This past Saturday was a Microsoft intern event known as Puzzle Day. Basically at the beginning of the day some Microsoft employees set up this poorly acted story (that our Dean — Dean Bean — had his kidneys stolen) and we’re then given a bunch of puzzles to solve loosely tied to some central theme (urban legends).
A group of 12 of us formed a team, working against 30 other teams (of about 300 interns total). Some puzzles were pretty straight forward, others were a bit tricky. Some were incredibly tricky. Each answer goes to help you solve a ‘meta puzzle’, an uber puzzle you can solve only with the answers from the other puzzles you’ve solved. The metapuzzle gives an answer — in our case “Find kidneys in building 9 cafeteria” — telling you how to finish the quest.
Despite the fact that many of the team members got sick of puzzles in the middle of the day and more or less stopped working on them, our team did really well. We placed 5th and finished just about 15 minutes behind the 1st place team (I believe they were the Harvard team, and one of the other teams we lost to was the MIT team).
It was really cool looking at some random jibberish and suddenly saying “woah, this makes sense.” Or looking at a puzzle that 11 other rather smart people looked at and couldn’t figure out, and figuring it out in about 30 seconds.
All in all a really cool experience. And we even got a can of beans as a 5th place trophy (and a bag of cookies, too. Microsoft is cheap).