The second puzzle potluck, Puzzle Potluck II, was held on 15 July 2012, and organized by Eric Harshbarger. The format was very similar to the first potluck held in 2011. That event is detailed on Eric Harshbarger's website as well as on this wiki.

This was the first event organized and documented solely through this wiki, to encourage organization of this and future potlucks as a community effort.

Final ResultsEdit

1st Place: Eric Harshbarger & Amy Steinkampf (808 points)

2nd Place: Robert Ford & Blane Hollingsworth (729 points)

3rd Place: Charles Pilman & Erin McMullin (719 points)


Date:  14 July 2012.

Time:  10:00am through the afternoon (depending on the number of teams)

Venue: Auburn Student Union Center

Basic RulesEdit

  • Teams of 1 or 2 people.
  • Each team brings one original puzzle for all of the other teams to solve (make sure you bring enough copies for each team).
  • Puzzles will be "all-or-nothing" scoring. No partial scoring. Either a competing team solves it (100 points earned) or they don't (0 Points earned).
  • Puzzles can be of any type (creativity is encouraged! -- suggestions below) but should be designed with the time limit in mind (see next). All necessary material to solve a puzzle should be provided by the designing team (assume competing teams will only have pencil, paper, and simple calculator). For example, you may provide "code sheets" (even if not all codes on it will be used). You might provide a word list of some type. You could even provide a laptop with Wi-Fi access if the internet is needed as a resourse to solve it (do not assume teams will have internet access otherwise).
  • Rounds will be 30 minutes long. During a round each team will be one station with one puzzle to solve. After 30 minutes, time's up, and a few minutes are taken by the designers of each puzzle to grade their puzzle as it was just attempted by another team. Once grading is done, puzzle stations are "reset", and teams will shift to the next station (solving the next puzzle in line during the next round). This is repeated until every team has attempted every puzzle except their own.
  • There will be one extra "station" where a timepiece is kept. The team whose turn it is at this station does not solve a puzzle, but rather, will be in charge of timing the current 30 minute round.
  • After all of the rounds are complete, solving scores will be compiled onto one spreadsheet (Eric will bring his laptop for this purpose). Each team will then earn a "Difficulty Score" based on how many other teams were able to solve their puzzle (see below). Then each team will have an opportunity to explain their puzzle to everyone (how it was supposed to be solved, field question about it, etc). Finally, after those explanations, each puzzle will be rated by every team on a scale of 0-100. Those ratings will be averaged and that will be one more score added into each teams total.
  • The team that has the highest Total (= [scores earned from solving puzzles] + [Difficulty Score] + [Rating average]) wins the Potluck.

Difficulty ScoreEdit

Teams were encouraged to design a puzzle that was not too easy and not too hard. To that end, a Difficulty Score was earned at the end of the day based upon how many other teams solved the provided puzzle. This Difficulty Score was between 0-200 Points. The "sweet spot" was planned to be roughly a 70% solution rate, and the scoring curve will decrease in some fashion to either side of that percentage.

With seven teams participating, the following scoring schema was determined to be appropriate:

# Teams that Solved Puzzle Points awarded to Puzzle Designers
0 0
1 50
2 100
3 150
4 200
5 150
6 100

One may observe that bringing a puzzle with either a 0% or 100% success rate resulted in a net zero point advantage for the team (all teams earned 0 points or all teams earned 100 points).

Rating ScoreEdit

At the end of the competition, teams had the opportunity to describe their puzzle and explain the intended solution. Following this, teams were given the opportunity of assigning a score of 0 to 100 to each puzzle.

Each team received six ratings from the other teams, and the sum of these rating was divided by three, yielding a maximum score of 200 points based on ratings.

Puzzle TypesEdit

Eric provided the following advice for planning a puzzle to bring to this potluck:

Having a hard time thinking of a puzzle to bring to the potluck? There's hardly a wrong "type"; just try to design something that you think will keep a team of two people puzzled (in a fun way) for a half hour. Of course, it should be solvable (don't make an impossible puzzle). It should also have "all-or-nothing" grading; either the team gets 100 Points (for getting the answer) or 0 Points 9if they do not get the answer). You will be grading the puzzle you bring between each round (i.e. grading the team that just tried to solve it) -- so make sure you'll be able to grade it fairly quickly (in a few minute or so). You may look at the first potluck webpage for ideas or consider this list:

  • Mazes
  • Crosswords
  • Wordsearches
  • Puzzle that requires people to run around the AU Student Union (gather clues, or looking for specific things)
  • Codes
  • Riddles
  • Physcal/Manipulative puzzles
  • Wordplay puzzles
  • Custom Jigsaw puzzles
  • Pentominoes
  • Logic puzzles
  • Or maybe you will be inspired to make a puzzle based on certain gaming objects:
    • Dice
    • Cards
    • Dominoes
    • Chessboard and Pieces

The trick is to try to put your own "twist" on a puzzle. And be sure you have enough copies that each team will have a fresh version at the start of their round to solve it (or that the puzzle can be "reset" properly between rounds).


Eric announced and organized this particular potluck, and provided the following on the day of the event:

  • A clock for the Timekeeper Station
  • Grading sheets
  • A laptop to create the final scoreboard spreadsheet
  • Tokens to mark each puzzle station
  • Rating evaluation sheets
  • Copies of a Code Sheet
  • Some form of trophy

While he organized the event, Eric also competed in this potluck. The format used for this event was designed to allow the organizer to compete without gaining any advantage. However, Eric elected to defer rating puzzles to his teammate to avoid a conflict of interest as he had tabulated the rest of the overall scores already.

Organizer RightsEdit

Since the Puzzle Potluck series has spun off from the EPP series, rules for any Puzzle Potluck can be decided upon and tweaked at the discretion of whoever the organizer is.

Team MakeupEdit

Each team was required to consist of either 1 or 2 people. Each team was required to bring a single puzzle. Team signup was maintained on this page - as each team committed to coming, they edited this page to add their name.

Teams were responsible for bringing the following items:

  • Pencils/pens
  • Paper
  • Clipboards
  • Basic calculators

Teams were not allowed internet access to solve any of the puzzles. While no Team did so, a team could have provided internet access if they wanted it available for their puzzle.

Teams and PuzzlesEdit

  1. Eric Harshbarger & Amy Steinkampf
  2. Steven Clontz & James Dabbs
  3. Kelly Bragan & Alex Pouyadou
  4. Charles Pilman & Erin McMullin
  5. Robert Ford & Blane Hollingsworth
  6. Mike & Kelly Hollingsworth
  7. Tim & Sierra Hardwick

Upcoming EventsEdit

The potluck was followed by the following events:

Auburn Puzzle Party 5: Puzzle Patrol II
20 October 2012
Puzzle Potluck 3
No announced date