University challenges

SUMS puzzle hunt logoSeveral universities around the world have their own puzzle traditions. The most famous of them all is probably the MIT Mystery Hunt, with a history almost three dozen years old. This site has also previously discussed the Australian puzzle hunt tradition and reviewed this year’s MUMS Puzzle Hunt put on by Melbourne University’s Mathematics and Statistics Society.

Sydney University’s Mathematics Society have their own puzzle hunt, with a history about half as long as its Melbourne counterpart. The format is reasonably similar to that of the MUMS hunt, though as well as the history being only half as long, the maximum team size permitted is only half as large: 5 rather than 10. Does this mean that the puzzles are any lighter? Well, you’ll have to decide that for yourself. This year’s hunt has its first act of five revealed at noon Sydney time on Monday 27th October… which translates to 1am GMT on Monday 27th October and that the first act is already up and running. The next four acts will be revealed daily, again at 1am GMT, along with hints to previously-revealed acts. Find yourself a team (or start yourself one!) and get stuck in.

There are mathematics societies at UK universities, but none have quite the same sort of puzzle hunt tradition. Warwick’s one has had a local puzzle trail at their end-of-year barbecue, some years, and both Oxford’s and Cambridge’s have had at least one event that they have described as a puzzle hunt in the past. (As ever, if you know of any events that this site should be writing about, please get in touch about them.) Cambridge’s Archimedeans have a long-held tradition of an annual Problems Drive stretching back at least fifty years – and it’s fun to think that 1964’s problem one has at least 25 more answers known now than it did then, courtesy of GIMPS.

In this vein, Oxford’s Invariant Society has a free puzzle drive coming up this Tuesday, with a £200 first prize sponsored by Oxford Asset Management. The event starts at 8:15pm and presumably takes place in Oxford’s still-new Mathematical Institute, the Andrew Wiles building. The puzzles are quite likely to be relatively mathematical; it’s unclear whether or not the Invariants’ puzzles page can be considered representative of what might be asked on the night. It’s also unclear whether it’s a team event or not, but it would seem more likely than not.

Cambridge has other treats to offer, though. As part of the Curating Cambridge programme, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is offering a one-night pop-up exit game on Tuesday 18th November, with the Polar Museum Memorial Hall offering a similar one the week beforehand.

Adults only. £30 per group. Booking required.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to escape the museum…

The Polar Museum and the Sedgwick Museum bring you Museum Escape, an interactive live escape game. Find hints and clues, solve puzzles, and crack codes as you race against time to escape from a ‘locked room’.

Designed for groups of 3 to 8 people, this game lasts for 45mins, beginning at set times.

To make a booking for either location

With only a few games being played each night, perhaps the games might have sold out already. However, it’s worth getting in touch with the organisers to congratulate them for their imaginative event and showing them that there’s sufficient demand that they might want to run the event more frequently!


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