Spaghetti (game)

Spaghetti is a game invented by Eric Berlin involving creating metapuzzles on the fly using a randomly selected set of "answers".

Background[edit | edit source]

Spaghetti appeared on Facebook at least as far back as a post by Eric Berlin in 2012. The earliest no-Facebook-login recorded game of Spaghetti can be found in a blog post by Eric Berlin written just prior to MIT Mystery Hunt 2015. The name was chosen "in reference to puzzlers being so good at spotting patterns, they could solve a plate of spaghetti".[1] In it, Eric challenged readers to "find the answer" to a set of five words (ACIDIFY, WHIMSICAL, IMPROVE, MORROW, NONPERSON), despite an insistence that they were chosen randomly and did not actually have an answer. Additional rounds of Spaghetti were also played in Eric's blog in 2019, 2021, and 2022, all around National Spaghetti Day. In the United States, the annual National Spaghetti Day (celebrating the food) is celebrated on January 4, which coincidentally is right before MIT Mystery Hunt, and has served as a reminder for Berlin to start games up.

A common variation on the basic concept is the inclusion of "bonus" words that the setter had either "hidden" or "mistakenly left off" the initial list (at least according to the players), which can help people construct more elaborate solutions that would've been impossible either with the original number of answers or without a particular quality found in the bonus word.

Puzzle Applications[edit | edit source]

While Spaghetti may not have too many applications as a puzzle itself (within a hunt environment), it does have potential as a theme or narrative shell for a backsolving-related puzzle (as seen in the one notable example). As a functional antithesis to meta-matching (defined set of feeders with undefined final answer vs. undefined set of feeders with defined final answer), Spaghetti makes for an excellent exercise for solvers wanting to practice the mindset needed for both writing and solving metapuzzles, but lacks the definition needed to make a successful hunt puzzle on its own.

Notable Examples[edit | edit source]

  • Spaghetti Western (MITMH 2020) - Presented as a series of Spaghetti shells (all using the same four starter words), with the starter words and solutions missing, but a single "bonus word" added to each, which were clued at the beginning.
  • This Puzzle Will Unlock In... (CMU Spring 2022) - While not apparent to solvers while solving, the creation story of this puzzle comes from playing Spaghetti, rather than a more deliberate practice: first, the six answers for this meta were each individually and independently chosen. Then, a minipuzzle was created for each pair of answers, for a total of fifteen different minipuzzles.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Bonus in Puzzlers Club Discord on September 21, 2021