Tags: puzzles



Puzzlehunt 12 was a weird mash-up of a Jeopardy-themed hunt and a Halloween/hell-based hunt.  What that meant was that it was the longest hunt ever, with a whopping 66 puzzles!

Team Liboncatipu rocked this hunt.  We came in second, finally breaking into the echelon of powerhouse teams.  There were a lot of great "ah ha" moments, and the whole team had a blast.

My favorite puzzle may have been Trouble Jeopardy.  In this puzzle, you have crossword-style clues where the letters have been transformed in some way.  You figure out that transformation to determine what the clue is, get the answer to the clue, and then transform the answer using the same method that transformed the clue.  Here's an easy example:

The transformation is apparently to take the last letter of each word and make it a th.  So it becomes
Organized Crime, with "the"
Which is "Mob".  Transforming Mob gets you "Moth."

They got extremely creative with these transformations, so it was a lot of fun quadruple-teaming this puzzle.

Here's some photos from my camera.
I've commented on each of them, but I noticed that you can't see the comments if you view it as a slideshow..

Puzzle Safari VIII: Puzzles in Toyland

We pulled Puzzle Safari off without a hitch, which was surprising given our relative lack of organization this year in running the thing.
70ish teams competed this year which is about normal for the past few years.  

The most gimme-ish puzzle in the event had 60 solves, and one puzzle had 0 solves, with the complete gamut in between.  In that context, I was *really* happy with the number of solves my puzzles had this year.  My eight puzzles had 34, 26, 24, 22, 20, 14, 14, 8 solves.  Considering that my first year my puzzles had 5,4,2 stamps (we weren't tracking solves at that point so solves were likely a little higher) and last year I had a big fat goose egg for one of my puzzles, I'm quite pleased.  

One of the 14-solves had cryptic clues, so that's a good one for a low solve rate since puzzlers will self-select to try that puzzle.  In other words, people who don't do cryptics will not bang their heads over it, so hopefully people either didn't do it or had fun with it.  

8 solves is a little low for my taste- I aim for double digits- but in this case the puzzle ("Dominoes") was (a) educational, in that it tought people how to play a certain flavor of dominoes, and (b) had pictures of these sweet renaissance-era Dominoes.  For example,

So I felt that its other elements justified what I predicted would be a low solve rate.

I also ranked my puzzles in order of expected solves and only got rank 4 switched with 6, which means I knew pretty well how soluble the puzzles were.  The only puzzle I got wrong was Bog Gel, which got more solves than expected, I suspect because some people (like Jeff) were able to guess the answer without doing the logic puzzle.

I think we're posting the puzzles on the internet this year, so I'll link to them when they're out.

jefffordhad a great idea for next year which is to open up the event to puzzle creators who can also play in the event.  Say, each person could submit one puzzle, and, if accepted, she could still play in the event.  Sure, she could solve her own puzzle, but isn't a 10-point bonus for a puzzle author a suitable allowance?  There are, of course, administrative issues, but I'm going to bring this up with the team and see what they think.


Puzzlehunt 11.0: Caught in the Net

This year's Puzzlehunt was Tron-themed.  Liboncatipu, my team, got together the friday evening before to watch Tron at jeffford's and jonobie's house.  The thing that struck me most about Tron was how Star Wars-y it was, with, for example, deathstar-canyon like sequences and the poor man's Harrison Ford, Jeff Bridges, as the hero.

We came Saturday hoping that, despite the loss of dr4b, that we could most importantly (a) finish the hunt again, and (b) somehow crack the top five.
The hunt kicked off with us being in "Laser Bay 2" to witness the laser-zapped digitization of a rubber duckie.  (and there was much missing of dr4b.) Unfortunately, the evil Outermage got hold of the laser and digitized us all!

As "programs," Outermage forced us to do puzzles to feed into his nefarious computations, but meanwhile rebel "users" were giving us game-like puzzles to do so that we could escape.  There was a balancing act- too many Outermage puzzles, and he got too powerful to defeat.  Too many rebel puzzles, and he would deny us access to the relevant systems.

The hunt was incredibly well-themed, led by the beautiful Silverlight application that made up the web site's puzzle distribution and answer submission user interface layer.  I thought it was a great showcase of the technology.  My favorite puzzles were actually done in Silverlight - they were "metapuzzles," or puzzles that can be solved only when having first solved other regular puzzles.  

There were 4 metas.  They were each a rotating icosahedron with various words written on their edges or at their vertices, and each puzzle involved figuring out the relationships between those words.  Each vertex corresponded to a puzzle, so the more puzzles you solved, the more vertices you get info for.  For example, one puzzle had a 5-letter word at each vertex.  You had to figure out that each word was taking a letter from each of the five faces touching it.  Once you "painted" the faces with letters, you could discover the mystery word at the top.

Other than the website, there weren't really any showstoppers this year, but everybody agreed that the puzzles were consitently excellent and virtually bugless.  One notable departure from past years was that there were about twice as many puzzles as usual, but they were shorter in general.  I liked that.  I also liked that there were 3 cryptics.

We came in 7th (of 70), one lower than last year, but we beat Cracking Good Toast, a sure sign that even the perennial contenders are mortal.  I also think we worked together and organized ourselves much better than in past years.  We also have the beginnings of special super-secret proprietary puzzle-solving software now. :-)

As usual, it was good to see garzahd again.  Hunts are now bi-annual, but I think he's actually going to continue to make them all, for which I have a great deal of respect.  Now, if we can only get D back to the states...