Marshall's Puzzle Party Report
Well, the day had arrived. Eric's Puzzle Party. We packed the kids
into the car and took the four hour drive to Auburn, stopping at
Zaxby's to grab a quick lunch and hit Ander's looking for a leather
portfolio… around noon we drove over to Eric's house and got ready for
the party.
After getting the kids settled with snacks, drinks, Game Boys,
Magnetic toys, books, paper and crayons, etc, we went back out to
mingle with the crowd. Robert Ford, Tim Hardwick and I played a quick
game of Croquet. I took an early lead, but Robert made a great shot to
overtake me at the race for the post, and I played a bit too
conservatively to catch him. Blaine commentated from the porch,
varying his style from Professional Wrestler announcer to Formula I
Race announcer.
1:00 rolled around and Eric created teams. Christy and I got split up,
and I was on a team with Mike and Kelly Holingsworth (friends, yay!)
and Tracy Cobb, the 2nd highest ranked Scrabble player in Alabama (2nd
to Eric… by all of two points). We got our booklet and immediately
found a spot to sit.
I got pegged as the 'math guy' and was given a few math problems. Mike
jumped on a poker puzzle. Tracy got the hardcore word problems, while
Kelly got the freaky wordsearch, the cubic maze, and the word list. We
left a bunch more puzzles in the pile.
My first problem was a fraction puzzle… make 5 fractions using the
numbers 0-9, once each, and sum them, trying to get an integer. I
quickly got 13 and 15… yay, 40 points! I spent another 10 minutes on
it, finding multiple ways of getting 13 and 15 again and again… for no
points. I set it aside and went to the self describing number problem,
where you have to make a 10 digit number, where the first digit is how
many 0's are in the number, the 2nd is how many 1's, all the way to
the 10th number, which is how many 9's. a couple of abortive attempts,
and 5 minutes later I had '6210001000'. As there were no points for
other correct answers, I took my 300 points and moved on.
Mike was buried in a pile of playing cards, and Kelly had done several
pieces of puzzles.. the word search, the movie list, the letter
frequency, and started on the maze. I grabbed the pentominoes and the
dodecahedron and looked at them.
The rhombic dodecahedron had a cube and 6 pyramids that connected to
it magnetically. Each triangle had 4 faces, each with a number from 0
to 23. The task was to place these pyramids so that when the numbers
adjacent to each other were multiplied and then summed you'd get the
highest possible score. I threw them on haphazardly for a score af
1747 and set it down, knowing it was a decent score and wanting to
move on.
I built a pentomino farm quickly, getting just under 500 points for
it, called that a success and move on to building pentomino
structures. Rather than building the familiar pentomino, I went for
the 3-d structures that scored 1000 points each. After spending quite
a bit of fruitless time on this I moved on.
Mike was still working on the poker puzzle, so I looked at what was
not touched yet. Kelly had given up on the maze, so I worked at it for
a while, but quickly grew frustrated with it. We all took a quick
break from our puzzles to work together on the 'movies with numbers'
list and the letter frequency, getting as many points as possible from
each of those. I went down the entire a-z list and put something for
each letter on the letter frequency, knowing we could come back to it.
Next up for me was the baseball acrostic. I made a list of baseball
teams, and started filling it out. I balked at about 16 teams, and we
brainstormed for another few, ending at 24. I filled out the grid,
getting 21 teams in and left it at that.
Kelly was burning out on the colorblind wordsearch, so I looked at
what we hadn't done yet, and saw a Lego building exercise for two
people. One person would be given a lego sculpture, and the other
would be given a bag of 12 lego pieces used to build that structure.
Sitting back to back, the person with the glued sculpture would have
to talk his partner through building it blind. Kelly and I went over
lego terminology then went to the carport to attack it. We found Tim
and his partner had already started, and we picked one and began.
Kelly and I have played many games of Barbarossa together (think
Pictionary, with play-doh) and had a bizarre ability to guess each
others stuff. I was counting on this as we worked. I took my
sculpture, and gave Kelly an inventory of pieces. (You have a long
black piece. You have two blue plates, 1x4, one is smooth, one has
studs. You have two 1x2 thingies, a red one and a silver one. You have
a grey fence. You have a white 2x4 block. You have a blue 2x4 block.
You have a red 2x4 block. You have a red 1x8 block. You have a yellow
slope and a beige slope.) I then had her take the long black piece,
orient it properly, and working from the top down, we built it. We had
one hiccup at the end with the placement of the White block, but I
could tell that there was some confusion, so I had Kelly take it off,
and redescribed the placement. Kelly wanted to go over it, but I
called Eric for a check… and it was correct! Even though we were the
first to finish, and our time of 8 minutes hadn't been challenged yet,
I was very confident it would hold up.
Kelly and I went back to the team, high 5's all around, and got back
into it. I worked on the 'word rectangle' where you make a rectangle
that is a block of words. I made several 3x3s but failed to get even a
3x4. I handed it off to Tracy, and dove into the cubic maze again.
This time, I cleaned it off completely and just started using my
marker to 'close off' obvious dead ends. I did that, starting at the
'start' and working for a while. When I got to a place where the
branches didn't immediately shut me down, I went to the finish, and
worked backwards, closing off dead ends. When that branched out too
much, I went back, and worked one of my possible paths. Eventually, it
was completely shut down and I went to another branch… a couple
minutes later, it met up with the most distant part of the finish that
I had worked on… a quick path was drawn and I showed the completed
maze to Eric for 500 points.
After this, I looked at what was left on the table… we still had the
Latitude/Longitude puzzle. This was a list of 10-12 cities, and you
had to give it's Lat/Long. For every degree you were off, you got –1
points. I threw down wild guesses and offered it to anyone else to
tweak.
We were starting to wind down now… Tracy had finished the Scrabble
States, had polished up the letter frequency, had done the chemistry
word problem, and had done the increasing letter puzzle… he took a
stab at the word rectangle and got a 5x5 for 1250 points! Mike
perfected the poker puzzle, getting 2000 and started working on some
scraps… he polished the dodecahedron, getting 2032 points, and got a
couple more fractions for 40 more points. He worked on the
pentominoes, but failed to get anywhere.
Kelly had burned out on the word search (it was an eye-abuser) and
passed it off to me. I found 4 or 5 more words in it, and we tweaked
all our puzzles.
In the end, we got points for everything but the pentominoes (no one
finished a single one) and the word rectrangle (Tracy's 5x5 was DQ'd
because he used the same word twice). We ended up in 2nd place, with
less than 100 points between us and first (out of 14000+ points).
While Eric was scoring, we had some individual puzzles to work on, and
then there was pizza. I've glossed over a ton of stuff (Lauren
'helping' me solve the pentominoes and dodecahedron, what my wife was
doing, talking with Eric's parents, meeting lots of folks, and
generally just having a blast).
Can't wait for next year's!