Solving Really Hard Puzzles

Feb 23

MUMS 2012, 5.2: Passport

This puzzle worked well, with a medium-sized aha we got fairly quickly.  We also managed to not go off into the weeds very far, solving it in under an hour.

The puzzle is here and our log is after the cut.

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Feb 16

MUMS 2012, 5.1: Play It Again, Sam

We seem to get more than our share of final hour solves in the Australian hunts. In these hunts teams get full credit for solves within the first 24 hours.

We danced all around the aha on this puzzle, but Jonathan got it with about 45 minutes left, and we figured out the answer with about nine minutes left.  Plenty of room to spare!

This is definitely a fun puzzle to solve (and shouldn’t take 23 hours and 50 minutes).

The puzzle is here and our solving log is after the cut.

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Nov 23

MUMS 2012, 5.3: Rank and File

This is a good puzzle by two good puzzle authors, definitely give it a shot if you haven’t seen it: puzzle PDF and hints

Our slightly edited solving log is after the cut…

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Oct 02

MGWCC 226: Just My Type

Struggled with this for about two hours Friday Morning (damn time-stamped leaderboard)…  came back to it Friday night and it finally clicked in.  One of the metas I missed in the past was one where I just needed to stay focused on the theme entries. That was good advice for this one as well.

(I’m solving CISRA Puzzle Hunt this week, so this is probably the only post for another couple days….)

The crossword is at Matt’s site and my solving log is after the jump.

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Sep 27

MGWCC 225: Big Money

Jumped right to the right idea, which was nice.

Quick log is below, puzzle is here

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Sep 20

MUMS 2012: 4.1 Medical Malpractice

Another puzzle where Jonathan came along near the end of the 24 hours and just solved it. Another puzzle where things that were *clearly* part of the important information weren’t (or as in this case they might have been, but were not critical and we never understood them).  So, yeah, not much fun for me.

The puzzle and hints are linked here: and our solving log is after the cut.

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Sep 18

MGWCC 224: Head Games

A nice Gaffney again this week, right up my alley as far as subject matter. 

Definitely easier than the “Week 1” puzzle last week…. and I had some fun (for me) riffs on the answer at the end.

Puzzle is at and my log is after the cut.

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Sep 14

MGWCC 223: Digital Audio

The hardest Week One MGWCC I’ve seen, and an interesting “lateral thinking” solving path. I was really worried I was not going to get it.

There are always lots of things to explore in the grid, but because I knew Matt thought of it as a week one, it wasn’t going to be something like “decode the numbered squares (as base 26 digits) using VBR MP3 and listen to the result”.  And I didn’t see anything for a long time (for a week one.)

Finally, the breakthrough came, and it was a nice meta, even if the connection wasn’t as obvious as Matt had thought.

Find it here if you haven’t solved it, and give it a try (the answer checker above this post should work):

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Sep 06

MUMS 2012: 4.2 Composition A

Okay, whew, round 3 was behind us.  It was exhausting, but it was time to get serious.  We knew average solving time was the tie breaker, so every minute on every puzzle counts, and with there just being two of us, we knew we had to power through…

So, let’s see… our first solve was Composition A which only took us 21… hours?  WTF?  Let’s go to the solving log, I guess. Oh, we mostly focused on other puzzles. This one wasn’t too tough, at least for Jonathan. I’m not sure I would have gotten it, but he swooped in to save us.

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Aug 22

MUMS 2012: 3.3 Volunteer Fire Department

So, this was a 23 hour solve, basically.  This puzzle did not suit us.   Too much extra data maybe.  Too big a leap at the end?  Too much reliance on source material we’d never seen? I don’t know.   

This is a long mostly fruitless discussion, that was honestly kind of unpleasant to revisit. But almost the whole mess of our solving log is after the cut. 

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