MIT Mystery Hunt 2011

Well, that was unexpected — the Mystery Hunt team I’ve hunted with for the past three years, Codex, won the hunt this year! It’s the team’s tenth year of competing and our first win. Congrats to everyone! Here’s a Boston Globe article about the whole thing.

The hunt organizers did a beautiful job putting together the hunt (it took an estimated 20,000 person-hours), and the laser-etched “coin” we won the hunt by finding at 6am on Sunday morning was a reflection of how much effort had gone into the hunt in general:

The coin!

The coin!

Of course, this means that now it’s our turn to write the hunt — as Scott says, our free time for the next year has just vanished. It’ll be fun, though; it’s always sad when the hunt ends and you realize you aren’t going to get to hang out with the awesome people you just spent a sleepless weekend solving puzzles with until next year, but having to meet up regularly to write and test the puzzles for next year will fix that. We’ve got a very high bar to live up to, and a thirty-year-old tradition to keep alive.

(Oh, yeah, geekiest moment of the hunt: one of the puzzles — Redundant Obsolescence — involved plugging an Iomega Zip drive into my desktop PC via parallel port and reading files back off it, in Linux. I couldn’t believe it worked.)

While I’m here and blogging, here’s a guitar video I recorded over Christmas. I’m happy I finally got to record a Kaki King piece.

Kaki King – Goby (youtube, download in Ogg Theora)


  1. Congrats!

    Thanks to you I was able to be at the Codex HQ in Jan 2008 and it was inspiring to see you guys work in such beautiful puzzles. I can barely imagine the dedication you put into it this year in order to win.

    I dont know if I ever got around to thank you for that. Thanks!

  2. Beautiful! I didn’t know that you’re a Kaki King fan. Did you find sheet music, or figure it out by ear? This video makes me want to work on less sloppy technique when I get back to a guitar.

  3. Hi Andrés,

    I remember! Thanks for the kind words. Maybe you should come over to Boston next year to try to solve the puzzles we come up with. 🙂

    It’s true, we worked hard — I got three hours of sleep between the hunt start at 12pm Friday, and getting home at 8am Sunday. I think this was a pretty bad idea, don’t think I was effective towards the end of the hunt, though I did do some good team coordinating.

  4. Hi Will, glad you liked it,

    I did use sheet music, found some at The Kaki King Forum. It’s a tough piece to learn, though, because Kaki plays it a little differently each time..

  5. Congrats! I was on Random Answer Generator, and we were pretty happy with how we did as well.

    My story for that puzzle is that we found a SCSI Zip drive but couldn’t find a working computer to install it. I tried running over to SIPB to find an adapter, or an old enough computer to install it in, but no dice. (Plus we were able to read enough of the other formats that we didn’t need to read the Zip disk anyway, although that happened after I’d tried finding the SCSI solution.)


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