As a sort of epilogue to the Hunt, Steph and I decided to tackle one last puzzle, "Mergers," when she was in town last week. It was one that we considered trying at the end of the Hunt proper; we ran out of time back then, but after the answers were released, I peeked at the solution method (but not the answers themselves!) to make sure we were on the right track, and it actually seemed solvable.
What we did
What we should have done
contract bridge, but it turned out the answer was the much more generic "Score". Then, "Score" was supposed to match with "Nadia" to give "Ten".
Would we ever have figured it out?
Possibly. Had we wanted to devote a whole lot of time to it, we could have tried all the remaining words in combination, and we might have been able to divine something eventually. I'm not sure if we realistically would have gotten the "Ten" clue described above. Even tougher was the last connection, "Chester" plus "Age" to get "Man," supposedly a "prepend" (to get "Manchester" and "Manage"); both struck us as more than a little arbitrary.
What can this puzzle teach about good design?
checkpoints" (unlike many of the Mystery Hunt puzzles), the connection between "Point Count" and "Twenty" was weak and nonspecific enough that I wouldn't have thought to link them with "score". On the other hand, "Mergers" did this very well in most of its clues: "Windy" and "City" together couldn't have meant anything but "Chicago," and we knew we were on the right track when we could link "Copper" and "Tin" together to make "Bronze".
That concludes (for now!) the series on the 2013 Mystery Hunt, but if we decide that any of the other puzzles look interesting and possible, we'll write about them here.