I guess January is puzzles month

And it’s not even January any more.

(Thing negative two: Thing zero, which is at the bottom of this post, contains two puzzles by me. Skip there if that sounds interesting and text walls don’t.)

Thing negative one: I abandoned this blog (again). The last month has been a mess and much of it is political stuff of the sort that I’m the worst/slowest at writing about.

Thing one: I was on-site for a second MIT Mystery Hunt.

In fact, I was on HuntComm and kind-of sort-of ran our team. I bought a lot of snacks, collected a lot of cash, took a lot of calls, and pronounced a lot of airplane emoji. Whoosh! Neeeowwww! On the other hand, I feel like I saw a lot fewer puzzles, or at least worked through a lot fewer of them. I certainly didn’t get to see any of the mathy puzzles until after the hunt (it looks like Great Tits! and Digital Display are of that type.) It is not clear how much of this was due to the hunt’s length and how much of it was due to my totally different role. The puzzles were excellent, just much easier on average and a lot of the hard ones backsolvable — for instance, I think Chromesthesia might have been up there if we hadn’t backsolved it? The theme and skit were fantastic. We completed the final runaround around 2–3 PM on Saturday. I don’t have too much to say here, sorry.

Things I contributed to nontrivially: Swifties (which I was filmed for), Bigram Battleships (which I kept hoping/expecting would have a secret twist or two), Dot Matrix (in which bcodex came in useful, and would have been even more useful without one of the missing features!), Repeated Punishment (plenty of people could have gotten the key insight but I was pleasantly surprised to get it independently; I also found a few quotes), the Broken Bridge meta (we were really disappointed that we never got the puzzle related to [redacted, MD5 = 5244c453d95ff560ebab2bae15d82216], even after solving it), Capital Punishment (lol), Hopping Lock (one of the last puzzles we unlocked; everybody awake was stuck on other puzzles, so we converged on it, solved it in five minutes, and went back to being stuck). I also went to the Saturday morning Constitution event, which was a silly but entertaining bobblehead race.

Before the hunt, I also solved a few P&A puzzles with the Simmons puzzlehunters that happened to sit next to me on the flight from SFO to BOS, so there was that.

Thing two: the inaugural Cambridge Puzzle Hunt. For this time floorpi mixed up with the plughs and I hunted on “plugh needs a rubber” with two other pizens and Paul, who is really good at puzzles. We placed third and I learned a lot about both solving puzzles and guessing your way around them.

This being the first apparent puzzle hunt held by this group, the puzzles lack a certain amount of polish, as I think one would expect, but I can recommend Archimedes’ Calculus and Lips, Secure as decent puzzles. The other particularly interesting (shall we say) puzzle was Calligraphy. The thing where I had a culture advantage of knowing (Mandarin) Chinese happened again (previously, MUMS 2013)! The puzzle was so difficult and full of ambiguities that we still couldn’t solve it until days after all three hints had been provided, but the construction is still kind of impressive to behold, and gripe about, and that sort of thing.

Thing zero: I wrote five puzzle and a meta for last November. Well, that was the plan. I think it was supposed to be an arithmetic sequence. Unfortunately, writing puzzles is too hard, and now I also have a better place to put my puzzle ideas (I say this too often, but stay tuned!)

Still, I finished writing and testsolving two puzzles (thanks to the kind people of Patzers Club) and finally I decided I should just throw them here for no occasion and with no additional context. They’re not really general-audience puzzles anyway. (I will somewhat apologize in advance for the answers that were meta-constrained but aren’t any longer, but I’m too lazy to rewrite them.) So here are some puzzles. Happy solving!

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