19 June 2015

The Last Post on This Blog (for all the right reasons)


I have used this blog to make announcements regarding the PL/SQL Challenge since April 2010.

We had a great run, and now we can look forward to a greater future, as the PL/SQL Challenge is now an Oracle website:


And that's not all: we now have an official blog at the official Oracle blogsphere:


So all future announcements will happen there.

Thanks for all your support and dedication over the years!

Warm regards,
Steven Feuerstein

10 June 2015

PL/SQL Challenge Website Joining Oracle!

When I (re)joined Oracle in March 2014, the PL/SQL Challenge website was also acquired by Oracle. I'd been thinking that in a few months or so, we'd have it up and running on an Oracle server, re-branded with lots of red.

But then, well, I got kind of busy with all sorts of other stuff. My bad.

But I am very happy to announce that over the coming weekend (13-14 June), PL/SQL Challenge will go offline for hopefully no more than a few days and then resurface as an Oracle website.

And that's why for the first time in five years, we will not offer new, competitive quizzes on SQL or PL/SQL or anything else this coming week (we will still put up some of our "deja vu" quizzes). I don't want to set up quizzes and then not give you sufficient time to take them (and you never quite know what's going to happen so....).

Now, those of you who've been to the website know that we use lots of orange (why? Because it's a pleasant color and also is the thematic color of my Oracle PL/SQL books published by O'Reilly Media):

You are probably also very familiar with Oracle's use of red:

Well, do not worry - we are not going to replace all that orange with red. That would make the website unreadable, an assault on the eyes. But come 15 June, our banner will be transformed as follows:

Chills running down my spine....so exciting!

The site will be largely unchanged from current functioning. You will, however, need to accept the Oracle Terms of Use. In addition, since some players may have been using an email address on the PL/SQL Challenge different from their Oracle Single Sign-on email, we will give you an opportunity to synchronize the two accounts:

The "fine print" asks you to authorize us to transfer profile information from the PL/SQL Challenge to your Oracle Profile. We are asking for this, because the PL/SQL Challenge collected all sorts of profile information, some of which is already in your Oracle Profile, which is the "source of truth" at Oracle. So you will no longer be able to provide your name, country or company in the PL/SQL Challenge. Instead this information is stored in your Oracle Profile.

We plan over time to integrate points on the PL/SQL Challenge with OTN community rankings, but that may take a little while to complete. Do not worry, though! All your hard work and dedication on this site will be recognized.

I look forward to a greatly increased level of quiz-taking activity, as well as a broader array of quizzes offered, and I hope you do, too!

11 May 2015

Obfuscated SQL Contest Winners!

Chris Saxon and Kim Berg Hansen collaborated to offer an Obfuscated SQL Contest:

Daylight savings changes are coming in across the world! Scheduling meetings with colleagues across the globe is always a challenge. With different countries switching on different dates (and some not switching at all!) through March this is even harder. To help us navigate this, we'd like a SQL query that returns the current date and time for different timezones. There is, however, a twist. We don't want plain or boring or readable SQL.

We want the most ingenious, creative, quirky and downright weird SQL you can muster to perform this task.

And thus begins the Obfuscated SQL Contest.

The challenge: 

Write a single SQL statement that returns the current date and time for all the following locations:
Bangalore, London, New York, Chicago and Denver.

The rules:
  • The output must match this format (all on one line):
  • Maximum length the SQL statement can be is 4,000 characters (after removing unnecessary whitespace)
  • Supply the minimum version of Oracle required to execute the query and (if relevant) the maximum
  • You cannot create any additional objects yourself. However you can use any objects supplied with the default installation of Oracle Enterprise Edition
The judging panel will pick a winner or winners based on the following criteria:

  • Using little-known or rarely-used features of Oracle
  • Exploiting features for something other than their intended purpose
  • Making use of multiple features within a single query
  • Quirky, funny or otherwise ingenious SQL code
53 players submitted some crazy SQL, and Chris and Kim have selected the winner and runners-up:

Overall winner: Stelios Vlasopoulos
Runner up: Sean Stuber
Runner up: James Su

Thanks to everyone for participating in this contest. We hope to do more in the future.

Check out all the details here

26 March 2015

Tweaking the Weekly Quizzes at the PL/SQL Challenge

We've decided a couple of things:
  1. Enough with the really dull names as in "Weekly SQL Quiz".
  2. It's time to start up Deja Vu quizzes for SQL, Database Design, and Logic.
So starting on 4 April 2015 (just shy of the fifth anniversary of the PL/SQL Challenge)....

SQL Quizzes

We will rename and continue the weekly SQL quiz as Select from SQL.

And we will add a Deja Vu SQL quiz.

Database Design Quizzes

The weekly Database Design quiz will be renamed to Dynamite DB Design, but otherwise continue unchanged.

And we will add a Deja Vu DB Design quiz.

Logic Quizzes

The weekly Logic quiz will be renamed to I Love Logic, and will free itself from the constraints of our Mastermind-style quiz and offer various formats of logic puzzlers.

And we will add a Deja Vu Logic quiz.

Annual Championships

For 2015 and beyond, the rankings of all competitive quizzes (Oracle Magazine and Deja Vu quizzes are, for example, not competitive) in a domain will be combined to determine eligibility in the annual championships.

16 March 2015

Results of 2014 PL/SQL Championship

You will find below the rankings for the 2014 PL/SQL Championship; the number next to the player's name is the number of times that player has participated in a championship (you will see "1" for all players, since this was the first annual PL/SQL championship).

Congratulations first and foremost to our top-ranked players:

1st Place: mentzel.iudith of Israel

2nd Place: Andrey Zaytsev of Russia

3rd Place: _tiki_4_ of Germany

Next, congratulations to everyone who played in the championship. I hope you found it entertaining, challenging and educational. And for those who were not able to participate in the championship, you can take the quizzes next week through the Practice feature. We will also make the championship as a whole available as a Test, so you can take it just like these players did.

Finally, a big thanks to our reviewers, especially Elic, who not only reviewed three quizzes but also wrote two - a tremendous help for a busy Oracle Developer Advocate for PL/SQL (that is, me).

Steven Feuerstein

Rank Name Country Total Time % Correct Total Score
1mentzel.iudith (1)Israel32 mins 37 secs88%7520
2Andrey Zaytsev (1)Russia34 mins 50 secs84%7211
3_tiki_4_ (1)Germany22 mins 00 secs83%7112
4Karel Prech (1)Czech Republic33 mins 25 secs83%7066
5Ravshan Abbasov (1)Uzbekistan29 mins 50 secs81%6931
6VictorD (1)Russia30 mins 20 secs81%6929
7Jeroen Rutte (1)Netherlands34 mins 52 secs81%6911
8João Barreto (1)Portugal24 mins 07 secs79%6804
9Pavel Noga (1)Czech Republic33 mins 56 secs78%6614
10Michal Cvan (1)Slovakia34 mins 23 secs78%6612
11dmitrysk (1)Russia31 mins 41 secs76%6473
12Kuvardin Evgeniy (1)Russia34 mins 22 secs76%6463
13Chad Lee (1)United States25 mins 14 secs74%6349
14Viacheslav Stepanov (1)Russia33 mins 58 secs74%6314
15Siim Kask (1)Estonia33 mins 59 secs74%6314
16Ivan Blanarik (1)Slovakia31 mins 13 secs72%6175
17Marcus Matzberger (1)Germany27 mins 44 secs71%6039
18Rytis Budreika (1)Lithuania16 mins 42 secs69%5933
19gobruins (1)United States23 mins 35 secs69%5906
20Christoph Hillinger (1)Austria28 mins 51 secs69%5885
21Niels Hecker (1)Germany30 mins 28 secs69%5878
22Patrick Barel (1)Netherlands20 mins 23 secs67%5768
23swart260 (1)Netherlands32 mins 36 secs67%5720
24Jan Šerák (1)Czech Republic33 mins 08 secs67%5717
25Chase Mei (1)Canada34 mins 26 secs67%5712
26Joaquin Gonzalez (1)Spain17 mins 40 secs66%5629
27Ingimundur Gudmundsson (1)Norway33 mins 18 secs66%5567
28Martin_Scholz_Berlin_München (1)Germany34 mins 31 secs64%5412
29Krzysztof Helbin (1)Poland14 mins 10 secs62%5343
30Rakesh Dadhich (1)India18 mins 53 secs62%5324
31Leszek Grudzień (1)Poland24 mins 59 secs62%5300
32tonyC (1)United Kingdom32 mins 23 secs62%5270
33Henry Abeska (1)Czech Republic22 mins 26 secs55%4710
34Alex Stirbu (1)Romania23 mins 47 secs55%4705
35Sean Molloy (1)United States31 mins 56 secs55%4672
36Manfred Kleander (1)Austria34 mins 28 secs55%4662
37Pavel Vorontsov (1)Russia11 mins 29 secs53%4604
38Stelios Vlasopoulos (1)Belgium24 mins 22 secs50%4253
39Jerry Bull (1)United States02 mins 45 secs10%889

03 March 2015

Results of 2014 Annual Logic Championship

You will find below the rankings for the 2014 Logic Championship; the number next to the player's name is the number of times that player has participated in a championship.

Congratulations first and foremost to our top-ranked players:

1st Place: Mehrab of United Kingdom - 100% correct!

2nd Place: Christoph Hillinger of Austria
 - 98% correct!

3rd Place: Rytis Budreika of Lithuania
 - 98% correct!
Next, congratulations to everyone who played in the championship. I hope you found it entertaining, challenging and educational. And for those who were not able to participate in the championship, you can take the quizzes next week through the Practice feature. We will also make the championship as a whole available as a Test, so you can take it just like these players did.

This championship marks a big change for the Logic quizzes. For several years we have used a Mastermind-like format for our quizzes. Yet we also published (and, of course, anyone could also write) automated solvers for Mastermind.

As a result, we changed our quizzes for the championship and expect to do so for the weekly quizzes as well.

Steven Feuerstein

PS - Below the table of results for this championship, you will find another list showing the championship history of each of these players.

Rank Name Country Total Time % Correct Total Score
1Mehrab (2)United Kingdom44 mins 28 secs100%4159
2Christoph Hillinger (2)Austria32 mins 22 secs98%4086
3Rytis Budreika (2)Lithuania38 mins 16 secs98%4069
4gobruins (2)United States26 mins 29 secs95%3996
5Viacheslav Stepanov (2)Russia44 mins 03 secs95%3946
6Rich Dellheim (2)United States39 mins 57 secs93%3850
7Pavel Zeman (1)Czech Republic43 mins 42 secs93%3839
8craig.mcfarlane (1)Norway44 mins 13 secs93%3838
9Naresh Kumar (2)Malaysia44 mins 53 secs93%3836
10Hamid Talebian (1)Netherlands38 mins 58 secs90%3746
11Elic (2)Belarus42 mins 45 secs90%3735
12JasonC (2)United Kingdom35 mins 05 secs85%3543
13katuinbouter (2)Netherlands42 mins 48 secs85%3521
14NickL (1)United Kingdom43 mins 18 secs85%3519
15Jerry Bull (2)United States44 mins 06 secs83%3410
16danad (2)Czech Republic44 mins 46 secs83%3408
17Kuvardin Evgeniy (1)Russia44 mins 07 secs80%3303
18mentzel.iudith (2)Israel43 mins 45 secs78%3196
19Sandra99 (2)Italy44 mins 34 secs78%3194
20Telmoc (1)Portugal40 mins 18 secs65%2671
21Niels Hecker (2)Germany43 mins 35 secs65%2661
22Eric Levin (1)United States44 mins 54 secs65%2657
23Krzysztof Helbin (1)Poland29 mins 45 secs63%2594
24Alex Stirbu (1)Romania44 mins 02 secs63%2553
25Köteles Zsolt (1)Hungary44 mins 07 secs63%2553
26Sean Molloy (2)United States44 mins 32 secs63%2551
27Justin Cave (2)United States40 mins 46 secs60%2455
28tommyTT (1)Poland41 mins 40 secs60%2452
29Stelios Vlasopoulos (2)Belgium43 mins 45 secs60%2446
30MarkM. (2)Germany44 mins 42 secs60%2444
31Chad Lee (2)United States44 mins 13 secs58%2338
32Zoran Krekic (1)Croatia24 mins 52 secs55%2286
33Jason H (2)United States37 mins 07 secs50%2037
34Oleksiy Varchyn (1)Norway17 mins 01 secs48%1987
36Henry Abeska (1)Czech Republic25 mins 19 secs38%1535
37Cor van Berkel (1)Netherlands10 mins 48 secs25%1041
38AndreyBerliner (1)Ukraine19 mins 26 secs23%909

Championship Performance History

After each name, the quarter in which he or she played, and the ranking in that championship.
Name History
Mehrab2013:30th, 2014:1st
Christoph Hillinger2013:18th, 2014:2nd
Rytis Budreika2013:12th, 2014:3rd
Viacheslav Stepanov2013:1st, 2014:5th
Rich Dellheim2013:31st, 2014:6th
Pavel Zeman2014:7th
Naresh Kumar2014:9th
Hamid Talebian2014:10th
Elic2013:13th, 2014:11th
JasonC2013:35th, 2014:12th
katuinbouter2013:21st, 2014:13th
Jerry Bull2013:2nd, 2014:15th
danad2013:23rd, 2014:16th
Kuvardin Evgeniy2014:17th
mentzel.iudith2013:4th, 2014:18th
Sandra992013:17th, 2014:19th
Niels Hecker2013:3rd, 2014:21st
Eric Levin2014:22nd
Krzysztof Helbin2014:23rd
Alex Stirbu2014:24th
Köteles Zsolt2014:25th
Sean Molloy2013:24th, 2014:26th
Justin Cave2014:27th
Stelios Vlasopoulos2013:16th, 2014:29th
MarkM.2013:10th, 2014:30th
Chad Lee2013:34th, 2014:31st
Zoran Krekic2014:32nd
Jason H2013:14th, 2014:33rd
Oleksiy Varchyn2014:34th
Henry Abeska2014:36th
Cor van Berkel2014:37th

26 February 2015

PL/SQL Championship for 26 February Postponed

We will NOT hold the championship today.

Even if the website becomes available within next two hours, I do not want to take a chance at starting the competition and then having problems before it is done.

We will reschedule for a day and time in March.

Participants will receive an email for a new date and time soon.

But based on requests from the last one, I will put this out idea out now:

What do you think of holding the championship on Saturday?

More specifically, please post a comment here if you are participating in the 2014 PL/SQL championship and you cannot or do not want to compete on Saturday