08 December 2014

Ideas for PL/SQL Championship(s) next year

For most of this year, we have offered two weekly, competitive quizzes on PL/SQL:

PL/SQL Challenge & PL/SQL Explore

But it doesn't really make sense to offer two different championships. At least, that's how I, the fellow who would write all those quizzes, feels about it.

There is, as one might expect, lots of overlap between the top 50 ranked players in the two quizzes: only 14 in PL/SQL Explore are not in PL/SQL Challenge's top 50.

It seems to me that it makes much more sense to have a single championship for PL/SQL, overall.

But our database design doesn't easily allow us to make that change (that is, one championship per domain with merged rankings).

So here is what I would like to do instead:

For the 2014 PL/SQL Championship, participants will be as follows:

1. The top 50 ranked players in the PL/SQL Challenge
2. The additional 14 in the top 50 of PL/SQL Explore
3. Up to 20 other wildcard and correctness players, all drawn from the PL/SQL Challenge

Then going forward, even though PL/SQL Explore will remain competitive, the PL/SQL Championship will be based only on your performance in the PL/SQL Challenge quiz.

What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks, Steven Feuerstein


  1. Makes sense to me, Steven.

    One more argument can be that the Explore quizzes more often can be on "nooks and crannies" topics with greater chance of "guesswork" rather than knowledge, unless you happen to have stumbled upon that particular nook or cranny in your personal experience. (Of course the ability to make educated guesses also is a good skill to have ;-)

    I see the Explore slightly more as "a chance to get to know stuff that there is a likelihood I didn't know" stuff - but then again, I have proved many times I think more of learning/teaching rather than competing. So maybe I'm not in the majority in this view - let's see what other players think ;-)

  2. Hello Steven,

    well I think, that's a good idea.

    But then there will be another important question for me: which type of questions will you use in the champion quiz. Only questions that require Oracle Database 10g Release 2 (as in the PL/SQL Challenge) or also questions that assume a higher version (as most times in the PL/SQL Explore).

    Sincerely yours, Manfred.

  3. @manfred, we have definitely not stuck to 10.2 in championships - the question really for now is: use 12c features or not? Given that 12c has been out for a while and there have been many quizzes on these features, I feel comforable doing so.

    @kim, interesting perspective, but I must confess that the comments (so far privately) by Viacheslav have pushed me to reconsider.

    It seems like from a user/player perspective, it makes a lot of sense to keep things simple and obvious as in:

    If you are playing a competitive quiz, you want to be ranked and you hope to play in the Championship.
    If you are playing a PL/SQL quiz, you want to be ranked as a PL/SQL developer, in PL/SQL overall.
    It makes the most sense to have a PL/SQL Championship - not a championship for a particular quiz.

    So what I am thinking right now is that we should do a roll-up to the DOMAIN level: ranking across all competitive quizzes in a given domain, like PL/SQL. Championship participation is drawn from that domain ranking.

    Does that "sound right"?

    I am still uncertain as to the impact on our code base, but I think it might not be too bad. :-)

  4. Hello Steven,

    I think all players should be join the championship. Please enlarge number of participants. Secondly let's change the name of Championship :)) Let's say that Champions Leauge. In Europe there is very famous soccer (football) competation which is called Champions Leauge. In every Europe countries' champions teams join this leauge. The best soccer organization in the world. As well as soccer, this plsqlchanllange.com is the best organization for us. So this campetation should be titled as Champions Leauge!

    More importantly, I think you have to put DBA questions instead of database design or sql. We seriously need DBA questions. The architecture of Oracle also very important for developers. So, in order to write BEST code, we have to understand the architecture of Oracle and we have to understand the logic behind Oracle!

    Thanks for your support!

  5. @caglar, all players join the championship? I don't see doing that. The whole point is that work hard all year to have great rankings so you QUALIFY. We have already expanded to top 50 ranked.

    League: well, the league is a number of teams and a whole sequence of games, right? This is like the final game of the premier league championship. I don't see the parallel.

    DBA quiz: excellent idea. I hope we can get this going in 2015. Mostly, we need a person who wants to "own" it, make sure there are quizzes, etc. Any takers? :-)

  6. Hello Steven, All,

    For some reason, since the very beginning of the weekly quizzes I understood that it was supposed to work exactly as Steven described, that is, ONLY the PL/SQL Challenge would offer qualification
    for the *ONE AND ONLY* PL/SQL Yearly Playoff, while the participants in PL/SQL Explore would be
    rewarded in other ways ... like the monthly prize or other ways that might be considered
    in the future.

    But, creating a common domain ranking of the two competitions together and using that one for the Playoff qualification is also ok, considering that the players are practically the same.

    Regarding the number of participants, I was always favorable to letting more players compete in the

    I liked Caglar's idea of a DBA quiz, for me just for fun ... since I am not a DBA ,
    and ... probably very soon also not a developer any more ...

    I also liked the comparison with the Champions League :):):)
    with the only topmost important difference that the results of the Champions League are known
    to the entire world ... while our PL/SQL Challenge results remain almost unknown outside of
    our so nice community ...

    But, yes, for me this was the real and daily Champions League :):):)

    Looking backwards to a career that is already behind me, the PL/SQL Challenge was the only thing
    that really mattered to me for a few good years by now and the only thing that will remain !

    Thanks a lot once again & Best Regards,

  7. Hello Steven,

    I think that pl/sql challenge and explore quizzes are very similar so why not join it in one championship. More fun less work :)

    Best regards, Karel

  8. I agree with the updated proposal to have a single ranking across all quizzes in a domain. There's a couple of practical points that mean I think it may be better deferred until next year however:

    * What happens if someone is ranked for Challenge but not Explore (or vice-versa)?
    * Similarly, some people may not have taken part in Explore as regularly as Challenge, thinking they could get through to the playoffs on just their Challenge ranking. There's at least a couple of top Challenge players who haven't taken many Explore quizzes.

    Of course, the first point may be a non-issue currently. The second could be mitigated by having one overall ranking, but separate pools for the wildcard places.

  9. Right, we need to make sure this is done fairly.

    I was thinking that anyone who ranked in the top 50 for either of the two separately would be "special one time only" automatically eligible to play. So it is a superset of top 50 rankings: Challenge, Explore, overall. Then 10 wildcard and 10 correctness.

  10. I was under the same impression as Iudith, where there would be a PL/SQL Challenge championship and that the PL/SQL Explore would not have a championship. I thought this was spelled out in a blog post and/or message entry when the end of the daily PL/SQL Challenge was announced, so I was surprised when this blog topic and discussion about combining the two appeared. It makes no difference to me other than clearly stating how/if the two will be combined.

    In another related topic, is the Logic Championship going to still happen this year and continue in the future? I ask because it is clear that the Logic Championship format last year was a surprise to many, rightfully so, as the solution generators to the normal puzzles were available. Looking at solving time and % correct, it appears that at least one individual now has a solution generator to handle a range of 1-8 with 4 digits and is currently using it for the weekly quiz. I also know that at least one other individual has a generic solver for checking answers and can handle puzzles for value range: 1-9, number of digits: 1-9, and number of repeats: 1-9, as this is one of the first challenges I took upon myself after taking last year's Championship quiz. As a result, even if I qualify this year, I am hesitant to participate knowing the results are basically meaningless and could generate ill will if the question of whether puzzle solvers might have been used can be raised.

  11. Regarding PL/SQL Championship: you and Iudith are both on target. In fact, I did announce back in March that "Players who take this quiz [PL/SQL Challenge] are eligible to qualify for the annual PL/SQL Challenge Championship."

    Hurray! I am under no obligation to merge rankings and offer a PL/SQL-wide championship.

    However, I do still feel that is the right thing to do...especially because we are also planning to offer > 1 SQL quiz soon, as well. More on that to come.

    Regarding the Logic quizzes: point very well taken. We will definitely address that.

    Happy holidays, all! Steven