Missing This Year’s Indie 500 Crossword Tournament…

Originally, this post was scheduled to hype up the return of one of the most inventive and enjoyable crossword tournaments in recent memory, the Indie 500.

Scheduled for June 6th, the sixth annual edition of the tournament would have featured clever clues, some dynamite puzzles, and pie. (There’s always pie.)

Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has scuppered many events large and small over the last few months. Crossword fans missed out on the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament back in March, though many of them — 1,815 solvers! — enjoyed the wonderful Crossword Tournament From Your Couch event that was organized in its stead.

The organizers of the Indie 500 posted back in March that they were working on a solve-at-home event to be held this summer, but as of this posting, no further details have emerged.

But do not fret. If you’re looking for some puzzly challenges to dive into over the weekend, the Indie 500 team have made the tournament puzzle packs for ALL FIVE previous tournaments available for free on their website, which is an incredibly generous and kind gesture.

And if you’re looking to get a sense of what sort of challenges and delights the tournament has to offer, we have write-ups covering each of the five previous editions of the tournament for you to check out.

Here’s hoping we still get to indulge in some fresh Indie 500 treats this summer. It truly has become one of the highlights of the puzzly calendar, one that I look forward to every year.


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A Conway Puzzle Solution (And Some Hints for the Other Puzzle)

John_H_Conway_2005_(cropped)

Two weeks ago, in honor of mathematician and puzzly spirit John Horton Conway, we shared two of his favorite brain teasers and challenged our fellow PuzzleNationers.

So today, we happily share the solution for puzzle #1, The Miracle Builders.

I had a window in the north wall of my house. It was a perfect square, 1 meter wide and 1 meter high. But this window never let in enough light. So I hired this firm, the Miracle Builders, who performed the impossible. They remodeled the window so it let in more light. When when they’d finished the window was a perfect square, 1 meter high and 1 meter wide.

How did they do it?

Both windows are perfect squares, 1 meter wide and 1 meter high. So how can there be a difference in the amount of light?

The trick of this puzzle is in the description. Although the original window was a perfect square, the dimensions of the square aren’t 1 meter by 1 meter. No, it was a square placed like a diamond, with one corner directly above its opposite. So the 1 meter dimensions were the diagonals, not the sides.

All the Miracle Builders had to do was build a square window in the usual arrangement (two sides horizontal, two sides vertical) with dimensions of 1 meter by 1 meter. That creates a larger window (with a diagonal of √2m) and allows more light.

Very tricky indeed.


We had several solvers who successfully cracked the Miracle Builders puzzle, but there was less success with puzzle #2, The Ten Divisibilities.

So, in addition to the original puzzle, we’re going to post some solving hints for those intrepid solvers who want another crack at the puzzle.

The Ten Divisibilities

I have a ten digit number, abcdefghij. Each of the digits is different, and:

  • a is divisible by 1
  • ab is divisible by 2
  • abc is divisible by 3
  • abcd is divisible by 4
  • abcde is divisible by 5
  • abcdef is divisible by 6
  • abcdefg is divisible by 7
  • abcdefgh is divisible by 8
  • abcdefghi is divisible by 9
  • abcdefghij is divisible by 10

What’s my number?

[To clarify: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, and j are all single digits. Each digit from 0 to 9 is represented by exactly one letter. The number abcdefghij is a ten-digit number whose first digit is a, second digit is b, and so on. It does not mean that you multiply a x b x c x…]

Here’s a few hints that should help whittle down the possibilities for any frustrated solvers:

-If you add all the digits in a number, and the total is divisible by 3, then that number is also divisible by 3.
-If the last two digits of a number are divisible by 4, then that number is divisible by 4.
-If the last three digits of a number are divisible by 8, then that number is divisible by 8.

Good luck, and happy puzzling!


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A Two-For-One Visual Puzzle

Given the technology available to us — be it Photoshop or other visual manipulation software — there is truly no end to what we can create.

An Instagram account called morphy_me is doing something interesting with celebrity photos. The artist, credited only as Benji, merges elements of both celebrities, somehow creating an image that is reminiscent of both, and yet feels strangely new.

For example, this is a combination of Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt:

benji 0

It’s an intriguing approach that has garnered the account over 100,000 followers. It’s also something of a puzzly challenge sometimes to figure out who the two celebrities are that have been merged.

Can you puzzle out the 15 pairs of celebrities that have been combined in these images by Benji?


#1

benji 1

#2

benji 2

#3

benji 3

#4

benji 4

#5

benji 5

#6

benji 6

#7

benji 7

#8

benji 8

#9

benji 9

#10

benji 10

#11

benji 11

#12

benji 12

#13

benji 13

#14

benji 14

#15

benji 15


How many did you get, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you!

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Two Brain Teasers, Courtesy of Conway

John_H_Conway_2005_(cropped)

Last week, we penned a post celebrating the life and puzzly legacy of mathematician John Horton Conway, and several of our fellow PuzzleNationers reached out with their own thoughts or questions about Conway.

One recurring subject was about his love of puzzles and what kind of puzzles he enjoyed solving. So, naturally, I went hunting for some of Conway’s favorite puzzles.

As it turns out, Alex Bellos of The Guardian had me covered. Alex has a recurring puzzle feature on The Guardian‘s website where brain teasers and other mental trickery awaits intrepid solvers.

Years ago, Alex had asked Conway for suggestions for his column, and Conway offered up two tricky puzzles.

And now, I happily share them with you.


#1: The Miracle Builders

I had a window in the north wall of my house. It was a perfect square, 1 meter wide and 1 meter high. But this window never let in enough light. So I hired this firm, the Miracle Builders, who performed the impossible. They remodeled the window so it let in more light. When when they’d finished the window was a perfect square, 1 meter high and 1 meter wide.

How did they do it?


#2: The Ten Divisibilities

I have a ten digit number, abcdefghij. Each of the digits is different.

The following is also true:

  • a is divisible by 1
  • ab is divisible by 2
  • abc is divisible by 3
  • abcd is divisible by 4
  • abcde is divisible by 5
  • abcdef is divisible by 6
  • abcdefg is divisible by 7
  • abcdefgh is divisible by 8
  • abcdefghi is divisible by 9
  • abcdefghij is divisible by 10

What’s my number?

[To clarify: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, and j are all single digits. Each digit from 0 to 9 is represented by exactly one letter. The number abcdefghij is a ten-digit number whose first digit is a, second digit is b, and so on. It does not mean that you multiply a x b x c x…]


Did you solve one or both of these fiendish mind ticklers? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.

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Here We Come A-Wassailing, With Some Reworded Carols!

village-carolers

[Image courtesy of The Sun Papers.]

A few years ago, I posted a holiday puzzle that had been floating around the Internet for years. It was a list of Christmas songs and carols whose titles had been reworded, and it was up to the reader to identify the actual titles.

It was a popular post, but something about the list always bothered me. There were 21 reworded titles, which didn’t strike me as very Christmassy at all. I mean, why not 12? Or 24? Or, heck, 25?

So, I did something about it. I added 10 new reworded titles to the list, bringing the total to 31, one for every day in December. Let’s see how many PuzzleNationers can crack all 31 titles, shall we? Enjoy!


1.) Move hitherward the entire assembly of those who are loyal in their belief.

2.) Listen, the celestial messengers produce harmonious sounds.

3.) Proceed forth declaring upon a specific geological alpine formation.

4.) Nocturnal timespan of unbroken quietness.

5.) Embellish the interior passageways.

6.) An emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good given to the terrestial sphere.

7.) Twelve o’clock on a clement night witnessed its arrival.

8.) The Christmas preceding all others.

9.) Small municipality in Judea southeast of Jerusalem.

10.) In a distant location the existence of an improvised unit of newborn children’s slumber furnishings.

11.) Tintinnabulation of vacillating pendulums in inverted, metallic, resonant cups.

12.) The first person nominative plural of a triumvirate of far eastern heads of state.

13.) Geographic state of fantasy during the season of Mother Nature’s dormancy.

14.) In awe of the nocturnal timespan characterized by religiosity.

15.) Natal celebration devoid of color, rather albino, as an hallucinatory phenomenon for me.

16.) Expectation of arrival to populated areas by mythical, masculine perennial gift-giver.

17.) Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of frozen minute crystals.

18.) Tranquility upon the terrestial sphere.

19.) Omnipotent supreme being who elicits respite to ecstatic distinguished males.

20.) Diminutive masculine master of skin-covered percussionistic cylinders.

21.) Jovial Yuletide desired for the second person singular or plural by us.

22.) Allow winter precipitation in the form of atmospheric water vapor in crystalline form to descend.

23.) A first-person observer witnessed a female progenitor engaging in osculation with a hirsute nocturnal intruder.

24.) Your continued presence remains the sole Yuletide request of the speaker in question.

25.) Permanent domicile during multiple specific celebratory periods.

26.) Diminutive person regarded as holy or virtuous known by the informal moniker shared by two former Russian tsars.

27.) More than a passing resemblance to an annual winter festival is emerging.

28.) Are you registering the same auditory phenomenon I am currently experiencing?

29.) Overhead at the summit of the suburban residence.

30.) Attractive or otherwise visually pleasing wood pulp product.

31.) Parasitic European shrub accompanied by a plant with prickly green leaves and baccate qualities.


How many did you unravel, fellow puzzlers? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you!

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Riddles, Riddles Everywhere!

I’ve had riddles on the brain recently, because I keep seeing them everywhere. Over the last few weeks, they’ve popped up in games, TV shows, books, and even emails to the blog.

It all started with our twice-monthly office D&D game. Every other Thursday, a group of us commandeers one of the conference rooms at lunchtime and enjoys an hour of dice-fueled storytelling, adventure, and fun.

As is often the case with a fantasy-inspired game, there was a river to cross and a riddle to answer in order to pass.

A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in a year. Which room is safest for him?

This is a classic riddle, usually titled “Three Doors” or “The Murderer’s Riddle.”

lionriddle-1

And when you’ve got a team of puzzle solvers in your D&D group, this riddle is no challenge at all.

(If you’re curious about the solution, you pick door #3. After a year of not eating, the lions would be dead, so it would be safe to enter that room.)

Later on in the game, we again had to barter passage across a body of water, either answering a riddle or battling a demon to the death.

Naturally, we chose the riddle.

What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?

This is another classic riddle — the Riddle of the Sphinx, most famously solved by Oedipus — and posed no challenge to our merry band of misfit adventurers.

(If you don’t know this one, the answer is “man,” since you walk on four legs as a child, aka crawling, two legs as an adult, and with a cane when you’re older. The day — morning, noon, and evening — represents a lifetime.)

We crossed the lake, and our adventure continued, and I thought I was done with riddles for a bit.

Then a few days later, I got caught up on the latest season of MTV’s The Challenge, a reality/competition game show. (I’ve written about some of their puzzly challenges in the past.)

And, wouldn’t you know it, this week’s challenge involved a riddle.

wotwriddle3

Both teams would start on this platform, sending pairs of swimmers out on a long swim to retrieve keys. Those four keys would then open both a chest full of letter tiles and a riddle to be solved. The first team to solve the riddle with the letters available would win the challenge.

Once all the drama of selecting partners — given that many of the players weren’t strong swimmers, and the slowest-swimming team would be eliminated from the game — there was plenty of tension to be had.

But finally, all four keys were retrieved by the teams, and the riddle revealed:

wotwriddle1

I am a 5 letter word.

I am normally below you.

If you remove my 1st letter, you’ll find me above you.

If you remove my 1st and 2nd letters, you can’t see me.

The teams were initially baffled, playing around with different words and various combinations of letter tiles in the hopes that it would spark something.

wotwriddle2

Eventually, competitor Ashley came up with a three-letter word that you couldn’t see — AIR — and her team quickly came up with the correct answer: CHAIR.

(A chair is normally below you, hair is above you (sorta), and air can’t be seen.)

So, three riddles in a matter of days. It’s officially a pattern. And so far, I’m three for three on solving these riddles.

A week or so later, though, yet another riddle arrived, this time by email. And I admit, I’m a little stumped.

What has a bell but isn’t a church. Is full of air but is not a balloon?

What do you think, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Any ideas? Let me know in the comments section below. I have a few theories, but nothing that feels like a conclusive answer.


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