1995 MIT Mystery Hunt Solutions

The 1995 MIT Mystery Hunt can be found here, and it is a bit of a mess to wade through, with answers filled in for some puzzles by the team whose packet was provided for the archive, henceforth called the solving team. It is based on the board game Clue. As we did with other old Mystery Hunts, we have solved most of this Hunt.

What's Not Solved

In some puzzles, we are missing components that accompanied the puzzle. This occurred for puzzle 1 (cereal samples), puzzle 2 (videotape), puzzle 10 (web site), puzzle 12 (videotape), puzzle 27 (entire puzzle), puzzle 31 (videotape), puzzle 32 (shapes used to form letters for initial string). Except for puzzle 10, the answers to these puzzles are available; it is just the path to those answers that is missing.

Puzzle 0 appears to refer to multiple Boston newspapers published on the day the Hunt began. It seems unlikely that any of these besides the Globe is still available.

Puzzle 8 suffers from poor quality due to the archive copy being a scan of a fax of the puzzle, and in addition the fax cut off part of the puzzle, making it unsolvable.

Puzzle 11 was a scavenger hunt.

Puzzle 14 has been worked through, but the given extraction instructions don't seem to give a good answer.

Puzzle 21 is a runaround that has not been performed. If the starting point can be identified (either by a better reconstruction of puzzle 20 or by guessing where the nexus of four paths is), and if the campus has not changed too much, it may still be possible to do this one.

Puzzle 22 is solved except that a couple trivia answers are unknown, and the final answer needs to be found in the 1994-95 MIT course bulletin.

Puzzle 23 consists of several lists of words, potentially solvable, but we don't know how it works. The answer is available.

Puzzle 38 is not solved. It appears to consist of a picture plus a transcript, though I do not know how the information in the transcript was provided to the teams nor if we have all of what the puzzle is meant to include.

For puzzle 40, we are to find clue suspects, weapons, and rooms hidden in other puzzles. The correct answer is known but five of the other items have not been found. It is possible some of these are in the information we don't have and may not be findable.

The runaround described in the metapuzzle cannot be performed because it probably depended on signs posted around campus for the purpose of the hunt. One of the locations was in a building which no longer exists.

Introductory Information

Before the puzzles start, there is a page of introductory information. There was a Clue tournament Saturday morning, and it was supposed to be important to attend. I don't know what information came out of it. There is also a checkoff sheet with the names of the suspects, weapons, and rooms, removing any possible ambiguity on those over different versions of the game. For puzzle 40 we are supposed to find all of these names except the Clue game solution hidden in other puzzles.

The second page of the posted packet is a summary of answers found by the solving team. It includes some other information related to meta solving.

The third page of the posted packet seems to be scratch work for some of the other puzzles. The upper right portion of this page lists several of the answers which are locations within the United States. This is part of the work on the meta. The bottom portion of this page looks like work on puzzle 22.

The fourth page of the posted packet contains errata and hints.

After this we finally get to the puzzles. Each puzzle has a location, which is not always the name of a Clue room. These are used later.

Puzzle 0 (Newspaper Archives)

This puzzle appears to require searching multiple newspapers from Friday of the Hunt (all the ones published in Boston?). I have not been inspired to try to dig these up. The flavor text here refers to the Globe, but the Globe does not normally have page numbers like 82, mentioned in the puzzle text. That would be one of the tabloid papers like the Herald or Phoenix.

The solving team has written in SUITE for this puzzle on the answer sheet.

Puzzle 1 (Kitchen)

This puzzle was based on samples of cereal provided to the teams, which, naturally, we do not have. The bags were labeled with ordering numbers and indexes for letters to extract.

The solving team has written several versions of the string of letters clued by the cereal, but the version written on the errata sheet (presumably after confirming answers, as was offered at that time) is the closest. The correct phrase is FLAME OR DEMIT. Demit is an archaic word meaning to dismiss or resign an office. These two words both clue the word FIRE (written next to this puzzle on the solving team's meta worksheet).

Puzzle 2 (Screening Room)

A variant letter links puzzle. The links are provided erratically and not strictly from one name to the next. This puzzle had an accompanying video tape with Disney movie characters to identify, which we do not have. Based on the marked letters, and the solving team's answer SPARTA, TN, the first answer is probably HAPPY. Then they have DORMOUSE, RAJAH, TIMOTHY, LAMPWICK, PERDITA, ?O?NO, and PHILIPPE. Perhaps RONNO from Bambi is the last unknown one.

Puzzle 3 (Conservatory)

Unless the black squares were shaded so lightly that they did not come through, this is a diagramless Jigsaw Quote. The solving team has written in the "quote" solution: PART ONE OF THIS ANSWER CONSISTS OF THE FOURTH SONG ON THE ALBUM THAT HAS THE TRACK BASKET CASE. IN ORDER TO DISCOVER THE COMPLETE SOLUTION, FIND MY HIDDEN COPY OF THAT GEORGE SOMEBODY COUNTRY ALBUM ABOUT HIS BEACH HOUSE AND TAKE THE SIXTH WORD OF THE OPENER.

The first album mentioned is Dookie by Green Day (released November 1994!) and the song is Longview. The second album is 1987's Ocean Front Property by George Strait. The opening track is All My Ex's Live in Texas, so Texas is the 6th word, and the answer is LONGVIEW, TEXAS.

PART ONE OF THIS
 ANSWER CONSISTS
 OF THE FOURTH S
ONG ON THE ALBUM
 THAT HAS THE TR
ACK BASKET CASE
IN ORDER TO DISC
OVER THE COMPLET
E SOLUTION FIND
MY HIDDEN COPY O
F THAT GEORGE SO
MEBODY COUNTRY A
LBUM ABOUT HIS B
EACH HOUSE AND T
AKE THE SIXTH WO
RD OF THE OPENER

The hidden clue weapon LEAD PIPE appears in a column of this grid.

Puzzle 4 (Library)

The flavor text talks about reading a book or two, and we are in a library. Rearrange the trigrams to spell book titles. Each title has a multiple of 3 letters and ends on a trigram break.

In order to spell all these titles, we need one more THE trigram than is given. I am not sure which book title they thought didn't have an initial "The." In addition, The House of Seven Gables should really be The House of the Seven Gables.

The leftover trigrams spell the answer, EITHER.

Puzzle 5 (Attic)

This is a standard puzzle type, but the only example of it I have on hand is from P&A Magazine (Sep/Oct 2008) where it is called Back and Forth. Words read in opposite directions, each starting with the last three letters (reversed) of the previous answer.

  1. CALLER
  2. RELIED
  3. DEIMOS
  4. SOMBER
  5. REBELS
  6. SLEEVE
  7. EVERTS
  8. STRONG
  9. GNOMES
  10. SEMELE
  11. ELEGIT
  12. TIGRIS
  13. SIRDAR
  14. RADULA
  15. ALUDEL
  16. LEDGER
  17. REGION
  18. NOISES
  19. SESTET
  20. TETRAD
  21. DARNEL
  22. LENTEN
  23. NETHER
  24. REHANG
  25. GNAWED
  26. DEWLAP
C D R E G E S A R S D N G P
A E E V N L I L E E A E N A
L I B E O E R U G S R T A L
L M E R M G D D I T N H W
E O L T E I A E O E E E E
R S S S S T R L N T L R D

The letters that go in the numbered boxes, in numerical order, spell the answer, WITTICISM.

Puzzle 6 (Billiard Room)

This is a standard logic-elimination puzzle with 5 variables with 10 values each: batting order, names, positions, cities, and teams. Note that the flavor text is part of the puzzle, and clarifies that in this league both the pitcher and designated hitter bat, so the lineup is 10 slots long. It is also necessary to assume each name corresponds to a person of the most common gender for that name (so for example, Charlie is male), and to pay attention to pronouns throughout the clues.

Order
Name
Team
City
Position
1
Chin-music Charlie
Dermatologists
Cleveland
SS
2
Out-of-play Owen
Receptionists
Los Angeles
2B
3
Lime-spreadin' Lisa
Talk Show Hosts
Toronto
DH
4
Mayday Mary
Taxi Drivers
Houston
LF
5
Ump-Hatin' Upton
Televangelists
San Francisco
RF
6
Salary cap Sally
Channel Surfers
Detroit
3B
7
Tarpaulin Tom
Short Order Cooks
Pittsburgh
P
8
Astroturf Al
Back-Up Singers
Atlanta
CF
9
Rhubarb Rhonda
Undertakers
Kansas City
C
10
Dugout Dorothy
Etymologists
Boston
1B

The initials of the suspiciously alliterative player names spell our suspect COL. MUSTARD. To get the answer, you have to read on the diagonal in the suspiciously long team names to get DELIVERIES.

Puzzle 7 (Observatory)

Perform the arithmetic indicated on the numerical answers to all the clues, and connect the resulting numbers in order in the star map to draw a picture of what is supposed to be SUPERMAN. Please note carefully the division signs, which look very much like plus signs.
Here is an updated version of the drawing the solving team made, updated to correct some of the errors. There are still some problems. In particular, the 47 is unambiguously clued but doesn't make any sense at the far left where it is located.

Puzzle 8 (Dining Room)

This is a maze with warps indicated by letters. The copy in the archive, a scan of a fax of the original puzzle, does not possess enough resolution to identify all the warp letters, and also one end of the maze is cut off, so it is not solvable. The solving team found the answer MT. VERNON, KY (probably from the letters of the warps used) and the hidden weapon CANDLESTICK (somehow - maybe on a false path; "DLES" can be found that way).

Puzzle 9 (Laboratory)

Each clue has a punny answer (e.g. DISPERSAL, "This purse'll" for the first one) which can be found on winding paths (orthogonal steps only, using every letter exactly once) in the grid. Use the numbers in the second grid to associate a value with each letter and transfer these to the blanks, then perform the arithmetic to get a value for each answer, and add up those values.

There is an erratum to remove the words "is on" from clue 9. They are supposed to be part of the pun, and it doesn't work if they are printed in the clue.

  1. DISPERSAL 722
  2. CANTEENS 4941
  3. COMMISSAR 4036
  4. SPECTATOR 2420
  5. CAPITALIZE 5562
  6. FACSIMILE 2640
  7. DEBASEMENT 2518
  8. REINDEER 2493
  9. JETTISON 1300
  10. HOLOCAUST 3144
  11. ACCUSTOM 362
  12. LETTERBOX 1672
  13. TENDRILS 3170
  14. EYESORE 1284

The total is the answer, 36264.

Puzzle 10 (Study)

As hard as it is to imagine, this hunt contained a puzzle presented on a web site, yes, in January 1995! It was at http://xenon.stanford.edu/~bosch/MysteryHunt/ but, unsurprisingly, is not there now. I have no idea what was in it; the solving team did not solve it.

Puzzle 11 (Hall)

This was a scavenger hunt for various articles of clothing. For each four items brought in, you would get one part of the five part answer, which was made of 5 digits. The solving team appears to have only managed to get 3 of these, making an answer starting with 357. It looks like in the meta solving, the solving team determined this was 35758, the zip code for Madison, AL.

Puzzle 12 (Screening Room)

The puzzle was also on the video tape we do not have. Teams had to find the missing item from a list on the tape, ignoring the duplicates, which were unintended. The solving team reported the answer LUAP TNIAS, which is Saint Paul spelled backward, so I expect that the list of U.S. state capitals either pronounced as if they were spelled backward, or actually recorded backward.

Puzzle 13 (Connecticut Suite)

This is a metapuzzle, so I have placed its solution at the end of the page.

Puzzle 14 (Conservatory)

Music to identify. The puzzle explains to use the number next to each song as an index into the title of that song, and then shift the resulting letter back that number of letters in the alphabet. The solving team did not appear to solve it, but they left a big hint in their meta notes.

The sheet music is not real music. Instead, the notes are a cryptogram. Each rest length and note/chord value represents a different letter consistently throughout the puzzle. Ignore the key signatures (maybe the real keys of the songs?) and the note lengths are chosen to make each word fit into a whole measure. Then the notes decode according to the following key to produce lyrics.


Lyrics
Song
N
Nth Letter
Shifted
1. Hello darkness my old friend I've come to talk with you again
The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel [a.k.a. The Sounds of Silence]
12
I [or S]
W [or G]
2. Hey hey mama say the way you move gonna make you sweat gonna make you groove
Black Dog by Led Zeppelin
7
O
H
3. At home drawing piktures [sic] of mountain tops
Jeremy by Pearl Jam
1
J
I
4. We don't need no education we don't need no thought control
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 by Pink Floyd
21
L
Q
5. Oh life it's bigger it's bigger than you and you are not me
Losing My Religion by REM
5
N
I
6. Look at them yoyos that's the way ya do it
Money for Nothing by Dire Straits
4
E
A
7. Ten [sic] soldiers and Nixon's coming we're finally on our own
Ohio by Neil Young
1
O
N
8. Goodbye Norma Jean though I never knew you at all
Candle in the Wind by Elton John
5
L
G

Unfortunately, these letters (WHIQIANG) don't seem to spell anything, not even if they are rearranged. Some theories about what the answer to this puzzle is supposed to be:

Puzzle 15 (Drawing Room)

The namystics in this puzzle spell names of Shakespeare's plays.

Follow the given directions to find the position of the last L in each play, and subtract this from the given number (28 was missing from the first one, and 9 is cut off of the second one on the fax copy. Rearrange these letters in alphabetical order of the plays to spell FAVORITE.

The sample namystic does not spell RESTING as the instructions state. It actually spells MISTER GREEN, one of our hidden Clue suspects.

Puzzle 16 (Observatory)

Solve the three division problems normally. The first two are of the type where most of the digits are missing; the last one is a standard alphametic.

      2143009          51602              2132  0123456789
213 456460917 = a 17 877234 = k 4110 8766109 ECDAWFRHIN
426 = b 85 = l 8220
304 = c 27 = m 5461
213 = d 17 = n 4110
916 = e 102 = p 13510
852 = f 102 = q 12330
640 = g 34 = r 11809
639 = h 34 = s 8220
1917 = i 0 3589
1917 = j
0

Hidden Clue part: 460917 from row a translates to WRENCH using the code from the last division.

Answer: Apply the formula from the errata. (k*l)/n + (g-d)*e (n+r)(d-r) - h + r + n + l - b = 4785502, which translates to the answer WHIFFED using the code from the last division.

Puzzle 17 (Sitting Room)

This is almost a standard diagramless, without symmetry. There is no clue 31; the errata page tells us to ignore it, skip numbering from 30 to 32 when we get there. It's also a rebus crossword; each * below represents the letters MIT both across and down. The last part of the down clues is printed below the diagram on the first page of this puzzle, and the clue for 75D is cut off in the copy in the archives.

A*Y      FLY ICE
CEO RIO *ES EVOKES
ERG VO*S AGE MOVEIT
IMPASSE EAT *TERRANDS
VEGE*E *TENS TER*E IOUS
*IGATES EASTERS *TER
TOO HER*AGE# ZETA
S*S SHARNS
PSI DE*ASSE
SUB*TER BAR YETIS
NORITE ADAGES UPS
TRANS* S*HANDWESSON
OGLE TICKS DESIGNERS
ERIE DOUSE
DEAR ENG

In the diagram above, the numbered spaces are marked with red letters, except the #, which is a numbered space that gets blacked in. Putting these letters in numerical order, using the black space as a space, spells MACK TRUCK.

The big shape of black squares in the middle of this puzzle that is so awkward to work around while solving is a picture of the KNIFE, one of the hidden Clue items.

Puzzle 18 (Billiard Room)

This is a cryptolist on Magic: The Gathering cards. The answers are specifically all creatures. Read their power/toughness numbers as a fraction, and plug these into the given formula.

  1. Cuombajj Witches (1/3)
  2. Brass Man (1/3)
  3. Ball Lightning (6/1)
  4. Cosmic Horror (7/7)
  5. Clay Statue (3/1)
  6. Atog (1/2)
  7. Savannah Lions (2/1)
  8. Two-Headed Giant of Foriys (4/4)
  9. Uncle Istvan (1/3)
  10. Dancing Scimitar (1/5)
  11. Ydwen Efreet (3/6)
  12. Island Fish Jasconius (6/8)
  13. Leviathan (10/10)
  14. Phantasmal Forces (4/1)
  15. Cockatrice (2/4)
  16. Argothian Pixies (2/1)
  17. Veteran Bodyguard (2/5)
  18. Craw Wurm (6/4)

Key:

NIVBYALGQDMCKXHF EROZJUWP  cipher
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
FDLJRPHOBVMGKATYIS WCXNEU plain

Answers G through K form an acrostic of STUDY, one of the hidden Clue rooms.

Applying the formula gives the answer 53140.

Puzzle 19 (Laboratory)

First solve the synonym/anagram/rhyme puzzles to get the word list.

  1. PALLID
  2. PRIEST
  3. VACATE
  4. MALICE
  5. RIBALD
  6. SCHEME
  7. WHORES
  8. HASSLE
  9. INSANE
  10. TEASER
  11. EARNED
  12. HANDLE
  13. MALLET
  14. ANIMAL
  15. BLEACH
  16. BEACON
  17. BADGER
  18. BIASED
  19. BRAIDS
  20. BERATE
  21. BREATH
  22. RAMBLE
  23. BAWLER
  24. SECURE

Answers 4 through 11 have an acrostic of MRS. WHITE, one of our hidden Clue suspects.

Then solve the criss-cross puzzle.

           S
BEACON PRIEST
B A H N E
PALLID E R B S C
E G MALICE A U
EARNED E B R N R
C R VACATE E
BREATH M L T
A E HANDLE
M A H L
BIASED A L
L E S E
E BRAIDS T
L
BAWLER
H
O
R
E
S

If the word list is correct, the solution is ambiguous because EARNED and MALLET can be swapped. But the meta confirms that this is the intended answer, with the marked letters in numerical order spelling the answer DEMON SOUND (as oppoed to DEMON SOUL'D for the other solution). In addition to this, the word ANIMAL is not used at all. There are only 23 spaces in the grid for the 24 words.

Puzzle 20 (Art Gallery)

There are two parts to this puzzle. First assemble the jigsaw (which is quite difficult from the fax copy in the archive). Then solve the balance puzzle (20b). This provides the coloring key:

  1. helianthin (orange)
  2. celadon (pale green)
  3. nigrosine (very dark blue)
  4. orpiment (bright yellow)
  5. myrtle (dark green)
  6. damson (dark purple)
  7. bistre (brownish yellow)
  8. absinthe (olive green)
  9. glauconite (bluish green)
  10. carmine (crimson red)
  11. reseda (pale green)
  12. taupe (brownish grey)
  13. sienna (yellowish brown)
  14. heliotrope (light purple)
  15. mignonette (pale green; synonym of reseda)
I had some trouble putting it together, but it is meant to be read in this orientation, with the odd colored bits spelling PENTOXIDE.

Puzzle 21 (Hall of Ancestors)

This is a runaround of MIT. I did not attempt to follow it. The flavor text says to start in the obvious location given by puzzle 20A; that is presumably with the image in this orientation:


I am not sure where this is, or it it still looks anything like this, but I am guessing that the X represents the nexus of four paths mentioned at the start of the text.

The solving team got the answer ROBOCOP. This means that the sign at the end contains the letters B* OP?R* C?????O?

Puzzle 22 (Lounge)

Each of the clues leads to an answer which is or prominently features a letter, number, or punctuation mark.

  1. B lymphocyte
  2. Z
  3. Building 9
  4. ? (I thought Two Islands, Many Worlds but this does not work in the end)
  5. T (the misspelled word is Brittish)
  6. O (this is obvious but leads to a conflict later; maybe an uncorrected error in this puzzle?)
  7. C
  8. U Thant
  9. Operation A-Go
  10. P Jet
  11. Zero
  12. W National Park
  13. Six
  14. D-Day
  15. Project Y
  16. Course 8 (Physics at MIT - three of these five are still on the faculty as of 2012)
  17. ? (Is this MIT-related)
  18. J-Kit
  19. Motu One
  20. M
  21. comma
  22. ?
  23. Group of Seven
  24. K band (today split into the Ku and Ka bands)
  25. Q fever
  26. 3rd cranial nerve
  27. S (Harry S Truman, the thematic one)
  28. G: Geography
  29. period
  30. R-factor
  31. E
  32. Malcolm X
  33. I Ching
  34. L
  35. F (fluorine)
  36. V
  37. Council of Four
  38. H Acid

The little grid in the puzzle represents the arrangement of keys on a QWERTY keyboard for the letters, numbers, period, and comma. If those keys represent the ciphertext, then the answers to the corresponding clues give the plaintext.

From analysis of the cipher, it appears cipher M = plain N (clue 22 about SIPB). It also seems that cipher L = plain O, even though clue 6, corresponding to cipher P, is quite clearly O (dash dash dash in Morse code). From the last bit of the message, we get the cipher P = 5, so cipher G = 2. The clue for A = 6 is solid, but it doesn't make any sense in the line "yields 6 uniquely mischievous solution". Probably this is an error and that letter was not encoded. In any case, this leads to the key:

39GS7PAORKDUF4VQN,8BX5ZYTML.6WHC02E1JI cipher
0123456789,.ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
UXV0BJQ4G1FP6HT,WA2SZY9ONE75D83M.CRILK plain

And the message (in which punctuation is part of the code and spacing is to be ignored):

THIS SUBLIMELY QUIXOTIC CONUNDRUM, NUMBER 26, YIELDS 6 UNIQUELY MISCHIEVOUS SOLUTION. YOU ATTEMPT TO FIGURE EXACTLY WHAT IT COULD BE. EXCAVATE NO FURTHER, FOR QUITE UNEXPECTEDLY, IT JUMPS OUT AT YOU. WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING TO FIND IS THE 3RD WORD OF THE 28TH LINE, 2ND COLUMN ON PAGE 178 OF OUR MIT COURSE BULLETIN FOR SCHOOL YEAR 1994 AND 95. I FEEL BAD N

Unfortunately, the solving team did not solve this one, and I do not have the ancient course bulletin (is it possible this is preserved in an MIT library somwehere?) so the final answer is unknown. Since it seems to end in the middle of a word, it is possible a whole row of ciphertext is cut off our archive copy of the puzzle, but it seems like we have the important part.

Puzzle 23 (Connecticut Suite)

I do not know how this puzzle works. The solving team found the answer VIVACITY.

Puzzle 24 (Study)

Identify the map shapes. The three names for each number have a single letter common to all three.

  1. Uzbekistan, Uruguay, Tanzania
  2. Angola, Belize, Latvia
  3. Slovenia, Turkey, Yemen
  4. Texas, Luxembourg, Saint Croix
  5. Rwanda, Iraq, Mozambique
  6. Oman, Nepal, Benin
  7. Poland, Burundi, Moldova
  8. Estonia, Niger, Byelorussia
  9. Jordan, Azerbaijan, Morocco

The common letters spell the answer, ALEXANDER. The first countries in items 5 through 8 form an acrostic of ROPE, one of the hidden Clue weapons.

Puzzle 25 (Attic)

These sequences of words are Anguished English versions of the initial lyrics from Christmas carols. The next word in each one is needed.

  1. Said the night wind to the little lamb, "Do you see WHAT
  2. The first Noel, the angels DID
  3. God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing YOU
  4. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth RECEIVE
  5. Good King Wenceslas looked out ON
  6. Here we come a-wassailing among THE
  7. I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe LAST
  8. I hear the bells on Christmas DAY
  9. Deck the halls with boughs OF
  10. I'm dreaming of a white CHRISTMAS

The words in the blanks form a question, "What did you receive on the last day of Christmas?" There are some variations in the sequence in that Christmas carol, but the most popular version has DRUMMERS which is confirmed by the meta.

Puzzle 26 (Sitting Room)

This is a cryptic double-crostic, only with no acrostic in the answers. Clue answers:

  1. WOMBAT
  2. SCISSORS
  3. ROASTED
  4. COO
  5. INITIATION
  6. REDHERRING
  7. TOES
  8. STOCKING
  9. ESTIMATE
  10. WAYLAID
  11. COOK
  12. SEED
  13. WALLOWS
  14. DROMEDARY
  15. WEDDING
  16. NEWORLEANS

The quotation part spells this nonsensical phrase:

Moo, lost elk. O wonders awed! Was it organic, in ecstasy tied. Deity sat scenic in a grot? I saw dew as red -- now dim as brooklet - so loom.

This is almost a palindrome. To make it actually be a palindrome, the words ORBS AMID would need to be inserted before the word "wonders," so those words are the answer.

Puzzle 27 (Hall)

This puzzle is missing from the packet in the archive. The solving team found the answer JOEL for it, though.

Puzzle 28 (Hall of Ancestors)

Find a transdeletion for each word which contains a silent letter.

The deleted letters don't spell anything, but the silent letters spell THE BIG PULL. This is the final phrase that should be transdeleted into another phrase, BLUE LIGHT (which also has silent letters, but BLUE LIGHT is the answer).

Puzzle 29 (Dining Room)

The names of the artists (ignoring the windows and such interspersed with them) spell READ FULL WORDS ONLY. In order to solve this puzzle, overlay the diagram of the dining room on top of the note, as shown by the highlighting in the archive copy of this puzzle. The full words inside the piano, serving table, dining table, china cabinet, and bar spell THE ANSWER OFFICERS IS CORRECT, so the answer is OFFICERS.

Puzzle 30 (Kitchen)

The hidden words in this word search are names of cheeses... sort of. Some of them are not real. Specifically, this is the list of cheese from Monty Python's Cheese Shop sketch in which the cheese shop does not appear to actually contain any cheese.

The many unused letters spell out a long message which references Mr. Mousebender from the Cheese Shop sketch. It reads, in full:

The esteemed gourmand Mister Mousebender provided an airtight alibi for the delightful yet philandering Missus Peacock. Unfortunately, the burly and thoroughly unpleasant Mister Peacock provided Mister Mousebender with a punch in the nose after hearing of this.

From this text we get the hidden Clue suspect MRS. PEACOCK.

The spaces which were blank in the original grid are filled in by cheese names to spell the answer, LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA.

Puzzle 31 (Lounge)

Another puzzle on the video tape we do not have. The errata page says this one was screwed up, so even if we had it we might not be able to see the answer. The solving team did get the answer HOOKER, OK (a city in Oklahoma).

Puzzle 32 (Angularium)

This is a following directions puzzle, but the initial state is formed from a set of pieces that needed to be cut out, which are missing from the archive. There are many steps which are not uniquely reversible, so it does not seem possible to work backwards from the solution to reach the starting point. The solving team found the answer IT'S A HOAX.

Puzzle 33 (Board Game Room)

The solutions for the Scrabble part of this puzzle are as follows:

This gives the total score of 256. Now transfer these words into the region of the 4 Battleships puzzles which is marked off as the Scrabble board, and solve those puzzles.

The letters that lie on ships anagram to form the word REGULATION (not UROGENITAL since the puzzle says the answer begins with a consonant).

Puzzle 34 (Drawing Room)

The answers to the cartoon rebuses are:

Put these into the grid in the spaces of appropriate lengths:

GEENADAVIS
LESMISERABLES
MACLAURINBUILDING
STARSANDSTRIPESFOREVER
BARCELONADRAGONS
WHOSAFRAIDOFVIRGINIAWOOLF
WILLIAMRANDOLPHHEARST
REESESPEANUTBUTTERCUPS

And ESCAROLE is spelled down the third column.

Puzzle 35 (Library)

The clues are Ambrose Bierce (The Devil's Dictionary) definitions of words. Answers (starting boxes):

Chain 1: Numerically Ascending

  1. FOLLY (10)
  2. ACQUAINTANCE (15)
  3. POLITICIAN (27)
  4. BRIDE (37)
  5. INK (2)
  6. LONGEVITY (5)
  7. LAUGHTER (14)
  8. INCOMPATIBILITY (22)
  9. AMNESTY (37)
  10. RIOT (4)
  11. DELUSION (8)
  12. RESPONSIBILITY (16)
  13. ONCE (30)
  14. AUCTIONEER (34)
  15. MAUSOLEUM (4)

Chain 2: Numerically Descending

  1. BIRTH (16)
  2. KLEPTOMANIAC (11)
  3. CORPORATION (39)
  4. GUNPOWDER (28)
  5. SUCCESS (19)
  6. NOVEMBER (12)
  7. ACCIDENT (4)
  8. DICTIONARY (36)
  9. FAITH (26)
  10. PEDESTRIAN (21)
  11. PAINTING (11)
  12. SAINT (3)
  13. VOTE (38)
  14. DAWN (34)
  15. EMANCIPATION (30)
  16. ALONE (18)

Chain 3: Numerically Ascending (Odd Numbers Only)

  1. TRUTHFUL (17)
  2. DISTANCE (33)
  3. MYTHOLOGY (9)
  4. HAPPINESS (27)
  5. ALLIANCE (5)
  6. EGOTIST (21)
  7. POSITIVE (35)

Chain 4: Numerically Descending (Even Numbers Only)

  1. HISTORY (8)
  2. CANNIBAL (34)
  3. ZEAL (18)
  4. PRAY (10)
  5. CLAIRVOYANT (2)
  6. SENATE (20)

The grid is a variation on the Quote Square puzzle, where you mark off letters in a row of boxes, one letter per box, but instead of each word stretching across a row or column, the words run around the loop in the directions and spacing indicated. When you are done marking off all the letters, some boxes have one letter remaining. These boxes must be read in the order the boxes are arranged, row by row, left to right within each row, to spell the answer, EFFINGHAM, ILLINOIS.

In addition, the initial grid contains the hidden Clue room CONSERVATORY in the middle column of letters reading downward in boxes 40 to 36.

Puzzle 36 (Newspaper Archives)

This is a normal crossword, except the clues are written as a cryptolist, and the three theme entries (all with the clue OVERLAP) are portmanteaus with the word BALL shared between two other words.

Key:

KLHVPJESXRBIGAFYMTCNQOZUDW cipher
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
NKSYGOMCLFABQTVEUJHRXDZIPW plain

Grid:

TIMS TECS  SCAT
GNAW OVATE COLE
ITSA PILOT ETAL
FOOTBALLPEEN
SCHIZ SLAVE
HEN CAM IRATE
AMI GOODIE IRON
BASKETBALLPOINT
ASTI ORIOLE ASS
STILT ARS TET
SCORE PARIS
BASEBALLROOM
BAMA AROMA ANTE
AGER UNION TATA
TONS ELSE ALOT

One of the theme entries contains the hidden Clue room BALL ROOM.

The letters in the starred boxes (red above) are CTLTOLRPORG. Translated back through the cipher key, they are HNINFITYFTE (the implication is that we were supposed to fill in the entire crossword enciphered). The instructions say to rearrange these to spell the answer; that answer is NINETY-FIFTH.

Puzzle 37 (Angularium)

This crossword variant has sort of reverse-hidden-word clues. Each clue has a piece missing which usually spans multiple words, which is to be filled in with the letters of the answer. In addition, part of each clue defines the answer. Answers all 6 or 7 letters long and are written into the grid around the corresponding number, clockwise or counterclockwise and starting at a point for you to determine.

Answers (removed letter)

  1. REFEREE (E)
  2. FITTER
  3. ATTIRED (E)
  4. RESHRED (R)
  5. RETRAIN (I)
  6. FINITE
  7. GELATIN (L)
  8. LEADER
  9. ARCHER
  10. RAT RACE (T)
  11. PARTIES (E)
  12. NESTING (T)
  13. LOUNGE
  14. CHOLERA (E)
  15. CARTON
  16. PARKWAY (Y)
  17. PASSES
  18. PRUNES
  19. HOURLY
  20. RAUNCHY (A)
  21. WASTING (T)
  22. PENISES (E)
  23. PRALINE (A)
  24. LIVERY

Grid:

The numbered letters spell IT IS A NOUN. The instructions say to eliminate all the duplicates among the removed letters and rearrange to spell a word. The "noun" hint eliminates IRATELY and TEARILY, leaving only REALITY as the answer.

The answer to clue 13 is the hidden Clue room LOUNGE.

Puzzle 38 (Butler's Quarters)

I believe that the picture (labeled 38a) in the packet goes with the "Butler transcript" which appears shortly after puzzle 40 in the packet. The end of that transcript gives us instructions, that each suspect lied about something, that we can assume any alibi which cannot be invalidated is true, and assume people who are friends with Hopkins did not kill him. Each person provides an alibi for some place they were supposed to be, claims Hopkins is a friend and that they loaned him something, and told about some place they went, besides to see Hopkins, after dinner. Each person is also allergic to a different allergen.

However, I don't see the solution here.

It's also not clear how this puzzle fits into the rest of the hunt. It is the only puzzle that does not have a place in the metapuzzle.

Puzzle 39 (Ballroom)

As stated in the instructions, the path can only go straight or make 90 degree turns. What's missing are further instructions. The path you need is marked below.

This path is broken up into one and two digit numbers which correspond to the blanks in puzzle 40. Translating via the letters that go on those blanks gives:

4
36
12
23
38
30
29
32
17
14
4
19
12
2
25
32
31
32
5
24
6
22
18
5
30
25
3
32
17
14
7
22
21
17
30
F
O
U
R

N
I
N
E

F
O
U
R

N
I
N
E

S
E
V
E
N

O
N
E

S
E
V
E
N

I believe 4949717 was a phone number teams had to call (it is in Cambridge, anyway). I believe this is part of the metapuzzle, and teams were supposed to get the digits for the path from the metapuzzle. See the metapuzzle writeup, below.

Puzzle 40 (Ballroom)

This puzzle is based on the hidden Clue items throughout the rest of the hunt. The locations of those items are:

Item
Puzzle
Location
Col. Mustard
6
Initials of player names in batting order
Prof. Plum
N/A
N/A
Mr. Green
15
Sample Namystic
Mrs. Peacock
30
Message in unused word search letters
Miss Scarlet


Mrs. White
19
Answers to clues 4-11
Knife
17
Shape in middle of diagramless solution
Candlestick
8
Possibly a stray path in maze - DLES is there, at least
Revolver
N/A
N/A
Rope
24
Initials of first countries in clues 5-8
Lead Pipe
3
Column 13 of solved grid
Wrench
16
Line a of first division problem, using final alphabetic code
Hall


Lounge
37
Answer 13
Dining Room
N/A
N/A
Kitchen


Ball Room
36
Answer to 54 across
Conservatory
35
Vertically in boxes 40 to 36
Billiard Room


Library


Study
18
Initials of answers G-K

The items not hidden in puzzles make up the solution to this puzzle, as in the Clue board game. These are to be written on the blanks, one letter per blank, not leaving gaps for spaces between words. There also appears to be an erratum to add an extra blank to the first set and renumber the others.

Who?

P
R
O
F
E
S
S O
R
P
L
U
M


1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15

What?

R
E
V
O
L
V
E
R




16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27

Where?

D
I
N
I
N
G
R
O
O
M




28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41

Metapuzzle

The first part of the metapuzzle is puzzle 13.

Each of the double-crostic clues is an anagram of the first word of the flavor text of one of the other puzzles in this hunt. (Note the erratum that makes clue C "exclaims" and reorders the numbers for clue Q.) The puzzle answers are the clue answers. The space in MACK TRUCK, which is explicitly encoded in puzzle 17, gets put on a blank and becomes a space in the quotation answer. There is no acrostic in the clue answers, or if there is, we do not have the key to decipher it.

#
Clue
Anagram
Puzzle
Answer
A
DRAINAGE
GARDENIA
26
ORBSAMID
B
ASCERTAIN
CARTESIAN
20
PENTOXIDE
C
EXCLAIMS
CLIMAXES
15
FAVORITE
D
ASPIRATE
PARASITE
25
DRUMMERS
E
ALTERING
INTEGRAL
7
SUPERMAN
F
PERTAINS
PAINTERS
34
ESCAROLE
G
RELATION
ORIENTAL
23
VIVACITY
H
RATIONALES
SENATORIAL
19
DEMONSOUND
I
CLAIMERS
MIRACLES
2
SPARTATN
J
IDEAS
ASIDE
9
36264
K
ASSISTANT
SATANISTS
28
BLUELIGHT
L
EMIGRANTS
MASTERING
5
WITTICISM
M
DECORATION
COORDINATE
17
MACK_TRUCK
N
READIES
DEARIES
21
ROBOCOP
O
SUPREME
PRESUME
16
WHIFFED
P
PRETTINESS
PERSISTENT
33
REGULATION
Q
ANCESTRAL
LANCASTER
12
LUAPTNIAS
R
RAWNESS
ANSWERS
37
REALITY
S
DESCRIPTION
PREDICTIONS
36
NINETYFIFTH
T
CROUTONS
CONTOURS
32
ITSAHOAX

The quotation then spells the message:

To advance, you must overlay US and MIT maps. Match east vertex of 34 with Pulaski, TN; SE corner of 2 with Rock Rapids, IA; and Point 66 to Bad Axe, MI. Read the MIT Gemini Public LEGIBLY for further instructions.

Some of the pages at the end of the packet contain email messages that appear to be printed from GEMINI@MIT.EDU. Apparently there was some public mechanism to access these messages. There are several of these, with names that differ by only a few characters, and there may well have been even more but the solving team had narrowed it to these.

The Gemini files are encoded using a simple code in which the sums of each pair of consecutive numbers within a word are alphabet indexes of the letters in the message. Punctuation is provided. The files other than LEGIBLY encode various pieces of literature, though they break off at some point into encoded text of some sort. But the LEGIBLY file contains instructions (and no additional encoded text):

Greetings from beyond the grave. It is I, Phillip Boddy, with some final words for you. The remaining puzzles form a chain that you must follow. Each node of this chain contains two puzzles: One whose answer is a location and one whose answer is a word or name (this is the keyword). Puzzle zero points to the first node in this chain. To follow the chain, go to the MIT location that corresponds with the location given by part one of the node. Look on the wall for the keyword given by part two of the node. When you find it, do two things: Write down the word that immediately follows the keyword because it is the pointer to the next node. Also write down all of the room numbers on the flat stretch of wall on which the keyword appears. Write down all of the digits (building and room). Do not count any room numbers that are across the hall from the keyword. Do not go around any corners or into any alcoves deeper than a door jamb. Do not go through any doors. After you get all of the numbers, go up one floor and proceed to the next node. First node is located on the zeroth floor, node two is on the first floor, and so forth.

Cleverly, this file does not contain the correspondence between MIT locations and US map locations, so if somebody stumbled upon this early, it would not be enough to get started on this runaround. Puzzle 13's answer is needed (and that points here, so if they have that, they will get this).

Note that this message says that the remaining puzzles form a chain. 20 of the 41 puzzles were used in puzzle 13's solution, and puzzle 13 got us here, leaving 20 other puzzles. Of these, puzzle 0 is explicitly mentioned, and 18 of the other puzzles form pairs based on the location given in the puzzle's heading, and furthermore these locations are the 9 rooms in the Clue game. Puzzle 38, Butler's Quarters, is left over. It is not clear how that puzzle fits into the hunt.

Since this requires finding words that were posted on walls in 1995 and are almost certainly not there today (and for that matter, the room numbers and even the buildings might no longer be there), it would appear we cannot proceed farther. However, the solving team left some information about this part of the metapuzzle on page 3 of the packet that appears in the archive. The information they provided appears to include Madison, the name of the city in Alabama in a 357xx zip code (35758, specifically) to complete the scavenger hunt answer that they did not complete earlier, and the buildings which the map overlay provides are listed as well.

The solving team also wrote in CONSTRUCTION here as the answer to puzzle 22, but then crossed it out heavily.

Clue Room
Location Puzzle
Location
Keyword Puzzle
Keyword
MIT Location
Pointer
Other Word?
Lounge
31
Hooker, OK
22
unsolved
1-0xx
SUITE
INCREDIBLE
Dining Room
8
Mt. Vernon, KY
29
BLUE LIGHT
20E-1xx
MATERIALS
BREATHE
Study
10
unsolved
24
ALEXANDER
?
LEAD
THIS
Kitchen
30
Lake Charles, LA
1
FIRE
35-3xx
RICH
LETS
Billiard Room
18
53140 (Kenosha, WI)
6
DELIVERIES
54-4xx
ALARM
AS
Conservatory
3
Longview, TX
14
WHIZBANG?
9-5xx
SHOULD
CLIMBING
Hall
11
35758 (Madison, AL)
27
JOEL
see below
AND
-
Library
35
Effingham, IL
4
EITHER
16-7xx
HE
INSPECTOR
Ballroom
40
Prof. Plum, revolver, Dining Room
39
4949717
?
N/A
N/A

The solving team has written two words at the far left of each puzzle. I've labeled one of them, the highlighted one, as "pointer" since one of these is the word they have written as the answer to puzzle 0. I don't know what the other word is. I also don't know how these pointer words (even "suite") clue which pair of puzzles constitutes the next node.

Here is a map of the US with the relevant locations marked, and here is the MIT map with the overlay. Note that the US map needs to be flipped over to make the associations given in the double-crostic answer work. (For this purpose, we have reconstructed an MIT map to show Building 20 in its correct location, where the Stata Center is today. There may be other differences, but they are not relevant for the locations found so far.

All of the locations in this overlay agree with the buildings the solving team identified (the ones they highlighted; there also appears to be another attempt with different locations such as Johnson AC which are simply wrong), except one. The Hall answer seems to fall near the junction of buildings 34 and 36, but the solving team has written 33 here (and crossed it out, and did not highlight it). I'm not sure how they decided on Madison, but even if that is wrong, it is going to be somewhere in Alabama, somewhere near these buildings.

How this wraps up, with the Ballroom puzzles, is not clear. But this is my best guess:

The path in puzzle 39 supposed to be given by the room numbers written down during this runaround. That makes sense, since we backsolved it now using the number the solving team wrote on puzzle 39 after the start of the incorrect path they had marked led to spelling FOUR NINE and it would have been too ambiguous to get it any other way. This path can be broken into 4- and 5-digit building/room numbers that look believable, though I don't think they are all real rooms, and they definitely aren't in or near the buildings on the trail. It is possible they were written on other signs posted on the same walls as the signs with the keywords during this hunt.

The reason for having puzzle 39 at all, instead of jumping straight from the room numbers to the puzzle 40 code, is that the trail helps you put the numbers found at the same location into the right order.

The 2010 article about coin locations tells us that the coin was located in the handset of a phone located in building 16, behind the stairs leading up to building 8, and that teams had to find it by calling the number of this phone and locating the ringing phone. So I imagine that 4949717 was that phone number.

Other Information at the End of the Packet

The files other than LEGIBLY at the end of the packet are probably all red herrings. They include:

Strangely, though, each one of these turns into gibberish part way through. Here is an example:

PERMIT ME TO REPEAT, EMPHATICALLY, THAT MARLEY WAS AS DEAD AS A DOORNADRJ ROWEVM ASREJFJED SKTPSKCF. QDJKGLK DKLR WSE SPGJSGE SJ E SKEFOAS FDKJROAAA SEKJFIW DLKVNMF DFS, RJLJ RO S FKG RKJTP REJ GJRIPE DRFJKSDSD SDK WE AWRS. DDFGKJASKL CK ROGJSDF SLWEKOV KD REOKP RFGKDS SDL GREOGOI REJIG VE. FERK SD EO A TREIOJ SDKIP ONHGKW ZJD GEOKV, EWRGJ QAWOI FJEIC D RIF TIJ GSIMU DIFMS PROKF ERG. WFJ ASID JER H ERIOJPJXL RIJ RIASFD EDJZ FSA.

The frequency analysis on the gibberish shows a very weird distribution, with the vast majority of the letters being those on the home row of a QWERTY keyboard, so I think it is safe to say that the gibberish is really meaningless, and was just typed by banging on the keyboard.

The mechanism by which these files are encoded includes a degree of freedom in each word, since each letter is the sum of two consecutive numbers and there is one more number than there are letters in the word. This degree of freedom is embodied by the first number in each word's encoding, which is always between -25 and 25 (though later numbers, depending on the letters in the word, do not necessarily maintain this pattern), and it is the same sequence in each of the files:

19, -10, 11, -3, -13, -11, -24, -11, -6, 16, 25, 10, -6, -18, 12, -15, 2, 25, 10, 13, -16, 3, -10, -14, 12, -21, 3, -22, -25, 13, -17, 9, -8, -16, 13, -23, -4, 2, 21, -8, -15, 8, -4, 7, -15, 15, -8, 1, -18, 17, -3, 7, -2, 23, 19, 4, -1, -17, 11, 8, -21, -5, -11, -12, -1, -21, -12, -6, -1, 13, -17, -11, -23, 18, 9, 16, -3, 23, -3, 11, -20, 4, -4, 9, 5, -4, 4, 6, -1, -18, -11, 19, -10, -17, 11, -10, -23, -1, 16, -2, -9, 10, -24, 15, 17, -5, -8, 24, -8, -19, -17, 22, 1, 4, -15, -15, -22, 6, 21, 7, 17, 2, -16, -10, -1, -19, 6, 1, -10, 16, 20, 2, -19, 23, 18, -25, 16, -14, -5, 3, 8, -15, 12, 25, 19, 22, 1, 9, 14, 3, -14, -7, -14, 8, 24, 25, -13, 17, -25, -19, 13, -17, -8, 6, -12, 19, -12, -12, 4, -5, 20, 16, -15, 13, -10, -25, 16, -2, 15, 10, 5, 4, -15, -19, -19, -14, -21, -17, -3, -6, -11, -10, -18, 14, 1

Does this encode a message? If so, I do not know what it is.

Finally, there are two other files at the end which are not in the same format as the others. One of them is an X11 bitmap which leads to this small icon of what I think represents somebody losing their brain (original file here):


Maybe this icon appeared on the signs the teams were looking for in the runaround?

The last bit is what appears to be an earlier version of the runaround from puzzle 21. It includes some odd formatting commands which seem to be the Andrew file format described here.

The runaround instructions are identical, except that the number which is the difference between two room numbers where there is a warp in the runaround path is just asterisks in this version. The flavor text is different in several ways. And the instructions on how to extract an answer at the end are missing.

It doesn't make any sense why this file is here.