Discovery Education (#61)

[No PUZ file this week]

Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 61! In the vein of several recent crossword “performance art” pieces, I have created my own. I hope that the PDF you have to actually print out will remind you of crosswords of yore, and that you enjoy those Courier fonts. The puzzle itself is not hard, but the annoyance of printing it is. Enjoy!

Anyway: Two weeks ago, Chris Words released a meta, so let’s go over that!

The puzzle was looking for a popular British TV show, and the six long answers in this puzzle were:


16A – [Singer portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in “What’s Love Got to Do with It”] = IKE TURNER

22A – [Current Boston Celtics point guard named after a legendary Detroit Pistons point guard] = ISAIAH THOMAS

30A – [Author of the 1995 book “The Best is Yet to Come: Coping with Divorce and Enjoying Life Again”] = IVANA TRUMP

42A – [Muckraker journalist who attacked the Standard Oil Company] = IDA TARBELL

48A – [Russian author of “Fathers and Sons”] = IVAN TURGANEV

60A – [Australian swimmer with 5 gold medals] = IAN THORPE

These six answers are all the first and last names of various famous people, all with the initials I.T.

Even if you aren’t caught up on your British TV program(me)s, a quick Google would hopefully point you to the Channel 4 show The IT Crowd, this puzzle’s answer.


This puzzle also served as a detox for those who had been solving metas at the MIT Mystery Hunt, so I hope this helped. And for the question many of you asked about whether this show is a good watch, absolutely. Lots of smart humor, you don’t need much British knowledge to enjoy it. Also, the three main actors in it are excellent at what they do. Plus, it’s 25 episodes, so you could knock out the whole thing on Netflix in one weekend.

Altogether, 42 readers submitted “The IT Crowd”. Congrats to those who got it! This week’s randomly selected winner was Mike Ruslander. He will join Jon Delfin, John L. Wilson, Jim Quinlan, Eric Maddy, Andy Keller, David Cole, Roger Barkan, Patricia Miga, Erik Agard, Charles Montpetit, and Steve Blais in a future section of the site. Congrats Mike!

And in super exciting news, Chris Words will be off next week, but The X-word Files is back! And how appropriate that February 8th marks the first day of Vietnamese New Year, better known as TET! I’ll be talking about the celebration with organizers of the UVSA Tet Festival, the largest Tet festival in the world, which occurs annually near Los Angeles. Be excited!

Hope to see you next week for the interview, and the week after for Puzzle #62 that’ll probably have a PUZ file.




2016 Mystery Hunt – A Midwinter Night’s Dream

4. The Trivial Pursuits of Walter Mitty

What a weekend it was. Sixty-four teams of who knows how many people each all in Cambridge to solve the hardest puzzles of the year. When you think about it, it’s pretty crazy that the thing ever gets solved at all.

While I was a part of Team Luck, the writing team for this year’s Hunt, I sadly had very little to do with the writing of the puzzles. I did testsolve several of the puzzles involved, and now I’m still learning more about the puzzles that were released.

As the author and creator of the USC Puzzle Hunt, I guessed I was surprised that not more people on the writing team knows more of the answers/structure of the Hunt than they do. In order to have people “untainted” by answers, only a handful of people knew how most of the answers went. Hell, even the website was largely unseen by most of the members of Team Luck until weekend itself. But that was a huge gift.

Here is the website: This is certainly worth your time exploring and discovering all the puzzles that were published and all of the amazing digital graphics employed to make this Hunt work. Rip van Winkle actually moves! The shower in the Pam Ewing round is actually running!

The overall theme of the Hunt is “simple” enough. What begins as a dog showed-themed Hunt (the MIT MUTTstery Hunt), turns into a Hunt where everyone is sleeping and dreaming Inceptionally. Each round involves a sleeper who must be woken with a kick. Each round’s meta was that kick, so KISS AURORA WITH GUSTO would be a kick for Sleeping Beauty, and DO COCONUT HOOFBEATS would be a kick for King Arthur. Once the rounds are solved, you solve a Limbo round, which lead to a final phrase ROUSE THE SLEEPERS NOW USE KICKS AT EXACT SAME TIME. At this point, the teams go on a final runaround, where they must use all the kicks previously learned, take pictures of them, and submit back to HQ. Eventually, the teams were led to the Alchemist, a noted statue at MIT in front of their student union, where it’s revealed that he was the one sleeping during this Hunt. The coin was found inside, and Setec Astronomy won 6:53pm Sunday evening.


This year’s coin (or token) was designed by Mark Halpin, and is certainly a beaut. The dog show runaround led to small coin earned by many teams, with the hilarious caption “Top Dog”, and the actual Hunt coin is larger, with the first one found in gold in the center.


This year’s Hunt ended at 6:53 pm, which by my notes is the fourth longest of all time (with 2013, 2009, and 2008 taking 1st, 2nd, 3rd, respectively). HQ was worried for a while, but everyone on the writing team came to the single collective thought that this Hunt’s length was fine. If this is a weekend dedicated to puzzles and puzzle solving, why should a winning team finish up in the wee hours of Sunday morning? Honestly, I like this ideology, since a winning team ought to have the grit to last to Sunday afternoon. 48 hours of intensive solving seems like the right amount of time needed to win the Hunt.

It’s definitely worth it to look at the tweets with #mysteryhunt (you may have to scroll past some unrelated stuff). Someone at MIT noted that there’s never been a hashtag that used only 3 days a year, but it used SO MANY times in that 3 days that #mysteryhunt. There was some criticism about the Hunt / HQ on Twitter during the event, but those criticisms were certainly not a part of the majority, and were the exception to the event.

Since all answer submissions to this year’s Hunt were submitted through Google Docs, we have the entire collection of everyone’s guesses. I operated the phones for most of the entire event, even having a stretch of 9pm to 6am Saturday-Sunday where essentially only Jeremy Horwitz and I were making the phone calls. My favorite answer of the entire event must have been a meta answer that was supposed to be AUSLANDER DINGOES, but the team instead submitted ASSLICKER DINGOES. Genius.

Also, check out the blogs of teammates Joseph DeVincentis and friend-of-the-show Tyler Hinman, as they recap the Hunt is several ways I didn’t in this post.

I’ll end with some more pictures, but for all of you who participated in the Hunt this year, I sincerely hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to solving again when Setec Astronomy puts on the 2017 Mystery Hunt, which will presumably include Duck Konundrum VII.

Also, USC Puzzle Hunt will kick off March 21st, so keep your eyes on that site for more updates!

puzzles solved by team size



3. Escape from Mars (crowd)


I hope to post more concept art later. It should certainly be noted that one of the letters in that last picture is not the image that was used on the final website.

Oh, and that was me in the very first picture, where I was running the Sports and Leisure event at the “Trivial Pursuits of Walter Mitty” event, where teams had to volley a ping pong ball by spelling one letter at a time the answer to a trivia question.

Thanks everyone, and I’ll see you on Sunday!


Hunt Recap – Delayed 24 Hours


Hey all! So, there’s no new puzzle this week, since I wanted to take the week off, especially after going 6/6 through the winter break.

However, my meta from last week is still live, and you still have time to submit! Follow that link in order play along.

Instead of a puzzle, I’m posting my personal recap of the 2016 MIT Mystery Hunt. And, since I wanted to do it right, I’m taking another 24 hours. With this, I’ll be able to gather a bunch of photos for all of you to enjoy. In the meantime, be sure to check out Todd McClary’s recap as a member of the winning team.

And as an appetizer: the picture above was *part* of the shipment generously donated by Red Bull to the MIT Mystery Hunt. I’m not sure how people can drink it, but I’m to understand that a bunch of this stuff was downed over the course of the weekend by both HQ and by the various Hunt teams that was given some.

See you tomorrow!


Meta: Support Group (#60)



Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 60! This puzzle is coming to you live from Cambridge, Massachusetts as Team Luck puts on the 2016 MIT Mystery Hunt. This puzzle was surprisingly completed the Tuesday before, and it’s great that I didn’t wait last second like essentially every other Chris Words puzzle. If you are at MIT this weekend, let’s try to meet up! I’ve met a few of you (some for the first, some as a wonderful reunion), but would love to see anybody else.

And, since this puzzle’s number ends with a 0 or 5, it’s time for a meta, in case you need more for this weekend.

For this twelfth meta of the blog, I’m looking for a popular British TV show. When you think you have it, email me at cking.gow(at) with your answer. I’ll accept answers all the way to noon ET Saturday, January 29th. This is a two week puzzle, since some of you might not read this due to other puzzling reasons.

Next week will include a bunch of pictures of the Mystery Hunt, so be ready for that. And, I’ll be back at USC, and back to normalcy.

Other than that, I can’t think of anything else. Happy solving, and happy hunting. Thanks everyone, and enjoy the puzzle. Be sure to email me your answer!


Hey, Mister! (#59)


Hey all, and welcome to Week 59!

About a year ago this week, I wrote a tribute meta puzzle to Casey Kasem, as he passed away in 2014. My tribute puzzle this year is dedicated to the great Ernie Banks. No meta, but a nice little theme that might be WAY out of baseball season, but a fine puzzle nonetheless. Also, this puzzle is a 13×13, a first for Chris Words.

More importantly, I’m going to be in Boston this weekend! As a member of Team Luck, I might be calling your team this weekend telling you that your answers might be right/wrong. No spoilers from me, but it’ll be a blast for all of you playing! Of course I’ll be working a lot during the event, but I’d love to meet up with anyone who’ll be on campus for the weekend.

There will be a meta puzzle next week! Grid is made, and I just have to write the clues before I get on my 7:00am Thursday morning flight.

Good luck, and happy hunting!


Themeless Twelve (#58)



Hey everyone, and welcome to 2016 and Week 58!

This week sees a new themeless and lots of clues I like to think are tough. Good luck with 2016’s newest Chris King puzzle.

A few notes:

1. I’ve created a new blog named Five Course Trivia that asks five new questions five days a week about food. Each new installment comes at 11:30am each day, right before your lunch, so be sure to give the new blog a subscribe! Don’t worry, there’s no stress since there is no competition, so just peruse some questions to see how much more about food you know than me!

2. GOAT Patrick Berry released this Candy Canes variety puzzle over the holidays. It might not be Christmas, but it’s definitely worth a solve. Very fun.

3. Week 59 will be released when I’m back at USC (break is sadly over), but Week 60 *should* be released when I’m back at MIT! The future is exciting.

Enjoy the themeless, and happy new year!