Although my team is ably helmed by puzzlemaker/children's book author Eric Berlin, and certainly brimming with some of the greatest minds in puzzles, I don't think we're going to win the whole thing. For starters, we don't have either Tyler Hinman or Francis Heaney, two people whose teams lately seem to win the thing in alternating years. And since the previous year's winning team gets to write all the puzzles for this year, we can eliminate Francis's team. So Tyler, it's all up to you, buddy.
But, then again, as the Seattle Seahawks proved this weekend, competitions aren't played on paper. So maybe, just maybe we'll pull off the upset. (Dammit! I can't stop thinking about football!)
Just sayin': part of me wishes I was on Trip Payne's team, if only for their heavily-enforced rule that a beer must be consumed after a successful completion of a puzzle. Then again, with my meager contributions, we'd be talking about a measly 2 or so beers, max. Trip, if you're reading this: I'd be a cheap contributor to your team. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
I have been training, a little. I've been looking at one of the Crossword Jesuses' (Patrick Berry) latest books: "Adventures in Puzzling." Like the M.I.T. hunt, the book is split into sections, or "metas." Metas are groups of puzzles whose final answers are to be used in some way for the final puzzle in that section. Whew. Anyway, it's got all the Berry trademarks, which are too numerous to mention here, so two will suffice: cuckoo-bananas grids and loopy reinterpretations of standard puzzles. The breadth of each meta is impressive as you'll be required to draw from just about every genre of puzzledom to solve them: be that logic or word games or trivia. The best part is that this book, unlike the M.I.T hunt, is not murderously difficult. In fact, I'd say it's downright "gentle," as more than a handful of metas can be backsolved (that is to say, you can solve the final puzzle with just a few pieces in place).
For those who can't make the hunt, but would be interested in what it's all about, I'd recommend doing Patrick's book, but starting the whole thing at 3:30 in the morning.
More on the hunt later. Share the puzzle. New one on Thursday.