Five Winners Announced In Two-Year-Old Riddle Contest
CHICAGO (AP) _ This one, my dear Watson, was not elementary.
It took computers and calculators, hundreds of hours of research and a bit of luck.
The payoff came Wednesday. Five men were proclaimed winners in the ″Mind Game″ riddle contest, a brain-teasing publicity stunt launched two years ago by the Museum of Science and Industry to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
The winners will share a $10,000 cash prize as well as the satisfaction of beating Dr. Crypton, the man who created the riddles.
The five were among 1,200 registered participants who scoured the museum’s halls and walls in search of answers to the brain-draining contest.
More than 13,000 entries were submitted. About half came from the winners, announced at a news conference by a masked Dr. Crypton, alias Paul Hoffman, puzzle editor for Science Digest magazine.
″It’s like any type of obsession,″ said winner Jack Eilrich of suburban Maywood, a hospital auditor who estimated he spent up to 600 hours on research and submitted more than 3,000 entries.
″It’s like going to the racetrack,″ he said. ″The first day (at the museum) I found a correct answer and I was hooked.″
But it wasn’t easy going. Eilrich said he spent three days in the library researching the 1933 world’s fair, only to discover it had nothing to do with the riddle he was trying to solve.
Sometimes contestants traded answers. Others relied on computers.
The Rev. Gregory Holicky, of Gary, Ind., said he ran his riddle research data through a computer and came out with 137,000 combinations of answers. He also submitted more than 3,000 entries.
Originally, the contest consisted of 20 brain-teasers. But when the months dragged on without a winner, the museum provided more clues to the riddles.
Three riddles were eliminated because exhibits were removed.
Some riddles were fairly simple. One said, ″Meet The Mind. He likes to loiter. How many of him can you reconnoiter?″
The riddle included a Mind Game symbol and contestants had to count all of them in the museum - including one on a doll’s hand and another on a water tower in a model train exhibit, which could only be spotted from the balcony.
Others took more knowledge. One said, ″The fairy castle is in the wrong place?″ The answer was in Colleen Moore Hargrave’s dollhouse, which has a room with a chess set the size of a matchbook in which the positions of the rook and the knight are reversed.
Another riddle led to the answer 951 - which contestants had to figure out was the number of holes in a light fixture above a door to the main cafeteria.
Museum officials said about 85 serious players participated in the contest. The sponsors were Swift & Co., provider of $5,000 in gold coins, and IBM, which donated a computer and software worth $5,000, which will be sold and the cash will be divided among the winners.
Other winners were Robert McNealey, Stephen Blake, and Ralph Kayser, all of Chicago.
″It was a stubborn streak that kept us going,″ McNealey said. But, he added, ″It’ll take 50 years before I’ll go back (to the museum).″