Worldwide search for solution to States List Puzzle
First posted 2 November 2002 at 0124 GMT
Last updated 15 March 2003 at 2253 GMT
REDMOND, Washington — For almost two years, researchers around the
world have searched for a solution to the States List Puzzle. In January, 2001, a Microsoft group manager
issued a challenge to his staff. In order to raise money for
charity, the manager offered a prize to the first person to solve the
States List Puzzle; to participate, the manager collected a one dollar contribution to charity for
The States List Puzzle requires the solution to an ordered list of the U.S.
states. The correct solution will be the completion of a simple
sentence, "This is the order in which <blank>." The challenge to solve the puzzle
is to uncover the reason that the states are listed in the order.
The puzzle began in January, 2001, when the first state on the list, Delaware,
was revealed. Since then, the names of the next states on
the list have been added, one state every month. A new state name will be
added to the list until the puzzle is solved. To solve the puzzle, someone must provide
the correct reason for the order of the states.
Here is an overview of the puzzle.
The purpose of the puzzle is to raise funds for charity.
The puzzle was developed by a Microsoft group manager and distributed
as an office puzzle. The list of states was posted on the office
bulletin board. Anyone who had a guess would put one dollar into the
pot, and the puzzle creator would confirm whether or not the guess was
correct (thus far, no one has guessed the right answer). All money
paid into the pot, without any deduction, is contributed to charity.
Since the puzzle has spread beyond the office bulletin board, the
Internet and email will be used to achieve the charitable purpose of the
puzzle. Participants are requested to make contributions to the
charity for participating in the puzzle.
Here is an explanation of the charity.
The puzzle is open to participation by everyone, including
researchers, students, web surfers and others.
Participants may register by form or email.
Here is information about participation.
Around the first of each month, the puzzle creator will post the name of
the next state on the list.
In addition to the list of state names, there is an animation of the
list, which shows the states in the order in which they appear on the
list. Red means the most recent addition, and green shows the
Here is the latest information on the list of
In addition to the state names that are on the list, there are
several major clues that have been given by the puzzle creator.
Information about the clues is available here.
Since January, 2001, many participants have attempted to solve the
puzzle, but none yet has been successful. When the puzzle was
confined to the office staff, the participants usually knew which
theories had been explored and which guesses had been made.
Registered participants will have access to the various clues that
have been provided by the puzzle creator.
Information about the many previous
(incorrect) guesses is available here.
All researchers, students, and those who love a challenge are invited
to register and join the worldwide community of those who are searching
for the solution to the States List Puzzle.
Here is information about how to participate in the States List Puzzle