comments, you're not retiring from annual grand competitions as many assumed. It's a good compromise of enjoying problem solving but not spending too much time and effort maintaining high ratings.

As others mentioned, there are also other methods of staying in the community: authoring problems, writing some useful blogs, testing contests, etc. It is usually more relaxing but still as interesting as competing, if not to say more :)

So I also hope you won't disappear from the competitive programming. Should you want to test (or even hold!) rounds on Codeforces, we will be really glad to work with you. Just contact me or other coordinators.

And yeah, you've already done an amazing career, staying high for such a long time is a great achievement. Good luck at whatever you will put your efforts into in the future!

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3 weeks ago, # |
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Can you participate as a virtual participants in real time? If not, wouldn't having an option to participate in a competition without losing&gaining points be a legitimate option for people like you who wish to keep competing but without the "fear" of losing you rating?

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    3 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    If I do CF contests I'll probably just upsolve the problems individually rather than in a virtual contest, enjoying the problem solving process rather than putting myself under time pressure.

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You are the greatest South African after Nelson Mandela.

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You are rated in top 20 best Coders of World. If CP is in olmpics , You must have won many medals for your country. You are one of the best who give us motivation. Good Luck Legend.

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Codefroces is a drug.

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Good luck.

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CP gets more and more popular by the day, before there was only TopCoder, now check sites like HackerRank and LeetCode, yes they are more for job hunting, but they each have Alexa Rank ~ 2.5K! Compare that to 10 years ago when there was only TopCoder with Alexa Rank ~30-40K. Just staying in top 25 in CF year by year means your skill is increasing.

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It is interesting thing, why with years past many competitors become to compete worse but not better? What is reason why? Is it really some biological changings in brain?

Usually one consider that solving problem we try solutions that already know or some changed of them. So with years one must become better. Why this is not?

Or maybe with years older competitors waist less time for sport programming and become worse only by this. For example there exists Petr, who in a top for many years. Why such guys not become worse?

Maybe with years programmers solve problems not worse, but sometimes only slower. How do you feel?

Does anyone know what changings in brain bring to solve worse? Or maybe it is false conclusion and changing become in problems and there are appearing new techniques that study younger guys and most olders stay with previous techniques and worse solve new problems. Can anyone say that regularly compete but now he can not solve same problem that could solve in the past?

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    3 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    I haven't looked at any proper research, but anecdotally it's often said that mathematicians do their best work before 40. The brain definitely starts to deteriorate at some point, and eventually it outweighs the benefits of experience.

    I don't know if I'm getting slower or others are getting faster. It used to be that when I had a really good day and felt like I'd solved a problem quickly, I would often have the fastest time; whereas now even when I feel I've been quick I find lots of others have beaten me to it. But I also have days where I just can't see solutions to problems that everyone else is solving.

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      Can I ask you if you practice less than what you did years ago when you thought you had your peak?

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        4 days ago, # ^ |
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        I've probably been doing less practice the last few years, but even when I've made an effort to practice more it hasn't helped, and my peak rating on TC was before I even started doing Codeforces.