If you’ve never seen puzzlehunts before, the short explanation is that the goal of every puzzlehunt puzzle is to obtain an “answer”, which is a short word or phrase. Beyond that, puzzles can come in many forms and usually contain no direct instructions; figuring out what to do is the puzzle. For a more in-depth tutorial and suggestions for first puzzles/puzzlehunts to try, you can read my blog post, Introduction to Puzzlehunts.
That is all to say, I’ve written quite a few puzzlehunt puzzles over the years. Some shortlists of puzzles I’m particularly proud of:
If you’re new to puzzlehunts:
If you’re more experienced:
- My puzzles in the 2022 Galactic Puzzle Hunt:
- My puzzles in the 2021 Silph Puzzle Hunt:
- My puzzles in the 2020 Galactic Puzzle Hunt:
- My puzzles in the 2021 MIT Mystery Hunt (see also writeup):
- Unchained (note: due to the round structure, it is not possible to “correctly” link to this puzzle)
- How to Run a Puzzlehunt
- Illiterate Programming
- Fish Hybridization
- Lime Sand Season (with Anderson Wang)
- Ignorance (with Jon Schneider, Mitchell Lee, and Xander Hughes)
- TED-Ed adapted the subpuzzle I was most heavily involved in into a nifty animated video!
- Look at What We Drew (with a large group)
- Thank You to Our Sponsors (with a large group)
- Green Building Meta (implementation; with Nathan Pinsker)
- My puzzles in the 2020 DP Puzzle Hunt:
- My puzzles in the 2019 Galactic Puzzle Hunt:
- Unsafe (with Jakob Weisblat)
- My puzzles in the 2018 Galactic Puzzle Hunt:
- My puzzles in the 2017 Galactic Puzzle Hunt:
- My puzzles in the 2015 Mystery Hunt:
- 2015 blog puzzlehunt puzzles:
- 2014 blog puzzle
- 2013 blog puzzle (“Puzzle 44 / ???”)
- 2012 blog puzzle (Puzzle 32 / Slitherlink [Crosslink + Liar])
Some other selected logic puzzles:
- Puzzle 43 / Fillomino [Nonrectangular + Walls]
- Puzzle 45 / Fillomino [No-Path]
- Puzzle 31 / Fillomino [Sashigane]
- Puzzle 41 / Slitherlink [Clones]
My Katz number is at most 5:
- I collaborated with Josh Alman (and many others) on Look at What We Drew and In a Park (2021)…
- Josh Alman collaborated with Kevin Chen on Missed Connection (2013)…
- Kevin Chen collaborated with Iolanthe Chronis on Back on the Move (2015)…
- Iolanthe Chronis collaborated with Jennifer Berk on Bring Us Food, Yo (2006)…
- Jennifer Berk collaborated with Dan Katz on Protection Plan (2019).
The first puzzlehunt I participated in was the 2011 CiSRA puzzle hunt (archive.org link), with a bunch of people from Art of Problem Solving. I kept hunting with people from the site for a couple years. In 2013, I was invited into the MIT Random Hall team to do the MIT Mystery Hunt. We didn’t win that year, but we did in 2014 and thus had to write the 2015 hunt. Three of my puzzles made it into the hunt.
Afterwards, I briefly hunted with a Plugh for MUMS Puzzlehunt 2015. In 2016, I got into MIT and started hunting pretty exclusively with my dorm floor, Floorpi, and the associated team ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈. With the latter group, I’ve also helped run the Galactic Puzzlehunt all four times it’s run so far, as well as the 2021 MIT Mystery Hunt, per tradition, since we won the previous year’s Mystery Hunt.
In my spare time, I also occasionally put puzzles on my blog; mostly logic puzzles in the early days, but more puzzlehunt-style puzzles now. Just to give a feel, here’s a logic puzzle from 2012, one MellowMelon’s Double Back.
Below is an incomplete, vaguely sorted list of all the puzzlehunts I’ve done and teams I did them with. But it looks like I have stopped updating this.
- 7/?: Smogon Puzzle Hunt 3: Shaymin Fan Club
- 7/?: another red dot team, 124th
- 6/?: Puzzle Potluck 3: pi, 7th
- 5/9: TTT Quarantine Puzzle Hunt: ✈, 1st
- 4/25: PuzzlehuntCMU, Getaway Hunt: ✈✈✈Galactic Vacationers✈✈🐉, 1st
- 2/1: My Little Pony: Puzzles are Magic: ::🐉 (solo), 22nd
- 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt (Penny Park): ✈✈✈Galactic Trendsetters✈✈✈, 1st!
- (10/19–∞) Puzzle Boat 6: 📚📚📚 galactic typesetters 📚📚📚, 3rd
- (8/31–9/16) Distressed (Mark Halpin’s Labor Day Extravaganza): 🐰 (pronounced plugh), 4th
- (8/7–8/16) MUMS Puzzle Hunt 2019: ✈✈✈Galactic Trendsetters✈✈✈, 2nd
- (7/20–7/29) Smogon Puzzle Hunt 2: Showtime (Smogon Phashion Hcontest): Team Galactic, 1st
- (7/13) BAPHL 21: According to all known laws of ✈✈✈, there is no way a 🐝🐝🐝 should be able to ✈✈✈
- (6/15) Puzzle Potluck 2: Braunwaves, 18th
- (6/9) BAPHL 20: ✈✈✈. We finished exactly as they were announcing wrap-up.
- 2019 MIT Mystery Hunt (Molasses Awareness Day): ✈✈✈Galactic Trendsetters✈✈✈, ???
- (12/?) 2018 Caltech Puzzle Hunt: ???
- (10/6) BAPHL 19: ✈✈✈Galactic Trendsetters✈✈✈
- (7/2–10) 2018 SUMS: ⬆️⬆️⬆️Theoretical & Applied Updog🐕🐕🐕, 6th
- (2/24–) Cryptex Hunt, 111th
- 2018 MIT Mystery Hunt (Headhunters / Inside Out): ✈✈✈Galactic Trendsetters✈✈✈, 5th
- (10/8) BAPHL 16 (squares): ۞۞۞ Galactic Imperium ۞۞۞, 2nd
- (9/30–10/1) REDDOThunt: 💼💼💼 Galactic Jobhunters 💼💼💼, 18th
- 2017 Palantir Puzzlehunt: Floor Pi Beta, 14th
- 2017 MIT Mystery Hunt (Dungeons & Dragons): ✈✈✈Galactic Trendsetters✈✈✈, 4th!
- 2016 SUMS: [pi], 2nd with 82 points and first to solve Meta
- 2016 mezzacotta Puzzle Competition: U+2708U+2708U+2708[pi]U+2708U+2708U+2708, 2nd (by points and solve time, behind 1st and the first to solve Meta)
- 2016 Palantir Puzzlehunt: Floor Pi Z, tied for 3rd (we were over a minute slower by total solve time, but tied by point values because they were rounded to the minute for each puzzle, and the organizers granted us a tie)
- 2016 Berkeley Mystery Hunt: ✈✈✈ space pirATE Mercenaries ✈✈✈, 2nd? (✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈ and teamNAME contingents in the SFBA were small enough that we merged)
- 2016 MIT Mystery Hunt (Huntception): ✈✈✈Galactic Trendsetters✈✈✈, ???
- 2016 MUMS: ⌊π⌋, 3rd? with 125 points
- 2015 MIT Mystery Hunt (20,000 Puzzles): writer team!
- 2015 Mark Halpin’s Labor Day Extravaganza: ✈✈✈Galactic Trendsetters✈✈✈, 6th
- 2015 MUMS: The Plugh Strikes Back, 4th? with 100 points
- 2015 Palantir Puzzlehunt: Floor Pi 1, 2nd
- 2014 MUMS: not not AoPS, 78th with 50 points
- 2014 MIT Mystery Hunt (Alice in Wonderland): One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish, first place!
- 2013 MUMS: not AoPS 75th with 25 points (literally just me)
- 2013 MIT Mystery Hunt (Coin Heist): Random Thymes, 5th?
- 2013 CiSRA: AoPS, 113rd with 59 points