Hunting around the campus

| Meilani Halim

With clear skies and warm breezes, Saturday the 6th of May couldn’t have been a better day to join the DASH puzzle hunt. Held annually in various cities around the world – and now for the first time in The Netherlands in Enschede – DASH (Different Area Same Hunt) challenges players with a series of cryptic riddles that put contestants’ logic, code-breaking, and general knowledge to the test. This year 11 teams from the University of Twente hunted around the campus grounds, rushing to be the first to solve the extra-terrestrial themed brainteaser.

‘This year’s DASH was all about aliens – the first puzzle set the scene with us as archaeologists, whose mission was to decipher some hieroglyphics that had been discovered at the ‘Dig Site.’ We figured out that these messages had been sent by aliens, and had of course all been lost in translation. So the next challenges were related to decrypting their messages and trying to communicate back. We even had to convince the ‘government’ that these aliens were not hostile and to persuade them not to send in the army,’ explains Judith Uiterkamp, member of the Expert Round winning team Huize Orient.

Deciphering messages

‘There was quite a variety of puzzles, ranging from deciphering messages and crosswords to code cracking, cryptograms, and pictograms – we even used a hologram at one point. Once we had the correct answer, we entered it into the ClueKeeper app, which would give us the next location on campus,’ says Kristian Tijben, another member of team Huize Orient. ‘Because each puzzle has a specific time allocation, your team can get bonus points if you finish early. For example, we finished one task around 30 minutes early, so we got 90 points instead of 60. We were really happy about that, because those points really helped us win.’

Foreign concept

Stephen de Heus, one of the organizers of DASH at the UT, says that they brought DASH to The Netherlands for the first time because while they were fans of solving the riddles online, they never got the chance to participate in real life. ‘Puzzle hunts are quite popular in America, and DASH is played across the United States and even in a few cities in Mexico and Europe, but it’s still a foreign concept here in The Netherlands. Some friends and I enjoyed deciphering the puzzles that were posted online after the hunts, but never got to join in any of the events; so we figured why not just host it ourselves? And for a first-time event, it went really well!’

Stay on the lookout for DASH 2018, for de Heus predicts that ‘there will be a bigger turnout, considering that DASH is now a little more well-known around the campus. We may even submit a puzzle ourselves next year.’

Stay tuned

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