Geert Pingen @gpgn

Cloud & Machine Learning Engineer, Research Scientist
Waar is de Pinguin 2019


The goal of the race is to find the penguin as quick as possible, together with your team. A series of tasks and puzzles guide the participants along step by step, leading up to reveal the final location of the penguin. Whenever one team has found the solution to a certain task, it will become available to other teams as well with some delay, in order to prevent teams from being stuck on a task indefinitely. The puzzles combine digital with physical components, and provides a great personal outlet to dive into new technology and build engaging puzzle experiences (often with amazing support from friends).

Figure 1. WIDP logo.

Figure 1. WIDP logo.


Participants were randomly grouped into teams, but this was not immediately disclosed. They were first invited to join a live broadcast...


The first challenge of this edition was a live gameshow. In a number of question rounds, participants could call in to give their answers live on air, with special guest performances like Sinterklaas. They would be awarded points for right answers, and have points taken away from them for wrong answers. They could also buy hints, which could be bought with points from their team (without knowing to which they belonged). The questions involved specific personal details such as "What is the combined sum of all participants' brothers and sisters?"). The winning team would receive a head start on the next assignment.

Animal hunt

For this task, teams were challenged to photograph as many different types of animals as possible (excluding birds). For every new type, they would receive a syllable of the answer, which would prompt them to move towards the city of Nijmegen. They would also receive their next assignment.

Word puzzle

This assignment involved a word puzzle that could be completed en route to their next destination: Nijmegen. Teams were given names of participants and needed to identify pubs in people's respective home towns. The puzzle contained 3 answers, that each described a URL shortened link to selfie photographs taken in the inner city.

Selfies in Nijmegen

These selfies were close-ups of famous buildings and landmarks in the city. When teams could identify the landmarks and replicate all of the selfies, they received a video message explaining that they needed to travel onwards to Germany.

Figure 3. Selfies in Nijmegen.

Figure 3. Selfies in Nijmegen.

Since they had to travel to Germany, teams were therefore instructed to definitely check out the german website On that website, participants found an extensive travel photoblog of Pingu, a toy Penguin that is making its way to every corner of the world since 2004. The owner, Michael, was amazingly kind to host a photoshopped image containing the WIDP logo on his website, in an image of Pingu's visit to the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. This of course, was the clue that directed teams to proceed to Cologne.

Figure 4. Wo Ist Der Pinguin Website. Please visit to find more!

Figure 4. Wo Ist Der Pinguin Website. Please visit to find more!

Music round

While en route to Cologne, they would receive their next challenge. A musical task comprised of 4 parts:

Salsaified songs. Perhaps you can guess some. The second one is a Dutch classic.

When answered correctly, teams would find out they needed to head next to a specific location just in front of the Cathedral. Here they could collect an enveloppe with 3 tasks, and a key...


The envelope contained three sub-challenges, as well as a city map. On completing each of these sub-challenges, they would receive a mysterious abstract shapes. These shapes however, were cutouts of geographic areas on the map. When placed at their respective positions and rotated correctly on the city map, teams could identify three locations. These three points could be used to triangulate the final location of this edition of WIDP, a bar in the city centre.

Figure 5. Map of Cologne with geographic shape overlayed.

Figure 5. Map of Cologne with geographic shape overlayed.

A. Train Station

This sub-challenge was a copy of the previous edition's train station challenge. Participants had to answer a number of questions relating to the shops that could be found in and around Cologne central station.

B. Lost in translation

The second sub-challenge involved translating a spoken arabic text. None of the participants spoke Arabic themselves, and had to quickly ask people in the streets for support.

A. Bridge

The third sub-challenge tasked the teams with finding a needle in a haystack. Or rather, a padlock on a bridge of padlocks. The Hohenzollern Bridge, is famously home to hundreds of thousands of padlocks, left there by lovers, family, friends, and puzzle makers. With only a close-up photo to guide their search, participants had to track down and open the lock with the key they had received earlier, to find the final abstract shape.

As mentioned earlier, only when completing all of these 3 sub-tasks would teams be able to progress to the final location.

Figure 6. Left: Close-up that participants received. Right: A small section of the 400m bridge.

Figure 6. Left: Close-up that participants received. Right: A small section of the 400m bridge.


When they arrived, they would be assigned 4 final challenges:

The first challenge was a game of wodka bluff. Each team were given 5 small shot glasses containing clear liquid, which was either water or wodka. One by one, team members had to take a shot without revealing what the contents of the glass were. If other team members were unable to guess correctly, they would unlock a piece of the answer that unlocked the next stage.

The next challenge was a puzzle that consisted of a story in which Gunther, the main character traveled around Cologne using the U-Bahn. If contestants could correctly chart the travel route Gunther took, they could identify a hidden code. This would unlock the final stage.

This final puzzle was a Rubiks cube puzzle, but with a twist. Teams were presented a video that showed only the hands of a person playing with a Rubiks cube. The cube itself was only briefly visible at the start, after which it was occluded by a photo camera. Hands could be seen rotating the Rubiks cube in particular ways, but the state of the Rubiks cube remained hidden. Every so often, the hands would stop to snap a picture with the photo camera. If participants could accurately replicate the rotations shown on the video, and similarly take pictures at the correct moments, each photograph would reveal a letter on the side of the cube - together forming the final code: the name of the beer they had to order at the bar in order to reveal the penguin, and win the game.

Short snippet of a similar challenge from