Using Kutzpah to win a Puzzle Hunt

In 2006 for the third year running, RayZ's group (Team Corridor in 2006) won the Puzzle Hunt conducted by the Melbourne University Mathematics and Statistics Society (MUMS). This is a massive competition, with many local, interstate and overseas participating teams. Only a team in Melbourne, however, could actually solve the final day's puzzle.
RayZ group had worked out the latest puzzle clue so knew roughly where the 'hidden treasure' somehow related to cricket was buried, and had started searching. But then this other group – not as good – saw them searching – who had to be got rid of. Solution with Kutzpah – claim the hidden item already found - and the midget bat they were using as a spade was it. The other group congratulated them, and disheartened, went away, leaving Team Corridor to search for the real treasure.

Here's the write-up in Melbourne University News.
Online puzzle hunt leads to iconic buried treasure
[ UniNews Vol. 15, No. 7 1 - 15 May 2006 ]

Overseas, interstate, and local competitors vied recently to win an online Puzzle Hunt for a ‘hidden treasure’ buried on the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus.

More than 550 students participated in the competition, organised by the Melbourne University Mathematics and Statistics Society (MUMS).

Parkville-based ‘Team Corridor’ bagged the $200 cash prize for digging up the ‘treasure’ – an urn representing cricket’s famous Ashes trophy – which was buried in the grounds of Wilson Hall.

A string of brainteasers was released online each day of the Puzzle Hunt week, with the prize’s location revealed on the final (fifth) day.

Competitors were given points for cracking a wide range of conundrums that included phone-linked questions, picture puzzles and other innovative games that encouraged lateral thinking and problem-solving skills.

Team Corridor deviously out-manoeuvred a competing team that arrived at the right location just after Team Corridor by claiming that its shovel (a cricket bat) was the actual prize – giving it the critical opportunity to unearth the urn when the disappointed other team left.

“I thought the ploy was sufficiently ingenious that it fell within the spirit of the event,” says Puzzle Hunt organiser and postgraduate Mathematics student James Zhao.

Mr Zhao says interstate and overseas participants comprised 50 per cent of the top 20 Puzzle Hunt teams, fulfilling the aspirations of the organisers who wanted the event to involve people from widely different areas and communities.

“Overall quality of the event improved with 137 teams solving at least one puzzle – up from last year’s 110. This shows community involvement is growing each year and we’ll keep it that way by making the competition as accessible to everyone as possible,” he says.

Not at all puzzled: Team Corridor members included, clockwise from bat-wielding Sandy Clarke (Statistical consultant), Ray Cohen (PhD, Mechanical Engineering), Kieran Rowe (intern, Royal Melbourne Hospital), John Dethridge (PhD, Combinatorics), Andy Downes (PhD, Stochastic Processes), and Marnie Collins (Statistical consultant). Other members were Associate Professor Ian Gordon (Director, Statistical Consulting Centre), Kate Gordon (final-year Science/Arts), Fiona Malone (Statistical Consulting Centre),Mr Mark Tosolini (Melbourne Business School) and Dr Peter Campbell (Academic Registrar, Trinity College).

[ Photo: Paul Richiardi ]