# The Origins

(The MindKam Challenge and hacks are below)

As a teenager in the 1980s, I hung out high up on an embankment under Archway Bridge, North London.

There wasn’t the safety fencing as there is today. (Way to ruin it for everyone, jumpers.) Kids would come and go. Some would gamble, throwing coins against the back wall. Others would pick up lumps of sun-dried mud and smash them against the carriageway 20 feet below, trying to get as close to a car as possible without hitting one. Me? I would take root, sitting in an old car seat, looking down.

Most of the time, it was just me under the bridge, ‘The Traffic Troll’ — a name creatively spat out by a pain-of-a-kid after I confronted him and told him where he could go and do. I didn’t welcome the soil that he tried to put down the neck of my jumper.

Alone was fine. I had my little secret code game to keep me busy. The game started with me digital-rooting the numbers on the vehicle registration plates of passing cars and lorries. Example ‘567’ 5+6+7=18 1+8=9 the DR is 9

Once I learnt a few hacks, the game became too easy. I could get every car that passed. UK number plates had too many letters and not enough numbers. This fact created my Eureka moment. I started including the letters in the digital root game based on their place in the alphabet. This created Letter Roots.

A=1… Z=8 (Z=26 is 2+6=8)

A few hacks and a few days later, this new level became easy also. However, I did not get every plate that passed from then on. Next, I would Letter Root the words advertised on lorries and find their Word Root. Then I Started Word Rooting the things around me like BRIDGE. And that’s where progress in my coded game originally settled. It was simply perfect as is. Yes, I tweaked it every now and again, but nothing new for almost forty years.

# The Impossible Challenge

Based on the digital root game, I created a challenge I have often completed with increased speed and accuracy. In September 2023, I found myself leaning on my digital root games during a lengthy period of unemployment. They helped steer the old noggin in a clear and brighter direction. The challenge that came from this intense time was the MindKam Challenge.

It’s called MindKam because it had to have a name. I decided to have ‘mind’; that’s obvious why, and Kam, as KAM are my sons’ initials.

The twenty rows contain 188 digits, and a further 20 digits are created during the test to find the Last Root Standing. Finding the answers to the twenty rows can take over twenty minutes without any hacks. Once armed with the right mind tools, this can be reduced to a tense nine minutes. Subject to penalties, nine minutes or less can jump climb up to double digits once more.

However, as I have been playing my secret code game forever, and despite my brain starting to go with age and other issues, I believe someone out there could complete this 188+20-character test in under 90 seconds.

After one attempt, a newbie took 22 mins and 12.03 secs before penalties. Only to fail as they had more than the allowed five rows wrong (twelve rows wrong)

People have incredible brains. After bringing my game back to life after forty years and creating this new challenge, I want to find that person who can crush 90 seconds.

# MindKam Challenge Training

Since February 2024, I have published four puzzle books to boost the uptake of the games and find the first-ever Knight of MindKam.

Book number 2, the Last Root Standing edition, was designed to train, test, and root out this unknown champion of the MindKam Challenge. The other books are full of various digital root puzzles.

# Try for Yourself (Are You the MindKam Knight)

Firstly, let’s look at the hacks. When I produce a competition MindKam Challenge, the digits are random. 1 to 9 and A to Z, no zeros.

Important — Pen and paper allowed.

Regardless of how you choose to attack the challenge, as there are numerous ways, you will want to know the following:

Hack 1- Forget the nines, they change nothing. Let them be. Here’s why.

Take the number 13456. DR is 1 (1+3+4+5+6=19 1+9=10 1+0=1). Now add nine or ninety or ninety-nine to it. We will do ninety-nine.
13456+99=13555 1+3+5+5+5=19 1+9=10 1+0=1. No difference to the outcome. This is also the same if we removed 99. 13357 DR is 1.

Another way to test this. Put 99 on the end 1345699.
1+3+4+5+6+9+9=37 3+7=10 1+0=1. No change

Hack 2- Forget including groups of numbers that equal nine.

Back to our example 13456. Forget 1,3 and 5 (1+3+5=9). now 4+6=10 1+0=1
Better still, remove 3 and 6 (which is nine), then 4 and 5. We only have 1 left and our answer.

Hack 3- Treat I and R as nines.

Hack 4- As for hack 2. but do the same for letters. For example H(8) and S(1). Together forget them. Take SHIP. Forget SH. Forget I(Hack 3) and you only need to concern yourself with P which is 7. DR of SHIP is 7.

Hack 5 — This is the last one, but there are more. If you are calculating as you go, when you meet an 8, H, Q or Z, just subtract 1 from your running total.

Done…

# Challenges to Try.

I have shared a lot about the MindKam Challenge. Here are two to try out for yourself. Feel free to contact me with your results at www.mindkam.com where I will display the answers soon.

Next, I will talk about finding words from Letter roots. See ya!

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Now in my 50s, I am trying to bring together a community of puzzlers to see if anyone can be trained to crack my Challenge. It's like finding Roger Bannister.