Monday, February 21, 2005

Danke Sch-wayne!

So this weekend was the big puzzlehunt. The theme was Las Vegas. I think I'm going to have "Danke Schoen" in my head for months. There was one puzzle entitled "Wayne Newton" that used as an input step a sound file featuring several of the puzzle organizers impersonating famous people parodying "Danke Schoen." I must have listened to that sound file 25 times. Cruel and unusual punishment.

We did pretty well, finishing 13th out of about 60 teams. Which is pretty good when you consider that the top 5-6 teams are superhuman puzzlers who spend all year creating puzzle resources (useful spreadsheets, programs to do solving gruntwork, and so forth). The organizing team this year did a pretty good job, especially considering that it was their first time running a hunt. Overall last year's puzzles (my only basis of comparison) were significantly harder and required a greater breadth of background and solving approaches, but this year's team made the structure of the hunt much clearer (e.g. the way puzzle solutions composed into metapuzzles, whose solutions composed into metametapuzzles). The sponsoring team is the winning team from the preceding year, and the team that won this year is the team that founded the hunt -- they seem to sponsor about every other hunt, which means that when they're not sponsoring, they're winning. The work that is required to sponsor one of these hunts must be staggering. Fortunately, our team is not likely ever to have to worry about that. On the other hand, we narrowly edged out Hoop, Karthik, and Martyn's teams, so we cling to bragging rights among the just-better-than-mediocre.

Bring on puzzle safari!


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