Still at sea?

manilaoffbanWe have a little over a week left until Manila closes. I know some of you are still out there in the treacherous waters so give it all you got in the upcoming few days!

totteokiprizeRegarding the prizes, stated originally was prizes for the top two plus the 29th place competitor – if less than 29 entries: 23rd place competitor takes it.

Currently I have less than 23 solvers with correct submissions so if the total doesn’t reach 23 by the end of Manila… guess I’ll keep the last prize for future events.

Don’t let that happen.
Happy solving!

Manila starts!

Launch time!
Competitors can now hit the seas and head to Manila!

manilaoffbanDetails are at the ABOUT MANILA page on the menu above, give it a good read before starting at the HARBOUR. Some of the puzzle ideas and examples were taken from Ko Okamoto, Nikola Zivanovic, Serkan Yurekli, Riad Khanmagomedov and WPC 2011 Hungary.

Manila will be opened for 29 days ending on the 8th of June.
Any questions can be made here:

I’m looking forward to sending, not one, but three of you, prizes next month.
Happy Mother’s Day!

*** At just over 20 hours of launching, Manila Bay Pier has already welcomed its first competitor! Looking forward to see more of you! ***

Next destination: Manila

My next event is inspired by the board game Manila.

61NFQ9DRTML._SY300_The year is 1821 and under the rule of the Spanish crown, you are orchestrating secret trades with other tribes in mainland Asia. Using punts, you load your boats with four precious commodities: coffee, ginseng, jade and satin. These will be worth a living once they are successfully smuggled out to Manila.

In the game, you have to deviously plan which commodity to take, how you’re going to navigate the boat and be careful of notorious pirates. You could also bribe pilots to give you a ride to Manila.

I will incorporate all these elements into a puzzle adventure…

manilabannerAll of the puzzles, except one, are logic-based and will be language-neutral. However, due to the narrative nature of the event, some reading may be required. I did my best to keep it as simple as possible for non-English speakers so everyone should be able to enjoy Manila.

Also you can contact me throughout the event with any help you need, big or small.
One last good news; this event will have 3 prize winners!
Your chances have just tripled!

See you in Manila!

24HPC recap without the puzzles

[Personal recap of the 24HPC]

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Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport

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On the forward trip, I sat next to a Turkish college student who was studying in Hungary. I asked what “Akil Oyunlari” meant in Turkish. He said “umm…like brain games”. He was born in Antalya so I was like, “hey, that’s where they hosted the 2009 WPC”, which was an excuse to explain why I was going to Budapest to solve puzzles. Pushing my luck of shoving puzzle talk to a stranger’s face, I also asked if he knew who Serkan Yurekli was. And I got a positive response!
“Yeah. He was on TV one time, I think he makes puzzles right?”
Ok.
I admit I’m terrible at coming up conversation topics.

Like last year, I was the first to arrive and the last to leave Budapest. It certainly helps to spare a couple of days rinsing off your jet lag, especially when one had just covered over 17,000km in about a day and half. My first priority of looking for non-sparkling water was achieved at a dairy just across the road. Illiterate in Hungarian had me buying bagfuls of snacks based solely on its marketing appearance. I did enjoyed most of them fortunately.

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Yum!

The next day, I met Tom and Neil at breakfast and had plans for two escape games in the city. We went early in case of the very likely event of us getting lost, which meant we had a good hour munching on coffee and cake at a lovely store next to the location of the first escape game.

We were joined by the German puzzle team of Silke, Robert and their friend Hammond. The first game was held in a quiet residence and was hosted by a polite woman who apparently wasn’t the host of the English-language version, but we can agree that she did a fantastic job running the game.

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On board the SS.Elzzup!

As with all escape games, the theme was loosely-based on a narrative. Hell, I can’t even remember the theme now. A friend is getting married in France? Somehow you’re on a boat to New York? He was framed for something? We needed to find a train ticket? A ring? Oh, I give up.

[Spoilers ahead: if you plan to play an escape game in Budapest, you might suddenly be the most competent member of your team]

So the first room was decorated like a boat and we had to find 5 coins to open up the next room. It wasn’t obvious, but there were 5 “things” to do and it was sensible to assume that they run independently and each lead to a coin. We had no system going in, everyone just solved whatever they felt like they could. All I can recall was peeking through a chest to see a picture of a sailor, holding a mop and hitting a seagull. On the ceiling was a seagull and there was a mop lying on the floor. The clever trick was that the mop was magnetic and it had to drag a key from a ledge on the ceiling. Going on simultaneously in the room, was a map puzzle being solved to unlock a rope ladder which Robert had to climb to a balloon which contained a coin.

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Tom’s head on a bus

The second room was the train scene. We had to fill a briefcase with the correct set of five items to finish. There was an invisible code written on the mirror that Neil helped me solve, a classic logic puzzle that Hammond and I solved, while others revive a dead cellphone to get specific time schedules for a train ticket hidden behind a picture. There was a dummy in the room (I think it was the ticket collector) which we mercilessly murdered because what else do you do in escape games? You flip the whole room upside down and look into every inch of every single item that was there. The dummy’s head rolled right off by the time we finished.

We clocked in at 36-37 minutes, without hints, and were told that the current record was around 34 minutes. Ah, we did great. Afterwards, we returned to the same café (called Death by Decaf) for seconds and headed to the next escape game. It was held in a spacious cellar (or “dungeon”, as Neil insisted). The theme this time was that we had to stop a biotechnical warfare by finding some sort of poison concocted by some mad professor. The room was his lab and there were heaps of things to solve.

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We had better times

My favourite had to be where a box was opened by placing a stethoscope on to the heart of a skeleton. Several puzzles ended up adding one piece to a chessboard so we incorrectly assumed that the chessboard was probably the last thing to be solved and proceeded to solve other puzzles in the room. We burnt at least 20 minutes trying to figure out how to make sense of colourful chemicals on the table and got nowhere.

We had to phone for help and the host directed us to “a green monster”. There was a green rubbish bin and surely enough, magnetized to inside of the lid was the crucial final chess piece. Gahh, honestly we must’ve opened that bin at least five times each. Good warm-up for the 24HPC.

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Another 300 or so puzzles to understand the rules of

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Listening to my occasional sighs; my table neighbour Matthew Stein from USA.

Fast forward to the end of the competition, I left Budapest for Dubai. The purpose of entry on my VISA was cultural/sports which prompted “what sport were you playing in Budapest?” at the customs. I thought for a second before replying, “puzzles.”
Of course I got a confused look.
“Like sudoku”
That elicited an “Ahh… I know sudoku. Wait. You flew all the way from Auckland to solve sudoku?”
Yep.

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The newly renovated competition room meant generous working space for us

In Dubai, I tried their Snooze Cube, which was a little bedroom for transits. Air-conditioned, free Wi-Fi, universal outlets and the room goes pitch black when the lights were switched off. Absolutely perfect.

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zzzzzzz…..

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I listended to a few podcasts and slowly nodded off…

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Home time!

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Quiet Melbourne Airport at 5am

After two more transits at Melbourne and Auckland. One last domestic flight carried me home.

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No more planes for me.
Until next time!