Archive for January, 2011

MIT Mystery Hunt 2011

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Mystery Hunt 2011 Coin - Megaman, Prince and ? Block

This year my friend Sparky finally convinced me to join his MIT Mystery Hunt team. Mystery Hunt is a large, difficult puzzle competition at MIT, the prize of which is pictured above. We did not win the prize, but the team, the Manic Sages, did manage to come in second. We finished about 2.5 hours after the winning team and it was awesome!!!!!111 It was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever done. It ranks right up there with redesigning and rebuilding the team 677 First Robotics robot in 2005.

Like the 2005 robot, this competition occurred over about 3 days, and was a race to the finish that necessitated staying up all night and coming up with clever solutions, the faster the better. The video game themed Mystery Hunt culminated in a Portal like run around MIT, during which I got totally lost. FYI: Portal is way easier with a Portal gun than with 2 sub-teams and spotty cell phone coverage. I think, overall, Mystery Hunt was even more fun than the 2005 robot because all of this was intended, not the result of 5 weeks of work with a faulty premise.

I contributed to solutions of 7 puzzles that we eventually solved without working backwards from known solutions to other puzzles. I came up with a key insight that eventually proved to be correct on 1 more puzzles that we did not actually solve, and there are 3 more puzzles that I had a hand in/made and attempt. All of the puzzles are up at (or eventually at but suffice to say that 11 is a very small percentage of the puzzles, and I could have solved zero of them on my own. The 7 that I helped solve are:

  1. You Shall Understand What Hath Befallen
  2. Drafting Table
  3. Soooo Cute!
  4. Sufficiently Advanced Technology
  5. Plotlines
  6. A Representative Sampling
  7. The Path More Stumbled

The unsuccessful, but correct key contribution was to Where’ s Antoinette, and the other three are: