College Puzzle Challenge 2018 Rules

College Puzzle Challenge is an annual puzzle-solving contest sponsored by Microsoft Recruiting. Teams from schools across North America compete by racing to solve puzzles, with prizes awarded to the fastest teams at each location. The contest is organized, developed and run by alumni from each school volunteering to create a great event.

This event is supposed to be fun. We want you to have fun. If at any point in the day you're not having fun, take a break, and let the organizers know. Don't let the competition prevent you from enjoying the puzzles.

This year, College Puzzle Challenge will be held on Saturday, April 14, 2018 from to , and starts at all locations at the same time. Participants at Berkeley and Stanford should arrive one hour early to allow enough time to check in. Participants at the remaining locations should arrive 45 minutes early.

  1. Eligibility
    This contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recent alumni who have graduated less than one year before the date of the event. Participants must be students or graduates of participating schools. Individuals who are full-time employees of Microsoft at the time of the event are not eligible to participate.

    Teams who are not eligible because they do not attend a participating school may be allowed to participate if (1) they travel to a participating school for the event, (2) team openings at that school have not been filled, and (3) mail from permits the “visiting” team to participate at that school. All participants must be present on the school campus or designated event grounds. Please be aware that host-school teams will have priority for receiving food and printed puzzle packets — these items may not be available for visiting teams. Visiting teams that meet all other eligibility requirements will still be eligible to win prizes.

    Participants should bring their college-issued student identification as proof of eligibility. Computer science, computer engineering and mathematics students are especially encouraged to take part in the event, but students from all disciplines may participate.
  2. Participating Schools and Locations 

    SchoolLocation of Event
    Boston College Microsoft NERD Office - One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
    Boston University Microsoft NERD Office - One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
    Brown University Microsoft NERD Office - One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
    California Institute of Technology Microsoft Playa Vista Office - 13031 West Jefferson Boulevard, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90094
    Carnegie Mellon University Newell Simon Hall 3305
    Clark Atlanta University Klaus 1443
    Cornell University Phillips 101
    Georgia Institute of Technology Klaus 1443
    Harvard University Microsoft NERD Office - One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
    Harvey Mudd College Microsoft Playa Vista Office - 13031 West Jefferson Boulevard, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90094
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology Microsoft NERD Office - One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
    Morehouse College Klaus 1443
    Northeastern University Microsoft NERD Office - One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
    Olin College Microsoft NERD Office - One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
    Rochester Institute of Technology Institute Hall - Building #73/1140, 1160, & 1180
    Spelman College Klaus 1443
    Stanford University Packard 101
    Tufts University Microsoft NERD Office - One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
    University of California at Berkeley 277 Cory Hall
    University of California at Los Angeles Microsoft Playa Vista Office - 13031 West Jefferson Boulevard, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90094
    University of Illinois Siebel 0216
    University of Maryland Kim Rotunda
    University of Massachusetts Amherst Microsoft NERD Office - One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
    University of Michigan 1670 BBB
    University of Southern California Microsoft Playa Vista Office - 13031 West Jefferson Boulevard, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90094
    University of Texas at Austin GDC 1.304
    University of Washington LOW 101/102
    University of Waterloo (co-ops in Seattle) LOW 101/102
  3. Teams
    Teams must be comprised of four (4) eligible participants. Teams must register on this website once registration is open. On the day of the event, teams must be checked in by College Puzzle Challenge organizers at their location.

    Each location has capacity for a specific number of teams. If a team signs up after the location has reached capacity, the team will be “waitlisted.” Before the event starts, a waitlisted team may become registered if more capacity is added to the location. Otherwise, waitlisted teams are encouraged to show up on the day of the event in case another team does not show up.

    Teams with fewer than four people are “incomplete teams.” These teams are not eligible to compete until they have been filled with four contestants.
  4. Equipment
    Teams will need at least one computer with access to the internet and email. Participants may bring their own laptops or use machines available in their work area. Teams must be able to access this web site; to ensure compatibility we recommend using either the latest Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Internet Explorer 11, the latest Mozilla Firefox, the latest Google Chrome, or the latest Apple Safari. Puzzle files available online will be in PDF format, so Adobe Reader or a compatible PDF reader is recommended.

    Although not required, printing pages may be helpful. Teams should arrange for access to a printer prior to the event.

    Participants are encouraged to bring their own office supplies, including scissors, tape, and other materials listed on our FAQ page. Participants may also use any resources and references, printed or online. Participants are not allowed to speak with other teams or people about solving puzzles, nor interfere with the progress of others. Teams found collaborating or being disruptive will be disqualified.
  5. Contest Period
    The contest begins on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at and ends at . Participants at Berkeley, Stanford, and University of Michigan should arrive one hour early to allow enough time to check in. Participants at the remaining locations should arrive 45 minutes early.

    After the event, there will be a wrap-up session where College Puzzle Challenge organizers will present puzzle solutions and award prizes. Attendance at this portion is optional, though winners must be present to claim their awards. With the exception of the Grand Prize, which will be mailed to the winning team, any prizes not claimed onsite will be forfeited.
  6. Contest Location
    Each location will have a designated area for contest activities including organization and pre-event briefing. Teams will be provided with a suitable area in which to work on the puzzles, but they are encouraged to work in a private room or other area. Teams working outside of the designated area must remain physically accessible to the on-site College Puzzle Challenge organizers. Details regarding the specific locations will be provided to confirmed teams by email before the event. Participants are generally not limited to staying in one location for the duration of the contest, and may move about or leave to take a break, get food, etc.
  7. Format
    Packets of puzzles will be distributed to all teams over the course of the contest as determined by the organizers. Puzzles will be distributed simultaneously across all participating locations.

    The answer to all puzzles is numeric, a single word, or a short phrase. Teams must submit answers to Puzzle Central, the designated clearinghouse of contest officials, via the "Puzzles" link in the "My Team" section of this website. If an answer is deemed correct by the judges at Puzzle Central, the team is scored as having solved it at the time of submission (Puzzle Completion Time).

    Throughout the contest, participants will be able to access a scoreboard, via a browser, detailing their current rank and progress, as well as general statistics about the overall positions of all teams. These figures are updated and maintained by Puzzle Central, but may not be precisely up to date or accurate.

    Teams may not obtain answers to puzzles except by their own collective brainpower. If the legitimacy of any answer is in doubt, Puzzle Central may, at its sole discretion, require full solutions for a puzzle from a team in order for points to be awarded.

    None of the puzzles will require participants to do anything illegal, immoral, unsafe, or anything that would cause campus security to be concerned. If ever in doubt, please ask on-site College Puzzle Challenge organizers.
  8. Scoring

    Points are awarded for each puzzle solved. 1 point is awarded for solving regular puzzles. 5 points are awarded for solving meta-puzzles.

    Teams are ranked according to their point total. Ties are decided in favor of the first team to reach the final tie score.

  9. Disqualification
    Interfering with the ability of other teams to solve puzzles will disqualify a team from participation. The decision for disqualification will be made by Puzzle Central. All decisions by Puzzle Central are final.
  10. Determination of Winners
    There will be one grand prize awarded to the highest ranked team according to the above scoring rules. In addition, prizes will be awarded to teams at each participating location. In addition to first-, second-, and third-place prizes, honorable mention categories will also be determined on the day of the competition.
  11. Prizes
    Each member of the winning teams will receive a prize.
    Prize Description USD Market Value
    Grand Prize Surface Book 128 GB $1,000
    First Place at each location Xbox One S 500 GB and games bundle $400
    Second Place at each location Xbox games bundle and 1-month Game Pass $110
    Third Place at each location Xbox Live 12-month Gold Membership $60

    If you are selected as a winner:
    1. You may not exchange your prize for cash or any other merchandise or services;
    2. You may not designate someone else as the winner. If you are unable or unwilling to accept your prize, we will award it to the next highest scoring winner;
    3. Taxes, if any, are the sole responsibility of the winner.
    4. You may be required to complete and return an affidavit of eligibly, liability, and tax form to claim your prize. Failure to complete the required form will result in disqualification and the prize will be awarded to the next highest scoring winner.
  12. Sponsor
    The sponsor of this contest is Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052.
  13. Additional Terms & Conditions
    Entrants agree to abide by these rules and the decisions of organizers and judges, which are final and binding. College Puzzle Challenge organizers reserve the right to amend the rules at any time.

    By participating, entrants agree to release and hold harmless Microsoft, and its subsidiaries, affiliates, employees, representatives, successors, assignees and agents from any and all liability or any injury, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with this contest or any prize won.

    If cheating, a virus, bug, catastrophic event, or any other unforeseen or unexpected event that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled, (also referred to as force majeure) affects the fairness and/or integrity of this Contest, we reserve the right to cancel, change or suspend this Prize Draw. This right is reserved whether the event is due to human or technical error. If a solution cannot be found to restore the integrity of the Contest, we reserve the right to select winners from among all eligible entries received before the Contest was cancelled, changed or suspended. If you attempt to compromise the integrity or the legitimate operation of this Contest by hacking or by cheating or committing fraud in ANY way, we may seek damages from you to the fullest extent permitted by law. Further, we may ban you from participating in any of our future Contests, so please play fairly.

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