How did you beat Peffers' team? Did you simply start the computation sooner, or did you reach some insight that eluded them?
"In mid-March, the group began to run an algorithm" ... "FPGA was about 10 times faster than a high-end commercial CPU running non-optimized software. Based on the chip’s computing efficiency" they "calculated that they would have the correct solution" "on the evening of May 10, just two months after they started the calculation. Yet when they reached out to MIT to let them know a solution was imminent, Rivest informed them that Fabrot had beaten them to the punch."
We read here that he started end of 2015! Rivest believed at the time he constructed the puzzle, almost 20 years ago, that he has constructed the puzzle that would keep the vault locked until 2034, based on his expectations then of the increase of the computing speed. Obviously, predicting the developments of 35 years is not so easy, and the single-CPU computer speeds did improve faster. Anyway...
I’d really like to know about those! Any links?
No disrespect intended to that team. It's an impressive accomplishment, and they're the ones who can publish in a journal for all due academic credit.
However, it also depends on what you value. Sometimes for some problems crossing the finish line first is winning, or seems able to simply allow the worlds technical advances to compound faster than more novel approaches whose future utility is unknown.
During all those years one person stopped to think about the goal in the most optimal way and ask, what's really the simplest solution here? Is custom hardware the only practical way? Everyone was allowed to think about implementation costs.
In other words, the most impressive part is what was not done. Great work.