Just a DASH of Nerd

Friday, May 13th, 2011

We don’t have a lot of magazines in the bathrooms at work.  They tend to linger for months, or even years.  One day, many years ago, I started leafing through an old issue of Rolling Stone while taking care of business and I came across this article (pages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) about something called The Game. Ever since then I’ve wanted to play in one of these Games — yes, with a capital ‘G,’ and I think it’s warranted. Unfortunately, they’re never held in Chicago, they cost thousands of dollars, and I think they’ve been discontinued due to an injury.

The crux of the idea is this: Teams gather at a starting line where they are given a puzzle.  The solution to the puzzle leads them to another location where they encounter another puzzle, and so on until they reach the finish line.  It sounds simple enough, except the puzzles are so complicated they often take hours to solve.  These games tend to attract a somewhat narrow sliver of the populace, heavy on computer programmers, mathematicians, and technical-types.  In other words, nerds.

My wife, planning an elaborate game of her own, heard about a puzzle hunt being run in Chicago — much less elaborate than The Game, but the same general idea.  Knowing my obsession, she encouraged me to play.

DASH or “Different Area Same Hunt” is a game run simultaneously in several different cities. Players in each city are given the same clues, but are sent to different locations.

For our first Dash, I was quite pleased with our team.  We got through all the puzzles and only needed a hint on one of them.  Sure, we weren’t the fastest team in the bunch, but we had a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to DASH 4!

Here’s an example of one of the puzzles:

I wish it wasn’t filled out so you could experience it for yourself, but you can get puzzles from the previous two DASHes on the DASH Website.


  1. Answer all of the crossword-style questions on the first page.  A “Sparkly Vampire” is Robert Pattinson.
  2. Figure out that the picture and letter squares make rebus-style puzzles.  The “++-++” notations under each clue denote whether the next photo or letter is added or subtracted.
  3. Find the squares in the photo grid that make up each actor’s name.  Robert Pattinson is Rod (Stewart) – D + Bert + Patton + Sun.
  4. Outline the squares you just identified with each actor.  Once you have found every actor’s squares, all of the squares will have been used except for the numbers.
  5. Each actor’s squares will form the shape of a letter.  Use the orientation of the numbers to determine the orientation for the letter (to avoid the ambiguity of a C or U, M or W, etc.)
  6. Put those letters in order to get the answer: CENTRIFUGE.

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