London’s DASH needs you!

DASH logo

Even the best puzzle hunts need planning. Someone’s got to register the teams, find pubs, hand out slips of paper, check that the pubs serve good beer, make sure the puzzles work, jolly everyone along, and accept the thanks of many happy puzzlers.

It’s not difficult. A day to check out the route and make bookings, another day to run a playtest, a few hours to process teams, some paper to organise, and performance day. Tinsley, the International Co-Ordinator, has put together this information pack for city leads.

I was last year’s city lead for London, and I will do everything I can to make DASH a success. I pledge to transfer

  • experience about venues and locations
  • advice about team sizes
  • social media accounts
  • details of useful helpers
  • last year’s financial surplus

DASH can only run if someone leads it. Right now, there is no leader for London. And no leader means no DASH.

Can you lead the crew? Will you make 150 puzzlers very happy? Email, and let’s talk.

Win DASH memorabilia!

DASH London telephone boxesThe DASH puzzle hunt is going to happen this Saturday. It’s going to happen in London, and it’s going to happen come rain or shine.

From the organising panel, we promise some cracking puzzles, and one or two diversions into bits of London you might not usually visit.

We also have a side contest, exclusive to Exit Games UK. It’s not scored, it’s strictly for fun. While on the playtest last month, our Media Magician took a picture.

Where is this?

A detailed sceneClick to expand

It’s to be found somewhere on the route between the start and the finish.

When you’ve found this distinctive artwork, note down where it is. The first four teams to report the location at the finish will win something entirely memorable.

To all teams, good luck. You’ll need it.

‘What a lucky feller you are!’

Detail of lamppost on Holborn viaduct
DASH in London has sold out.

The worldwide puzzle hunt has no more spaces left in this city. You cannot buy a ticket for love nor money.

We do have a waiting list, just in case any team has to drop out before the end of the month.

It’s just possible that some teams might find themselves a player short. I would love to point teams at a pool of potential replacements. So if you want to play, don’t have a team, and want to make new friends while solving puzzles on Saturday 30 May, leave a comment here. You never know what might happen. We’ll do some sort of puzzle dating if teams want it.

The only certain way to be part of DASH is from the other side. We welcome additional game controllers: the vital people who give out the puzzles, nudge teams to keep them on track, and keep the day flowing. Drop us an email: and we’ll love you forever.

And keep reading for a bonus challenge, exclusive to Exit Games UK.

DASH needs your help!

Rainbow coming out of skyscraperThe global puzzle hunt DASH is coming to London, and the organisers (including me!) will run it on 30 May. We’re going to need more help.

Can you hand out pieces of paper? Understand the solution to a puzzle, give hints to the perplexed? Hang with a bunch of friendly geeks? Want to engage in a little cosplay? Let’s hear from you!

30 May is performance day. You’ll be part of a crew in one or two locations on the route. There you dish out puzzles, give hints, support the players, and did we mention that most locations are in or near licensed premises?

Before that, 11 April is playtest day. You can get to see the puzzles in a draft state, help to work out how hard they are, and how they can be improved. And you’ll get a preview of the route.

Interested? Want to know more? Leave a comment here, tweet us @playdashlondon, or drop us an email .

DASH stats 2: the difference between Experienced and New tracks

Close-up of plastic yellow lemon

After looking at whether there was a cultural gap, I next consider the difference between New and Experienced tracks. Here, I’m only going to look at those puzzles where there was a difference in content.

“First sale”, “Advertising”, “Viral marketing”, and (after compensating for the London difference), “Buyout” will be control puzzles. On these four identical puzzles, Experienced were significantly better players. The gap is least if New scores are increased by 4 or 5 points per puzzle.

Again, I think that a Student t-test is an appropriate method, comparing New to Experienced. My chosen data sets are the raw scores for teams completing each individual puzzle. Teams dropping out part-way through the day will contribute data for puzzles they solved.

Collecting Ingredients II” involved solving cryptic clues. These cryptics were different between the tracks – New had a word in a sentence; Experienced had a partial anagram. Experienced needed to fully resolve the sudoku, New only needed the middle three letters, but I think that’s a marginal difference. The evidence suggests that Experienced teams performed worse than New, and the discrepancy goes away by allowing 2 points to Experienced. Given the advantage of Experienced teams on identical puzzles, we might add 6 to Experienced scores.

In “End of the First Day“, Experienced had a longer route to the answer, more letters to decrypt from ternary, and weren’t given the partial hint that there was decryption (but didn’t need to solve that partial hint). Many sides who got this puzzle got it very quickly (though I’ve discarded a team credited with the answer in 40 seconds), and it appears New sides were behind by 1 point. However, we might expect New to be further behind on equal puzzles, so add another 3 points to Experienced scores.

For “Practicing the Sales Pitch“, New had a much clearer hint that semaphore was involved, *and* a time limit more generous by 10 minutes. Experienced were clearly behind, by about 8 points. For our notional parity, try adding 12 to Experienced scores.

In “Mass Production“, there was a small difference – New were explicitly told there’s a word chain. Don’t think that’ll have altered the scores, and this proves to be the case – Experienced were up by 3 points. I can’t reject the hypothesis that there was no additional advantage to either track, so no change.

Finally, for “Memoirs“, New were told that these were rebuses, and given one of the least obvious initial answers, but penalised with a 10 minute shorter time limit. Experienced appears to have benefitted by about 9 points, so we might deduct 4 from their score.

Solely to compensate for differences in the puzzles, I suggest that New teams might deduct 17 points from their score and compare with Experienced sides. That would put the top New team, Colleen Werthmann, in a tie for 31st place; six New teams crack the overall top 100.

DASH stats 1: London’s “Buyout” problem

Lemonade stand

Chris has already written about the DASH audio I’ve put together. The best audio deals with topics that work as audio. Clips of what it was like to be there, experiences of solving puzzles, that works in your ears. Hardcore statistical nerdery, that needs to come out through your eyes.

In a later post, I’ll be looking at the difference between the New and Experienced tracks, from analysis of the results. Here, I’m considering whether the UK players in DASH 6 were disadvantaged by one of the puzzles.

London had a problem. Players in Britain mostly spoke in British English. It’s a dialect similar, but not identical, to American English. Spellings alter, words have other meanings, and there are major differences in commercial culture.

These differences came to the fore in the “Buyout” puzzle, which attempted to clue to a commercial company. It’s an American brand, unfamiliar in Britain. The organisers had attempted to reduce this problem, by substituting a similar but different puzzle, but this hadn’t quite worked out.

London players experienced a different puzzle, each clue resolved to a verb-noun combination. Other players got a verb-noun combination that makes a commercial product. Were London players at a disadvantage by not getting the branded nature of the puzzle?

A Student’s t-test is appropriate to compare the performances between London (where 13 teams took New and 8 Experienced) and All Other Locations (84 New, 300 Experienced). The t-test compares the difference of each value in a set from the set’s mean, and works out the probability that the two data sets have the same mean – the “null hypothesis” in this test. It’s especially useful for sets of different sizes.

Technical points: I’m only considering those teams that recorded a solve time for “Buyout”. Also, note how London had more New than Experienced teams: I can conjecture that, if anything, London teams may have under-estimated their abilities, and could prove better than All Other Locations.

For the “Buyout” puzzle, analysis suggests that I can reject the null hypothesis, and there probably *was* a difference between London teams and all others. On the Easy track, there’s a 3% chance that the observed scores come from the same population. These probabilities are even lower for the Experienced track, where the small sample set might not be representative.

If we boost the scores of London teams by 2 points, we can accept the null hypothesis on all measures. So, yes, the teams of London appear to have been disadvantaged by the cultural gap, but only by a minute.

As a control, I’ve repeated this analysis for the other puzzles. We can easily accept the null hypothesis in all cases, and assume that there was no trans-atlantic difference.