Sunday, December 31, 2006

Competition With Puzzles

A fun way to meet others who are interested in your ideas is to hold a puzzle tournament. While it may sound nerdy (face it; it is nerdy), it also can be a lot of fun for people who like puzzles. We are not talking something major here, just a way to spend more time doing something you really enjoy. You will need at least four people to participate in your tournament, but it is much more fun if you have 10 or more people.

The set up is simple and inexpensive. You can play for free, of course, but putting a little money on the line is the best way to do it. You should start with a basic cost, such as $5 for everyone to play. So, let us say that you have 10 people who are going to play and that each person will put $5 in the pot. That is $50. You will need to create reasonable first, second, and third places, such as $10, $15, and $25.

Before the game begins, you and at least one other person (agreed upon in advance) will go out and buy a game of the puzzles you are doing and copy them. Be sure that you buy the book there so that there is no one questioning whether you did the puzzles beforehand or not. You may even want to have everyone bring one puzzle in to keep concern about this issue down. You will need 10 copies of each of nine puzzles, and they should be in varying degrees of difficulty.

Once everyone arrives at the tournament, you will have them sit down with pencils at locations where they cannot see the puzzles everyone else is doing. Then you will have someone pick a number 1 through 9. You will have marked the puzzles with numbers so that you will match their selection with your puzzle markings. Everyone will get a copy of the puzzle (facedown) that the person selected. When you tell everyone to begin, he or she turns over the puzzle and works out the solution.

When everyone is done you will want to check the puzzles. Assuming everyone got all of the answers correct, the last person to complete the puzzle is out of the running. Otherwise you will need to come up with a system for people who do not complete the puzzle correctly. The easiest way to do it is to say that the people who were correct go through to the next round. Then you can go with the people who were incorrect. The first one finished will get to stay and so on until the next round is filled. Another option on people who miss answers is to have them do some sort of tiebreaker to determine who will get to go on to the next round.

You will need only nine puzzles because by that time, you should be able to crown a winner. Then you will dole out the money based on the places you picked beforehand. The fun part of doing puzzles is that you can talk about each one after a round is over. The fun is finding out if you are faster than the others at finishing the puzzles or if you need to work on getting faster.

If you do these types of tournaments often, you will increase your speed at working the puzzles, which will improve your brainpower. Puzzles are a wonderful way to spend your time and energy, and being with others who also enjoy them is lots of fun.

For variations, you could try different types of puzzles or allow only people who beat a certain time to move on to the next round no matter what. You also could try head-to-head competitions to see who works best when everyone is watching. It is important whatever you are doing to know that everyone is clear on the rules before you begin. That way you avoid any problems related to the completion of the puzzles. No one feels taken advantage of, and you will have a blast. And, of course, it all should be done in fun, so if there are any arguments, try to end them quickly and move on.

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