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CiSRA Puzzle Competition 2011 - Rules


  • Registration is open to teams of one to four people.
  • The name and e-mail address of each team member must be filled out on the registration form when registering the team.
  • Teams may register at any time until the competition closes (12:00, 15 Aug, 2011, AEST).
  • Additional team members may be added to teams of fewer than four members after registration, using the form on the registration page.
  • Participants may be a member of no more than one team. If a single participant registers on multiple teams, all those teams will be disqualified.
  • Australian-resident full-time students must submit the name of their school or university when registering to be eligible for prizes.
  • Iron Brain is an opt-in mode available only to teams of exactly one member. Iron Brain is an honesty mode in which you agree to work alone, without help from any other person. Iron Brain participants will be ranked against each other. The goal is to allow individual puzzle solvers to compete on level terms for the title of Iron Brain Champion. Iron Brain mode does not affect prizes in any way.


  • First Prize: A Canon PowerShot SX230 HS digital camera for each team member. RRP A$499.
  • Second Prize: A Canon IXUS 220 HS digital camera for each team member. RRP A$319
  • Third Prize: A Canon replica EF 70-200 mm camera lens insulated mug for each team member. As seen on sites such as Gizmodo and PetaPixel.
  • Only full-time school and university students resident in Australia are eligible for prizes. A team must consist entirely of Australian-resident students to qualify for prizes. Teams containing one or more non-Australian residents and/or non-students are most welcome to compete for glory.
  • Eligibility of winners will be checked before prizes are issued. Documentary evidence of Australian student status may be required. Any team found to be ineligible for prizes will be disqualified and the prize will be awarded to the next highest ranked eligible team.
  • The First Prize will go to the highest ranked eligible team. The Second Prize will go to the next highest ranked eligible team. The Third Prize will go to the next highest ranked eligible team.
  • Iron Brain teams are eligible for prizes under the same conditions as all other teams. There is no special Iron Brain prize.
  • Staff and contractors at CiSRA and their immediate family are ineligible for prizes.

Puzzles and Point Scoring

  • Puzzles will be released on the following schedule:

    Mon 18 Jul, 2011 - Site open for team registration.
    Mon 25 Jul, 2011 - Group 1 puzzles released.
    Mon 08 Aug, 2011 - Puzzle Week begins. Group 2 puzzles released.
    Tue 09 Aug, 2011 - Group 3 puzzles released. Hints released for Groups 1 and 2.
    Wed 10 Aug, 2011 - Group 4 puzzles released. Hints released for Groups 1, 2, 3.
    Thu 11 Aug, 2011 - Group 5 puzzles released. Hints released for Groups 1, 2, 3, 4.
    Fri 12 Aug, 2011 - Hints released for Groups 3, 4, 5.
    Sat 13 Aug, 2011 - Hints released for Groups 4, 5.
    Sun 14 Aug, 2011 - Hints released for Group 5.
    Mon 15 Aug, 2011 - Competition closes. Puzzle solutions released. Provisional prize winners contacted to verify eligibility.

    All events occur at 12:00 noon Australian Eastern Standard Time (2:00 am GMT).

  • There is a total of 20 puzzles that are worth points, released in five Groups of four puzzles each. Teams may attempt to answer all puzzles in each Group.
  • All answers must be submitted to the answer server at Answers submitted by any other means will not be accepted.
  • Answers contain only one or more of the 26 lower case letters a-z. The answer server converts upper case letters to lower case, and removes spaces, numbers, and other characters before checking the answer.
    Example: If an answer is "fortytwo", entering "Forty-Two" will be considered correct, but "42" will be incorrect.
  • For words where spelling differs, we prefer the Australian spelling (which is generally the same as British spelling).
  • There is one canonical correct answer for each puzzle, but in some cases the answer server has been programmed to accept specific variants that solvers might reasonably come up with as a solution. Solvers should not rely on the server accepting variant answers.
    Example: The final step of a puzzle produces the question "Who wrote Hamlet?" The canonical answer might be "shakespeare" but the server might also accept "williamshakespeare". On the other hand, if the puzzle also implies the solution has 11 letters, then only "shakespeare" would be accepted.
  • The puzzles are designed not to be guessable by dictionary attacks or random guessing.
  • The answer server will stop accepting answers at 12:00 noon AEST on the competition closing date listed above. At this point, the solutions to all puzzles will be released, the teams will be ranked, and the provisional winners will be announced.
  • Teams may submit up to 100 (one hundred) answer attempts in total for each Group of puzzles. Once a team has submitted 100 answers for a given Group, no further answers from that team will be accepted for any of the puzzles in the Group. Unused answer attempts do not carry over to any other Group. If a team submits an answer that it has already submitted for the same puzzle, it does not count as a new answer attempt.
    Example: The first Group of puzzles is (1A, 1B, 1C, 1D). If a team has submitted 80 answer attempts for 1A and 20 for 1B, it cannot submit any answers for 1C or 1D.
  • Teams score points by submitting the correct answer to a puzzle. Once a team has submitted the correct answer to a puzzle, it cannot score any more points for that puzzle. All puzzle Groups are worth points, including Group 1.
  • Puzzles are worth points as follows:

    5 points before any hints for that puzzle are released, or for being the first team to solve a puzzle (no matter how many hints have been released),

    4 points after the first hint has been released but before the second hint,

    3 points after the second hint has been released but before the third,

    2 points after the third hint has been released.

    Any metapuzzle (see the FAQ) that is not part of the five puzzle Groups is always worth 0 points.

  • Teams shall be ranked in order as follows:

    1. Highest cumulative point score.

    2. Teams with the same point score are ranked in order from the earliest team to have reached that point total to the most recent, as determined by the timestamps of the submitted answers.


  • The puzzle competition has no bearing on the job application process for potential employee candidates at CiSRA. In particular, entry or high performance in the competition are not requirements for job candidates; neither is interest in employment at CiSRA a requirement for entry in the puzzle competition. Likewise, a low score in the competition won't negatively affect your chances of gaining employment at CiSRA; we understand that many factors might make it difficult to complete a puzzle competition. Details of participants' performance in the competition will not be given to CiSRA's Human Resources department.
  • CiSRA will collect and use participants' details for the purposes of the competition only. Participants can access any personal information that CiSRA collects about them and can request that CiSRA delete this personal information by e-mailing CiSRA.
  • CiSRA takes appropriate precautions to keep name and e-mail address details secure, but the puzzle web server is publicly accessible and therefore there is a small risk of a third party illegally obtaining the data.
  • CiSRA will delete all name and e-mail address records of registered participants' of the Puzzle Competition no later than 2 years after the closing date of the competition.

General Rules

  • Teams may use any references or resources at their disposal, including the Internet.
  • Each team must work independently of other teams. Teams working together will be disqualified.
  • Any team engaging in misconduct or abusing the competition will be disqualified. This includes but is not limited to: spying on other teams, registering an offensive team name, etc.
  • The decisions of the organisers on all matters regarding eligibility and disqualification are final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Teams may send administrative or technical inquiries to Requests for additional puzzle hints or clues will not be answered and may result in disqualification at the discretion of the competition organisers.