Congratulations to 2016 National Champion – Boneless Chicken Cabaret. 

chickens

Please tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Matt H. I’m 39 years old and grew up here in Pittsburgh. I attended North Allegheny and then went to college at Penn State. I graduated from college in 2000 with a degree in secondary education, moved to Washington, DC, and worked as a science teacher for about 10 years. I moved back to Pittsburgh in 2013 and now work remotely for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) based on Arlington, VA. My wife and I have a 7 month old little girl. I spend my free time solving puzzles, playing board games, and performing at the Arcade Comedy Theater.
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What drew you to compete in the Great Puzzle Pursuit?
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I’ve loved puzzles since childhood. About 15 years ago I was introduced to the “puzzle community” by my friend Todd E. We have competed in many puzzle hunts with others on the team “Boneless Chicken Cabaret.” These have included events in San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, DC. Most recently I was part of the 3rd place team at the 2017 MIT Mystery Hunt, Team Left Out. So when I saw a hut right here in Pittsburgh I had to be a part of it. I completed the hunt in 2015 and came back for 2016 (adding Gettysburg and DC to my list of hunts to complete).
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What was most challenging part of the adventure for you?
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The most challenging part was finding the time to work on the puzzles and the actual locations. Many I had to try to solve remotely due to limited time and resources!
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Do you have a method for solving difficult puzzles that your willing to share?
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Nothing special, just keep trying. Like with anything worth doing, you’ll get better at solving the puzzles the more you do it. You’ll start to see patterns or codes that you wouldn’t have noticed until you saw them in another puzzle. So persistence is the key.
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What advice would you give teams this year?
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Try to think like a puzzle maker! If you see something in the puzzle you don’t understand, try to figure out why the designer would have put it in there. And work with others. Sometimes just talking about it out loud can help you find a solution. Good luck!