Letters from Max and Leo

What Ben Bitdiddle Dropped (solution)

by C. Scott Ananian with help from Jessica Wong

The team has attempted to bribe the six critics for a good review and then they’ve staged their performance of “Jesus Christ Super Star Wars.” Unfortunately, the critics hate the show. As they file out in disgust, Ben Bitdiddle pulls the team aside and says, “Sorry guys, but this play’s a stinker. But I’m the sysadmin for the Tonys, and so I’ve got some pull there. I’ll see if I can do something for you; get you a nomination or something. Terrible plays get nominated all the time! At least I can try very hard not to drop something as I leave the room.”

He then drops this note as he leaves.

This is a scavenger hunt of places in building 7.

Each hint clues a number which is found on a separate floor of building 7, from the top (4th floor) to the basement.

  1. Number of horse heads plus the number of beards.
    There are 18 horse heads and 6 bearded figures in a mural on the fourth floor = 24
  2. What goes here.
    The Charles J Connick Stained Glass Foundation Collection on the 3rd floor, in 7-304 = -
  3. What’s missing.
    A fire extinguisher on the second floor = 3.
  4. Digit following “Gift of the L. I. S.”.
    The entrance to the infinite corridor contains a plaque acknowledging it as a “Gift of the Lowell Institute School 1943” = 1
  5. Maximum flow 600 GPM 7.2_ H20 of this.
    In the basement of building 7 is a tag on a valve which states the maximum flow rate is “7.26 H2O” = 7

These 5 numbers together are: 24-317, which is a room number at MIT. Teams could go there, and they would find an empty room.

This sheet is really Ben's password reminder, and what teams need to do is enter 24-317 into the device from Ben Bitdiddle's investigator report:

(We decided at the last minute to scatter some components from Ben's device under one of the desks in 24-317 as a hint, to prevent teams on the endgame from getting stuck here. But Manic Sages took those components with them, so for later teams we wrote a hint on the blackboard. In at least one case, the hint on the blackboard ended up being more hindrance than help: the team entered into Ben's device every possible permutation of the hint written on the blackboard before finally trying just the room number...)

When you enter 24-317 into the device, it gives you the location of the coin: TONY UNDER KRESGE POINT.

If you ended the hunt between 1am and 7am (during which time Kresge is locked), this would be the end of your hunt.

However, if you made it here before 1am or after 7am (as Manic Sages did), you found another Bitdiddle device, hardwired to blink out one message: IN KRESGE LITTLE CIRC 13 UP.

You would then enter Kresge Little Theater, and start searching.

Lighting circuit 13 is on the back wall of the theater, behind a black curtain and a cyc. Above it is an electrical box, and on top of that (8 feet or so above the floor) is a box labelled, “Jesus Christ Super Star Wars” containing a Tony award.

The organizers of the Tonys then materialized from the wings, with champagne. Although somewhat disturbed to find you with the Tony early (“It's supposed to be a surprise!”), they decide to ignore this slight irregularity, since the Tony award for Best Musical was indeed Max and Leo’s this year!

The coin was atop this electrical box

Tony award in box

Coin obverse

Coin reverse

Author note: Our lead editor, Andrew Lin, asked for a final runaround that went through Lobby 7, so that Codex could have a chance to cheer the winning team on en masse. I wanted to try to write a runaround that wouldn't stretch a large team out unmanageably, because in my past experience it’s disappointing when not everyone can be near the front when some important thing is found. So I ended up with a “runaround” completely contained within a single building, with a large central open space to make it easier to keep tabs on your team. The optimal solution strategy for this also somewhat deliberately echoed the strategy Codex (unnecessarily) employed to win the 2011 hunt—split up and brute force search all floors.

And after creating such a nice Ben Bitdiddle device, I couldn't resist using it a couple more times in the end game. Perhaps this was a subtle way to ensure that whomever was my equivalent on the winning team got their moment of glory as they read out the final clue in Morse...

Many thanks to Andrew and Emily for indulging me on this part of the hunt.