pausing to take note of history

Bad Monkeys puzzle solved… again

On October 17th the very determined Josh Larios, his wife Cameron, and his friends Jake Manalan and Mia Lipner became the second group to crack the Bad Monkeys contest puzzle. I congratulate them, and hope Josh can get some sleep now.

I’ve left the puzzle up for anyone else who wants to try it, but be aware that there are no more prizes. I’ve also posted an email from Jutta Degener describing how she and her coworkers at Metaweb became the first group to solve the puzzle (as you might expect, it contains spoilers).

Thanks to everyone who played. For those who are curious how I designed the puzzle, I used a program called Crossword Express, a very versatile piece of ‘ware that can generate traditional crosswords, Cryptics, Acrostics, Word Search, Sodoku, and Kakuro, among others. I bought the “professional” version of the program; it has since been released as freeware, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a puzzle fanatic.

Bad Monkeys puzzle solved by staff of

As part of the promotion for the original edition of Bad Monkeys, I set up a puzzle contest on the Bad Monkeys super-secret website. Over the past year a number of people have written me about it, some trolling for hints, some expressing frustration, none coming anywhere near the solution.

Then last Thursday I got an email from Jutta Degener, a programmer for a San Francisco start-up called Metaweb, which runs, “an open, shared database of the world’s knowledge.” Jutta and a few of her coworkers cracked the puzzle over the course of several days. Jutta’s story of how they did it is pretty cool, but it also contains spoilers, so for now I’ll just say that having multiple smart people to attack a problem never hurts.

Because the Bad Monkeys paperback is coming out tomorrow, I’m going to leave the puzzle contest running, with a second-place prize for whoever solves it next. Go ahead and take a crack at it if you haven’t already.

In the meantime, congratulations to Jutta, James, Jon, Micah, Nix, Praveen, Tim, and Tyler, and the lucky shareholders who benefit from their cleverness. Metaweb/—for all your puzzle-solving needs.