The challenging nature of aggressively optimizing for program size has itself long been recognized
In the old days, memory was very limited
The larger 360 models could have up to 8 MB of main memory, though main memory that big was unusual—a large installation might have as little as 256 KB of main storage, but 512 KB, 768 KB or 1024 KB was more common.
Optimising for every scrap of memory made sense in those days and earlier. Now that everyone's laptop is more memory rich than all but the largest mainframes, I see no point in the activity.
What we need now is programs that optimise for speed. A program that runs in 20 minutes instead of 20 hours is worth looking for.
(a) Do such speed contests exist and if so what are they called and where can they be found?
(b) If not, why not?
(c) Is code-golf an anachronism?
P.S. Fewer bytes of high-level code does not necessarily translate to fewer bytes of machine code. Languages that are designed for brevity rather than comprehensibility are always going to win - aren't they?