The Ringmaster (MIT Mystery Hunt 2020)

The Ringmaster
MIT Mystery Hunt 2020
Big Top Carnival
Author(s)Nina Hinrichs
AnswerClick to revealSILVER PLATE
No. solves18
No. total guesses127

Since the start of the new millennium, the ringmaster has been the face of the circus.

The Ringmaster is a puzzle from the Big Top Carnival round of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt.

Solve Path[edit | edit source]

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]

Text-Heavy Presentation - The puzzle primarily consists of several sentences, akin to what a ringmaster would say before a circus act. Below this is a string of letters.


Hint in Title - A ringmaster.

Hint in Flavortext - Since the start of the new millennium (2001), the ringmaster has been the face of the circus.

Identification (MIT Culture) - Each sentence describes a feature on the bezel of one of MIT's class rings (the Brass Rat); for example, a "ZZZ" can be found within the waves in the bottom right of the 2005 Brass Rat. The year can be identified.

Alphanumeric Substitution Cipher - The last two digits of the ring's year can be converted to a letter.

Intermediate Clue Phrase - The result is the phrase BEAUFORT LOGJAMS.

Beaufort Cipher - Decrypting the string of letters as a Beaufort Cipher with key LOGJAMS provides another long string starting "Look in" followed by another list of objects on Brass Rats. Many of these features are common motifs on Brass Rats...

Identification (MIT Culture) - ...but looking closely at the designs, exactly one such ring hides the letters IHTFP within the given object. The 2001 Brass Rat, for example, forms the letters within the blades of grass under the beaver.

Intermediate Clue Phrase - Performing the same alphanumeric substitution cipher provides the phrase CHARS AFTER G.

Instructional Extraction - The text contains several Gs; taking the letters directly after them provides the answer.