A couple of months back, I persuaded some of my classmates from last year to enter the Standard Bank IT Challenge. I was part of the regional winning team from Rhodes last year, and had fond memories of the trip to Joburg for the finals. We won the regionals again by the skin of our teeth.
Our full team met for the first time at the Heats. We met for the second time when travelling to the finals. We were slightly underprepared. Just a little bit.
We flew to Joburg, and got a good tour of some of its less pleasant bits when our driver got lost taking us to the hotel. But we found it eventually, and I started bonding with my cheap Chinese suitcase, which lost all its wheels down the first corridor and demanded all my attention thereafter. As we were staying two nights, most people had brought tiny suitcases, and I had to explain at least a dozen times that I needed the orange monstrosity as I was smuggling in a midget.
We also had fun telling the other teams how much we enjoyed the fact that water came out of the taps (some reses in Grahamstown had not had water for two weeks, and we had made national news). This was even better when it turned out that the 2nd question of the competition involved matching "requests for water" efficiently by choosing how much water to put in a limited number of bottles. On the last day, we used the winning team's algorithm to take water back to Grahamstown for those who wanted.
UCT won again, this time only narrowly beating Stellenbosch. We came 5th as far as I know, but as the scoreboards were frozen in the last hour and only the prizewinners were announced I'll have to wait to see the final complete rankings. Where Rhodes lacked preparation and dedication, we made up in luck, with two of the four lucky-draw prizewinners being my teammates!
It may be the last SBITC that I attend, though I hope to enter again next year. Who knows, we may even find time to prepare...