Sunday 1 January 2023

Allard’s Christmas Puzzle 2022 – the answers…

Happy New Year Puzzlers!

Traditionally I give everyone until the end of the year to submit their answers before I publish what I think the answers are, so I reckon it's about time...

First of all a massive thank you to everyone who had a bash at my puzzle this year – it hadn’t been play-tested and I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to get through it… but a few hours after it got published, I had my first correct entry, so I guess I needn’t have worried too much…

As I write this, I’ve had 7 correct entries, most of which came in on, or fairly soon after, Christmas Day – haven’t you folks got anything better to do!?

Here's what I thought the answers were:

First off you were presented with some rogue underlining in the opening text – if you noted all the underlined letters, you were rewarded with the wonderfully witty “this is not a secret message”… it goes downhill from here…

There were some random encoded phrases floating around the page which ended up saying silly things like “hamsters rule”, “ where is Chico” and “he’s behind you” – I was bored and figured I’d trot out some of the old MPP memes… none of that helped you solve the puzzle.  The “lorem ipsum dolor” in pseudo-plaintext was also my idea of a laugh… I told you it was going downhill.

There were three puzzles numbered [a], [B] and [c] and then some crossword style clues that I’d wittily referred to as Angry-word(s) – did I mention it went downhill?

[a] was a simple set of semaphore letters that decoded to “habe yiu triet llowiny on it? – which is either really sloppy semaphore, or the spelling mistakes are what’s really interesting… hopefully you spotted the similarity to that oft-quoted really helpful phrase to throw at fellow puzzlers “have you tried blowing on it?” – and the spelling mistakes give you “bitly”… which is useful.

[c] is a simple optical trick – stand well back and it clearly says “2022” – look at it closely and it’s a table with bad formatting…

[B] was the puzzle I liked most of all this year – you have some partly coloured-in wreaths (Yay, Christmas activities!) in a three by two arrangement where the [B] is clearly lying on it’s side… so if you had the “B” upright, you’d have a two by three arrangement, and the colours might give you some indication of what was on and what was off … sort of like a Braille letter? Now if only there was some way of knowing what order to read off the Braille letters, this would be simple – and it is when you realise that everybody universally knows the order of the colours on the rainbow – so the Braille decodes to “allard”, e.g. in ROYGBIV, red is used only in top left-hand corner, which gives you an “a”... and so on.

Okay, so you have answers for [a], [B] & [c], now what – in case you hadn’t already figured that out, the Angry-words tell you what to do… the answers in order are: CON, Ca, TEN, eight, ABC – notice the full stop after line 5 – that indicated a break – 6 clued to PUNCTUATE – another full stop, and the final clue was Go For IT! … which then collapses into CONCATENATE ABC. Punctuate. Go For It!

Following those instructions you derive which linked you to the familiar assortment of pictures and some instructions “I want a designer… (not the inspirer).” and “time and titles (at least initially!) are crucial, eh blogger boy?”

You had seven pictures from various blog posts over the years and if you identified the pictures, noted the publication date (clued by time – sorry I went with the slightly misleading “time” for alliteration rather than “date”) and the title of the blog post – and then considered just the first letters of the blog posts, ordered by date, you got “WINENOT” – or with the usual spacing: Wine Not – which if you read the blog post, or Brian’s web page on the puzzle you’d know Brian Young designed it after being inspired by EM Wyatt’s original two dimensional puzzle.(Hopefully that bit confirmed your answer!)

Final answer: Brian Young.

….and the first correct entry arrive in my inbox a little over 4 hours(!) after the puzzle was first published – massive congratulations to Brendan Perez for being the first across the line again this year!!

Not long after him came St Nick, Stefan and The Rammer and after a respectable break we also had correct entries from Mike Q, Chris P and Mike W – well done all of you – you’ve earned bragging rights!

I'll be reaching out to Brendan (our WINNA!) and Mike W (my random draw) very shortly.

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