GC to update day-of-game.
Team arrives at a climbing wall and is greeted by a staff member. That staff member introduces themselves as the climbing certification tester, and gives them the rules for taking the climbing test (see data section for the complete instructions). What follows is a kind of talking bastard puzzle. One team member will attempt to climb the wall while others watch. At any point the climber can stop to perform a "maneuver." The staff member will tell them they can do this 3-5 times during a single climb (number depends on the height of the wall). The staff member on the ground will tell them if they violate any rules while attempting a maneuver, and, if they completed a maneuver successfully, how many points are earned. Figuring out through trial and error what constitutes and a successful maneuver and what the points actually mean is the puzzle.
According to the instructions given to the players, a "maneuver" starts with a climber assuming a position on the wall and then asking tester if they can proceed. If they have not violated any rules already, they are told to proceed, otherwise they are told what rule they have violated. If climber is told to proceed, the climber can then move however they want, and when they are finished moving they tell the tester that they are finished, freezing in their final position. The tester then tells them about any rules they violated, and, if they haven't violated any, gives them the score for their maneuver.
Each successful maneuver tells the players one letter in the final answer. A "maneuver" is successful if the climber starts with both hands and both feet on holds on the wall with the arms extended straight out to form any semaphore letter. Once told to proceed from there, they should only move one arm. Once the climber has finished moving that arm, they should end up in with arms extended straight out forming a different semaphore letter. The letter from the first position should be earlier in the alphabet than the letter in the final position. The difference in position in the alphabet between the last and first letters is the index of one letter in the final answer. The score given by the tester is the index into the alphabet of that letter in the final answer.
For example: the climber assumes the semaphore position for the letter A while on the wall. They then move one hand to another hold, and end up in the semaphore position for C. C is the 3rd letter of the alphabet whereas A is the 1st. The difference between those indices is 2 (3-1=2). So, the score that that the tester is about to give them will correspond to the 2nd letter in the final answer. The tester will tell them that they scored 16 points. P is the sixteenth letter of the alphabet, so the climbers can now know that the 2nd letter of the final answer is P.
Whenever a climber attempting a maneuver makes an error that violates one of the rules, the staff member on the ground serving as the test proctor stops them, telling them that the attempt failed and the name of the error that the climber made. The climber must then climb higher in order to make another attempt at a maneuver. The names of the errors are designed to be a little cryptic while at the same time guiding the players into figuring out how rules for performing successful maneuvers. The list of errors used by staff members serving as proctors is included in the data section of this document.
Once the players understand that each maneuver tells them one letter in the final answer and how to do a successful maneuver, the puzzle becomes about finding pairs of letters that are the appropriate distance apart for each index in the final answer and whose semaphore shapes overlap on exactly one arm. Then the players have a climber find spots on the wall for each pair where the appropriate holds exist for the climber to perform the maneuver for that pair as described above. Doing this, the team can spell out the entire final answer.
Teams can have trouble in the following areas:
Understanding that the starting and ending positions of maneuvers are supposed to be semaphores or why the tester is giving them errors that involve the "signal" being wrong.
- Players that are told that "signal" is wrong when they aren't in a semaphore position. It is either "invalid" (they are not in a semaphore position) or "unclear" (the proctor cannot tell which semaphore that they mean). Ask players what errors they are receiving, and when they mention errors involving "signals" hint towards semaphore: You mentioned "signal" errors, could that word be important? Are there encodings used for signaling? Do any of them involve arm positions?
Understanding that two different semaphores are involved in each maneuver
- Sometimes players understand that semaphore is involved, but not that they are supposed to be moving from one semaphore position to another. Maybe they start in a semaphore position and then try and do something else. Maybe they think the entire maneuver should create a single semaphore. Hint towards there being two semaphores in each maneuver: You said semaphore and that sounds good. What kind of errors are you getting from the proctor? [They say something about signals]. When do you get these errors? [Before and after each maneuver] So your starting position is a "signal" that could be wrong? And so is your ending position? Maybe there are two different signals here? That you have to connect?
Performing the maneuvers once they understand what they are doing
- Once players understand what is happening, sometimes they make it too hard on themselves. Some of the semaphore positions are hard to stay in. For example, A involves holding both hands beneath your waste a different angles, which makes it hard to hold onto the wall. However, there exist pairs of letters in each index of the letter with semaphores that are easy to make while climbing. If it sounds like the players are having difficulty actually making the semaphore positions, suggest that they try looking for semaphores that are easier to make on the wall and starting from those.
Grading Sheet used by Proctors
Please note: "Difficulty" is the in puzzle vocabulary used to refer to the difference between the alphabet indices of the letter for the final semaphore in a maneuver and the letter for the first semaphore. The "difficulty" of a maneuver is the therefore also the index into the final answer.
These errors are evaluated at both the start and end positions of a maneuver
Unstable Position: both feet should be on holds, both hands should be gripping holds or the defined side/top edge of the wall (should that exist).
Lack of Extension: arms are not mostly straight (use your best judgment, arms should be straight enough that you could recognize a flag semaphore if they were positioned properly)
Invalid Signal: arms not in a recognizable semaphore position
Unclear signal: arms could be in one or more recognizable semaphore positions, but it's hard to tell which one exactly
These errors are evaluated when a person moves from one position to another
Movement Too Complex: more than one hand was moved.
No Maneuver Performed: no hands were moved.
These errors are evaluates when the difficulty of the maneuver is being calculated.
Difficulty Decreased: the value indicated by the ending semaphore position is less than the value indicated by the starting semaphore position (i.e. the second semaphore letter is earlier in the alphabet than the first)
Too Difficult: the difference in the semaphore values is greater than 9. (i.e. the distance between the two letters in the alphabet is greater than 9)
After a maneuver is completed without an position or movement errors, calculate difficulty of the maneuver by subtracting the value of the starting semaphore from the value of the ending semaphore.
Award these points based on the difficulty of the maneuver if there were no errors.