# CISRA Puzzle Competition 2011 - Solutions

## 4C. Team Statistics

There's a clue written down the "seconds" column. It spells:

```try numerous spots to spy study inwardly rows or try two tours to pry
```

The rules are:

• Look across each row and find any and all numbers on that row which can be used to index into the team name.
• Overall ranking numbers, Australian and Iron Brain rankings, puzzles solved, score, day, hour, minute and second may all be used this way.
• Ignore punctuation and spaces; only look at numbers and letters.
• Circle any characters in each name which are found this way.

Some rows might produce two letters. Some rows might be skipped.

The first message you'll find this way is:

```what may be revealed if all puzzles solved twelve hours later
```

It tells you to take all the "Last solved times" and add 12 hours. Be careful to also increment the days if the time was after noon! (This is only important around Aug 02, by the way.)

Doing this and reading again, you find a second message:

```what man helped start mums puzzle hunt and wikileaks after
```

Who was an early contributor to the MUMS Puzzle Hunt and helped start Wikileaks? JULIAN ASSANGE.

### Puzzle design notes:

Only names of real teams already registered in the 2011 CiSRA Puzzle Competition were used in the construction of this puzzle. I tried to give preference to teams who had solved puzzles in the actual competition, at the time I made the puzzle. I also tried to use team names that I had seen before in our competition in previous years, but of course I was constrained by the puzzle itself so I couldn't accommodate all the team names I wanted to use. Apologies to all for the fake scores I used.

This puzzle was part of the 2011 competition's Group 4 set of puzzles, which we informally called "Mess With Their Heads Day". In 2010, the Group 4 puzzles consisted of the same puzzle graphic for each puzzle, just with different puzzle names. This year we decided to theme the day around giving the impression the puzzles were not really puzzles. Double Jeopardy, for example, was presented as a solution, while Puzzle Competition Reminder looked like an email we had accidentally sent and A Typical Puzzle seemed to be a gripe about mechanics often used in puzzles.

Team Statistics was themed to look like the score board after the competition had finished. This placed a lot of constraints on the puzzle's construction, and produced a lot of information, not all of which could be fully consumed. The design task was to:

• try to draw attention to those parts of the puzzle that would allow people to begin decoding it,
• try to consume as much information as possible so as little is wasted as possible, and
• try to avoid producing extraneous information, yet
• make it look as much like a real score board page as possible.

So,

• Scores were kept as simple whole numbers, except for the special region near the secret word 'puzzle', and at the very bottom of the board.
• All columns of numbers were used at least once to generate a number for indexing into team names. The exception was the year 2011 which appeared on every line, and just couldn't be used.
• Because I didn't want to suggest that the list should be re-sorted, I made all times increase all the way down the page.
• Within the seconds, minutes, and hours column, there were duplicated numbers. This, again, was to discourage re-sorting.
• The numbers at the top of the page telling how many teams were registered was updated on the morning the puzzle was to be released, using the most up-to-date numbers. This was to give the impression there was no significant puzzle information there, and to reinforce the fact that these were real team names from the current competition, and to discourage spending time trying to verify that fact.

During test solving, one of our testers found the word "'puzzle" near the middle of the field, but the only way that word could be produced was to use numbers from the hours, minutes and seconds columns. After some checking, the testers concluded this was not the intended solving mechanism, since it didn't seem to work for all rows. Nevertheless, this discovery was intended, and provided an alternative way in to the puzzle (in addition to working down from the top). This is the reason for the silver medals on those rows and hence the slightly different scores, and also the reason for having some rows only having completed one puzzle from a group rather than the whole group.

When we rate the difficulty of puzzles we take a number of factors into consideration, including:

• number of steps,
• size of insight leaps,
• amount of other work required, be it research, anagrams, filling in crosswords, etc,
• total amount of time to just do the work, even if you knew exactly what to do.

For this puzzle, the amount of time was considered to be reasonably low, there was a single big insight leap right at the start, but once begun the puzzle could be solved in parallel by a team working on different rows independently. It was considered to be of medium difficulty. We were calibrating this against other puzzles, including ones such as Rime Royal and Four Letter Words, which were considered definitely hard for the total amount of work involved, if for nothing else. However, gauging how much of a stumbling block any particular insight leap is going to be is sometimes difficult.

Our test solvers had a few recommended changes required before we could consider this puzzle publishable, including:

• Simplify the scores further. The original had some more variations in scores down the page, but that was considered to introduce too much useless information, so the numbers and the different medals used were simplified to produce more whole numbers.
• Retain the drawing of attention to the word "puzzle" near the middle of the board. This had been the case in the earlier form of the puzzle, but was obscured slightly by the different medals used. To rule out the medals themselves being a source of information, all medals in that region were made silver, and all in Group 2.
• Use a longer set of letters to lead into the puzzle. The original form of the puzzle began "WHO..." and then petered out as you had to switch from using overall rank numbers to using numbers from elsewhere. This was changed to "WHATMA..." to give more letters to follow.
• Adding a hint inside the puzzle itself. This was added into the seconds column. How useful this was is debatable. The hint referred to trying "numerous spots" (numbers) and advised studying "inwardly rows" (indexing into the names), and also referred to the latter part of the puzzle in which "two tours" are required. But the hint was very constrained by the fact it had to use mostly letters from the second half of the alphabet, which probably limited its usefulness by constraining its letters over much.

Another suggestion was to hand-write the word "Puzzle" near the corresponding rows where that word appears. After all the above changes were made, this was considered to be unnecessary.