The sixth annual WP Magazine Post Hunt took place on Sunday, June 2, 2013. Beginning in Freedom Plaza, Hunters wondered the streets of Washington, D.C., for the five clues that would ultimately reveal the correct answer to the final clue, called the “End Game.” Below are explanations to the clues and the final solution.

A clue from the Washington Post’s 6th annual Post Hunt in Washington, D.C. (Mark Berman/The Washington Post)

The Pirate Dating Game Puzzle:

On stage a Lucky Lady interviewed three Bachelor Pirates competing in a special edition of the Dating Game. The bachelors “signed in” by writing their names on blackboards.

Bachelor No. 1 wrote “Meyer.”

Bachelor No. 2 wrote “Boney Ed”

Bachelor No. 3 just marked a big X, as though he were illiterate. 

The bachelorette asked a series of questions, but all any of the three ever answered was a piratey, “Arrrrr.” 

As Hunters arrived at the show, hunt volunteers handed out eye patches along with an instruction sheet for the uses of the eye patch. There were 26 possible uses listed, one for each letter of the alphabet. The bachelor pirates were trying to tell Hunters which eye patch instruction would help them solve the puzzle – the letter “R.” The eye patch use described in R was: “The purpose of this eye patch is concealment. Let no EYE go uncovered.” 

Astute Hunters read that to mean that they should eliminate all the occurrences of the letter sequences of E-Y-E in the bachelor names. Deleting the e-y-e in Meyer, Boney Ed and X, left them with, “Mr. Bond  X.” 

The bachelorette, hating all three of the bachelors, instead selected the nonexistent bachelor number 4, and wrote “4” after X. Now Hunters who used the R eye patch instruction had Mr. Bond X 4. Which is 007 times 4. The solution was 28.

A clue, which includes candy, at the Washington Post’s 6th annual Post Hunt in Washington, D.C. (Megan McDonough/The Washington Post)

Hard Candy Puzzle

At one puzzle site volunteers handed out hard candy squares flavored to taste like root beer. On the map, the puzzle site was marked with a candy bar. In the Hunt issue of the magazine was a fake ad for a tavern-restaurant called the Candy Bar. The ad said that the bar featured 289 beer varieties. Hunters had to figure out that the hard candy was a hint – a square that tasted like root bear, or SQUARE ROOT BEER.  All those brilliant Hunters who took the square root of the number of beer varieties came up with 17, the solution for this puzzle.

A clue from the Washington Post’s 6th annual Post Hunt in Washington, D.C. (Mark Berman/The Washington Post)

Backward Puzzle

Volunteers directed Hunters through an opening marked with a sign that said EXIT, then past a stage with an actor performing short soliloquies, then finally out through an opening marked ENTRANCE. The actor’s speeches all sound odd, ie: “Country your for do can. You what ask you for. Do can country your what not ask?”

In other words, everything is BACKWARD, including the famous JFK speech line, “Ask not what your country can do for you.” As Hunters left through the door marked “entrance,” they were handed a program. It had a bunch of blather on the front, and on the back, a trademark, as if from the paper manufacturer or printer. It said “Owty T. Newt.” Hunters who realized that they need to read the “back words” on the program backward, transformed Owty T. Newt into twenty-two, the solution to this puzzle.

A clue, which includes a parade of costumed people, at the Washington Post’s 6th annual Post Hunt in Washington, D.C. (Mark Berman/The Washington Post)

Solar System Puzzle

Hunters were presented with an odd stage performance. An actor dressed all in yellow wearing a big pair of sunglasses stood in the middle of the stage as other actors sauntered by him, in the following order:

Someone dressed as a giant thermometer.

A woman in white with no arms visible.

A man dressed as a Roman soldier.

A man in golf clothes wearing a yarmulke and sidelocks knocking a golf ball with a putter.

Someone hula-hooping.

Someone wearing enormous plastic buttocks.

Someone carrying a sign that says: Find What’s Missing.

Hunters who got this one realized these actors represented the solar system. The one in the middle of the stage in yellow was the sun. The thermometer was mercury; the woman with no arms, Venus; the Roman soldier, Mars; the man in the yarmulke was Jupiter (a “Jew putter”); the hula-hooper was Saturn; the buttocks man Uranus. What’s missing is the Earth. Alert Hunters found our planet on the Hunt Map in the magazine, in the guise of a globe, with the number 24 on it. But 24 was not a possible answer. Hunters had to go to that location, where they discovered a sign that said +192. The solution to this puzzle was 24+192, or 216.

A clue from the Washington Post’s 6th annual Post Hunt in Washington, D.C. (Megan McDonough/The Washington Post)

The Gantry Puzzle

In McPherson Square, an odd wooden device was being used to cruelly detain a dummy by clamping around the dummy’s ankles and wrists. History students recognized this device from the colonial period, called stocks. Every few minutes, the dummy was removed, and the device was hauled up a tall gantry, then release to freefall to the ground. This obviously was when the stocks crashed. The solution to this puzzle was 1929.


Hunters who solved all five Hunt puzzles had five clues to work with. They were:

1.The final clue begins at three-oh-one.





At 3 pm, Weingarten, Shroder and Barry announced that the sixth and final clue would be what happened on the stage in the next minute. A minute went by and NOTHING happened on the stage. From the first clue Hunters knew that the “final clue begins at three-oh-one. This was a nasty Endgame curve ball: The final clue began at 301 – an area code, not a time. “Nothing” – a 7-letter word -- was the final clue. Which meant Hunters who figured all that out had 301-NOTHING, a phone number. Anyone who called that number heard a recorded message: “You’re looking for SWAG. That’s what us pirates call treasure. S,W,A,G. And Y marks the start.”

The reference to pirates was a hint, referring Hunters back to the handout from the Pirate Dating Game with the A to Z uses for the eye patch. In the phone message, the pirate says to look for SWAG. This referred to the eye patch instructions listed under the letters S, W, A and G; four letters that conveniently match up with the four clues that Hunters haven’t used yet:





The random-seeming lists of letters indicated words in each of the four eye patch instructions that Hunters needed to pay attention to. Taking the one word in each that matched up with the letters in the clues revealed hidden messages, as follows:

In the S eye patch instruction (Do you plan to go pillage the West Village?  Don’t put on the patch until the raid’s half over. If you meet a hipster lady, plunder her only ironically.  Sweet pirating!), using the words beginning with G,W,U,Y,M,A,S and L reveals the hidden message, “Go west until you meet a sweet lady.”

In the W eye patch instruction (Be green! You should put patch on only if you walk in forests, climb mountains, reach nirvana, practice left of center politics. Display proudly until you turn conservative.), using the words beginning with T,L,W,U,Y,R,G and M, the revealed message is: “Turn left, walk until you reach green mountains.”

In the A eye patch instruction (Not to be used in West Virginia mountains.  If you go to certain areas of South Carolina [distinguished local rurals pole rafts in cricks, eat otters and follow odd religious customs] you’ll be killed.), using the words beginning with F,M,S,W,G,T,D and P reveals the message: “Follow mountains southwest; go to distinguished pole.” 

In the G eye patch instruction (To prevent drowning, use eye patch in place of safety

vest. Place flap C in slot D, pin to your arms with giant twist ties [not supplied] Paddle! [Think duck or other sea bird.] Look unafraid!), using the words beginning with L,G,B,I,E,F,Y and A, the revealed message is: “Look giant bird in eye, flap your arms.”

These are clearly a set of directions telling Hunters where to go and what to do to win. But one thing is left out: a starting point.

That’s why the pirate’s message also says: “Y marks the start.” The Y eye patch instruction is: “Dummy!”

This told those few Hunters still in the Hunt that they should begin at the point where they saw a dummy, modeling the stocks in the Stocks Crash puzzle. Beginning from there, and following the directions above, brought Hunters from McPherson Park, where the dummy was, across 15th Street to the Georgia Brown restaurant (“a sweet lady” as in Sweet Georgia Brown). From there they were told to turn left, until they reached green mountains – Vermont Avenue. (Vermont is the Green Mountain State.) Now it was just a question of following Vermont southwest to a “distinguished pole.” That turned out to be the statue of Polish patriot General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, which stands where Vermont hits Lafayette Park. At the foot of the Pole was a large bronze eagle. It was this “giant bird” the winning Hunters had to look in the eye when they flapped their arms like wings, and became the Hunt’s winners.

More Post Hunt explainers:

Welcome to the sixth annual Post Hunt

WP Magazine: Post Hunt edition