Puzzle Pursuit:Mission Classified
|Question asked||DEDICATION DATE OF MRS BEA'S FOUNTAIN||
This puzzle had players answering a number of questions scattered along the main road running from the Art Museum
down to the Science Museum. A map was given that outlined the area where the answers could be found, mainly between
the two water fountains at either end of the road.
The answer to each question was inserted into the end of a URL. For example if the answer was north
then you would
have had something like puzzlingthings.com/north . When you went to the URL you were shown a small picture which you were to draw
in a specific square on a grid. The final picture looked like this.
Teams had a hard time getting "miss" out of the tennis player. It was the hardest for sure but could be solved without that.
Questions were actually in order starting at the Art Museum which should
have made finding the answers relatively straight forward. Basic teams were told this, Advanced were not. But it seemed
many Basic teams did not read that bit of information or simply disregarded it.
- a) Use other 3 tiles, align top with line above chaos theory.
- b) resident artist?
|Answer||Jose San Pedro|
This puzzle contained a bunch of little square tiles that were actually pictures of tiles located on the
tree planters in the Artists Village area. Each side of a planter had 3 tiles in a specific order. Teams
had to find the tiles they had that matched a given set of 3 on a planter. Once you have 5 complete sets of
3 tiles you placed them on the second page of the Time Travel Times that each team was given at the start
of the race. There were lines on the edges of that page to line up each row.
You then had to move some of the tiles up or down a number of marks on the edge of the page. This movement
then allowed the holes punched into the tiles to line up with letters on the page that you could read through
the hole. Reading this gave you question a
as above. The answer to this question could be found on one of the
tiles. In fact it was one of the tiles you had so you didn't even have to go looking for it.
The easiest way to solve this puzzle was to look at the tiles that had unique attributes. For example there were a number of
tiles with birds on them. You could easily rule out many of the bird combinations because they included tiles
that you did not have. Once you found all the bird combinations the remaining tiles were easy to group.
|Question asked||Type of butterfly paired with Cassia||
|Answer||Orange Barred sulphur|
This puzzle involved walking around the butterfly garden and following very specific directions while doing so.
part seemed to be what messed everyone up. The basic concept was that you began walking down an
indicated path. When you reached the top or bottom of stairs you were to stop and answer a question. If the question
was false you continued walking down the path. If the answer was TRUE you would enter a portal
that dumped you out
at another of the sets of stairs within the garden. The sets of stairs were numbered on the map. Most teams I interacted with
failed to notice that. The directions actually indicated this. Once you jumped through a portal you were to find the
last butterfly you stepped on when entering the portal, and the first one stepped on when exiting. The butterflies
were on the map, along the path, and their matching pair could be found on an additional page filled with butterflies.
Each butterfly had a number that you entered into a grid that transformed a letter. Here is part of the grid.
The word CHIRP
was given, or rather you were told where to find it. In the grid C+17=T, H+17=Y, and so on.
The quickest way to do this was to write down the alphabet from A to Z and put a number next to each letter. A=1,B=2, etc.
C+17 = 3+17 = 20 and the 20th letter in the alphabet is T. The question as shown above is what you would
finally get and the answer could be found on one of the 3 big, painted doors in the garden.
This turned out to be the hardest puzzle.
anticipated. On that note, if you could read and understand all the directions you were told exactly what to do which is why
I didn't think this puzzle would be that hard. In the various runnings of this race and standing in the garden to
help teams, the biggest problem was that teams simply did not read and follow the instructions. Admittedly there
were a lot of instructions to read, too many as it turned out, so I learned that I need to make things very
short and to the point.
|Question asked||Who was the killer||
This was, essentially, a type of logic puzzle. Teams were given a map of London which was really just the
artists village. Based on descriptive text you had to trace the path of each suspect around the village,
along the way deducing who worked in which shop. The key was remembering that were given a bunch of business
cards at the start of the race and they could be used here. The addresses on the cards were the same as those
you were tracing around the village. For example you may have been told that someone started in a
shop with bright blue doors and then walked next door to number 33 where they worked. You could look at your business
cards and find that 33 was Ernesto's Plubming
so you now knew who worked at that location and so on.
Teams had to then trace that path on the map. A few of the paths intersected so although you could do them
in any order, this was an instance where reading through all of them before starting could have been helpful as you
would have been able to pair up the suspect paths that intersected.
Tracing all the paths presented letters on the map. IE each path, when traced, would be a letter. The letters unscrambled to the
hint TWO SHOPS
. There was only 1 suspect that owned 2 shops and that was Sean Finbarr.
With only a few exceptions, if you stood in the middle of the village you could answer and trace most of the suspects paths.
There was one that went back into a courtyard that you had to walk to, and one that walked around a building at the
far end, but otherwise you could very nearly stand in one place. The teams that did this puzzle well sat in one place, read a clue,
and then had someone walk the path as they read it. Many teams made this puzzle much harder than it was.
3 parts. See below.
- Part 1: 74308
- Part 2: Dinosaur
- Part 3: 3462
|Common Wrong Answer|
This was a straight-forward, fun puzzle that took place inside the Natural History Museum and I should have encouraged
all teams to do this puzzle from the start as it was engaging and very doable by everyone. There were three parts.
involved answering a series of questions all about the various murals around a specific exhibit.
Each answer was a number. You took the sum of those numbers and found a nearby exhibit that had catalog numbers.
Only one number started with the sum you got and that entire catalog number was the answer.
involved walking through a jungle area and noting the order in which you passed by animals. The animals were
definitely not easy to spot in many cases. There was a laminated sheet in the exhibit that you could use that showed
what each animal looked like. Using this was very helpful. Once you had all the animals in order you put them
into the provided grid, vertically. Then you had to solve the code: 3-1 2-5 9-5 7-3 17-4 16-3 5-3 6-3
which was done as follows: 3-1 = 3rd column, 1st letter. D
. And so on. The word unscrambled to Dinosaur
involved using the same grid you just filled out. There were colored boxes in the grid. Taking the letters in like colored
boxes and unscrambling each set revealed the text CATALOG ITEM LOCALITY NUMBER
. If you were paying attention
when you got your answer for part 1 you would have realized that there was a Locality Number
catalog item that you got the number for your first answer from. Returning to it you would get the final answer.
The most common mistake here seemed to come from mis-counting either the penguins or the snakes. One team came to me and said there
was an error in the puzzle in the number of snakes but they were able to solve it anyway. We checked at that time and there
was not, in fact, an error. One of the snakes was just hard to see because of a glare from the overhead
lighting. You had to move around a bit to get out of the glare to see it.
- Full name of royalties with the MOST spies reporting to them
- Spy who started service the year Collin McCurdy died
- Part 1: Princess Cathy Sproul, Queen Inez Parker
- Part 2: Sunshine Daydream
This puzzle took place in the Rose Garden. There was a map that divided the area into 4 kingdoms, each ruled over by
one or more royalty. Each kingdom had spies deployed throughout all the kingdoms and each spy reported to the ruler of a
specific kingdom. The royalty
were actually a persons name on benches and the spies were actually the little plaques that
were specific types of flowers, also spread throughout the area.
was essentially a logic puzzle. By answering each question you could, through the process of elimination, figure
out the name of the royalty and which kingdom they were in. Additionally you would have to find all the spies and again,
through the process of elimination, you could figure out which spies reported to which royalty.
once you had the list of royalties and spies you used it to fill in the squares of a grid. Once that was done it made a
QR code that could be scanned with your phone to provide the question Spy who started service the year Collin Mccurdy died
. The answer
to which could be found on a bench.
The QR part of the puzzle turned out to be very picky if you did not fill in the squares just right. I have since figured out
a much better way of doing this that works all the time. There turned out to be a few signs in the garden that I had not seen or were
added and I did not notice. These spies
messed up the logic in the puzzle. Fortunately reading the directions carefully
indicated to only use the spies in the area indicated on the map and these new spies were actually out of the mapped area. Still
it was an unintended difficultly to the puzzle that tripped up a number of teams as the logic would simply not work out
if you included those spies out of the mapped area. We tried to tell every team that we could of the issue so that they
not get stuck but just didn't see all the teams in time. This is a great reason to heed the suggestion to walk by puzzle pursuit central every so often
to find out if anything has changed.
I urge teams to heed that suggestion during next race to help eliminate what
can be a lot of unintended and avoidable frustration.
|Question asked||Order wrong by country ignore plant reference start at star and draw route||
This was a puzzle that I knew would be very time consuming and difficult not in how to do it as that was spelled out
explicitly, but like The Butterfly Effect you had to follow directions very carefully.
Basically you started outside the botanical building and followed a direction such as go straight
. You would always stop at
an intersection when you arrived, at which point you would look for the indicated plant which should have been very near by. Once you
find the plant you match the proper plant locale to the choices given and then take the letters that were incorrect within that name and fill
in a grid.
For example the direction choices at one intersection were Take next left at the Chamaedoreo Dadizalis (Mexico)
Go straight at the Chamaethrea Radicalis (Tasmania)
. The sign for that plant indicated the proper location was in fact
so you know you followed the direction with Mexico
. You then looked at the proper spelling for that
plant and found it was Chamaedorea Radicalis
. Matching that to the direction you take the incorrect letters and use those
to fill in a grid. When you did that you came up with the directions Order wrong by country ignore plant reference start at star and draw route
You now put all the incorrect
countries that you found, ie. Tasmania in the case of our example, and put them in
alphabetical order. Using the provided map you could then, with a pencil, draw a route on the map by following the directions
for each of the countries that you just wrote down. This traced out a path that spelled the word CLUE
Some teams had issues putting the countries in alphabetical order
as it did not explicitly say alphabetical
When asked to order a group of words
it was assumed you would choose alphabetical as that is the most common
way to do so. This is a key puzzle solving thing to take note of. That is, when asked to do something that isn't explicit,
you should always fall back to the most common, well-known way of accomplishing the task. Over time you will start to
just automatically recognize and begin applying this sort of logic to puzzles. For example in the previous Butterfly
puzzle it was suggested in the solution that you write down the alphabet A to Z and then number each letter. This is another
very common thing that will be used to solve codes or other parts of a puzzle and it should be something you always think about
doing when solving puzzles.
|Question asked||Find the photos in the newspaper around the park.||
|Answer||There were many. |
This puzzle asked you to find the location of the pictures that were in the Time Travel Times that you
were given at the start of the race. Most, but not all, pictures were used. And most, but not all, were things that you
should have walked right by throughout the day.
The picture of King Tut was NOT supposed to be used. However, literally overnight, a giant picture of
King Tut appeared on the side of the Natural History building. While it was not an exact match, I decided to give
credit to the many teams that found it. This is the type of relatively simple puzzle that teams tend to forget
as the move from location to location throughout the day. It really tests your multi-tasking team abilities. One way
to do this is successfully is to give the puzzle to one person and it make it their job to be looking for the pictures
whenever the team is on the move.
- Part 1: Call Luna area code is number of tribbles for sale (657) 20-LUNAS
Part 2: Animal guarding womens restroom?
|Common Wrong Answer|
This puzzle took you to the two round buildings that make up the culteral center at the edge
of the park.
had you walking around a building to find the items from a list that you could NOT find
painted on the building. Once you had that list you filled it into a grid. You could then read
down 2 of the columns to find the start of a message: Call Luna area code
The columns were unique in that they were the only two that did NOT contain any flags. Even if you did not
notice that there were only a dozen columns and it only took a few seconds to glance at each and see these were
the only 2 that made words.
You then moved to the second building
and walked around it in order to place the listed items in the order in which you found them walking around the building
in a specific direction from a given starting point. Again you filled the items, in order, into a grid. In this grid there
were a bunch of boxes that were darkened. Taking the letters from only the darkened boxes gave you the second half
of your message: is number of tibbles for sale.
So your message was : Call Luna area code is number of tribbles for sale
Even if you were not a Star Trek fan you could find tribbles for sale in the classified section of the Time Travel Times
that you carried around. That number, used as an area code, along with the phone number supplied on the Luna's Locks
business card that you had in your possession, you were to call. The voice on the other end gave you instructions and then a
website URL to visit that would repeat those instructions in case you could not hear them on the phone.
, the instructions on the phone, told you to go into the cultural center where a series of flags
hung from the ceiling on the inside of the building. Those flags matched up exactly with the flags that you
found on the 2 grids that you had previously filled out in Part 1 of the puzzle. You were told to write the alphabet
from top to bottom of the grids, one letter per row, and were given some letters to skip as there were not 26
rows. You now had a letter associated with each row of the grid and any flag in that row was now associated with that letter.
So when you went inside the building with all the flags you could literally read the flags in order and they would spell
out a question: Animal guarding womens restroom
Once again one of the flags actually changed over night. Since this was the World Peace Center
changed out one of the flags because the country had just attacked Israel. This confused some people, however it was only
1 letter in the quotation so it was still very readable. The key thing to take away here is (and I've been guilty of not
doing this myself) if things seem to be working and then suddenly stop working, continue on a little further doing the same
thing to make sure it's not just a hiccup. If nothing makes any sense after a certain point then you should probably
re-evaluate the specific answer at that point for correctness. But if things start getting back on track just use common sense
to figure out that wlat
is probably supposed to be what
|Question asked||Various. See Below||
|Answer||Various. see below |
This turned out to be a very fun an popular puzzle, only behind the favorite Time Portal 2. You can be sure
I will include more puzzles like this in future races because they gave all teams an opportunity to solve quick,
straightforward puzzles that got progressively harder. Teams could stop at any time along the way but would get
point credit up to that point. With this structure nearly every team was able to solve at least 1 or 2 parts of this
multi-part puzzle in a very short amount of time and that made it fun for everyone.
Go to the big morten bay fig and fill in a series of answers that were numbers. The answers were found
on a number of plaques around the tree.
A + C - B (145 - 80) * 42 + 50 - 2=2778
Find plants outside the botanical building and connect the two images to make up the plant name. For example
an image of a Firecracker and a Flower would be connected to make Firecracker Flower
. Once you had connected each plant
the criss-crossing lines on the page formed a number of enclosed spaces. Inside those spaces were numbers on the page. Reading those
numbers in order (ie left to right) provided the answer: 1936
This part had you looking for items on plaques on benches all around the lily pond area. Once you had
found each piece you ended up with: FOR T NA T TO
. If you read those out loud phonetically it sounded like
1482. The key here was to have someone close their eyes and some else just read them.
This final part, the hardest, had you go to a map over across from the morten bay fig tree.
Connecting a series of given numbers on the map would reveal 2 numbers: 1 and 3
. Then you moved closeby
to a listing of all the people in the Artists Village area. You were given the cryptic text Colored Pencil – NE
Looking on the board you could find a section titled Colored Pencils
and within that section there was only a single
name that had the initials N.E. Beside that persons name was a number. There were 2 such cryptic clues that gave you the numbers
8 and 9
to give you a final number of 1389
These puzzles were intended to be easy enough to solve very quickly as you only had an hour to solve all 4. The majority of the teams
solved at least 3 of these which was very encouraging that I got the level of difficulty proper for the allotted time.
As mentioned I would expect to see more puzzles like this in the future as actually solving puzzles is more fun than
being frustrated over the same puzzle for several hours (never my intention, by the way).
The take away from this puzzle is time management and remembering the goal. Go as fast as you can but not so fast that you can't, for example,
sound out the words that you KNOW have to be a number. FOR T NA T TO. Many teams forgot that they were looking for a number as a final
answer here. So when you end up with something NOT a number there must be an easy way to make that into a number.
|Question asked||Walt has two for sale||
|Answer||Dwarfs/Drawfs(as spelled incorrectly) |
This puzzle was arguably my favorite as well as the favorite of every team that did it.
Essentially you found 10 locked boxes. Each box contained the information that would give you the
combination to the next box. You were given that much information plus a little green plastic alien and were told that you
held in your hand the combination to the first box. If you went and looked at the box you would see that the combination
was actually made up of letters, not numbers. So the combination to the first box was the word ALIEN
Inside that box you found a note that said What's Missing
and there were nickels, dimes, and quarters. You had to realize
that what was missing was pennies
and the combo to the next lock was the word Penny
The puzzle continued in this fashion with some boxes having you use your trusty business cards that you had been given at the start
of the race (and used in many puzzles). Others simply contained a number of items such as: a watch, a bag of sand, and a picture of an oyster shell.
Those itesm, which perplexed many teams for a few minutes, were meant to indicate a pearl
. What happens to sand
inside an oyster
Once you completed all the boxes you were told to go back and note the letters that were raised or lowered in each combination lock.
You would have to see the locks used to understand. You then used those letters to decode the final question which was:
Walt has two for sale
Going back to the classified ads in the Time Travel Times you would find Walt was selling 2 Drawfs(should have been Dwarfs but was spelled
incorrectly). Either spelling was awarded the full points.
I had a lot of fun putting all the puzzle boxes together but can tell you that it is very difficult to find a small, toy,
plastic skunk or Ostrich in San Diego. Apparently those aren't popular play animals. I look forward to figuring out how
to use these lock boxes in future races.
|Question asked||Name of XTC Dog||
No one got the hidden puzzle this year and I didn't give any clues as to where it might be but was hoping people would migrate to either the Time Travel Times
or the business cards. It was on the business cards. As I mention when i talk about the hidden puzzle, if you find something
that you can put into an order, you may find the hidden puzzle. in this case if you put the business cards in order by
numerical address, and then took the first letter of each URL, they would spell out Name of XTC Dog
. The XTC business card
had a picture of a dog on it with the name Aston
which was the answer.
I did not expect any team to find the hidden puzzle without some help. As the day went on and it was obvious that there were a number
of puzzles that turned out to be very difficult, I didn't want to make things more confusing by starting to muscat_give hints to the
hidden puzzle so I just left it to see if anyone would find it. Several teams did ask me if the puzzle was in the cards and I just
smiled, so I DO know teams were on the right track which is encouraging.