“If you take it slow you’ll move up.”

If you ask most coders about their strategy for TopCoder matches, they’ll probably answer with something like “score a lot of points” or “code the problems correctly.” This isn’t chess after all; it’s computer programming. No need for deep strategy here, just code quickly and accurately. As cintamani puts it “this is about trying not to make a mistake, that’s all there is to it.”

Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that little differences in style and approach can be all that separates a top-tier coder from a low-level gray-name. The decisions a coder makes about match preparation, coding, and challenging can affect the final outcome of a tight match. I did a post-match interview with the members of two different rooms – one in each division — to get some idea of how these various strategies play out in the coding arena.

(full article)