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Midnight Madness Scene: Goldman Fights Morgan for Charity

Almost 300 people in finance wandered the streets of Manhattan this weekend in the all-night puzzle competition “Midnight Madness.”

From sunset Saturday night to around 2 p.m. on Sunday, 30 teams of 10 tapped on gravestones, assembled an electronic piano and decoded countless ciphers.

The competition, in its second year, lets young professionals raise money for charity while showing off their skills in problem-solving. The challenges are in development for months and feature dozens of clues, cues, keys and experiences.

“It’s a combination of solving puzzles and figuring out the quirky, twisted stuff that goes on in the minds of Game Control,” said Dan Sharfman, captain of Black Gold, representing the commodities group at Goldman Sachs Group (GS) Inc.

Game Control consisted of more than 50 people assembled by Goldman partner Elisha Wiesel, who founded the “Madness” and is the son of Elie Wiesel, as well as event producer Lindsi Shine, and game designers Mat Laibowitz and Dan Michaelson.

Their headquarters was Big Daddy’s Diner in the East 20s, where the hint-givers included Alan Solomon, who played the character that planned “The Great Allnighter” in the 1980 film “Midnight Madness.”

The entry fee is $50,000. Employees of Citigroup Inc. (C), Goldman and Morgan Stanley (MS) turned to their senior managers for donations. Citigroup’s global markets team orchestrated stunts, such as paying to throw a pie at your boss.

Money Raised

The result: $2.9 million raised for Good Shepherd Services, which cares for the poor in New York City. It was more than double the proceeds from last year’s inaugural event.

“I live close to Red Hook and knowing these guys are engaged there in housing and health care makes this meaningful,” said Shahzad Ali of the prime services group at Goldman and a member of team 0xff00, which won last year.

The competition began in the parking lot of an abandoned Pathmark near the Manhattan Bridge. The Alphanauts, a team of Connecticut hedge-funders, arrived after dining at Nobu.

The hints and the clues led teams around the city from Pier 25 in Hudson River Park to the roof of a private event space and New York Marble Cemetery in the East Village.

The West Coast Burninators, with some high-tech types who tackle puzzles like this on a regular basis, came in first. Teams crossed over a miniature bridge printed with the word “Finish,” located at 7 World Trade Center.

Exhausted, many saw the open arms of Sister Paulette LoMonaco, the head of Good Shepherd Services, who was ready with hugs and bagels.

“The connection with ‘Midnight Madness’ is that every day we are working to solve the puzzle of extreme poverty,” Sister Paulette said.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gamers arrive to Midnight Madness's starting location, a closed supermarket near the Manhattan Bridge. Backpacks, sneakers and headbands with flashlights were ubiquitous.

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gamers arrive to Midnight Madness's starting location, a closed supermarket near the Manhattan Bridge. Backpacks, sneakers and headbands with flashlights were ubiquitous. Close

Gamers arrive to Midnight Madness's starting location, a closed supermarket near the Manhattan Bridge. Backpacks,... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Dan Sharfman, center, stands with his team Black Gold, representing the Goldman Sachs commodities group. "Last year we had T-shirts and we liked that other teams were intimidated by that," Sharfman said. Close

Dan Sharfman, center, stands with his team Black Gold, representing the Goldman Sachs commodities group. "Last year... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Simon Shewmaker and Sean Hickey, who works at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., brings in Citi bikes to help their team, Blood Alley Bitter. Shewmaker's diet during the game consisted of a salad to start, followed by "a milkshake, a couple of cups of coffee, a coke, french fries, an English muffin and a BLT." Close

Simon Shewmaker and Sean Hickey, who works at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., brings in Citi bikes to help their team,... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Citigroup Global Markets Inc.'s Midnight Maurauders team gathers for a photo. Sriram Satish, in back row third from left, wears a light on his forehead. Close

Citigroup Global Markets Inc.'s Midnight Maurauders team gathers for a photo. Sriram Satish, in back row third from... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Timur and the Dime Museum, a Los Angeles post-punk band, plays at the kickoff of Midnight Madness. "You can relax guys, that was just entertainment and music," said Elisha Wiesel, the Goldman Sachs partner who started the competition as a fundraiser for Good Shepherd Services. Close

Timur and the Dime Museum, a Los Angeles post-punk band, plays at the kickoff of Midnight Madness. "You can relax... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Elisha Wiesel, a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., welcomes 300 gamers to Midnight Madness, an all-night experience of complex puzzles guiding participants through the city. Close

Elisha Wiesel, a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., welcomes 300 gamers to Midnight Madness, an all-night... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

At the start of the game in the Pathmark parking lot, a team huddle. Close

At the start of the game in the Pathmark parking lot, a team huddle.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Shahzad Ali brings the first puzzle to his team. These included five eggs -- stress balls -- that the team could redeem to obtain hints when they were stuck. There were 21 cards featuring movie scenes, and a board to place them on to start deciphering the clue, which would send the team to a new location. Close

Shahzad Ali brings the first puzzle to his team. These included five eggs -- stress balls -- that the team could... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Shahzad Ali of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sits down for a hint from Alan Solomon, who played Leon in the film "Midnight Madness." To receive a hint, teams had to forfeit an egg and prove their understanding and advancement in the puzzle at hand. The designated location for hint-giving was Big Daddy's, a diner on Park Avenue and 20th Street. Close

Shahzad Ali of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sits down for a hint from Alan Solomon, who played Leon in the film "Midnight... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

As gamers congregated outside Big Daddy's to work and obtain hints, the nightlife of the city was in full swing. Close

As gamers congregated outside Big Daddy's to work and obtain hints, the nightlife of the city was in full swing.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Trevor Cohen fo the Citigroup Inc. team the Citi Kats, second from left, tests the "piano" the teams worked together to assemble. Cohen, who has played the violin since kindergarten, used a music app on his phone to place the notes in the right order. The challenge took place at Pier 25, overlooking the Hudson River, where a boat tooted back at them as part of the game. Close

Trevor Cohen fo the Citigroup Inc. team the Citi Kats, second from left, tests the "piano" the teams worked together... Read More

Jose Cambronero and Jonathan Jeanty of the Morgan Stanley team 27122. "It's the amount of people the organization helped in 2012," Jeanty said. "We had a dinner one night and thought about why were interested in the first place in being part of the game, that's how we came up with it." Close

Jose Cambronero and Jonathan Jeanty of the Morgan Stanley team 27122. "It's the amount of people the organization... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The Alphanauts discover three tombstones in New York Marble Cemetery engraved with phrases like "Bit the Dust" and "Broke Under Pressure." In a few minutes, the team began knocking out the iconic beats of the Queen songs with these lyrics, revealing the next clue on a fourth tombstone. Close

The Alphanauts discover three tombstones in New York Marble Cemetery engraved with phrases like "Bit the Dust" and... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

A screen tombstone displays a message to help unlock a clue at New York Marble Cemetery. Close

A screen tombstone displays a message to help unlock a clue at New York Marble Cemetery.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

A team's complex decoding, 17 hours into the game. The finish was near. Close

A team's complex decoding, 17 hours into the game. The finish was near.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Members of the Citi Kats, which had five women on their team, sign their final clue after carrying it to the finish line. Close

Members of the Citi Kats, which had five women on their team, sign their final clue after carrying it to the finish line.

Melinda Owens, a biology lecturer at Stanford, and Corin Anderson, a software engineer at Google Inc., pose with some leftover hint eggs from their team Burninators. "We met puzzling," said Anderson. "We were on separate teams. Now we play on the same team." Anderson is organizing DASH, "different areas, same hunt," to take place in cities including New York on April 26, 2014. Close

Melinda Owens, a biology lecturer at Stanford, and Corin Anderson, a software engineer at Google Inc., pose with some... Read More

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