MIT Mystery Hunt

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MIT Mystery Hunt
MIT.png
Logo of MIT
Running TeamVarious (winner of previous)
First hunt1981
Most recent hunt2023
Number of hunts43
LocationMIT in Cambridge, MA (Online only for 2021, 2022)
Links
LinkLink

The MIT Mystery Hunt is an annual puzzle hunt taking place either on-campus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or online during cases in which an on-campus presence is not possible. The hunt traditionally takes place in January, over the course of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day long weekend and at the end of MIT IAP (Independent Activities Period), a four week long period before the start of the spring term. The hunt begins with a short skit known as kickoff, on Friday noon before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and generally runs continuously until Sunday or Monday, or when the coin is found, whichever is later. Wrapup occurs on Monday, usually around noon.

History[edit | edit source]

The MIT Mystery Hunt has been a mainstay of the puzzle community since its inception in 1981 by then-graduate student Brad Schaefer. Before 1981, Schafer hosted a series of chess puzzles, with a prize for the fastest finishers.[1] Schafer would continue to run hunts until 1983, when he graduated from MIT. This eventually led to a tradition of succession, where the winner of the previous hunt would run the next one.

Early MIT Mystery Hunts involved answering various clues and filling out a sentence or equation, which would lead to the location of the coin, which traditionally was an Indian head penny, but later hunts would use other foreign coins of various denominations. Clues would become increasingly intricate and eventually become standalone hunt puzzles, meta structures became more complex, and the coin as a final object would become more abstract as well. For example, in 2003, the coin was a CD-ROM, and in 2006 it was a snowglobe.

In 2021 and 2022, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated campus restrictions, the MIT Mystery Hunt was held entirely remotely with no campus presence necessary to participate. In 2023, the hunt returned to the campus, although there would be additional restrictions for hunters who were not MIT students or staff.

Previous Hunts[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]