This weekend is the third event in the Sudoku Grand Prix, and it's Germany's turn to play host. There are some intriguing variants in the mix; hopefully I can at least keep up my current pace and perhaps do a bit better.
Also, this afternoon/evening, I'll take part in the Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt for the first time in a few years. My teammates and I will solve tricky clues and run around Chinatown and its environs to get answers. I'm playing with a strong team with a lot of experience; hopefully I can keep up with them.
In more distressing news, I'm about to be imprisoned. The Maze of Games, previously mentioned on this site, has really gained steam on Kickstarter, and the Gatekeeper is in need of new puzzlemakers for his cage. In the Wednesday update, the new wave of captives was announced, and my name is on the list. I don't know when exactly I'll be captured, but when I am, I hope people will continue to come on board with this great project to free me! Today, a cool puzzle poster was added to the pile of goodies, so if you've already contributed, consider putting in an extra ten bucks for that!
For those of you who reach my blog via my tweets, you no longer have to live in fear that you'll miss a post because I am a forgetful oaf. Links to new posts should now go out automatically. So that's cool.
In the puzzling world, we're lucky to have frequent opportunities to solve puzzles while supporting charity. The latest instance comes via American Red Crosswords, which offers 23 top-notch puzzles for a suggested donation of $20 towards Hurricane Sandy relief. I had the good fortune to test-solve these puzzles and they're well worth your time and money.
A few pieces of miscellany today.
Are you sick of funding great puzzle projects on Kickstarter? I don't see why you would be, but even if you are, lose that attitude pronto, because now you can fund cryptics by Patrick Berry. I rest my case.
If you're in the mood for a light puzzle extravaganza and want to donate to charity too, look at Andrew Feist's second annual contest. You have a little over a week to solve it and enter the drawing, but it certainly doesn't require that much time.
In more mysterious news, The Famine Game is coming to DC in late September. This looks to be an overnight game like Doctor When or WarTron. (Speaking of which, that game is headed to Boston in late June.) Following that exhausting experience (see my recap here and here, unless you're playing in Boston, in which case don't), I'm not sure I love the idea of traveling so far for another one. But we'll see.
Time to start getting geared up for woeful underachievement in the second Sudoku Grand Prix event. Good luck to all participants, though I need it more than you do.
At long last, my traditionally late MIT Mystery Hunt wrap-up is here. Continue after the jump for triumphs, failures, and frustrations. Sadly, there were far more of the latter this year, and I wasn't alone.
Looks like I'm going to continue my noble tradition of posting my Mystery Hunt recap long after everyone else has done so. Hey, punctuality has never been the watchword here on That Puzzle Guy's Blog. For now, you should go read Thomas Snyder's write-up and dive into the 450+ comments. You'll quickly get a sense of the furor over this year's Hunt; I'll have my own measured take on the proceedings soon.
For now, there's a few items I'd like to hit quickly. First of all, some gloating: On Friday, my team successfully escaped from the haunted ship in the latest edition of San Francisco's Real Escape Game! Not only that, but for the first time, we solved all of the puzzles. (It's usually possible to progress and win without a few answers, so that's usually what ends up happening.) We were definitely thirsty for victory after the Great Evangelion Screwjob and our Real Escape Room failure, so it felt great. As for the game itself, the atmosphere was excellent and, with an exception or two, I thought the puzzles were clean, clever, and fun. A scant few tickets may still be available; I'd recommend picking one up if you haven't played.
Later that weekend, I participated in the first event of the Sudoku Grand Prix, a World Puzzle Federation event featuring eight online tests, each designed by a different country's puzzlers. The Czech Republic kicked things off, and I had my usual shrug-worthy performance, finishing 161st out of 581 participants with 136 out of the possible 300 points. Pushing me to the wrong side of the point total's halfway mark was an error on the first puzzle of the test, a standard 12x12 sudoku. Somehow, I got through the entire puzzle without noticing that two 8s occupied one of the answer rows. No idea where I went wrong; I didn't see an easy fix looking at it after the test. On the plus side, I didn't cost myself points with entry errors on correct solutions. So I've got that going for me, which is nice. The next competition is India's and takes place in a little under two weeks. I have to do better, but I'm not holding my breath.
I close with a new development from Monday, and it's another Kickstarter campaign. Mike Selinker, head of Lone Shark Games, is bringing a long-time puzzle project to life with the help of a talented team. It's The Maze of Games, and if you like puzzles and Choose Your Own Adventure books, this is perfect for you. As is the norm on Kickstarter, there are plenty of reward tiers to choose from. I eagerly jumped on board and can't wait for the results.
A quick post with late-breaking news, which you'll read as I'm on my way to Boston.
Once again, it's my turn to supply the American Values Club crossword. "Wait," you cry, "that doesn't link to your puzzle!" Sorry, my friends, but it's now only for subscribers. No reason you can't sign up!
In still more frustrating news, Trip Payne's extravaganza was unfortunately ousted from Kickstarter because it has a contest element. (They sure took their sweet time letting him know, didn't they?) Trip has revived the campaign on his own website. Please note that if you contributed on Kickstarter, it's been canceled and you will not be charged, so you have to make your pledge again. Let's waste no time getting Trip back to his previous total!
It's that time of year again! On Thursday, I'm flying to Boston for this year's MIT Mystery Hunt. On Friday at noon, teams will crowd into Rockwell Cage (yes, we've outgrown the traditional Lobby 7), watch an opening skit to give us an idea of what's coming, and then dash to HQ to solve about 48 hours' worth of tough, twisted puzzles. Along the way, we'll fill grids, make lists, manipulate spreadsheets, wear out Google, reorder data, get frustrated, eat takeout, break through metapuzzles, dash around Cambridge, stay up too late, interact with other teams in strange ways, and, hopefully, be the first to find the coin at the end of it all.
Teams have already received a little taste of what to expect through the mail. Who or what is APH? What does he/she/it have planned? How can Enigma Valley divide the coin? What's their angle? Acronyms notwithstanding, which is the good side? Finances! Malfeasance! Sabotage! Intrigue! Only by solving can we shed light on these captivating mysteries.
Until then, I'll just have to prepare myself as best I can. Here's how I hope to attack this year's event; this plan is, of course, subject to change and outright abandonment as the situation warrants.
- Pace myself. When the Hunt starts, it's easy to be filled with adrenaline as the introduction is made and the first meaty batch of puzzles opens up. I'm hoping to be a little calmer at the start and have a little more energy to stay up later.
- Get some sleep. Some people stay up for the entire nonstop event. Doing this just doesn't make for an optimal experience for me, so I need to get some rest. On the other hand, getting a full night's sleep deprives me of too much of the action. I'm hoping to split the difference and get, say, six hours of sleep on Saturday morning and allow the excitement of the Hunt to carry me through.
- Shower. You're welcome, teammates. I hope you will extend the same courtesy to me.
- Contribute to puzzles I didn't start. This has always been a weak point of mine, and a big reason I don't perform nearly as well in the latter half of the Hunt as I do in the first. I find it difficult to put in the effort to comprehend a puzzle's progress when I didn't make it myself, and I'm pessimistic about my ability because I'm not as familiar with what's going on as my teammates are. I hope to focus better here.
- Do at least one runaround and at least one event. They're fun and often much-needed breaks from being at headquarters all the time.
- Be more successful with answer extraction and metas. This has historically been my weak point, but I think I've been better lately. I have a nice streak going in Matt Gaffney's contest and, while I struggled with the January Puzzle of the Month from Shinteki, I did eventually break through by sticking with it and trying different ideas.
Oh, and if you're interested in some off-the-wall metapuzzle action, head to Eric Berlin's blog for Spaghetti, in which Eric randomly chooses five words and commenters somehow find a coherent meta in them.
Looking forward to a great weekend. Go Team Luck!
Sad news to report this Sunday in the puzzle world. George Bredehorn, inventor of the popular Split Decisions puzzle that has appeared in several books and sometimes as the second Sunday New York Times puzzle, has died at 85. His final challenge will run in the Times next week. We will miss him and his ingenuity.
This week, I make my debut in Fireball Crosswords. Joining me, but not making his debut, is Jeremy Horwitz. Hope you enjoy our creation!
What's that? You don't know how to get the puzzle? Well, that probably means you haven't signed up! You should definitely get on that. Click the link!