Keep It Up!

I’m happy to check in and say that I’ve got the inside track for one of the tickets to Red Bull Discovery Lab – I’m up 43-13-12!

After learning the ropes with Round 1: Strategy, I had a clear game plan for my next attempt at the vote (plus a bunch of registered friends). I was thinking my next shot would be Round 3: Logic, but if I can punch my ticket in Round 2, I’ll take it. Since it comes down to a popularity contest, even a great entry isn’t a guaranteed ticket.

I’ve probably been the #1 recruiter for Red Bull’s website in the past few weeks. While yes, it is nice to get people to sign up and vote for me, I do really, really hope a good amount of the friends/family I’m recruiting will stick around and enter the contests. If I had to speculate for why Red Bull puts it to a vote, I’d guess it’s for this very reason- to get puzzle lovers to recruit other puzzle lovers and grow the network while winning the vote.

I’d also like to use this time to offer a critique of this round’s submissions.

Each version has its own strengths and weaknesses:

Big Mouth, Tiny Arms

My T-Rex was a challenge to fit together in large part because I obeyed the rules to a tee. The difference between making an image that 100% works with the shapes vs. works 90% is night and day. I had to go through quite a few designs, and even once I got the basic form of the T-Rex I had to rework it quite a bit to fit every shape in. So points earned for cutting no corners.

Presentation is a weakness here. I really should have made a digital version, or at least glued the pieces to black paper. The pieces fit together very well but it doesn’t show very well in the photo given the slight shifts when I’d as much as breathe on the pieces.

Pyramids of Rule Bending

This piece is undeniably visibly striking, but my judgment needs to be weighted against the vast number of possibilities opened by stretching the rules to their limits. By allowing resizing and cropping, the artist never needs to deal with the harshest limitations of the challenge.

I do like that the artist used appropriate colors for the sand and sky. I also like that the artist picked the pyramids given how many triangles were in the set of usable shapes. Ultimately, I think the execution and overall vision more than offsets the stretching of the rules.

Endangered Birds

I have to admit, when I first saw this, I thought it blew mine away. After watching the video, I noticed that the artist did cut corners a little by overlapping problematic sections, which as I mentioned before, makes this contest a LOT easier.

The thing that impresses me most about this piece is that the artist actually used the strange color palette very well. I completely ignored the colors most of the time (I tried coordinating them in a butterfly pattern I tried, but I couldn’t get the shape quite right). I looked up pictures of the real birds these designs are based off of, and the colors are actually matched quite well.

Also bonus points for how elegant these designs look. Of the three designs, these ones look like they could be spun off into a DIY craft project.


Each design has its own strengths and weaknesses, and I don’t envy the judges at Red Bull who have to pick finalists if this is the level of creativity they get. I’m honored to be included within this pool (and hopefully, to come out on top of it!). And if I win, I’m looking forward to seeing what these other contestants come up with for the other four contests coming down the pipeline.

And finally, thanks to everyone who signed up to support me on this. It’s literally impossible for me to make it to MIT by myself, and I’m happy with all the friends, family, and puzzle enthusiasts in my life willing to jump in and provide their support.

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