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Capital Craziness by Bob Lodge

This is like March Madness, but already at the semifinals, with only four teams remaining in the competition.  Four separate puzzles will determine the score for each, and the two winners will then seed into the final game.  Two more scores determine that outcome, so in all, six different puzzles must be solved.  The six solutions will determine most of your score, but correct seeding, finding the winner, and bonus points will also be important.

The four teams are state capitals: Austin, Boston, Concord, and Denver.  To seed them into the semifinal grid, write ABCD in order, then underneath write the 4 digits of X, determined as follows:

X = A four-digit integer, containing the digits 1, 2, 3, and 4 in some order

Y = The difference between the largest and smallest prime factors of X, which is composite

Z = The largest prime factor of Y, which is composite

Example: If X = 1234, then Y = (617 - 2), or 615, and Z = 41

To seed, use the value of X for which Z is a maximum.  Write one digit under each letter, then enter each team into its corresponding slot in the diagram.  The score for each team is the final answer (always a 2-digit integer, no ties) to that puzzle.  When two winners are determined, enter them ALPHABETICALLY into positions 5 and 6 for the final game, the first into slot 5.  Puzzles 5 and 6 determine the final championship game scores.

Stay alert!  You never know when a puzzle might be dedicated to Grover Cleveland! J But watch for cross references, which can act as a two-way hint, helpful in either direction.  They occur not only within puzzles but from one to another, and are not always acknowledged both directions.  So, for example, if you are stuck on a clue in Puzzle 3, perhaps there is a reference to it in Puzzle 5 that will help.  To facilitate references, separate items in puzzles 2, 5, and 6 will be labeled with bold italic capital letters, referred to as the key letter. 

Important: Be sure to note the following reference formats, which will be used throughout the contest:

* Reference to just a key letter (G ), refers to another item in the same puzzle.

* A # sign, number, dash, and key letter (example #5-G) means the ANSWER to item G in Puzzle #5. 

* If a c is appended, as #5-Gc, that refers to something in the CLUE for that item, rather than the answer.

* A vague reference to “another clue” or “elsewhere” may be in either the same puzzle or a different one.

Semifinals  Seed 1-4 per above.  Put winners into 5 and 6 alphabetically.


1  [__]  __#1____(___)_


2  [__]  __#2____(___)_/ (to finals)

3  [__]  __#3____(___)_


4  [__]  __#4____(___)_/ (to finals)


5  [__]  __#5____(___)_


6  [__]  __#6____(___)_/   Winner!

Puzzles:  Each puzzle presents its own challenge, but there is also much intermingling and cross referencing.  They are:

#1 - Two Towns - US geography, with ZIP codes and factoring
#2 - IMDB Inquest - extensive use of the Internet Movie Data Base
#3 - Daunting Directions - following complex instructions
#4 - Lost Lake - more geography, but worldwide.  Get a good atlas.
#5 - Cryptic Crostic - a killer version, you make the grid.

#6 - Operation Obfuscation - Daunting Directions was just a warmup!

Illustrations: Puzzles #3, #5, and #6 utilize the 15 images, numbered in order of first appearance as [Fig xx].

Basic Scores: Seeding 1-4 are 3 points each (easy 12 points).  5-6 are a little harder, 4 points each, for 8 more.  Playoff winner is 5 points, so total possible so far is 25 points.  The first correct score (solution to any puzzle) is worth 10 points, and each after that garners one more point, so all six can earn 10+11+12+13+14+15 = 75 points, grand total 100 points.

Note that a single wrong answer could lead to wrong seeding for #5 and #6 and the wrong winner, losing 15 + 8 + 5 = 28 points, and reducing total score to 72!  Conversely, this means that any score above 72 may be a very strong contender, and Bonus Points could well be the decisive factor.


Bonus Points: Two types of bonus points are available.  For each puzzle, one BP will be awarded to the first correct solution received, but only for a given contestant’s first entry for that puzzle, so a hasty unchecked entry, or a blitz of many guesses over a likely range, will likely fail.  

At contest end, if any puzzle was correctly solved by only one entrant, five BP’s will be awarded!  So, a theoretical maximum score would be 136, but only if all 6 are correct on the first try and nobody else solves a single puzzle! (I expect winner in 72-110 range) Although an initial wrong answer disqualifies for the 1-point Bonus, in theory a correction and no other solvers could still garner the 5-point Bonus for the same puzzle!  The 1 point will either not be awarded or go to the next eligible solver, even if the one with the wrong answer submits a correction first. Like the infamous Jeopardy buzzer, too quick and you lock yourself out!

Entries: You are encouraged to send a solution each time you think you’ve first solved a puzzle (any order OK), to try for a bonus point.  Send all entries to [email protected]  Be sure to include your name, and please always use the same email address (or acknowledge it if a quick try from elsewhere is desired).  Subject of early bonus entries can be “Puzzle #2” etc, and message may show just the score (puzzle solution). Seeding of teams and winner may wait until final entry, of a simple list like this:

Puzzle  Team      Score   

# 1   ___________   _____   

# 2   ___________   _____   

# 3   ___________   _____ 

# 4   ___________   _____ 

# 5   ___________   _____ 

# 6   ___________   _____ 

Winning Team: ____________

Subject should say “Final Entry”, but it may still be updated.  Only the last received will count, even if a lower score than a previous one.  Questions or comments should be posted publicly on the board, but please, no “spoilers”!  Send email if you fear you might divulge too much, but whenever possible I will respond publicly to avoid any inside advantages.

Ignore this comment unless you have knowledge of a technical argument at the final step of one puzzle, that would raise its answer by one.  Most are unaware of it, and no other outcomes would be affected, but to avoid any unnecessary concern, either answer will be accepted.



I know this is earlier than announced, but make sure to tell your UCDP friends that the new puzzle is up.

Posted by: JmSR | Oct 25, 2005 11:04:00 AM

Can't wait to get started on the newest Bob Lodge creation! Is there a file download that's a bit more printer friendly? Also, when will we see answers/results on the Presidential Puzzler?

Posted by: MartinD | Oct 25, 2005 1:38:47 PM

I think the puzzles are missing?

Posted by: Paula | Oct 25, 2005 2:35:27 PM

Could you clarify the difference between "the first correct score" in Basic Scores and the bonus point for the "first correct solution received"?

I am wondering if perhaps under basic scores you mean 10 points for one puzzle's correct solution and then 11 points for a second puzzle correctly solved, etc. ?

Posted by: Paula | Oct 25, 2005 3:18:00 PM

I will be coming back here soon to announce the prize I have in mind. I have to locate it first. I have a backup in hand if I can't find it, but I can guarantee it is a very special item that any of you would love to own. In the unlikely event (I think, with the bonus point system thrown in) of a tie, I can use both.

I will try to do my best to stay on top of comments and questions. But if I am away for a while, some may scroll off the index at right before I see them, and that would require perusal of each section to locate them. So, if you post a question or comment that begs a response, and especially if it quickly scrolls off in a subsequent flurry of posts, and I haven't responded in a day or two, feel free to send me an email: "Didn't get a response to my question on #3:J. Perhaps you missed it." or the like.

In constructing this contest, I have stumbled on some wonderful structures and serendipitous coincidences that allowed me to polish it to a degree I never dreamed of when I started. It was 98% complete back in mid summer, but the final 2% of little improvements over the last few months (right up until I sent it to JM&N yesterday!) has made it easily three times as good. Tread carefully, but have fun!

THANK YOU, Jon Michael and Nichole, for your effort in getting this posted. As nearly as I can see so far, it is flawless!

Posted by: Bob Lodge | Oct 25, 2005 3:31:23 PM

I think you have it right, Paula. Each puzzle you correctly solve, in any order, is worth one more point than the previous one, so 10 points for the first one YOU get right, 11 points for the next, and so on. In addition to that, if your correct solution for a specific puzzle is the first one I receive and the first one you sent of that puzzle, you get an extra bonus point! If many entrants eventually solve all six, these little one-point bonuses may very well determine the winner, perhaps by one point. But note the comparison to the Jeopardy buzzer. If you send a wrong answer to a puzzle, you are disqualified for the bonus point for that puzzle, so there is no need to even send it in until your final post, actually. But if you do send a proper correction, the bonus point is still available to the next solver. If nobody else ever solves it, you get the 5 points, but not the 1.

If a particularly tricky puzzle is solved by only one person, but he goofs on another one that others solved, so all the leaders sit on five puzzles correctly solved, then that 5-point bonus will be very telling. (If the 5-point bonus goes to someone with all six correct, it will be moot, as he would have won anyway.)

I will take the liberty to refer to generic solvers as "he". It's just too awkward to fuss with pronouns. But be assured, some of you gals are my favorite contestants.

Posted by: Bob Lodge | Oct 25, 2005 3:51:49 PM

Well, about 12 hours since launch! I'll decide how much or little to reveal here that might give inside feedback to entrants. For now, I'll just say that I have received entries from more than five different people, for more than one puzzle, and at least one bonus point has been earned. Also, alas, I have seen more than one instance of glossing over more than one short but significant phrase somewhere in the Introduction posting. (the top part, before the semifinals diagram) If this could be you, I would suggest, as a final caution, that you read every sentence, then stop and absorb its meaning. It is easy for the mind to wander and simply miss a key element. All the way through, READ CAREFULLY! Some of the wording in this contest has been revised more than a dozen times to say exactly what it should. Even so, don't hesitate to post requests for clarification.

Posted by: Bob Lodge | Oct 26, 2005 2:27:14 AM

HELP! Why can't I find the puzzles?

Posted by: Paula | Oct 26, 2005 1:06:51 PM

Click on "Main" at the top, Paula. Then reset your bookmark.

Posted by: Bob Lodge | Oct 26, 2005 1:18:35 PM

I need to announce the PRIZE you are playing for! I have been ENTERING Games contests for over 25 years, and have managed to win a few T-shirts. I even have some still new, never worn. There has been some disappointment that for the last 10 years or more, it seems they only award BLACK T-shirts. Well, in the early days, there were other colors. I was especially delighted with one I got in the 1980s that was PURPLE! (Probably size L) It was so neat I "saved" it for "good" and never wore it. (If I recall correctly.) But, long story short, unusual moving circumstances have left me with two basement rooms stacked high with dozens of boxes of stuff, some unopened for almost 20 years. I was just down there looking today, and did find some containing clothing (in perfect shape), but not the T-shirt. Stacking of boxes and lack of maneuvering room make slow going. So, here is what the prize will be. If I have not yet located the purple shirt by time I need to be sending it off, I will give the winner another shirt I do have at hand, a GWOP shirt, XL, in Navy Blue! It's dark but not black, especially side by side. It's either new or only worn 1 or 2 times at most, I'm not sure, but the lettering is like new. In addition, if/when I DO find the purple shirt, I will also send that to the winner! (Could be a while, though.) And finally, in addition to one or two T-shirts, the winner will also receive a new copy of the GAMES issue containing Ultimate Calculatrivia, on which page I will personally inscribe an autograph/greeting. Sorry I didn't win the mega-lottery so I could make it really lucrative, but I hope these items coupled with the chase, the epiphanies, and the bragging rights will provide reasonable enticement.

If you didn't see my other post or find them on your own, the links for downloading Word docs of the contest, so you can print them out, or just view in a wider format, are now posted at the very bottom of the contest, under Puzzle #6.

Posted by: PRIZE INFO - Bob Lodge | Oct 26, 2005 9:49:02 PM

Wow, I hate to ask this for fear of giving something away, but the fact that the heading for this topic is "Captial Craziness" and not "Capital Craziness" - is that important or just a typo?

Posted by: MartinD | Oct 26, 2005 10:46:10 PM

That's a typo.

Posted by: Bob Lodge | Oct 27, 2005 11:16:44 AM

I knew we shouldn't have used typopad.

Posted by: JmSR | Oct 27, 2005 4:13:36 PM

These puzzles force me to employ uncharacteristic methods. Neither in school, work or home have I ever pursued a project using such ANALytic means. But then, "Common Factors" was, on the whole, more difficult than my Master's Thesis on Dilworth's Theorem. I got a T-shirt for the former and a diploma for the latter.

On starting each puzzle, I grab a three-ring binder, a fresh legal pad of graph paper and several colored pens. Generally, I copy out each clue or sub clue on a separate page. The clue number goes on the upper right corner, the number of any other clue referred to
goes in the lower right and any clue which refers to this one get listed in the lower left corner.

The text of the clue is formatted as poetry, with each item requiring identification in a separate, double-spaced line.
Answers and strong suppositions can be filled in below in colored ink.

#3: No 1
Plural of surname
of the person
who played the title role
in the film
in which the part of the doctor
with the same name
as a well-known Saint
was played by
the person probably best known for being
in a group
that also included another performer
with the same name as a US Senator
from State X
who was first elected the same year
that #2-L-M became
#5-G of #5R.

This puzzle had just too much text with many short items, so I had to print it out, cut clues into strips
and paste them onto the graph paper with a glue stick
in the manner of an old-fashioned telegram.

Reference lists of Supreme Court Justices,
Unsuccessful Vice-Presidential Candidate's
Wive's Maiden Names and such
are printed and included as appendices,
although I don't re-use them from puzzle to puzzle as
often as I'd hope. My Netscape bookmark list
includes the USPS, USGS Gazetteer, Wikipedia
and one-across.

This is roughly the method that James Joyce used to compose Finnegans Wake. The notebooks now at SUNY-Buffalo are dated by what color crayon Mr. Joyce used to mark up the proof sheets, the handwriting of the assistant transcribing his dictation and the archaeological layer of the increasingly cryptic punning he applied to the text. This critical analysis of the development of the text is called the Genetic Method and
was brilliantly employed by Jorn Barger, one of the first bloggers on the web and the curator of robotwisdom.com.

Posted by: Tim Szeliga | Oct 28, 2005 1:57:44 PM

And my husband thinks that the fact that I have a special notebook and folder dedicated to UCDP is a sign of insanity!

Posted by: Paula | Oct 28, 2005 2:18:34 PM

Hi Bob,

I was wondering...

Would you tell us when the 1 Bonus Point is awarded for the first correct entry recieved & for what Puzzle number?...

That way the contestants won't use time trying to finish first on a puzzle that has already been solved...


Posted by: Jim from Minnesota | Oct 28, 2005 3:11:28 PM

We're only in the 4th day, and three puzzles have been solved, and their bonus points claimed. I have received three or more entries for each, including at least one for each that is incorrect!
Careful reading of instructions and clues would illuminate the key to some of these errors!
For instance, all six answers are 2-digit integers. That means a whole number from 10-99, inclusive.

As much as I wish I could give a hint or nudge to those with wrong answers, it would not be fair, so I entreat you to CAREFULLY read directions and be sure every word is adhered to. It is frustrating to see someone do 99.5% of the work correctly and then flub the answer, but I guess that’s the name of the game. All I can do is say, check your work, and read the directions. (But please, don’t take that TOO much to heart and change a right answer to a wrong one. Most entries are correct.)

No incorrect entries for the three yet unsolved puzzles have been received, so their bonus points are still available to all.

I'm not sure yet when or if to reveal which puzzles are solved. I'm sure you can guess one or two, anyway. For now, I'll continue to monitor entries.

It has occurred to me that a combination of errors in seeding AND wrong answers for scores could cancel out and put the right name as winner, based on wrong information. If that happens I will still award the technically unearned points, which won’t begin to compensate for points lost, so it won’t matter.

Posted by: PROGRESS REPORT-Bob L | Oct 28, 2005 4:16:30 PM

I may not be up for tackling what looks like a terrific contest, Bob. On Wednesday, my wife had a 9lb, 6oz baby girl: Molly Katharine. I may try a few puzzles in between diaper changings.

Posted by: Michael | Oct 29, 2005 11:37:18 AM

Hearty Congratulations, Michael. I can understand your priorities, but I do hope you'll find a few moments for yourself, too. My, that is a BIG girl!

Posted by: Bob Lodge | Oct 29, 2005 2:44:07 PM


I received word from Bob Lodge that his recent computer problems have not been resolved, and he is temporarily unavailable via any e-communication. This means that he has limited access to his e-mail through the library, and cannot currently post to this board, as the library has certain filters put into place. He does intend to review all the sections of the contest once he is back up and running.

Also, the only reason that Bob has asked me to post this message on his behalf is because during the limited access that he had to his e-mail account, there was a recent e-mail from me, so my address was the most accessible. He did not respond or comment on the content of my contest-related e-mail to him, he only sent me the above info.

In fairness to the contest, if anyone wants to check the validity of this info, I would be happy to forward Bob's e-mail to you.

Posted by: Jay Winter | Nov 19, 2005 8:37:54 PM

Thanks, Jay, for relaying my message. Today I am at my sister's house (no filters!), trying to catch up. all entries people have sent in are safe, and I have my log of all entries safe on a floppy. I hope later today to set up a new hard drive with a system which I can take back home to put on my computer, and switch the old system drive (which refuses to start) to slave status and hopefully gain access to all the data files on it. I will still have to reinstall my ISP and email software to get back online, and no tech help on Sunday, but with luck (go away, Murphy!) I hope to be back soon.

The dynamics of entries is becoming very interesting. I have purposely refrained from divulging much information about the status, because I can think of little to say that will not unfairly give more information to some than others. For a crude example, if I stated that the bonus point is still available for a particular puzzle, and entries have been sent in, it would be like privately telling them to check that puzzle, because it was incorrect.

I will say this: Every entrant has a possibility of an increased score! Now, that might mean that all you have to do is sit back and hope nobody else solves a puzzle that so far you have sent in the only correct entry, and add the 5-point bonus. BUT, think about it, there can be no more than ONE such person, because once two people both have all six answers correct, the 5-point bonus is gone. It could also mean that nobody has yet sent in six correct answers, and in fact my statement above means that for at least all but one of you, this must be the case! I have received over 40 individual puzzle entries so far, and most are correct. But not all! Many errors hinge on directions and instructions, as opposed to incorrect trivia data. Check your work!

I also may revise my earlier statement about "two wrongs making a right". I can see possibilities of very unfair results, where someone corrects a seeding mistake and actually lowers his score, because he has a second error and originally the two cancelled out to some extent. So I'm of a mind to only award the seeding and winner points when properly arrived at, and not when accidentally placed in the right slot because two errors cancelled out. I welcome comments on this. It still may be moot when all the dust settles anyway, but I'd like to establish fairest procedure now, to avoid problems later.

While sitting home frustrated with no internet, I fired up an old computer (stand alone, no net capabilities) and wrote a fun (I think) puzzle, somewhat like these, for next March Madness. It uses a bunch of ZIP code sleuthing to construct a chess problem, with squares numbered 1-64! (Sound familiar?) You have to both get the position correct and then find the right keymove to solve it. Look for it next MM!

Gotta run, much to do.

Posted by: Bob Lodge | Nov 20, 2005 5:59:18 PM

oy...sometimes I think Bob's nebulous comments about the contest status are more frustrating than the puzzles themselves! ;)

Posted by: Stephen | Nov 20, 2005 10:01:10 PM

I must agree! I feel now as though I need to go back and re-solve the puzzles that I thought I had good answers for!

Posted by: Paula | Nov 21, 2005 8:46:53 AM

Is there going to be a deadline imposed for this contest? If so, what is the deadline?

Posted by: Jay Winter | Nov 21, 2005 9:49:07 AM


Correct me if I'm wrong but there is a way for everyone to get more points, even if everyone has everything correct right now...

Since you can "replace" a puzzle score anytime you want with a new one, than means that you could send in an incorrect answer to a previously correct puzzle...

If everyone but one person did this then that person would get the "5 point bonus"...

Or am I missing something?...

Posted by: Jim from Minnesota | Nov 21, 2005 5:05:09 PM

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Commenters please note: do NOT discuss ANY contest information for a currently active contest outside of what is printed in GAMES magazine.