What is the format of the contest?
Teams will receive several packets of puzzles distributed throughout the event. The answers to these
puzzles will form clues to a final Meta-Puzzle – a special puzzle that combines
the results from all of the others. The Meta-Puzzle may or may not be explicitly
designated as such, and, like the other puzzles, the manner of its deciphering may
or may not be openly stated.
What are the puzzles like?
The formats of the puzzles are extremely varied. Some may have explicit instructions,
while for others, figuring out what to do with what you’re given is part of the
puzzle. In all cases, the implicit instruction is "figure out the final answer,"
which will always be numeric, a single word, or a short phrase. The content and topic is also
extremely varied; many are essentially word puzzles and some may involve basic computer
concepts such as cryptography or encoding, binary/hexadecimal numbers, and logic.
To help prepare you for the event, we have provided the puzzle archive and a page
with puzzle-solving tools.
Do we have to solve all the puzzles in order to solve to Meta-Puzzle?
Not necessarily; the Meta-Puzzle is designed so that not all the input solutions
are absolutely required to solve it. However, the more inputs available, the easier
it becomes. You should expect to have to solve most of the puzzles in order to have a good
shot at solving the Meta-Puzzle.
How are answers submitted?
Answers will be submitted via this website. After you log into the site, you will
be able to access the submission form. The time when your submission is received
is used for any tie-breakers. A full solution to a puzzle is not required unless
specifically asked for by Puzzle Central.
How many times can we submit an answer? Is there a penalty for submitting more than
once or submitting an incorrect answer?
There is no set limit as to the number of times an answer may be submitted for a
particular puzzle. There is also no score penalty for submitting more than once.
If too many incorrect answers are received for a puzzle, the submission system may
require a timeout before another answer can be submitted for the same puzzle. As
such, brute-force guessing is strongly discouraged.
What is the best way to win?
The best way to win is to solve the most puzzles before any other team, and then
solve the Meta-Puzzle. The best way to do that is teamwork. Work individually on
the easier puzzles so everyone on your team is productive. Work together on harder
puzzles so you can solve them more quickly, with more creativity. If you get stuck,
move on to another puzzle. Make sure you keep track of which puzzles you’ve already
solved and their solutions.
If a puzzle is too hard, where can I get help?
We want you to have fun, and some puzzles are made to be difficult. One way to keep
from getting stressed is just switch to another puzzle or make sure you’ve asked
your team for their input.
You are welcome to ask Puzzle Central questions about the puzzle. Occasionally,
Puzzle Central will release hints for puzzles so keep a lookout for new hints. Ordinarily,
the organizers on the school campuses cannot provide assistance; however, Puzzle
Central may ask them to provide assistance for specific puzzles. It never hurts
to ask, but don’t be too surprised if the answer is “we can’t help you yet.”