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Sunday, April 21, 2024

National puzzle hunt comes to Davis

Imagine “The Amazing Race.” Except it’s in Davis. And it’s full of puzzles, hidden messages and mind games. And it’s not on television. And you could compete.

DASH (Different Area, Same Hunt) is a puzzle hunt that takes place on April 30 in 12 different cities across the nation simultaneously. Teams are made up of two to six people, and the game involves walking or biking around town to find and solve puzzles. Twitter will also be utilized to interact with puzzle hunters in other cities.

“Puzzle hunts like DASH give us a chance to put all the ‘unrelated’ trivia we know to good use and think in a different way,” said Yuan Niu, one of the lead volunteers of DASH and a graduate student in computer science.

Teams will pay $30 to participate, but the UC Davis Graduate Student Association (GSA) will fund graduate student teams so that they can play for free. As of press time, there were 21 spots remaining in the Davis edition of the hunt.

This year, DASH will take place in 12 different cities: Austin, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Davis, Calif.; Los Angeles, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Portland, Ore.; San Diego, Calif.; San Mateo, Calif.; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Seattle, Wash. and Washington D.C.

Winners won’t receive a prize, but might have a good time.

“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a good challenge,” said Chris Muelder, a graduate student in computer science who was part of last year’s winning student team.

DASH is organized by puzzle enthusiasts who volunteer all over the country. Debbie Goldstein, founder of DASH, said it’s a labor of love.

“Everyone works really hard in their spare time to make this event a success. All the money from the event goes to cover the cost of running the event,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein drew inspiration for DASH from puzzle hunts in the Bay Area. She also participated in Lindy Exchange events, in which swing dances, hosted by one city, are organized for other cities over the Internet.

“Consequently, there is a strong national dance community. Likewise, I thought a puzzle exchange would help create a strong puzzle community,” she said.  

DASH started in 2009, where the event spanned eight cities. This will be the second year DASH is taking place in Davis.

“Davis students are bright, creative and know how to create as well as solve fun puzzles,” Goldstein said.

Those interested in participating can sign up at playdash.org.

BRIAN VAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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