Microsoft PuzzleHunt Redmond, WA, slightly more often than yearly

Patterned after the MIT Mystery Hunt, the Microsoft PuzzleHunts occur on Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington. They're slightly smaller in scope than the Mystery Hunt, with fewer waves of puzzles; they usually start on a Saturday morning and finish on Sunday afternoon. Team size is capped at 12, and like the Mystery Hunt, the winning team is obligated to host the next hunt. The hopefully-soon-to-be-canonical-but-not-yet-functioning website is Wikipedia has an entry entitled Microsoft Puzzle Hunt.

Recently I've had the pleasure of playing with the Killer Bees, who are great puzzlers and lots of fun to play with besides.

I've played in several Hunts:

PuzzleHunt II: Age of Puzzles (1–2 April, 2000)
Sponsored by the Killer Bees, PuzzleHunt II had an Age of Empires theme with two waves of puzzles. I played on “Team Suck” captained by Grey Team captain Todd Squire; we placed 7th out of 24 teams. The hunt website is first-rate.
PuzzleHunt III: You Don't Know Puzzles (4–5 November, 2000)
Cracking Good Toast hosted PH III, which had a game show theme. Todd captained “The Valiant Return Of Team Suck” and we took 4th out of 27 teams. Puzzles captured by the Internet Archive: [ Baffle | Concentration | Crosswits | Inquizition ]
PuzzleHunt IV: Clue (3–4 November 2001)
The Usual Suspects were the hosts of PH IV, with a “Clue” (as in the board game) theme. I played with a different team, the “Killer Bees” (who had previously run PH II), captained by Eric LeVine. We placed second in this hunt.
PuzzleHunt V: Mission: Impuzzible (21–22 September 2002)
The Scrubbing Bubbles, in a mark of incredibly bad timing, chose to run PuzzleHunt V when I was vacationing (and getting engaged) in the Greek islands.
PuzzleHunt VI (17–18 May 2003)
Cracking Good Toast ran PuzzleHunt VI, “Time Corps”. I returned to the Killer Bees and we took second place behind TLA, who totally stomped their competition and ran away with the hunt. They were over five hours ahead of us and all others.
[ Jon Howell's pictures ]
PuzzleHunt VII (20–21 March 2004)
“Alice in PuzzleHunt” was the theme of PH7, run by TLA. Highlights included the New York Times crossword as part of a clue (written by a TLA member) and a Washington Legislature resolution (wow!). I particularly enjoyed the croquet game set up on the Building 50 lawn. The Killer Bees placed 4th out of 51 teams. The Staggering Geniuses found Alice and hosted the next hunt.
Commentary: [ Michael Creasy | stef | Kieran Snyder ]
PuzzleHunt 8 (19–20 February 2005)
The Staggering Geniuses did a fantastic job with PuzzleHunt 8: The Hard Way, a Vegas themed hunt with 58 teams (most ever). Interesting, fun, well-written puzzles all, and the most amazing metapuzzle I've ever seen (including cutting out buildings, constructing a model, and shining light through it to get a phone number). Of all PuzzleHunts I've done this was the strongest, I think. I spent most of the time solving the 7 main-round metas. The Killer Bees took 4th overall after besting Mr. Big in an ultimate poker showdown, and we look forward to Cracking Good Toast's next effort in PH10 (which they've evidently abrogated, bah).
Commentary: [ Eric Albert ]
PuzzleHunt 9 (5–6 November 2005)
Everyday Heroes hosted PH9 with a superhero theme. The first round of puzzles were all presented in a newspaper with an associated metapuzzle. We then tried to track down the bad guy, The Puzzler, and while the Killer Bees did find his secret identity, we didn't quite finish with the final set of puzzles to defeat him. Alas. We ended up in 7th, tied with the Usual Suspects; Cracking Good Toast took the victory (again) with excellent efforts by Buzz Lime Pi and SCRuBBers.
Commentary: [ Peter Sarrett | Tom Fakes | kenmo (pictures) | Kieran Snyder ]
PuzzleHunt A (10–11 February 2007)
Buzz Lime Pi and Friends ran PuzzleHunt A, “Atlantis”. A fun, well-constructed hunt with lots of great puzzles, really well tested and clean (much appreciated!), unfortunately shorter than I would have liked as we finished a little after midnight. It's my first weekend-long hunt where I got a good night's sleep. Because the Bees did not field a team (Kenny and Dana Young were the “friends” that helped BLP run the hunt), I was fortunate to play with Cracking Good Toast. Our captain Peter Sarrett also would have liked to have hunted longer and hosted an interesting and lengthy discussion on the direction of the hunt in terms of its target audience. Anyway, my favorite puzzle (unfortunately I did not work on this puzzle) was a bunch of laser-cut foam cutouts with various holes that were assembled into a stack; pouring quinoa in the top filtered through the holes in the cutouts to form a phone number at the bottom. Really cool execution. I also enjoyed diving for rings at the bottom of the Pro Club pool. Our team got second place, a little behind Dr. Zero, and it's not yet clear who will be running PH12. But we're looking forward to PH11 hosted by SCRuBBers!
Commentary: [ Peter Sarrett | Tom Fakes | aliabdin | Jeff Ford ]
PuzzleHunt 11.0 (6–7 October 2007)
I seem to have a bad time with SCRuBBers' Puzzlehunts, as I instead attended a wedding in Mississippi.
PuzzleHunt 12 (28 February–1 March 2009)
To be run by Cracking Good Toast and the Usual Suspects. Discussion on Peter Sarrett's blog.

John Owens | Game Home Page | Last updated .