Sexta, Texas

This past weekend, we staged on a private adventure for a Mystery League fan and her friends. We sent them around Chicago for 8+ hours, visiting shops and cafes, hunting for clues, and solving puzzles. There was a magic show, a hidden comic book with UV messages, mini golf, disappearing ink, and a magical lemon. You can read about the full adventure — and all the bad puns we included — here:

Elaine’s Birthday Adventure
A day-long birthday adventure throughout Chicago.

February Puzzler

Every month I offer a new bite-sized puzzle. Here's the latest one:

The last five letters of what US state can be anagrammed to make the largest city in another US state?

Submit your answer here 🗳

MIT Mystery Hunt 2024

Congrats to Death & Mayhem for winning this year's hunt. Their last hunt was brilliant, so I'm looking forward to what they're going to put on next year. This year's hunt, by Team To Be Named Later, was hella 😈 fun, and I'm happy to share some of my favorites (with the caveat that it's impossible for one person to see more than a fraction of puzzles, so this by no means represents the Best Of The Whole Hunt). To view the puzzles, first visit the main hunt site and select “public access.”

🤞📝🧩 is a crossword puzzle where both the clues and the entries are made up of emojis. What makes it brilliant is (slight spoiler) that each emoji that goes in the grid can stand for one word or concept going across, and a different word or concept going down. This was a lovely, energizing team solve, and something you can definitely solve at home.

Field of Clovers is a riff on the fun party game So Clover. You're given 8 sets of clovers, each filled in with 4 clues. But the clues don't work very well at first glance, and you have to figure out what gimmicks are going on. Then, after you figure them all out, you're only halfway done with the puzzle. And that's where it gets really clever. This is a beast of a puzzle, but well worth it.

Enneagram is a reference to Jack Lance's awesome Octogram puzzle game, which I'd never seen before Hunt, and which quickly became an obsession. So this is two recommendations in one: first play through some of Octogram, then try out Enneagram. Between the two you'll be puzzling for days.

Finally, Oil Paintings involved one of my favorite moments of Hunt weekend. (This will spoil the puzzle, but you can't solve it anymore anyway, since it was a completely on-site experience.) Here's how the puzzle worked: we were given 8 large posters (~2'x3') of famous oil paintings. Each one had rows and columns of letters on the back. Through some data collection, deduction, and wordplay, we figured out we had to cut up all the posters and compile them into a single image, the result of which you see here:

The final step was to clearly identify the mishmash. Except… it wasn't immediately apparent to any of us what or who this picture was of. As we stood around, proposing ideas, Wil figured it out, yelled out his guess, and we all immediately realized he was correct. Give it a few seconds and see if you can get it, then click through this link to see the answer. Given the constraints, the final mosaic is a very good representation of the answer.

Silk Dress cryptogram cracked

Dress code: How a Winnipeg codebreaker cracked one of the ‘world’s top unsolved messages’ | CBC News
For a decade, cryptology fans had been trying to solve something called the “Silk Dress cryptogram.” Earlier this year, a Winnipeg academic figured it out.

It's not everyday that one of the top 50 unsolved encrypted messages gets cracked. Here's the story about one that did. (Spoiler: the text it decoded to was less sexy or interesting than the code itself, but that's how it goes sometimes [most times].)

Jubensha is coming to Portland

Jubensha is a genre of gameplay that mixes LARPing and murder mystery. It's very popular in China and Korea, and now our friends at Meridian Adventure Co. in Portland are opening up a destination jubensha game in Portland, called 1 Mystery Ave. I'm extremely stoked for this. For a deeper dive into the jubensha phenomenon, here's a primer:

Solution to the January Puzzler

Think of a word that means “tie”. Change the first letter and add a space to get a phrase that describes where you might find yourself in the case of a tie. What are they?

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