Contest 5: Letting Individuals Think Separately (RESULTS!)

The deadline has passed for Contest 5: Letting Individuals Think Separately. In this contest, entrants had to solve a Tetra Firma puzzle and answer a bunch of questions relating to how I will run this blog, including the prizes in the contest and whether puzzle 575 will be giant or not. The results are in! Who is the winner?

Warning: the following results contain spoilers (obviously)! If you wish to solve the contest puzzle yourself, please do so before reading on!

I received 43 entries, 42 of which contained the correct answer, 7, 11, 7. One entrant sent in 7, 10, 7, and gets the award for Most Incorrect Answer. (No prize accompanies this award, though.)
Unfortunately, this contest also brought on the biggest headache of any puzzle-solving contest this blog has had to date. ksun48 sent in this innocuous-looking valid entry:

(7, 11, 7) BBBBBBBBB

That's all well and good. I later got an entry from a Nicole Marcus:

This is my first puzzle on this site!
I think it's (7, 11, 7).

Could you please tell me if that's right; I haven't been here before or done any contests.
And, I'm just gonna say all A except for #8.

When I was typing my typical form letter to notify Nicole of having accepted her entry, I noticed that ksun48's e-mail address was in the reply-to: field of the e-mail; furthermore, the message sent to the address in the from: field bounced back:

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

Technical details of permanent failure:

The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try double-checking the recipient's email address for typos or unnecessary spaces. Learn more at

Undeterred, I sent another e-mail to the reply-to: address:

Nicole Marcus,

I tried to send my standard form e-mail confirming having received your entry to the e-mail address in the from: field (, but I got an error. . . .

The reply-to: address,, corresponds to someone who has already entered the contest, so sending my form e-mail to that address would give the person information *e's not entitled to have. Therefore, you'll just have to trust that your entry is accurately entered into my database.

After a lot of contemplation, Nicole's entry seemed increasingly fishy, so I followed up with this:


Would you care to explain to me who Nicole Marcus is and why her from: e-mail address doesn't work, and why she is using your address as the reply-to: address? If she is a legitimate entrant, I would much prefer for her to re-send her entry from an e-mail address that I can send a confirmation e-mail to without it bouncing.

Soon afterward, without any sort of explanation as to why Nicole Marcus's entry should be accepted, I got another entry from a Kevin Sun at

I submit (1,1 8)

Okay, what the effing hell? The answer isn't right at all, and there are C's? The similarity of the e-mail addresses of the latter two entries and the names of the first and last ones forced me to conclude that gratuitous cheating was afoot. The entry sent as ksun48 was permitted; the other two were not. Unfortunately, I really don't wish to go through that kind of headache ever again, lest my handling of further situations like this is viewed by someone else as unfair (as I'm sure Nicole Marcus, if she is somehow real, feels about my decision to disqualify her). I have therefore decided that I will almost certainly never host another contest on this blog, unless perhaps my decision to abandon these contests for good is itself a source of a crapton of reader objection. I truly apologize for this turn of events.

1. History has shown me that logic puzzle fans enjoy winning logic puzzle books in contests. What language should these books be in?
A) Japanese! The winner will receive their choice of any single book from Nikoli's Pencil Puzzle Book Series.
B) Turkish! The winner will receive their choice of any single issue of Akil Oyunlari. (I highly recommend issues 73 through 76, as well as the upcoming issue 77, because I contributed to them.)

Had this question resulted in a tie, I would have opted for option B, due to the Turkish magazines being cheaper on my end. (Yeah, I'm a cheapskate.) As it happened, though, 22 of the 42 valid entrants opted for option A, so the winner of the contest will get a Japanese book; the 20 people who selected option B will get 22 points apiece.

2. I feel like giving away a booby prize in this contest. Who shall the recipient be?
A) The second-place finisher (with settling ties as before).
B) Any random participant with a valid entry, besides the winner, of course.

I personally would have opted for giving a random participant the booby prize, because I feel like giving everyone a chance to win. 23 entrants concurred with me, versus 19 who chose option A, who will get 23 points apiece.

3. For some time, it has been traditional for every 25th puzzle posted on this blog to be of the giant size 31x45. I want to do something different for puzzle 575, but what?
A) Shortly after this contest is over, I will attempt to raise at least $90 on Kickstarter or a similar service. If successful, then puzzle 575 will be upgraded from the usual "giant" size of 31x45 to the "super giant" size 64x50!
B) Flying in the face of tradition, and saving me a buttload of work, puzzle 575 will be a 10x10 Dominnocuous, and no amount of monetary pledges will be able to change that. No puzzles with more than 289 cells in their grids will be posted until puzzle 600.
Creating giant puzzles is, to me, one of the greatest highlights of running this blog. I'd never want to give that up, and would select A in a heartbeat if a tie-breaking vote were needed. However, only 17 people chose option A, and will get 25 points apiece. As for everyone else, who voted for me to make small puzzles from now on until puzzle 600: you make me a sad, sad foxger.

4. Zotmeister's Totally Rooked inspires me. Which of the following Process of Illumination mutations should I do as a Monday Mutant?
A) One which replaces the light bulbs with nightriders (a fairy chess piece whose function is explained in the aforementioned link).
B) One which replaces the light bulbs with chess queens (you do know how chess queens move, don't you? They combine the mobility of a rook and a bishop!).

As easy as queens are to work with, I felt like I should push my limits and challenge myself to make a nightrider-themed puzzle. Only 18 readers chose option A, versus the 24 readers who chose the queen-themed puzzle, which I am now obligated to make. Come on! LunaPix by Kris Pixton has all the computer-generated queen-themed puzzles you could ever need! What could a mere human do to outdo a computer, especially with no more than 289 cells to work with thanks to the outcome of question 3? The option A choosers get 24 points each.

5. It is commonplace for me to wear a shirt whenever I go out in public. Which of these shirts would look better on me? (I will take pictures of myself wearing it in several public places as proof.)
A) A self-promoting shirt! Last year for Christmas, I acquired a custom T-shirt via Zazzle, with Monday Mutant 104 on the front and my blog's logo on the back. This shirt allows me to advertise my faith and my love of puzzles at the same time, and also just makes me feel very, very happy. It is the best shirt in the universe.
B) A
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic shirt! I loathe the show with a fiery passion, in part due to a pushy fandom telling me that my previously neutral stance on the show was based on watching the "wrong" episodes (yeah, because I had no idea that this series without a LOST-style narrative would require me to watch specific episodes first) and other crap like that. If this option wins, I will select the shirt myself from either a local store or an online vendor, and when I'm done wearing it, I'll foist the cursed thing onto a local Goodwill. Until the shirt has been donated, I will not be allowed to wear any self-promoting blog-related shirts in public.

Linus Hamilton's entry brought a smile to my face as he apologized in a postscript for bronies "who try to keep pushing the show onto people who hate it", adding, "Believe me, the majority of us fans know that opinions are subjective, and respect the word of anyone who's tried out the show and honestly doesn't enjoy it!" I decided to add a postscript to my own form response, summarizing my sordid history with the fandom as follows:

Having had a brony tell me "you can't hate people for liking it" when all I'd said was "I'm tired of seeing MLP every-****ing-where" doesn't exactly engender a sense of entitlement to my opinions.

I met a fan of the show who seemed pretty dang cool and went out of his way to make it perfectly clear he respected my opinion, even though he did agree with the other bronies I'd encountered that the two episodes I'd picked completely at random to see ("Stare Masters" and something about show stealing – forgive me for not bothering to look this crap up) were far from the best in the series due to their strong focus on the Annoying Children Trio and not on the primary characters. His coolness made me want to give My Little Pony another chance, specifically his favorite episode, "Bridle Gossip", but ultimately I couldn't get far into it because the animation style Tastes Like Diabetes, and despite whatever elements Lauren Faust may have added to the show to make it so insanely popular among older males, ultimately the show plays its cuteness way too straight for my tastes so as to double as a marketing device for toys aimed at prepubescent girls. I'd much rather watch Powerpuff Girls, where the cuteness isn't played straight at all. :)

Of course, no amount of respect from the My Little Pony fandom will ever make me want to wear their shirt instead of my self-promoting shirt if a tie were to arise. 25 readers chose option A, as well, leaving the 17 bronies who chose option B to get 25 points each. (Maybe they're people who just relied on bronies being a stark minority amongst my readership; I'll never be able to know.)

6. While it is not commonplace for me to wear a hat whenever I go out in public, I will do so for the purposes of this contest. What hat should I wear? (Once again, pictures will be posted to prove it happened.)
A) A self-promoting hat! I will buy a trucker hat on Zazzle featuring my blog's logo and URL. It will be the best hat in the universe.
B) An Angry Birds hat! I detest Angry Birds, as it feels more like "find the winning pixel" than anything fun, like a logic puzzle. If this option wins, my mother, an Angry Birds fan, will select a hat for me to embarrass myself with (or, if she refuses, I'll select one). I will donate the hat to Goodwill afterwards.

25 people chose option A, meaning I get to wear a self-promoting hat, thank goodness! An Angry Birds hat would clash with my ensemble, whether I'm wearing a self-promoting shirt or a pony shirt. The other 17 people, as usual, get 25 points.

7. I feel charitable. Sanctuary Home for Children is an organization which helps orphans and widows in Tenali, India. One of the board members in Abilene, Ray Pettit, is one of my closest friends and a gaming partner in real life. How much money should I donate to this cause?
A) 20 US dollars. A nice, round number.
B) 2d20 US dollars. I'll roll a 20-sided die twice, add the results, and make that my donation amount.

I would have gone with option A in the event of a tie; it's less work, and it guarantees that they get $20, as opposed to the risk of getting less than that (heaven forbid a result of $1+$1=$2). Sure, the expected value is greater ($21 versus $20), but since when did I do anything mathematically rational? 22 people selected option B, though, meaning that the next time I see Ray, I'll need to bring a die, a $20, a $10, a $5, and five $1's. Thanks, guys. I hope nobody robs me blind on my way over to see him. I don't mind losing $40, but losing a twenty-sided die would be unbearable. Oh, and the other 20 people? 22 points each.

8. Who should get points for this question?
A) The participants with valid entries who selected option B.
B) The participants with valid entries who selected option A.

I selected option B. No reason. 22 people selected option A, though, so the 20 people who selected B get 22 points each.

9. This question is not worth the normal point value. How much is it worth?
A) The normal point value multiplied by e (approximately 2.718).
B) The normal point value multiplied by the golden ratio (approximately 1.618).

I went with option B, because I wanted to reduce the chances of this one question determining the winner. 23 contestants also selected B, so 19 contestants will get 37.215 points.

Here are all of the entries I received:

Allen Kong          7, 11, 7    1B, 2A, 3B, 4A, 5B, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9B
Anderson Wang       7, 11, 7    1B, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7A, 8B, 9A
Anuraag Sahay       7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3A, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7A, 8A, 9B
boing               7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7B, 8B, 9B
Bram De Laat        7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6B, 7A, 8B, 9B
cantdance           7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3A, 4B, 5B, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9B
chaotic_iak         7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3A, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8A, 9B
Cy Reb Jr.          7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5B, 6A, 7B, 8B, 9A
David Scherzinger   7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B
/dev/joe            7, 11, 7    1B, 2A, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6B, 7A, 8B, 9A
detuned             7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9A
figonometry         7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8B, 9A
Garzahd             7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9A
gpagano             7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3A, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9A
GregF               7, 10, 7    1B, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9B
Jamie               7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5B, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9B
Jeffrey Smith       7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3A, 4B, 5B, 6A, 7B, 8B, 9A
Jonah               7, 11, 7    1B, 2A, 3A, 4B, 5B, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9A
Kate Farb-Johnson   7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9B
ksun48              7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B
Linus Hamilton      7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9A
Matt Zinno          7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9B
Mosayc              7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8B, 9B
muhorka             7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8A, 9B
Nilz                7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9B
Paul                7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3B, 4A, 5B, 6A, 7A, 8B, 9A
prasanna seshadri   7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8A, 9A
Projectyl           7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8B, 9B 
ralphmerridew       7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3A, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9A
Rob                 7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5B, 6B, 7A, 8B, 9A
S C                 7, 11, 7    1B, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9A
Sam E.              7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3A, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B 
Shady Monster       7, 11, 7    1B, 2A, 3B, 4A, 5B, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9B
Spheniscine         7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7B, 8B, 9B
SWAROOP GUGGILAM    7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9B
tamz29              7, 11, 7    1B, 2A, 3A, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9A
Tanmay Khale        7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7B, 8A, 9B
Termital            7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7B, 8B, 9A
TheGrimRecapper     7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6B, 7A, 8A, 9B
The Weng            7, 11, 7    1A, 2A, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6B, 7A, 8B, 9B
Tristan             7, 11, 7    1B, 2A, 3A, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9B
Zach Polansky       7, 11, 7    1B, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5B, 6B, 7A, 8B, 9A
Zotmeister          7, 11, 7    1A, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7A, 8A, 9A

And now the scores:

Rob                 0+23+25+24+25+25+22+22+37.215=203.215
Zach Polansky       22+0+25+24+25+25+22+22+37.215=202.215
Anderson Wang       22+23+0+0+25+25+22+22+37.215=176.215
/dev/joe            22+23+0+24+0+25+22+22+37.215=175.215
Cy Reb Jr.          22+0+25+24+25+0+0+22+37.215=155.215
tamz29              22+23+25+0+0+25+0+22+37.215=154.215
ralphmerridew       0+0+25+0+25+25+0+22+37.215=134.215
prasanna seshadri   22+0+25+24+0+25+0+0+37.215=133.215
Jonah               22+23+25+0+25+0+0+0+37.215=132.215
detuned             0+23+25+24+0+0+22+0+37.215=131.215
Paul                0+0+0+24+25+0+22+22+37.215=130.215
S C                 22+23+0+0+25+0+22+0+37.215=129.215
figonometry         22+0+0+24+0+0+22+22+37.215=127.215
Anuraag Sahay       0+23+25+0+25+25+22+0+0=120
The Weng            0+23+0+24+0+25+22+22+0=116
Jeffrey Smith       0+0+25+0+25+0+0+22+37.215=109.215
Zotmeister          0+0+0+0+25+25+22+0+37.215=109.215
Garzahd             22+0+25+24+0+0+0+0+37.215=108.215
Termital            22+0+0+24+0+0+0+22+37.215=105.215
Jamie               0+0+25+24+25+0+22+0+0=96
Allen Kong          22+23+0+24+25+0+0+0+0=94
cantdance           22+0+25+0+25+0+22+0+0=94
ksun48              22+0+0+0+25+25+0+22+0=94
Shady Monster       22+23+0+24+25+0+0+0+0=94
Bram De Laat        0+0+0+24+0+25+22+22+0=93
TheGrimRecapper     22+0+0+24+0+25+22+0+0=93
Tristan             22+23+25+0+0+0+22+0+0=92
gpagano             22+0+25+0+0+0+0+0+37.215=84.215
chaotic_iak         0+23+25+0+0+25+0+0+0=73
Sam E.              0+0+25+0+0+25+0+22+0=72
David Scherzinger   0+23+0+0+0+25+0+22+0=70
Projectyl           0+0+0+24+0+0+22+22+0=68
Linus Hamilton      0+0+0+24+0+0+0+0+37.215=61.215
muhorka             0+23+0+0+0+25+0+0+0=48
Nilz                0+23+0+0+25+0+0+0+0=48
Spheniscine         0+23+0+0+0+0+0+22+0=45
boing               22+0+0+0+0+0+0+22+0=44
Mosayc              0+0+0+0+0+0+22+22+0=44
Kate Farb-Johnson   22+0+0+0+0+0+22+0+0=44
SWAROOP GUGGILAM    0+23+0+0+0+0+0+0+0=23
Tanmay Khale        0+23+0+0+0+0+0+0+0=23
Matt Zinno          0+0+0+0+0+0+22+0+0=22

Congratulations to Robert Vollmert, who has won the grand prize of a Japanese puzzle book!

The booby prize goes to a random entry among the other valid entries. I used to generation a random number in the [1, 41] range, and got 35, meaning the booby prize goes to spheniscine!

Many thanks to all of the participants!


Spheniscine said...

In my opinion, the fiasco with the "clones" is no reason to discontinue the contests. I think there was literally no other way you could've ruled; as I had once said, the very fact that the reply email bounced should be sufficient grounds for disqualification.

And the other one with the C's and a completely wrong answer just couldn't be accepted under any circumstances.

Grant Fikes said...

Spheniscine: If I ever have another contest, I'll require a valid from: address for all entries; if I can't confirm having received your entry via the from: address, I haven't received it.

Nonetheless, I'm scared that if I do another contest, then ksun48 might be encouraged to cheat again, and be more successful at it.

zachary P said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I came runner up by 1 Friggin point :(. The question that could have given me a booby prize at least wasn't selected! Gah!

zachary P said...

Also, oddly, the one question i voted in the majority in, was the runner-up booby prize one

Grant Fikes said...

Giovanni Pagano send this comment via e-mail:

Hi Grant,

Commenting on the blog has failed me, so here's an e-mail comment. Feel free to post this in response to the contest results.

First off, thanks for the contest Grant. Some comments.

1) I would like to see the contests continue; I like how you bring the Japanese contests to a US audience.
2) I too shall have a moment of silence for the large puzzles; I love how the more intricate logic is possible in larger ones, and looked forward to yours as so few people were publishing big puzzles. The next best thing is to make the smaller ones pack a logical punch I suppose.
3) In regards to the nightrider/queens question, I would argue that the presence of computer generated puzzles can give you an impetus to show what a good logicsmith is capable of. Besides, I don't think anything in the questions compels you not to make the nightrider variation AFTER the queens one, if you catch my drift...
4) D'oh moment for me: I had meant to put option B for the shirt question, for the reasons you list in the results, but I mistakenly put A. Not like it would have mattered much anyway :P.

Until next time, it's back to waiting for the next Puzzle Pack...

Regarding 1, thank you very much for your input; despite the headache that "Nicole Marcus" gave me, I did say that I might reconsider my stance on future contests if enough people complained, and I mean it. Aside from that one headache, this contest really has been a blast so far, and I need people like you to remind me of that. :)

Regarding 3, despite my glib attitude, I actually agree with you. I'll try to outdo the computers somehow.

rob said...

Ha, can't believe I win again. Yay! Though I'm a little less proud than last time… So my decision to vote entirely randomly paid off (or I was just lucky).

Also, please don't stop doing contests because of the Nicole incident. It's hardly an issue that could arise say with the construction contests.

Jonah said...

Great contest, Grant! I really hope you continue with this. Looks like my decision to vote mostly-randomly went okay, but rob's clearly got a better touch with random guesses than I do.

That said, I won't tell you how long I thought over #9. Such mindgames!

prasannaseshadri said...

Yay, top 10! :P

Anyway, I think you should continue these contests too, and I agree that you should only take entries you can reply to and acknowledge receiving.

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