A puzzle is like a virus. Resilient, highly contagious. The smallest seed of an idea can turn into a solution. It can grow to define or destroy you.
But these days, everyone knows how to solve a puzzle. The real trick is to change the answer.


Congratulations to team Plugh, the winners of Hard mode, and to team Saddening Goat, the winners of Normal mode!

For information about BAPHL 5, join our low-traffic mailing list.

A page with all puzzles and their solutions is now available.


Organizers: Rob Speer, Catherine Havasi, Charles Steinhardt, Amos Eshel, Glenn Willen, Jason Alonso

Writers: Rob Speer, Charles Steinhardt, Amos Eshel, Glenn Willen, Ben Aisen, Bryce Herdt, Derek Kisman, Sam Trabucco, Jason Alonso, Catherine Havasi, Adam Hesterberg, Craig Harman, Robin Baur, Eli Bogart

On-site help: Ian Lai, Yuri Lin, Adam Seering

Testsolvers: Mark Aksen, Kevin An, Robin Baur, Ross Benson, Lavi Blumberg, Eli Bogart, Herman Chau, Dan Chen, Lily Chen, Lanthe Chronis, Jeanine Ding, Aaron Dinkin, Dannel Jurado, Kevin Gold, Dan Gulotta, Alfonso Gracia-Saz, Andrew Guo, Sachi Hashimoto, Bianca Homberg, Kashish Hora, Alan Huang, Derek Kisman, Alan Kraut, Madhavi Kulkarni, Aaron Landesman, Yuri Lin, Brian Liou, Marshall Lochbaum, Kevin Lu, Preksha Naik, Rohil Prasad, Michael Prysiazny, David Reiley, Alex Rozenshteyn, Jean Sawicki, Jeremy Sawicki, Carolyn Sawyer, Jill Sazama, Adam Seering, Gaurav Singh, Jeffrey Sun, Anish Thilagar, Lori Thomas, Sam Trabucco, Matthew Wright, Tom Yue, Kathleen Zhou, and probably others I have forgotten.


(Okay, these weren't actually all frequently asked.)
What's the maximum team size?
6 people.
What do we get if we win?
Fame, glory, and an utterly token prize. Oh, and if you win the Hard version, you get an invitation to write BAPHL 5.
When will I actually be charged the registration fee?
You should have been charged it by now. Contact us if that didn't work.
What time should the hunt end by?
You should expect that the hunt will be over around 6 PM, and around then we'll meet for a wrap-up. We'll call your team when we know exactly where and when the wrap-up will be.
Will the hunt involve running from place to place?
Sometimes. Not always.
What if it's raining?
Then we'll get a bit damp and try to do things under roofs. It would take a severe weather emergency to make us reschedule BAPHL.
Are teams allowed to use the Internet?
No. BAPHL should be solved using paper and your mind. Think back to a simpler era. Don't bring a computer, and don't use any sort of Internet connection.
We suggest turning off your phone's data connection if it has one, to resist the temptation to use it; but if you need to be on call or something, you may use it for things entirely unrelated to puzzle solving.
What about other kinds of outside help?
Don't call people you know and ask for help, because that effectively makes your team bigger. You can ask HQ for hints if you're totally stuck.
Can we ask random strangers on the street for help?
Sure, if you think that would help. As long as they don't use the Internet either.
Can we ask HQ for help?
Yes! We'll even answer specific questions for you if we think they're reasonable. But if you're doing well, you might find our answers less helpful.
Let's stop beating around the bush: suppose my team decides that our only way of progressing in the Hunt is to find all English words containing two Zs and an O. What should we do?
Ask HQ. We will do the search for you. Slowly. And then we will read the answers to you. Very slowly. And we will stop to snicker at all the variants of the word "schnozz".
Is this one of those corporate-sponsored "scavenger hunts" that's actually advertising things to us?
Heck no. BAPHL is written for the love of puzzling, and it's funded entirely by your registration fees.
What if it's getting late and my team is totally stuck?
Ask us for hints. We won't think less of you for it.
What supplies should I bring with me?
Things for working with paper, such as pencils, highlighters, scissors, tape, and a straight-edge. Definitely bring a clipboard.
If you want to bring paper references, such as a Scrabble dictionary, go ahead. (But books are heavy and you may not want to be carrying them around.)
You may also bring specialized electronics, such as a camera or a calculator, that you use for simple purposes like taking pictures or doing arithmetic. And you can use your phone to pretend to be a camera or a calculator.
Who are you guys?
The writing team for BAPHL 4 is a subset of the Manic Sages, an MIT Mystery Hunt team with a tendency to come in second. We're far too big to be a BAPHL team, but we were invited to write BAPHL 4 so that BAPHL can happen more often.
I'm still hung up about the Internet thing. Can you give me copious examples?
Fine. But the following are just examples, some of them implausible. You'll have to extrapolate using your common sense and your sense of fairness.
  • Use your phone as a phone, not as the Internet in your pants or as a reference material. You may use it to call teammates and HQ, or for things that are entirely unrelated to solving puzzles.
  • In particular, don't use smartphone apps to solve puzzles.
  • Don't use a laptop or a tablet for anything.
  • Bringing a few paper references, if you want, is fine. We hope you don't have to use them. If you bring a cart full of books, you will probably be mistaken for the homeless booksellers of Harvard Square, and we reserve the right to try to buy them off of you for a dollar each.
  • You may look up information in printed materials in a bookstore, newsstand, or public library if you want.
  • If you have Wikipedia printed on microfilm and a microfilm reader... never mind, that's kind of awesome.
  • Google Maps is on the Internet. Don't use it. We'll give you a map of the area on paper.
  • Google Latitude is on the Internet. Don't use it. If you lose track of where your teammates are, call them and ask.
  • Text messages are kind of not the Internet. You may text your team members. You may not text Google or any service that answers questions for you.
  • If you use a service on the Internet as a complete substitute for a cell phone plan or a text message plan, you may continue using it for exactly that during BAPHL.
  • If anything makes you stop and think "is this lame?", it probably is, so don't do it.
  • If anything makes you stop and think "is this a really clever loophole?", it's probably lame, so don't do it.

Contact Us

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