The final results for Midnight Madness, the all-night New York puzzle hunt, went out in an e-mail today from Game Control, the event’s impresarios.
First place went to the Burninators, an independent team of puzzlers from the West Coast, with two Goldman Sachs Group Inc. teams, Recovery Lox and Black Gold, coming in second and third.
Good as they were, the Burninators crashed a wedding and were compelled to twerk before they realized it wasn’t part of the event.
“We decided that this really didn’t seem like a puzzle,” said Dan Egnor, an engineer at Google Inc.
Ray Dalio’s hedge fund Bridgewater Associates fielded the Alphanauts, who had a slight lead on the Burninators at 3:50 in the morning, when they arrived at a section of New York Marble Cemetery where four fake tombstones challenged them.
Bridgewater Co-Chief Executive Greg Jensen and developer Ken Vogel watched as fellow developer Ryan Hendrickson’s head lamp picked up wires connecting the tombstones in front to the one behind, which featured a screen. All three fell to their knees and started tapping doorknockers on the front tombstones, randomly, then in unison.
After reading the phrases on each tombstone -- “Bit the Dust,” “Died With Mud on Your Face,” and “Broke Under Pressure” -- they tried a new approach.
“So I was thinking of the song, the beat of the thing,” Vogel said. On his phone, he played Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and started tapping to it with the others. A message appeared on the screen.
“We Will Rock You” came next, with the team’s knocking getting faster and harder.
“I doubt it has to be at tempo,” said Hendrickson, a former president of the MIT a cappella group Toons. “Let’s slow it down.”
Then the West Coast nemeses arrived.
“Mind if we give it a try?” said a Burninator.
The Alphanauts put up their own money to pay the $50,000 entrance fee for the contest, which raised more than $2.9 million to aid Good Shepherd Services. The team was “I think ninth to submit the code word at the finish line,” said Dan Michaelson, one of the game designers, “but there is some uncertainty in the data.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Patrick Cole on World Monuments Fund, Frederik Balfour on the art market.