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MIT student blogger Bryan O. '07

Mystery Hunt LiveBlog by Bryan

Coming to you live from Mystery Hunt (Last Update: Sunday 5:04 PM)

Update #1 (1:40 PM)

Currently in 13-4101 trying to solve our first puzzle before I have to go to lab meeting in 20 minutes … ahh!

Update #2 (7:17 AM)

Sorry for the delay in updating but the rest of the day has just been absolutely crazy and I’m just waking up from a power nap. I don’t know how other teams are doing, but I think the puzzles this year are ridiculously hard. Since noon, I’ve been working on this one puzzle with pauses to work on other puzzles, but despite my recharging with pizza, carrot sticks, and Gatorade, nothing seems to be working.

Funny part of it is that even though we’re working at full speed, they keep giving us puzzles faster than we can solve them … bummer.

Alright, I’m gonna get started on the puzzle from &#%% and for your reading enjoyment, I’ll post it here to see if you can come up with any bright ideas:

Odd One Out

Or maybe it should be “One Odd Out”…


Update #3 (9:46 AM)

Still working … no puzzles solved yet this morning. Can we get a hint? And everyone is still asleep. :(

Update #4 (11:41 AM)

The dry spell is over! We just solved a puzzle. We called in like a gajillion different answer, but finally, WE GOT IT.

Still no luck on Odd One Out, though. LAME.

Update #5 (12:48 PM)

I WILL NOT SLEEP until I solve this puzzle. However, running low on energy, I’m playing Ricky Martin’s “Shake Your Bon Bon” in order to wake up.

Update #6 (5:40 AM)
Somewhere around 18 puzzles solved except this DREADED ODD MAN OUT …. AHHHH


The sun is about to come up … beautiful

Update #7 (8:06 AM)
The sun is up and the puzzle is not solved.

Update #7 (2:12 PM)

I will post a solution tomorrow.



Happy Dance

Update #8 (4:59 PM)

Still puzzling

Update #9 (8:16 PM)


in my five years, it’s never gone this late.

recent dialogue:

douglas: (awkward noise)
mike: what was that?
douglas: i had a meatball and it was tasty.

anecdote: our team cannot operate without food; thus, we just had an italian buffet :)

another comment:

while eating dinner, dan our resident comedian looks over a puzzle:


everyone goes silent.

dan: … i just realized this puzzle has two lucky charms in it.

Update #10 (8:51 PM)

The hunt is over.

From: Abigail Freebie

We are pleased to report that the Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb at
Midnight found the coin at 8:28 pm on Sunday January 20, 2008. The
murderer was John Alafontaine, because Otto broke down his will. The
investigation is shutting down at this point.

Wrap up and fill revelation on Monday January 21 at 12:00 noon in room 26-100.

What a weekend :-)

Here’s a puzzle for you to try out (directly copied below)

Kana Game
Okay, this isn’t exactly the way Rampo would have written it. But really, what’s the difference?

100 responses to “Mystery Hunt LiveBlog”

  1. Libin Daniel says:

    Does MIT ever rest? Come on man,
    The Freshman application, snowman, nopants, Telethon, and now Mystery Hunt..Seriously this all in just 20 days..OMG….It really is insane.

  2. Nihar says:

    Hey Libin!
    If a place ever rested, it wouldnt be called MIT smile

    Great to hear from you after quite a while! Cant wait for the mystery hunt post! Howz the Grad school MIT?? Does the experience sort of change? or is it still IHTFP(read:as amazing as the undergrad life) all the way? smile

    Though I suspect the latter…wink

  3. Piper says:

    Yay puzzles! I’m not sure whose team I’m working with. I have 3 options O.O

    @Libin – Resting is boring. MIT is EXCITING!
    @Nihar – Undergrad life is amazing, but remember it’s difficult too. It’s not all fun and games =P

  4. Isshak says:

    I agree with Melissa, resting is boring !

    Well, I thought the puzzle would have been available online, but I was wrong, so good luck to you all ! ^^

  5. Jess says:

    youuuu’reeeee sooooo olddddddddddd

  6. Edgar says:

    Yes, Bryan back to blogging!

  7. Isshak says:

    Okay, I’ve just seen your update, and I’m working on it !

  8. Isshak says:

    Okay I am converting each letter in a number (its position in the alphabet) and I am adding the number together (each word has its own sum) and I am trying to see if one is odd and the others share something.
    Or you’ve already done that ?

  9. Bryan says:

    Haven’t tried that yet! Go for it!

  10. Rosencrantz says:

    In 6: at the end there is “Logo TM”

  11. Isshak says:

    Okay apparently it’s going nowhere. I am trying something else (ASCII, IP ADRESS, other languages, dates).

  12. Rosencrantz says:

    I tried Isshak’s idea (with the help of a quick java program) and got:
    1: 80
    2: 150
    3: 130
    4: 608
    5: 294
    6: 551*
    7: 460
    8: 290

    I think 6 is the “odd” one. Nice idea Isshak.

  13. Rosencrantz says:

    I think 6 is shaping up to be the real suspicious one.

  14. Bryan says:

    Any ideas what we can do with number 6 now?

  15. The string “EATME” is in 4.

    Not that I think it’s particularly relevant; it’s just kind of cool.

  16. Libin Daniel says:

    It is 6 because the title says ODD one OUT..It was easy..Would have been the first reaction…

  17. Libin Daniel says:

    If the answer is 6, then the question is easy else it is actually a MIT Mystery Hunt..

  18. Bryan says:

    So the answer is definitely not 6, I think we have to do something further, but no idea.

  19. Libin Daniel says:

    @ Bryan
    Bro, try submitting it. Maybe it’s an easier one when you have that super tough murder quesion. The title inclines me towards 6..ODD( NOT even) one OUT..

  20. Libin Daniel says:

    I think its also a Prime number…MIT loves Prime numbers…

  21. Bryan says:

    Update guys: Just tried to call in s-i-x and no dice :(

  22. Libin Daniel says:

    1. AN
    2. FEN
    3. PIE
    4. MET
    5. no words
    6. LET
    7. DIE
    8. TOP
    I think its 5 as it doesn’t has a word( english) when seen front or back.
    How’s this?

  23. Libin Daniel says:

    Alright it has AS when seen backwards but when seen forwards, there are none. It helped bro?

  24. Bryan says:

    Solving puzzles with little instruction is like trying to hit a bullseye with a blindfold on, so your guess is as good as mine.

    Unless it’s a red herring, the title and the text below typically are instructive in terms of solving the puzzle, but this puzzle is beyond me.

    So apologies if I can’t say that’s the right track or wrong track, 24 hours working on the same puzzle, I don’t know what’s right or wrong.

  25. Rosencrantz says:

    O the text below is provided! I thought you wrote that Bryan.

  26. Isshak says:

    Okay this is a crazy one and I WILL NOT SLEEP EITHER ! So I tried to find their opposite (like the opposite of A is Z) for each word, find their position, and add them (each word has its own sum). I tried dividing the normal and opposite sums : no luck on that. But I have a feeling the second one is the odd one. Try calling it an answer Bryan.
    Still trying to decipher it.

  27. Isshak says:

    This is crazy.
    Sorry for this non instructive post, but I had to say it ^^’

  28. Libin Daniel says:

    Which great minds makes these puzzles,anyway?

  29. Isshak says:

    I was wondering the same thing.
    Any luck Libin ?
    Maybe we should share failed atempts so that we don’t do the same thing.

  30. Bryan says:

    The team that wins mystery hunt typically makes the puzzles for the subsequent year.

  31. Libin Daniel says:

    It might not help if we work with a mindset of eliminating all and getting a right answer..Maybe after all, its not odd one out.

  32. Isshak says:

    Hm, interesting, but then how do we find the right answer ? The text should be of any help right ?
    Maybe we should work on another one…okay forget that, we have to find this one !!!

  33. Libin Daniel says:

    Anyways, I think all the strings have even numbered characters..Any light on this? 2 and 3; and 7 and 8 have same number of characters( sorry for the bad punctuation).

  34. Isshak says:

    Bryan, I think I understand how you feel (and how Laura feels)…

  35. anon says:

    The letter “Q” does not seem to appear in the above list.

  36. Isshak says:

    So? You think we should find every letters of the alphabet missing and make a word with it ?

  37. Libin Daniel says:

    X,Z not there too..New word Not possible..We need vowels to make a good word. My previous pot was wrong. I realized..Sorry guys.

  38. Isshak says:

    I just noticed, in the 7, you can spell Tim and beaver.

  39. Isshak says:

    Okay, this is seriously weird, could you post another one Bryan ?

  40. Snively says:

    You want another one? Here you go:

    War Game

    “The difference between winning and losing in war,” Jack was fond of saying, “hinges on decisive tactics and clever deployment of forces.” This was demonstrated in the historical record of his most recent head-to-head confrontation:

    1. The final layout featured at least one winning formation of each of the 5 types (Wedge, Phalanx, Battalion Order, Skirmish Line, and Host), and at least one losing formation of 4 out of the 5 types.
    2. Neither player played a card of the same value or color as his opponent on the same flag. Neither player played a card of the same color to two of his own adjacent hands.
    3. One particular Troop value was never played at all. One particular Troop color was played fewer times than any other.
    4. One of the players could have removed any 20 active (that is, not unplayed or discarded) Troop cards on his side of the final layout and had the remaining active Troop card values on his side of the final layout sum to a positive, even number.
    5. The final layout contained more blue cards than violet cards.
    6. The green, blue, and violet Light Cavalry Phalanx in Column 1 was one of three Phalanxes in the final layout, and it faced a formation higher than a Skirmish Line.
    7. The final layout featured more than one doubleton. All incomplete hands (singletons or doubletons) at the end were either (a) a singleton orange card or (b) a non-orange Skirmisher paired with an orange non-Skirmisher. The orange Javalineer remained a singleton, and it did not lose to a Battalion Order.
    8. Each player could have played a Troop card from his hand during each of his turns, though sometimes the players chose to play a Tactics card instead. South started the game, and at some point played the only Tactics card he held all game to discard North’s orange Hypaspist from play. At some point, North played the Tactics card “Fog” to Column 3 and immediately claimed that flag with a hand summing to more than 19; if North had not played “Fog” on that turn, South could have claimed that flag on his own next turn by playing a yellow card from his hand. After North played “Fog,” South played no yellow cards for the rest of the game. At some point, North also played the Tactics card “Scout.”
    9. The highest-ranking formation in the final layout was in Column 2.
    10. At least one Troop in North’s Column 3 hand had the same value as at least one Troop in North’s Column 4 hand.
    11. In the final layout, Column 5 contained 2 cards that summed to exactly 16, and Column 7 did as well, but no other column did.
    12. The first-played card in the North Column 9 formation had the same value as the first-played card in the North Column 3 formation. The second-played card in the North Column 9 formation had the same value as the second-played card in the North Column 3 formation. The third-played card in the North Column 9 formation was green, and differed by 2 from the value of the third-played card in the North Column 3 formation.
    13. Column 4 in the final layout contained cards of all 6 colors and at most 3 different values, and its cards summed to exactly 25. The first Troop played to Column 4 was green, and all Troops played to Column 4 thereafter were of a value higher than that first card.
    14. At the end, each player had at least one active card played to each flag. Throughout the contest, whenever a player could claim a flag at the end of his turn, he did. The winning player claimed his fifth flag immediately upon playing an Elephant.
    15. The red Javalineer and yellow Phalangist were part of a winning Battalion Order and losing Battalion Order (not necessarily in that order) that had different sums.
    16. North did not have a losing Host.
    17. At the end, North had a Battalion Order the sum of which differed by exactly 2 from the sum of a Battalion Order played by South.
    18. The sum of all cards appearing in single-colored hands (whether or not complete) in the final layout was not evenly divisible by 10.
    19. The unplayed Troop cards summed to exactly 81.

  41. Libin Daniel says:

    We were happy with the first..Gosh!
    It is ruthless suicide of our intellect…Lol..

  42. Isshak says:

    Er, thanks Snively, but what do we have to find out ? Is it part of the puzzle to know what we have to find?

  43. Snively says:

    That’s all they give. That’s why these things are so crazy hard!

  44. Isshak says:

    Okay I’m on it (and on the one Bryan gave). But this one we don’t have any info. Maybe the name of the game…or the first time it was played…or the main rule…aaah to much possibilities ! I’m going to write a sumarry and post it here.

  45. Isshak says:

    Okay I found this
    and a certain “Jack” is refered on the page as one of the founders of the wargaming. Coincidence ? I don’t think so.

  46. Sam says:

    Hey Brian, have you done the Duck Conundrum puzzle yet?

  47. Isshak says:

    I think you have to find the name of the tactic used in the battle described, and that will be the answer. I think.
    And about “odd one out”, I still have no clue…

  48. Isshak says:

    Okay, try to say as an answer : Unbalanced Equality. And tell me how it goes.

  49. Isshak says:

    Oh wait, this could be a reference to the game “Patrol” that is played at MIT. I think it’s called “Patrol” if I’m not mistaken.

  50. Bryan says:

    None of those solutions worked out.

  51. Ankit says:

    I think the answer is Q or 17…because…Q X and Z are not in the letters…and Q corresponds to 17, X to 24 and Z to 26…therefor Q (or 17) is the odd one out!!

  52. Isshak says:

    So Bryan what’s going on ? No more updates ?

  53. Isshak says:

    1. New York Again ?
    It’s just a wild guess, I’m working on the 2nd line.

  54. Bryan says:

    I think each line is supposed to be a group of similar objects of some sort, and I don’t think NEWYORKAGAIN works because there should be a space between the K and the A.

  55. Isshak says:

    Similar objects ? So each line has its own theme ? Oh boy. I have to redo the entire 2nd line…or I think I can keep REOPEN.

  56. Isshak says:

    Are you sure we can add only one letter between the letters provided ?

  57. Anonymous says:

    I highly doubt it’s limited to one letter in between each, due to the description line. One odd out, like “twenty odd years.” In the area of (twenty, in this case one).

    I dunno for sure, but that’s my interpretation.

  58. AwayfromHome says:

    I suppose another interpretation of one odd out is that the letters inserted must be odd letters (a, c, e, etc). Then it would only be one letter from that reduced list. Coincidentally it includes all of the vowels so if you look at places where consonants are needed your list of possibilities gets relatively small.
    Unfortunately, if that’s the case, NeWyOrK(AANA) is not possible.
    Also, it’s possible that with the odd ones out, we have to start the lines with an inserted letter (as the first letter is letter 1, an odd number).
    Following both of those rules I’ve got 1 as sNoWyOaK at the moment.

  59. Abdullah says:


    in the problem of odd one out, i tried working on one of the lines (number 5), by combining different methods done by ishaq and also using prime numbers.

    Here is how I worked on it:

    The problem:


    I then (like ishaq has tried above) numbered each letter with its order in the alphabet

    Y S A A A U E N T O S L C L S M R I L T K N J
    25 19 1 1 1 21 5 14 20 15 19 12 3 12 19 13 18 9 12 20 11 14 10

    Then I deleted the first (5) unrepeated prime numbers (which are also odd), the anagram I got resulted in the one of the following: (using the anagram solving website given up)

    Jack Malts Jinn Trolls

    Jack Malt Jinn Strolls

    Track Mall Jinns Jolts

    Track Smalls Jinn Jolt


    I am not sure if that is anything at all, but at least I give it a try in someway, I am also not certain if this way will work with the other lines (i didn’t have the time to try them all)

    And also (maybe), since the problem said odd one out, so line number 5 is itself an odd number, so maybe you odd it out and get the name of which you should track to solve the mysterious crime!

    Good luck with the others!

  60. AwayfromHome says:

    The only phrase I can find (mind you, I’m using an English–German dictionary, so it’s a bit limited) in the first line is “sNoWyOaKsAgAiNmAy.” This does follow the odd-numbered letters in odd-numbered positions rule, and perhaps with the second line could be combined to make a sense-filled phrase, but as of yet it’s just a fragment. I interpret it as Snowy Oaks again may (something), though may again is usually better. It could also be note-style, not making a complete sentence, in which case it’d be Snowy Oaks again (in) May. Or it could be entirely wrong.

  61. Isshak says:

    lol nice to know I’m giving you imagination ! ^^
    How is it going Bryan ? And what was the hint given (can you copy-paste it as it is said?).

  62. Ankit says:

    check this out

    and an anagram for number 2 is

    “Corn Gem Jet Fink”


  63. Isshak says:

    But we have to find meanings in our answers. So what does the anagram you wrote mean ?

  64. Isshak says:

    For the 2nd line, I found words, and when trying to reorder them to make sense, I found :
    Could this be possible ?

  65. Isshak says:

    Puzzle breakthrough ? What do you mean, did you find the solution ?

  66. Paul says:

    The coordinators are starting to offer hints via e-mail. Yikes. :D

  67. Isshak says:

    Bryan, maybe the thing they all share is something that has got to do with New York (which would establish a logic between the 1st with New York and the 2nd that I speculated). What do you think ?

  68. Bryan says:


    we are currently on a roll … will update soon!

    We have an idea and we’re working with it, once we see if it works, I’ll let you know!

  69. Isshak says:

    Oh, nice for you ! Gogogo !
    And I guess I go back to the position of spectator. Go all bloggers ! ^^

  70. april says:

    I agree! one odd is out, and that is Q.

  71. Nan says:

    It sounds really cool and intense… How many puzzles are there exactly?

  72. Isshak says:

    Ankit, interesting deduction, and I agree.
    Bryan, Snively, did it work ?

  73. Chris T says:

    I may be way off, but this is what I was thinking. Each line may have a different way to be solved (after removing the odd ones).

    for example:

    1. NWOKAANA (lets remove the odd “A” because it appears 3 times) We are now left with NWOKN. If we unscramble this we get:


    2. ROETJFENCIGMKN (lets remove the E and the N because these letters appear 2 times. Also, we will leave a space where each of the removed letters once existed. We are now left with RO TJF CIGMK. If we uncrypt these letters we get:


    I am probably way off.

    Good Luck to all

  74. Isshak says:

    You’re kidding. Oh boy.
    I’ll ponder on this tomorrow ! It’s too late here to think ^^’

  75. Isshak says:

    Okay, before elaving, just wanted to say that I found this Kana table
    so I guess you have to decipher the code by using the sounds of rach kana to make english words…maybe…

  76. Isshak says:

    Er, sorry I typed quickly, so by “elaving” I meant “leaving” and by “rach” I meant “each” !

  77. Anonymous says:

    The game is Battle Line, and I think it’s loosely based on poker. Two players go head to head to try and capture flags based on the best 3-card hands they can lay down. A Wedge is the best, being 3 consecutive-numbered cards of the same color. A Phalanx is three of a kind. A Battalion Order is kinda like a flush (three cards of the same color). A Skirmish Line is like a three card straight. A host is any other kind of combination.

  78. Isshak says:

    Yeah I found that too (I posted it on Snively’s liveblog post).
    That was the easy part. We now have to find the strategy or tactic the text describes.

  79. Anonymous says:

    Gotcha. Hadn’t seen it posted. Just thought I’d give it a shot.

  80. Isshak says:

    Hey no problem ! The more we are on it the better the result ! We have to find at least one puzzle.
    If you find interesting links on Battle Line strategies, please post them !

  81. Isshak says:

    Wait, I just read Bryan’s update. Did you solve Wargame too ? Because I’m working on both Wargame and Odd one out. So Q (or 17) was not the answer ?

  82. Bryan says:

    Neither puzzle has been solved but a hint for Odd One Out.

    Take for example, NWOKAANA and instead consider these to be the “Odd One(s) [Letters] Out” thus N-W-O-K-A-A-N-A. If you look at the first half, it looks like New York but we’re currently trying to figure out an algorithm that works for the second half to probably make another state for this line.

    However, it’s unlikely that 2 – 8 are states, but see if you can come up with anything clever!

  83. Isshak says:

    Okay I’m following this hint, even though I’m not sure I understood what you said ^^’

  84. Isshak says:

    Aaah! I understand what you said. Wow this is clever.

  85. Isshak says:

    2. ROET ==} ROCKET ?

  86. Bryan says:

    Starting with ROCKET and removing the odd letters, you would either get RCE or OKT depending on whether you consider R to be index 0 or 1 so I don’t think that works.

    Good try though!

  87. Isshak says:

    But if i understood what you said, R and E are not in the same group, but they are both given in the puzzle. Hm weird…

    ROE ==} REOPEN ?
    ROE ==} REORDER ?

    Somehow I don’t think so…

  88. Bryan says:

    I think at most you want to add one letter between the given letter group.

  89. Isshak says:

    Yeah I was thinking about that. So REOPEN is a possibility ?
    I’m still looking for words…

  90. Bryan says:

    Yep, REOPEN sure does.

  91. Isshak says:

    Okay there are no words with T then a letter then J in the dictionnary.
    So either I was wrong about REOPEN and I should find a word with ROET (and not ROE). Or I’m going delirious. I hope it’s the first one !

  92. Isshak says:

    ROET + JFE = ROBERT JOFREY ? A possible name ?

  93. Isshak says:

    NCIG ==} NECKING ? (lol I just learned a new word today).
    I am not seing any sense in this ^^’

  94. Anonymous says:

    Good idea, but I think we have to translate the whole phrase. Any ideas for how to do the rest of the letter group?

  95. Isshak says:

    Well Bryan said he was working on the 1st one, and I suppose his team is working on the others too.
    Okay I found :
    …I think I’m going to continue looking for words on the 2nd one…

  96. Isshak says:

    Okay one of the dancers of the Robert Joffrey group suffered from a neck injury which ended the dancer’s carrier. Could it be just a coincidence ?

  97. Isshak says:

    Oh wow I found an anagram solver, maybe it could help.
    Bryan any update on your progress ?

  98. Bryan says:

    still working on the first line…