mezzacotta Puzzle Competition

Puzzle Solving Guide

About the puzzles

The puzzles in this competition are not standard types that most people are familiar with, such as crosswords or sudoku. Instead, each puzzle is unique, and we give you no instructions as to what you need to do to solve them.

The puzzles come in three broad types:

Each puzzle has:

Solving the puzzles

So how do you go about solving a puzzle with no instructions?

The general idea is to reduce the amount of information in the puzzle, ultimately down to the final word or phrase which is the solution. When you're on the right track, it should suddenly become clear that you're doing the right thing. Patterns will become apparent and things will fall into place. For a while. Many of the puzzles have further stages that may require more thought to progress further. Apply the same sort of searching as before.

While you're making progress, you can ignore the puzzle title. But if you get stuck, look at the title again, to see if it sparks a new line of thought.

When you've reduced the puzzle to the answer, it should be reasonably obvious that you've done the right thing, because it will make everything coalesce into just a word or short phrase. The answers often don't have anything obvious to do with the intermediate puzzle steps, since that could make guessing them too easy. For example, if the puzzle uses Beatles lyrics, the answer almost certainly won't be "strawberryfields".

For examples of how similar puzzles work and how to solve them, check the puzzles and worked solutions from similar competitions, such as:

Advanced solving techniques

Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

This puzzle is impossible! Help?

Most of the puzzles require an intuitive leap at some point in their solving process. There are a bunch of things that we've found helpful in solving puzzles:

Having said that, some of the puzzles are quite difficult and they all require different approaches, knowledge, and skills. We don't expect any teams to solve all of them without any hints. So if one puzzle is giving you grief, try another one. And try them again when the hints are released.