kgcstar and kutengine competing in teams?

You may all be aware that @kgcstar and @kutengine are very successful in Codechef contests, particularly in the monthly Long Contests. Both @kgcstar and @kutengine won the monthly long contests several times. Personally, I have never been able to rank higher than any of the two in any contest that I participated (always because they obtained a better score than mine in the challenge problem). Although I don’t enjoy “not winning” :slight_smile: I did enjoy reading the code of their challenge problem submissions and I even learnt a thing or two from their winning challenge problem submissions :slight_smile: , so there was something good in this for me, too. Sometimes, after seeing many different strategies implemented in their code, I concluded that I would have never had the time to try out so many things in a 10-day contest and that they definitely deserved to win at least for the amount of effort they put into their challenge problem submissions (trying out many strategies with various parameters, etc.).

However, yesterday, in a Codeforces thread discussing the recent ACM ICPC World Finals, someone posted a link to an article mentioning the good results of the North Korean teams in the Codechef contests (they were mostly talking about June, July, August, September and October 2013, where @kutengine and @kgcstar obtained really good results). The article was in Russian, so I used Google Translate to read it in English. The word team was mentioned every time, but I thought that maybe the translation was bad (they also mentioned team ACRush several times :slight_smile: ) or that maybe the writer of the article wasn’t aware that Codechef contests are not team-based contests, but rather individual-based contests.

Nevertheless, I was intrigued by this and searched on Google a bit more. I found several other articles mentioning that the teams from the North Korean universities won the Codechef contests. I discarded this again because i thought that maybe the writer of the article wasn’t aware that Codechef contests are not team contests.

But then I came across this article which specifically mentions that a group of four students from Kimchaek University of Technology won the June 2013 Codechef long contest (the winner of that contest was @kutengine).

Later I found out that a team named kutengine participated in IPSC 2013 (see here). And a team named kgcstar participated in a 2013 ACM Asia regional contest (see here).

So this makes me wonder. Are @kutengine and @kgcstar individuals participating in Codechef contests or teams of several people?

Note that I am not questioning the quality of their submissions in Codechef contests - those submissions were clearly good and based on those submissions they clearly deserved to win (when they indeed won). However, at least for the challenge problem, having a team of people working on it definitely makes it easier to win than being just a single individual.

I would like to ask @kgcstar and @kutengine to clarify this issue, if they can.

Edit 1: I edited this post in order to make it visible among the recent posts. Since the July 2014 long contest is under way, maybe someone who can provide a proper answer will see this post.

Edit 2: It seems that the name of the @kutengine user changed from Myongsu Cha to SongChol Ryu recently, which seems to suggest that there are indeed multiple people using the same account. On the other hand, it has been brought to my attention that Codechef’s code of conduct actually allows team participation, as long as the whole team uses only one account (see here). This is unfortunate, in my opinion, because it makes it very difficult for individual participants to compete properly against teams of people. Can @admin comment on why team participation is permitted in Codechef contests?


I read the article and it seems like they really think it’s a team based contest, they even mention “team ACRush” and
“team mugurelionut”.

@junior94: I don’t know if it’s just the writer of the article who believes Codechef contests are team-based or also the contestants. I am just curious if they are individuals (who are very smart/skillful) or teams (which wouldn’t make them less smart/skillful, but would give them more fire power, so to say, for approaching the contest - and the challenge problem in particular). Of course, participating as teams is probably against Codechef contest rules, but this is something which is very difficult to verify (and basically anyone could do it if they really wanted).

Maybe @aawisong which is from NK knows something about this? I remember people e-mailed when the issue of having perfect absolute score in challenge problem showed up… So maybe talking to him could help sorting this out? If I remember (I was a setter for that contest) he replied to the e-mail we sent him…Maybe we can contact in again on this matter?

Yes… This is a problem that normally takes place during Codechef Long especially in India. I cannot say for sure about what happens in other countries, but the situation in India, especially with Indian university students is somewhat similar. Many of the top ranked users from India (global top 10 - 20 in a few occasions), if you observe, belong to the same university. This unlike, the above mentioned case, have people sharing code snippets and logic, but submitting different solutions (as a whole) through different users. Codechef Long has become a “Race to the Finish”, rather than a journey to learn to something new. A lot of programmers only care about “solving the problem” rather than “learning how to solve the problem”. Sometimes a single person might have struggled for hours or days to get a program accepted, whereas a group might have overshadowed his “sweat” by group discussions. But this, unfortunately cannot be prevented. Another fact is that, most of these programmers are nowhere in the short contests. The people who really work hard “individually” can be seen thriving here. This raises questions about how fare really is the Codechef Long. Is coming top 50 or so globally really a big deal…?(Not ignoring the fact that some of the people who reach top 50 are one of the bests in the world) An improvement that might fix this problem slightly would be to shift some of the incentives. Make the Codechef Short Contest something to work for and make the Long Contest less attractive…!!


sacrificing long contests for the sake of few violaters of the contest? c’mon buddy.


I agree with your point of view @skrcode but as @garakchy said sacrificing long contests is not a solution.


@mugurelionut I was mentioning both the article writers and the participants. There is a comment on codeforces which also mentions the same article. I’m pretty sure they’re a team, the other links for ACM and IPSC in your post point to that. I strongly believe they did not do this on purpose but it’s still unfair to everyone else that followed the rules. They should be contacted and asked to compete as individuals. If we can’t reach them directly we can try to reach out to @aawisong and see if we can contact them through him/her as @kuruma proposed.

I agree that cheating in long contests (either by working in teams or by asking help from external sources) is much easier than in short contests, but I also agree with @junior94 and @garakchy : there’s something really appealing with the format of a long contest and it would be a pity to sacrifice such a format just because of higher chances of cheating.


@aforapple: I don’t understand your comment other than “you should follow kuruma’s advice”. Anyway, I don’t think that I should do anything more about it. I raised the question and I provided the sources which lead me to this question. If the Codechef team (@admin) is interested in the issue, then they should follow up on it. If they don’t follow up on it, they probably tacitly allow team participation (maybe because it’s very difficult to verify/discover it) - maybe such behavior happened in other cases, too ; I only noticed the North Korean cases because they won multiple times.

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@all and @mugurelionut in particular, if you want me to link admin to this post, I can do it easily, since it’s easy for me to get in touch with them… It seems to me that sometimes they tend to let these kind of posts fall back and while for the vast majority of us this is not so harmful, I can believe it might feel unfair to you as a top “individual” competitor, to be competing versus an entire team… If you still want this to reach admin asap let us know trough here (I believe Suraj is online on hangouts, so there’s a big chance he’ll read this as soon as I forward it to him)

@kuruma the implication is obvious bro. only linking wont be enough, also urge them to take immediate action, if you can, pls.

@kuruma: I have to say that now that I know that they’re competing as teams, I find this an extra incentive to try to outperform them in future contests :slight_smile: [ I mean - beating a team in a contest is way cooler than beating an individual :slight_smile: and losing against a team of people is not so bad, since I’m just 1 person :slight_smile: ]. But, anyway, I don’t think competing as teams is fair to anyone (not just to me). Maybe it would help if someone from the Codechef team reminded them that these are individual contest and, in case they competed as teams before, they shouldn’t do that anymore.


Team samjay is ready for them.

@mugurelionut: I thought you would react like that :smiley: [being even more motivated to beat them!] And I find that awesome! Nontheless, I just flagged this post to @admin and will now leave this matter on their hands :slight_smile:

@aforapple , I dont get you, ICPC is a team contest, so obviously practising and participating in teams with give the teams more edge than practising individually.

@skrcode , I completely agree with you, According to me coming top 50 or so globally in long contest is not really that big of a deal. I have read discussions on russian forums where they said that “codechef long contest is evil”, maybe thats why we see a lot of top russian coders competing and winning in short contests and not many of them are interested in long contest.

@v_akshay, why is it evil? Because of all the cheating? Or because of different format?

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@aforapple: Please avoid posting baseless comments. Imagine yourself, difficult as it may seen, to work hard for 10 days and be beaten just because of multiple people working for just 3-4 days with different approaches. As for practicing against teams, we can only increase our skill if we compete with moderately higher ranked players; You don’t get better at chess by directly playing Viswanathan Anand.

@skrcode, @v_akshay: “Is coming top 50 or so globally really a big deal…?”, “According to me coming top 50 or so globally in long contest is not really that big of a deal.” Really? Is this the type of mindset you put into a contest you participate in? And about the Russian forums, I don’t know if they were talking about cheating or the amount of time given to solve the problems but you can’t just take their word for it. Most of these coders already thrive on short contests. Long contests give us the opportunity to know what can we actually solve without the added pressure.