Puzzle 570: Spirits of Serpentine 7

Would you like to win something in ChipIn for Children's Charities without donating any money or solving any puzzles? You can spread the word using the hashtag #ChipInForChildrensCharities on Twitter! Two random Twitter users who use this hashtag within the next 96 hours will each win a Places, Please book (I still have more where the ones in the kick-off event came from, and would rather give them away for the sake of publicizing these charities than solve them). (EDIT: You should probably mention @mathgrant as well, to increase the chances that I'll see the tweet; it doesn't appear that searching Twitter for the hashtag pulls up everything, as not all tweets are indexed.)

Contest 6: ChipIn for Children's Charities

For the first time in this blog's history, you can solve puzzles and donate to charity at the same time! Whether you are a long-time reader or new to this blog, I hope you will enjoy solving these puzzles and supporting these causes. :)

How to enter:
This contest is a fund-raiser for three charities, listed below. Each charity has a ChipIn allowing you to donate to that charity; you may donate any amount you wish to each one. Every $5 donated to a charity earns you entries in that charity's prize raffle. (If you would like to donate money without entering the raffles, please leave a note accompanying your donation or e-mail me at glmathgrant[at]gmail[dot]com.) Each charity also has a logic puzzle attached to it; send an e-mail to glmathgrant[at]gmail[dot]com (preferably from the same e-mail address you used to donate) containing the answer to a charity's puzzle to earn one free raffle entry in that charity's drawing, plus a bonus entry for every $20 donated. (For example: a $20 donation is worth 4 raffle entries; a $20 donation plus a correct puzzle solution is worth 6 raffle entries.) There is also a grand prize drawing, which you may enter by donating $5 to every charity or by solving all of the puzzles (one raffle entry for doing one of these tasks, or three raffle entries for doing both).

How to win:
After the ChipIns expire on November 16, the winners will be determined by chance! So donate, solve the puzzles, and if you're lucky, random.org will favor you. Of course, the real winners in this contest aren't the recipients of the prizes, but the beneficiaries of the charities. :)

Prizes:
For the sake of brevity, more details about the prizes will be given below.

Terms:
By entering this contest, you agree to provide me with a mailing address in the event that you win. In return, my partners and I agree not to do anything malicious with this information. Short and sweet.

Now that you're done reading all that, here are the three contest puzzles. Good luck! :)

Charity 1: Sanctuary Home for Children
Not all of the citizens of India are logic masters like Deb Mohanty; unfortunately, India also has orphans and widows. Sanctuary Home for Children aims to serve destitute orphans and widows in Tenali, India. My best friend and regular gaming partner Ray Pettit is one of the board members on the Abilene side of the operation, making this cause near and dear to my heart.

To donate to this charity and get an entry for this charity's prize drawing for every $5 donated, CLICK HERE (or use the widget on the left side of the blog). To earn a free entry, plus a bonus entry for every $20 donated, solve this Proof of Quilt puzzle:
What is the total number of black triangles (each occupying half a cell) in the three indicated columns? E-mail me this combined total (a single number).

Prize: One lucky winner will receive a copy of Shakashaka 1 by Nikoli. Another lucky winner will receive ThinkFun's Daily Puzzle, a cute puzzle which doubles as a desk calendar, created by Wei-Hwa Huang and Oskar van Deventer.

Charity 2: Child's Play Charity
Child's Play aims to put video games in a number of children's hospitals around the world. Many video game fans, and even some companies in the video game industry, have contributed money to improve these children's lives, while some crazy people have raised awareness and donations by playing video games for extended periods of time (for some reason, watching people play Mario games and give things away affects my generosity and that of other Mario fans).

To donate to this charity and get an entry for this charity's prize drawing for every $5 donated, CLICK HERE (or use the widget on the left side of the blog). To earn a free entry, plus a bonus entry for every $20 donated, solve this Crowd Nine puzzle (that's Sudoku for those of you new to my blog):
What are the digits in the indicated row? E-mail me this series of nine digits.

Prize: One lucky winner will receive a copy of Fresh Sudoku 2 by Nikoli. Another lucky winner will receive ThinkFun's Daily Puzzle, a cute puzzle which doubles as a desk calendar, created by Wei-Hwa Huang and Oskar van Deventer.

Charity 3: The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund
Tom Vasel, a highly-respected board game reviewer, named the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund after his son who passed away at a tragically young age. The generosity of others in the board game community during this hardship inspired Tom to pay it forward to other board gamers in need.

To donate to this charity and get an entry for this charity's prize drawing for every $5 donated, CLICK HERE (or use the widget on the left side of the blog). To earn a free entry, plus a bonus entry for every $20 donated, solve this Tetra Firma puzzle:
Which of the lettered cells are NOT shaded in (that is, the cells are white)? E-mail me this set of letters.

Prize: One lucky winner will receive a copy of LITS 1 by Nikoli. Another lucky winner will receive ThinkFun's Daily Puzzle, a cute puzzle which doubles as a desk calendar, created by Wei-Hwa Huang and Oskar van Deventer.

GOOD PRIZE:

To enter this drawing, solve all three puzzles. (Donations play no role in winning the good prize.) One lucky winner will receive a very commemorative shirt featuring artwork by an artist who goes by Norzman!

GRAND PRIZE:

To enter this drawing, donate $5 to each of the three charities above, or solve all three puzzles. Doing one of these tasks will earn you one entry, while doing both will earn you three entries. One lucky winner will receive this grand prize package:

* Any single book from Nikoli's Pencil Puzzle Books series!
* The shirt from the good prize mentioned above!
* A keyring and a necklace, both featuring carvings of elephants! These came from trips to Tenali, India (where the Sanctuary Home orphanage is based).
* Used copies of Brain Age and Brain Age 2 for the Nintendo DS! Brand new copies are beyond my prize budget, but used copies that aren't currently being used are well within my budget. These games have Sudoku puzzles which were previously published in Nikoli books, as well as minigames that purport to help keep your brain young.
* A wooden copy of my board game Battle of LITS, made wooden by Lyris Laser Studios! This game is based on the Japanese logic puzzle LITS (known here as Tetra Firma – see above), and has been described as "cool" and "existent" (well, at least one of the two adjectives, anyway).
* A copy of Heptalion by Spanish board game designer Néstor Romeral Andrés! In response to a puzzle posed by the designer, I created a board with the same properties as the default board, but a different shape; this board will be included with the game.

GIANT PUZZLES!

As added incentive for donating, I will post large puzzles if all of the charities hit certain levels! (This is not a combined total; every single one of the three charities must hit the threshold before the deadline for it to count.)

At the $100 mark, puzzle 601 will be upgraded to the giant (31x45) size! (Puzzle 600 will be giant no matter what.)
At the $210 mark, puzzle 602 will be giant, too!
At the $330 mark, puzzle 603 will be giant!
At the $460 mark, puzzle 604 will be giant!
At the $600 mark, puzzle 605 will be giant!
At the $750 mark, puzzle 606 will be giant!
At the $1000 mark, puzzle 600 will be upgraded to a super-giant (64x50)!
At the $1250 mark, puzzle 601 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $1500 mark, puzzle 602 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $1750 mark, puzzle 603 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $2000 mark, puzzle 604 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $2250 mark, puzzle 605 will be upgraded to a super-giant! 
And last but not least, at the $2500 mark, puzzle 606 will be upgraded to a super-giant!

Get to solving! Get to donating!

Puzzle 569: Solomon's Keep 5

So far, ChipIn for Children's Charities has raised $150 (including $15 of my own money from the kick-off event). I hope to see the momentum pick up this coming Monday, when the contest proper begins. Can we raise $2,500 for each charity?

ChipIn for Children's Charities kick-off event!

You may see something new on the left side of this blog. If you aren't reading this post months after the fact, there should be three ChipIns allowing you to donate for the three charities involved in ChipIn for Children's Charities. The contest proper will begin on Monday, September 24, but donating early will not deprive you of raffle entries later. In fact, to encourage early donations, I shall make this offer:

If any charity hits $42 before Monday, I will immediately raffle off a completely unsolved (and in good, albeit not brand-spanking new, condition) Places, Please book to anyone who donated at least $1 to that charity. Note that if you donate $42 to a charity with no donations yet, you've basically just bought yourself a book for way more than it's worth. But it's for charity, right?

EDIT: I shall add even more incentive: if all three charities hit $42 before Monday, I'll add $5 of my own money to each one. (Note that I'm not eligible for the raffles, obviously.)

Another new thing on the left side of my blog: Twitter! I'm using Twitter in the hopes of promoting this fund-raiser, and may do other things, too. (Also, I did it to boost my InterestingBlogs.org ranking; I was at #9 before, but now I'm #8. Oh yeah, you can definitely tell that I'm in the whole puzzle-writing thing for the art and not for vainglory.)

EDIT: All three charities have hit the $42 mark! All right! Thanks, donors! I have donated $5 of my own money to each one, as promised. :)

Contest 6 PREVIEW: ChipIn for Children's Charities

What follows is a preview of what may ultimately prove to be the most important "contest" in this blog's history.

Previously, readers of my blog have only been asked to solve some puzzles, or possibly out-guess their fellow readers, in order to have a chance at winning a prize. In ChipIn for Children's Charities, however, I shall task my readers with doing something that is perhaps more challenging than anything I have ever posted on this blog. Readers, in case the name of the contest didn't already blatantly give this away, I am asking you to donate money to these three charities that I have chosen to partner with:
  • Sanctuary Home for Children: We all know that India has some pretty smart individuals, like Deb Mohanty and the other users of Logic Masters India, but did you know that India also has orphans and widows? Sanctuary Home for Children aims to serve orphans and widows in Tenali, India. My best friend and regular gaming partner Ray Pettit is one of the board members on the Abilene side of the operation, so this charity hits really close to home for me, despite having never been to India myself. I gave them $26 as part of an earlier contest, but feel that ChipIn for Children's Charities has the potential to impact them even more greatly than a few rolls of a twenty-sided die.
  • Child's Play Charity: Child's Play aims to put video games in a number of children's hospitals around the world to give children a pleasant distraction from the otherwise dreary reality that they are sick and in a hospital. This past June, I promoted Mario Marathon, a completely fan-run annual marathon where a team plays Mario games over an extended period of time while raising money for Child's Play, using prizes and other incentives (the amount donated determines how many levels are played) to make the marathon more exciting; I hope that ChipIn for Children's Charities gives me the opportunity to help them even more.
  • The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund: Noted board game reviewer Tom Vasel was inspired by the collective generosity of others in the board game community who rallied around him when he was grieving the loss of his young son Jack, and started the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund to help give other board gamers financial assistance after their own personal hardships. Tom seems like a nice enough guy, and as someone who's had a board game published himself, he played a role in encouraging me to pursue my idea Battle of LITS, so I am pleased to be able to support his charitable mission with ChipIn for Children's Charities. (It's not really a children's charity, but it's named after a child, so I'm not changing this contest's name. Nyeh.)
Let's begin by discussing how the donations will be handled: ChipIn is a free service that allows someone to collect money from a bunch of people. A common use for ChipIn is for charity fund-raisers, as it allows you to see who has donated (in case you want to raffle off a prize to the donors, for example) without actually touching the money. Each charity will have its own ChipIn. Thus, you can donate whatever amount you wish, and choose how to divide it between the charities; all of the money can go to a single charity, or you may split it between two or three charities by contributing to each charity's corresponding ChipIn. Your money will go directly to the charities; I will not have any opportunity to misappropriate the funds in any sort of fashion.

As added incentive for donating, I will give you large puzzles if all of the charities hit certain levels! (This is not a combined total; every single one of the three charities must hit the threshold before the deadline for it to count.)

At the $100 mark, puzzle 601 will be upgraded to the giant (31x45) size! (Puzzle 600 will be giant no matter what.)
At the $210 mark, puzzle 602 will be giant, too!
At the $330 mark, puzzle 603 will be giant!
At the $460 mark, puzzle 604 will be giant!
At the $600 mark, puzzle 605 will be giant!
At the $750 mark, puzzle 606 will be giant! (That's seven giant puzzles to entertain yourselves with after my current drought is over!)
At the $1000 mark, puzzle 600 will be upgraded to a super-giant (64x50)!
At the $1250 mark, puzzle 601 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $1500 mark, puzzle 602 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $1750 mark, puzzle 603 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $2000 mark, puzzle 604 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $2250 mark, puzzle 605 will be upgraded to a super-giant! 
And last but not least, at the $2500 mark, puzzle 606 will be upgraded to a super-giant! (Not to mention that the charities will be pretty happy, too!)

Oh, and what would a contest be without prizes? There will be four prize drawings: one for each individual charity, and one grand prize drawing. For every $5 you donate to a charity, you will receive one entry in that charity's prize drawing. Each charity will also be associated with a puzzle; if you solve the puzzle correctly, you will receive a free entry, plus an additional entry for every $20 donated. (For example, a $15 donation gets 3 entries, a $15 donation with a correct solution gets 4 entries, and a $20 donation with a correct solution gets 6 entries.) For the grand prize drawing, you may get up to three entries: one for solving all three puzzles, one for donating at least $5 to each charity, and one for solving all three puzzles and donating at least $5 to each charity. Once the deadline has expired, I will use random.org to determine the winners.

But what will the prizes be? Ah, that's where you come in, dearest readers. I am soliciting donations of prizes to make this contest as exciting as possible while minimizing the cost on my part. Just tell me what kind of prize you want to give away (maybe a puzzle book, a gift certificate, a shirt. . . anything you think will be appropriate!), and I'll have the winner e-mail you an address so you can send it. I haven't entirely decided what prizes I want to give away myself, or what date the contest will begin, but once I've figured more out, I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Summary: How can I help?
Donate money! If you can't wait until I have the actual ChipIns set up before donating, donated directly via the charities' websites! However, if you wait, the money will go towards incentives such as how many big puzzles I make (see above).

Donate prizes! Help me give away many great things! I will have the winner e-mail you at the end of the contest, so you don't even have to send me anything!

Spread the word! Twitter users should incorporate the hashtag #ChipInForChildrensCharities for maximum impact!

Puzzle 568: Fencing Match 50

Another week without a Monday Mutant? I'm sorry. I promise that I'll have something completely awesome next Monday to compensate for the recent lack of mutant content.

Letting Individuals Think Separately: Update 2

Let's go over the 9 questions and see which ones I've fulfilled and which ones I still need to do. As a reminder, the results are here.

1. Readers voted for the winner of the contest to receive a book from Nikoli (and not from Turkey). It was shipped on June 25, and Robert Vollmert has since received it in his native land of Germany. Awesome.
2. Readers voted for a booby prize to be given to a random participant (as opposed to the second place finisher). As revealed in update 1, this booby prize has been received.
3. Readers voted for puzzle 575 to be a 10x10 Dominnocuous, and for no puzzles larger than 289 cells to be posted until puzzle 600. I haven't gotten to 575 yet, but I promise I will!
4. Readers voted for queen-themed Process of Illumination puzzles. I delivered a queen-themed puzzle which also solved under normal rules. This puzzle was deemed a tiny bit ugly, so I worked on making another queen-themed puzzle, this time making it solvable with modified rules regarding how the clue numbers work. This puzzle is much prettier, so I'm satisfied that my work here is done.
5 and 6. Readers voted for me to wear a shirt and a hat advertising my blog (sparing me from My Little Pony and Angry Birds). I have both articles of clothing, but no pics yet to prove that I've worn them in public. (Then again, do I really need them? The main purpose of the pics is to prove that I've embarrassed myself, but there's nothing embarrassing about my blog!)
7. Readers voted for me to donate $2d20 and not $20 to Sanctuary Home for Children. Here is a video of the results. Bah, I didn't do a good job at capturing the value of the second roll, so you have to trust me that it was 16. (And now you have to watch, because you know there was an 80% chance that your gamble paid off and resulted in more than $20 being donated. How exciting.)
8 and 9. These questions were just for points, and have no real meaning.

So, mostly, I need to make more puzzles until I hit 600 and I can make puzzles of any size I want to. And maybe show you what I look like in my shirt. :)

Puzzle 567: Straight and Arrow 40

chaotic_iak (who inspired me to write a puzzle at 4:00 AM when I should have been going back to sleep) told me that my previous puzzle "has many givens", and I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not, so I made with puzzle with 4 fewer givens!

Puzzle 566: Straight and Arrow 39

I apologize for not having a Monday Mutant prepared this week. Have this instead.

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