February 24th, 2006


Puzzle events coming up

1. Seattle folk and potential visitors: static_zombie recently pointed to Team Sharkbait's SNAP Two puzzle event which will have five hours of puzzle solving and up to four miles of tramping on food around the Starbucks City on Saturday 1st April. There's a limit of 25 teams of exactly four players; I thought that the game would be filled up straight away, but apparently there have only been eight teams sign up so far.

2. March 10th and 11th sees the first World Sudoku Championship, in Lucca, Italy. Unfortunately I will be working the day shift both days so wild ideas about flying down there purely to blog the event must go out of the window. Presumably the Canadian team have tapped up byronosaurusrex already; it'll be interesting to see what sort of team the UK get together and how well they do.

3. The online qualifying test for the World Puzzle Championships, featuring the US Puzzle Championship, is set to take place on 17th June this year. Insert it into your diaries now. I shall start linking back to entries with lots of comments from people trying previous qualifying tests, saying how much they have enjoyed them even though they were only able to answer three puzzles, if you're not careful.

4. Finally, the Melbourne University Puzzle Hunt is taking place from Monday 27th March this year, so 4½ weeks away, and it looks really cool. Teams are limited to ten players and the rules explicitly state that there's no need for players to have a Melbourne University connection - though, naturally, I'm tapping my Melbourne University and Australian contacts for local knowledge, not least because it's essential to have someone on the ground to claim the hidden treasure once we know where it is.

The hunt will have five sets of puzzles, each one released at midday local time (2am British Summer Time, 8pm the previous day Eastern Standard Time, 5pm the previous day Pacific Standard Time - curse the vagaries of daylight saving) from Monday 27th to Friday 31thst. Each team gets a total of 100 wrong guesses per day, split over all the puzzles. The cleverest part is that if you don't solve a puzzle by midday the next day, you automatically get a clue for it and can still solve it for fewer points. Up to three clues will be given per puzzle and the third clue tends to be a pretty big hint.

The puzzles themselves are, as far as I can tell, in the MIT Mystery Hunt style but easier. You can see the 2004 puzzles (use the "Act #" links) and the 2005 puzzles and I note that this year's rules suggest "Teams should find that this year's puzzles will not eat up as much time as last year's." In short, this looks like the potential for a great deal of fun with a much more reasonable time commitment than the MIT Mystery Hunt - probably a couple of hours a day for five days. Who's interested in being part of an Internet-connected team? Who's interested and is willing to commit the time? :-)
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