DASH 7th Heaven


DASH 7 London novice division winners’ trophy, care of Nights of the Square Table

I have been beaming with joy for hours since the conclusion of DASH 7 in London, which was pretty spectacularly great. It was a delight to meet so many lovely people. London sold all 25 spaces and had 24 teams show up in the end. The weather, happily, stayed dry all day. The puzzles were not what I was expecting, but in the best possible way: they were much more so.

If you’ve registered an account with Cluekeeper and have registered your account for this hunt, then once you’ve finished the hunt, you can go to the Cluekeeper web site, log in, go to “My Hunts”, click on DASH 7 and then look at a live snapshot of the results as they come in. (That said, maybe better not to hammer the server.) Obviously, at time of writing, only a few US teams have finished, mostly on the East Coast, and all the scores are very much prone to later revision. With that massive caveat, unless more West Coast superstars make themselves known very soon, it looks like STDP of Boston might, might, possibly provisionally be championsofthewoooooooorld – which, I believe, would be their third title.

Congratulations to Nights of the Square Table for winning London’s Novice division and to Misremembered Apple for winning London’s Experienced division – and, in global terms, for taking some pretty serious names. Not much is known about Misremembered Apple, other than some strong performances in online Australian hunts, leaving little evidence. The notion of the mysterious Wild West stranger who rolls into town, unexpectedly outdraws the sheriff and leaves without a trace is terribly romantic, but if you see this, don’t be a stranger! Our team may have been disabused of the notion that we might be competitive, but I bet I did the best Wronski Feint along the way!

Thank you to all the staff, volunteers and people behind the scenes worldwide. You’ve made a lot of people very, very happy. We’re looking forward to the next DASH already, more than ever before, though there’s the small matter of Puzzled Pint to look forward to every month!


    • (OK it’s gone 4am now in the US so I’m going to assume it’s OK to talk about everything now. Also, I suspect this might come across as a bit critical in places, so I should reiterate that I basically had a great day and would definitely do again.)

      I’ve not done anything like this before so wasn’t quite sure what to expect – I’m not renowned for puzzle solving ability, my thinking tends to be a bit more route one and if I don’t see The Thing quite quickly I’ll get bored and give up, so I was quite pleased that I thought I was able to add, if not really a common sense element, some pointers where something seemed obvious but no-one seemed to have considered. Also really enjoyed the solution extraction element in the main, especially the ones where you could make a pretty good educated guess when you knew some of the word or phrase (I was quite pleased to solve the last main puzzle on seven letters but privately even more pleased to work out you could solve the maze one without actually having to do the last third of the puzzle).

      The main puzzle annoyances for me were the Beaters and Keepers one, we wasted so much time doing the puzzle then failing to extract a solution from – I don’t get why the routes through the ensuing maze ended up being questions that turned out to be completely irrelevant. This was aggravating because it’s probably the puzzle from the day I’d show someone who hadn’t done this sort of thing before as to the sort of thing to expect as it was otherwise quite easy to follow and had a bit of something for everyone. We also had some trouble with the word association grid although I’m willing to give benefit of the doubt on that one.

      The meta puzzle at the end didn’t seem to be in any way fun, I’d be intrigued to find out what sort of proportion of the teams finished it. This was rather upsetting as teammates commented that the previous year’s was really good.

      I was a bit disappointed with the mini-tasks before some puzzles, I was expecting a bit more than “ride a broom and pick up a ball.” These totally should have counted towards your time and had a basic skill element.

      Organisation was fairly decent, although the confusion regarding Platform 9 3/4s was highly regrettable – if we’re seeing ten-twelve teams in the same place make the same error I’m very much inclined to believe the error is not from the teams. Ditto being “behind the fountains” when the gamesmasters were in front of the fountains in a large fountain-y square and then apparently being well camouflaged so everybody missed them. Some sort of obvious sign like a large hat would have been nice. We had so many people come up and ask us where they were I was tempted to sellotape a message to the table we were solving on. Surprisingly for London there weren’t actually many places to get food and drink en route without going well out of your way on the course – we ended up taking a puzzle to the pub to solve and then hilariously trekking back to King’s Place for the next bit, only to find the final destination was the pub anyway. For what was alleged to be a two mile course it felt knackering!

      In the main I thought the puzzles were entertaining and less unfriendly than I think I was anticipating. Good stuff. Thanks to everyone involved.

      • “Ditto being “behind the fountains” when the gamesmasters were in front of the fountains in a large fountain-y square and then apparently being well camouflaged so everybody missed them. Some sort of obvious sign like a large hat would have been nice.”
        This is a fair point – and I won’t defend our location mistake, which wasn’t brought to our attention until well into the afternoon, although I did think that wearing a big black robe on a fairly sunny day ought to have been moderately obvious. Apparently not. 🙂 (I actually did think about a big hat some time ago but completely forgot about it when the time actually came.)

        “For what was alleged to be a two mile course it felt knackering!”
        You should have been there last year. This was a very short course by comparison.

      • Glad you had a great time, Nick!

        If I was good at WordPress then I would move your comment to the next thread along which might be better-placed for spoiler-y discussions.

        It was definitely a more thematic hunt than that previous years’ DASHes had been and there’s more of an extent to which the degree to which your experience would fly depending on whether or not you were willing to engage with the theme. Beaters and Keepers: the fact that the three questions all resolved to (variants of) “chase” was more or less a gag referring to Quidditch, or at least hinted at in the flavourtext. The metapuzzle was definitely different in style to previous years’ ones; in the past two years, the puzzle itself pointed to how to solve it, whereas here you had to engage with, and pick through, the flavourtext to work out the mechanics. We loved it, but I can see why it might really split the audience. I reckon Cluekeeper’s results suggest that of the 14 teams playing the Experienced track in London, eight solved it, two taking hints. Only one team in London solved it before the Par time, too.

        Activities: entirely fair point and here it depends on what sort of event you want. In the past, DASH has been straight puzzle-puzzle-puzzle-puzzle. However, other extended games that are generally considered puzzle hunts can be very strongly focused on challenges as well as puzzles, and it’s suggested that the most exciting challenges, props and locations may be more memorable than the most dazzling puzzles. Games in the US which have charged (e.g.) US$200 per player rather than US$40 per team have featured midnight ATV rides through the sand dunes, Run The Gauntlet stylee, underwater puzzles and plenty more. Some of the more no-holds-barred events have deliberately included “out-of-your-comfort-zone” challenges as well – for instance, requiring one member of a team to volunteer to get their first piercing, that sort of thing. There’s definitely room for all sorts of events at different points on the mental-to-physical-to-psychological scale; it’s just a case of setting people’s expectations accordingly.

      • Nick, thanks for your feedback.

        The confusion at Platform 9¾ was my fault entirely. I’m sorry that you and your team were inconvenienced. The lesson is not to be a smart-arse with directions.

        Practical challenges were new to DASH (at least for the London audience). It sounds as though you’d rather make more of them, for some of the other teams they were an inconvenience getting in the way of “proper” puzzles. To balance these incompatible aims, I wanted to make them fun and brief.

  1. As one of the GameControl team, I’d like to say that I had a fantastic time too – although, to be fair, that had a lot to do with the excellent preparation work put in by Weaver (and the main design team, of course, who created such a fun theme) which made all of our lives easier. The good weather helped too of course – sitting around waiting for teams wasn’t nearly so bad when it was a nice day.
    So, as a reminder to others, these sort of events only happen if some people are willing to have a different sort of fun on the day – I can honestly say that I think it was as much a pleasure for us to see the steady flow of teams getting to pose with the Triwizard Cup as it might have been for them…!
    I am moderately convinced that the UK could probably handle two DASH events – but we’d need enough people to run GameControl for that to be possible.

  2. Denis from STDP here. This is some good analysis and I’m always interested to see other opinions, especially from other puzzling cultures.

    DASH has some limitations due to it’s DASH-ness. Since not all areas can put together the same presentation, physical challenges can’t really be scored. Locally, we also have BAPHL, a similar event that’s only in one

  3. Joanna from Misremembered Apple here! Sorry — we didn’t mean to be incognito (and in fact you can find two of us as Nørdiphiles on Season 10 of Only Connect…) and would have liked to socialise more in the pub, but most people were still going with the metapuzzle and we didn’t like to interrupt. And we had to leave at 6 to avoid FA Cup Final traffic.
    This was our first live hunt event and so we really weren’t sure what to expect, but we thought the standard of the puzzles was fantastic. It definitely helped that we had done CISRA etc. a few times before (as you noticed…) so we’re used to that style of puzzle. We had a great time on the day and are already looking forward to coming back next year to try and defend our title!

    • Thanks for dropping by, and glad you found this page. Many congratulations on your sensational performance and I’m delighted to read that you enjoyed your day. If you enjoyed this, you may well also enjoy Puzzled Pint every month (if you’re in London, which you may well not be) – some months, it gives you a chance to cross swords again with at least one of the QI Elves!

      Your team must have at least one, and quite possibly more than one, really strong grid logic puzzle solver. Can I point anyone who loves logic puzzles in the direction of the UK Puzzle Association, please? Every year, they hold an online championship where there’s a 2½ hour exam of logic puzzles for you to print out and solve at home at some point of your choice over a particular weekend, and this year’s event must be coming up at least somewhat soon. The top performer gets invited to the UK team at the World Puzzle Championships, which this year will be in Sofia, Bulgaria. The UK could use any really strong grid logic solvers that it can get!


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