DASH 6 was amazing

Our DASH 6 London teamDASH 6 was a considerable triumph, both in terms of the global hunt and the London leg specifically. No spoilers about the puzzles, not least because the event will be recast in Minneapolis at the very least, but the puzzles varied from entertaining to spectacular, the production values were very high and most of the puzzles required as much teamwork as you would hope for. London had a total of 21 teams over the two senior tracks, up from last year’s eight. The weather broadly held with only the fewest spots of rain, contrary to predictions of persistent showers all day at the least. Our GC team did a great job too. Indications are that the Magpie team won the London leg again, as expected; many congratulations to them! ClueKeeper was also a big winner on the day; a couple of teams reportedly had obvious glitches with no impact on gameplay but the system lived up to its potential.

If you care, our team had an excellent day and I think we performed competitively. We were very slow between locations (at the risk of TMI, I must have visited the little solver’s room ten times today in all the excitement, quite possibly fifteen) and so were left with a real rush against the eight hour deadline for the metapuzzle at the end, but we took hints with about six minutes to go and cracked it with maybe 31 seconds left on the clock!

Thanks to our GC, to the global co-ordinators, to all the puzzle authors and to all the lovely people I met (and solved with!) today. The post-DASH comedown is painful, but at least we know that a DASH 7 global co-ordinator has been named, so back to looking out for information again…


  1. As the “backmarkers” – we didn’t actually get to see the final puzzle in the end, but it was a close run thing – my team still had a good time. Most of my complaints (such as they were) were mostly about the travelling – the timescale seemed to assume that teams would get from point A to point B in practically no time at all sometimes! But in the end, we overran every puzzle time by ten minutes which meant that the ever-genial GC staff were usually stuck waiting for us. 🙂
    But in general I had few issues with the actual puzzles – there were some places where early mistakes held us up far too long – and I strongly think that having “Nikoli” style puzzles, whilst fine, is not ideal for a team-based contest when they can only really be done by one person so if you get held up, there’s no real alternative. There were other puzzles in the set which were splendid for team-based solving though. (In the end, our main problem was overthinking everything…)
    I’m sure we’ll be back next year though.

  2. Glad you all had a good day, and thanks for dropping by. Someone from another team had a pedometer and measured the route at more like four miles than three, and our team took a couple of buses between locations – and should probably have taken a third to get to the market. There have been some small but entirely reasonable criticisms about some of the puzzles and I do agree with what you say about puzzle 3, which stood out negatively in that regard when so many of the rest of the DASH puzzles do so well. (Is there a way to include spatial logic puzzles of that sort in DASH? Well, one way to do it might be that there was a “here’s an assortment of mini-puzzles” puzzle in DASH 5, so that might be a route – and there are a great deal of those styles of puzzles which might prove very tricky indeed if you encounter them for the first time in a DASH.)

    Right, please tell me all about Puzzlebrains!

  3. As one of the (American) puzzle authors, I’m curious as to how well you think we respected the transatlantic cultural gap. I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but certain puzzles had both US and UK versions. The UK puzzle with the pad of illustrations, for example, was actually the American Junior-track version, a decision made under time pressure and mild desperation. I wasn’t involved, but it apparently proved difficult to construct a perfect UK analog of the puzzle made for higher American tracks. I’m not sure whether this was due to insurmountable cultural differences or simply insufficient cultural knowledge on our part.

    One of the puzzles I worked on involved a number of lists. From the beginning, one list was different for UK players (“This One Just…”, “We Never Claimed…”, etc.) because the American analog would obviously be obscure in the UK (and to a slightly lesser extent, vice versa). I thought I had written a successful translation until the London playtest. The entry in the UK “master list” that now ends “…Won Them Over” originally ended “…Won Their Hearts.” You might see why that was problematic. I simply didn’t understand how broadly I needed to check for coincidences!

    I also spent a lot of time trying to make sure the first and fourth puzzles didn’t fail due to differences between US and UK word definitions and spellings. This was crucial to the more difficult earlier drafts of the second part of the first puzzle. There was a particular problem with the word “biscuits”, as it refers to different things here and there. I tried to solve it with a subtle bit of wordplay that could be read differently by players in the two countries but still yield the same answer. Alas, this achievement was discarded when it became very obvious that the puzzle needed to be simplified.

    • Hi, Paul! Thank you very much for dropping by, and for all the hard work you and your fellow authors put into all the DASH 6 puzzles. I had a great time and think that every team considered the vast majority of the puzzles to at least largely hit the mark, even if there were some issues reasonably identified with some of them. It may be best to open this discussion up to the readership at large, because I have the great good fortune to be married to one of the very best puzzlers I know, who also has the advantage in this situation of having grown up in the US, so our team didn’t find any of the US references a problem in practice.

      Regarding the puzzle you referred to in paragraph one: I know at least one strong team who really struggled with the answer, having solved all the clues. It might be useful to look at the ClueKeeper logs for the UK teams, both in terms of answers submitted and timing, to judge where people were struggling. Given time, and given availability of UK constructors, it should be possible to resolve this issue, but those may well not have been realistically available. It’s the bounce of the ball, I reckon, after last year being suited so well to the puzzles and overperforming remarkably.

      Probably wise to leave more specific discussion of the other puzzles until after Minneapolis have had the chance to play, but thanks again!

  4. > Right, please tell me all about Puzzlebrains!
    Hmmm. I’ll give it a shot, even though this is clearly the wrong thread for it.
    Well, the not-quite-as-short-as-I-hoped version is that I write and edit a (theoretically!) bi-monthly puzzle magazine called Puzzlebrains. I guess it’s a UK equivalent of Panda magazine [although I wish I could be as consistent as Foggy!], or something like the Australian hunts or even DASH. It usually has 15 or so puzzles and a meta puzzle, and is sold on subscription. The website http://www.puzzlebrains.com gives access to electronic versions of the puzzles (although subscribers do get a properly printed version) and also has an answer checker for the puzzles. We’ve just hit issue 30 which I find incredibly hard to believe… In general, Puzzlebrains is meant for single person solving, although I always feel that any set of puzzles like this should not necessarily be completely solvable by any one individual – in theory, at least.
    It has not been particularly widely publicised, mostly because I’ve never been quite sure how (not being one for self-publicity at the best of times) but partly because I have some vague plans for reformatting the site (preferably without having to redo the entire underlying system, which has already “eaten” some of the earliest issues alas.)
    However, I have now fixed it so that one of the recent issues (#24) is accessible without needing to register an account (mainly because that set doesn’t have an answer checker, sorry.) So anyone who fancies having a go, feel free.

  5. Well, that *is* cool; perhaps I can help you out with the publicity over time, if you would like it! Certainly a hunt-style puzzle magazine is a very cool thing to exist, and one that readers here would surely like to know more about. What is the subscription fee, please? I shall put issue 24 on my to-solve list.

    I’m glad that the community has found the MUMS hunt and DASH and doubtless plenty of other events that I don’t know about; any tips you can supply (whether directly, or I should start paying attention to your forum) would be much appreciated.


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