Welcome to the Washington Post Hunt, which, in just seven years, has become the single most important institution in Washington, now that Congress has ceased functioning. And you can be part of it! Give us your afternoon, and we’ll give you a unique and fun and weird experience. And you could win actual cash money! We seriously doubt that you will, but you could! Start by reading the instructions below, written in the traditional Post Hunt format, which means we ask and answer questions we are pretending you wrote. It’s a lame conceit, but we are stuck with it.
Q: Why can’t you just change it, if it is so lame?
A: That sounds like work.
Q: Do you realize that most of the regular Hunt participants are snoozing at this point, and skipping over entire paragraphs?
A: That would be a mistake, because this year’s Hunt features some Major New Wrinkles. It’s the first year we’ve incorporated the global Internet into the blood, sinew and mucus of the Hunt, which is important. People need to pay attention. Hey! We’re talking here.
Q: Fine. Okay, so tell us what the Post Hunt is.
A: That is not in the form of a question.
Q: Okay, so tell us what the Post Hunt is, why don’t you?
A: The Post Hunt invites everyone reading this to spend a wild Sunday afternoon running around downtown D.C. trying to untangle five large-scale puzzles inserted into the urban landscape. The Hunt begins today — June 1 — with an announcement at noon sharp from the Hunt Main Stage at Freedom Plaza, between 13th and 14th streets NW bordering Pennsylvania Avenue. You and your team of family and friends will have from noon until 3 p.m. to solve the five puzzles, then use the information you get to solve an even more twisted and demonic final puzzle we call “The EndGame” (trademark denied).
First prize, as always, is the satisfaction of making 15,000 of your neighbors feel stupid. Also you get $2,000. The second and third teams to solve the final puzzle will earn a modicum of self-respect and $500 each.
Everyone else — for simplicity we will refer to you as “morons” — may be losers, but will have as much legal fun as it is possible to have outside of Colorado and Washington state. The Hunt is challenging, it’s weird, and it’s free.
Q: How many people do you need for a team?
A: We prefer “persons.” We always say the optimum number is four persons. We have been saying that since the Peloponnesian War. The truth is, any number can participate, though if you win (which you won’t — people like you never do) the prize money will be split among the entire team.
Q: What else do we need?
A: First of all, you’ll need THIS MAGAZINE. The magazine is filled with essential Hunt items, including the Opening Questions (Page 17), the Hunt Map (Page 20) and the official list of possible Hunt Clues (Page 18). It never hurts to familiarize yourself with other parts
of the magazine, too, and it sometimes helps a lot.
Veteran Hunters who regard these instructions with the same degree of interest frequent fliers reserve for seat-belt buckling instructions need to WAKE UP NOW and note that for the first time in Hunt history, at least one member of your team must have a SMARTPHONE WITH AN INTERNET CONNECTION
to win. Also, at least one team member must have a TWITTER ACCOUNT.
We will be issuing Hunt updates on the @POSTHUNT Twitter handle throughout the Hunt. If we need to give a hint, or alert Hunters to something before 3 p.m., that is where we will do it.
The Hunt will take you through large portions of the area depicted on the Hunt Map, so wear COMFORTABLE SHOES. Trust us, you don’t want to experience the agony of da feet.
Q: What happens if it rains?
A: Drops of water fall from the sky!
Q: Har har.
A: We’ve got a million of them. We also have a Hunt that continues rain or shine, so if the forecast is threatening, bring rain gear.
Q: What happens on the stage at noon?
A: Hunt designers Dave Barry, Gene Weingarten and Tom Shroder, aka Los Tres Amigos Muy Guapos, will be onstage in Freedom Plaza to deliver the mysteriously named Noon Clue. This simply consists of five numbers, which, combined with the five letter answers for the Opening Questions, will provide the Hunt Map coordinates of all five Hunt Puzzles. All the Hunt puzzles are within walking distance of the plaza, and easy to locate using the Hunt Map. You can visit the puzzles in any order you wish.
We’ve designed the puzzles so that when you solve one, it’s an “aha!” moment, and you’ll have a strong sense you are right. If you can’t solve a puzzle in a reasonable time, go on to the next. You can double back after you’ve visited the other puzzles. You’ll have until 10 minutes to 3 to visit all the puzzle sites.
Q: Forget solving the puzzles. What if we can’t answer the Opening Questions?
A: A dead haddock could answer the Opening Questions.
Q: Are the puzzle sites hidden, or hard to see?
A: No. And you will not have to go into any buildings to solve a puzzle or the EndGame.
Q: How do you solve the puzzles?
A: The most important thing to know about solving Hunt puzzles is this: THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS A NUMBER. Remembering this is even more crucial than remembering rain gear and comfortable shoes. In fact, it’s even more important than flossing. Study the puzzle until you think you’ve figured out what the number is. Then go to the Clue Pages — the numbered list of clues beginning on Page 18. If the number you guessed doesn’t match the number of one of the clues on that list, your guess is wrong. If it does match, it may still be wrong, but your chances are a lot better. Only five of the clues on the Clue Pages are genuine. The rest are decoys.
Q: Okay — I get a number from solving the Hunt puzzles, then I match that number to a numbered clue on the Clue Pages. What can I do with the five clues?
A: Nothing. They will be of no value to you until 3 p.m., when you will go back to the Main Stage and we will deliver the mysteriously named Three O’Clock Clue. Once again, the Amigos will take the stage, this time to deliver a sixth clue to go with the five you get from solving the Hunt puzzles. The sixth clue will give you the information you need to be in position to make sense of the first five. When those clues make sense, you will know what you need to do to win the Hunt. We need to tell you something here that you never believe, even though it is true and we are hereby swearing to it. You will not be able to figure out the meaning of the five real clues until
3 o’clock. Or more likely never.
Q: What kind of things will we have to do to win? Anything illegal?
A: In the past, it involved things like making a phone call to a secret number, delivering a code word to an actor impersonating a street person, or dropping a Ping Pong ball into a little hole. We try to keep you guessing, but when you solve The EndGame, you’ll know it. Whether or not you figure out The EndGame, make sure that at least one person on your team returns to the stage at half past 3. At that point, we will either announce the winners and reveal the solutions to all the puzzles, or, if we think it is necessary, we will announce additional hints. The Hunt continues until we have winners. If you know you are hopelessly befuddled, then hang around the stage. Kick back, enjoy the steel band, and wait for the dramatic moment when Tom, Gene and Dave explain the answers and everyone boos.
Q: Got any tips that you couldn’t figure out how to jam in above?
A: Yes. Periodically check the @POSTHUNT Twitter feed to see if we have issued any updates or hints. Also, you’ll see many “sponsored by” advertisements and logos from our wonderful sponsors around the Hunt, and on the map, but just to keep people sane, we’ll tell you upfront: No clues are hidden in the sponsor logos or in any ads or commercials in the magazine or at The Hunt. Also, we are stating emphatically here, and you will think this is unimportant, but it is not, that NO HUNT PUZZLE WILL INCLUDE,
IN ANY WAY, A REFERENCE TO TANTRIC SEX, FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE OR THE STATE OF WYOMING. If you have any questions (other than “What’s the answer?”), knowledgeable and courteous Hunt staff members wearing prestigious staff
T-shirts will be around to help you.
Q: I’m feeling fully informed!
A: Not so fast, Einstein. Remember that, above all else, the Post Hunt is supposed to be fun. So don’t stress. But also be smart. Don’t shout out solutions or be obvious when you discover an important clue (competitors are watching and listening). Also, if you think that you have somehow blundered into the solution to The EndGame by seeing what others do, but you haven’t really solved it, please don’t bother: We will quiz all people and make sure they solved the Hunt legitimately. No one wins until we are satisfied they truly solved the puzzles.
Q: What does “muy guapos” mean?
A: “Hung like bulls.”
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