This is the fourth in a nine part series originally written and published by ePeterso2 as part of his Puzzle Solving 101 Cache Series. Reprinted here with permission of the author. Minor edits have been made by Skottikus to apply this lesson to the Kingston Geocaching Area.
The first nine caches in this series will help you build your puzzle-solving skills. Each one contains a lesson focusing on a specific skill, examples of how to use that skill, an exercise to test that skill, and a cache (in Florida) to find as a reward. Study the lesson, complete the exercise, and you'll find the location of a geocache. Save your answers as they can be used to solve a special remote solver TB from here in Kingston as well!
Hey, did you hear about the funeral for the crossword puzzle editor? He was buried six down and three across.
Word puzzles are one of the most popular types of puzzles in the world today. New ones are published every day in every major newspaper around the world. They appear regularly on television (such as the game shows Lingo and Chain Reaction), on the radio (on NPR programs Weekend Edition Sunday), and all over the internet (just search Google for the phrase "word puzzle").
There are a great many different types of wordplay in the world. Here's a few common types that pop up in puzzles regularly:
A rhyme is a set of words or phrases that end in the same sound. Such as CACHE and DASH.
Homophones and Homographs
A homophone is a set of words that sound the same when spoken aloud but which have different spellings. Such as RIGHT and RITE, and also TO, TOO, and TWO.
A homograph is a set of words that have the same spelling but different sound or meaning. Such as LEAD - it can mean the metallic element or information about a new job.
An acronym is the set of first letters of each word in a name or phrase. For example, "IBM" means "International Business Machines", "NATO" means "North Atlantic Treaty Organization", "SWAT" stands for "Special Weapons And Tactics", and "INTERCAL" means "Computer Language With No Pronounceable Acronym" (seriously).
Watch for acronyms all over the place ... in cache titles, at the beginnings of sentences, and more.
An anagram is a set of words all spelled from the same set of letters. Such as TEA and ATE, or PISTON and POINTS, or CREAMY SCYTHE and MYSTERY CACHE.
A palindrome is a word or phrase that spells the same word when its letters are reversed, such as DAD, RACECAR, SENILE FELINES, SATAN OSCILLATE MY METALLIC SONATAS, and AIBOHPHOBIA (fear of palindromes ... okay, I made that up).
A pun is a deliberate confusion of similar words within a phrase or phrases. Such as "I bearly managed to run away from that grizzly." Or a sign outside a golf course: "Don't drink and drive. Don't even putt."
Here's a few common types of word puzzles you're likely to encounter. Each type has a link to its Wikipedia entry, where you can learn more about that type of puzzle and how to solve it.
With a word search, you are given a list of words or phrases and an arragement of letters. The letters are tyipcally in a grid, although they may be in a shape that fits the theme of the puzzle. Words are arranged in the grid horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. Some word search puzzles have an added bonus - when you have found and circled all of the words, the remaining letters in the grid will spell a mystery word or phrase.
With a word fill-in, you are given an empty grid and a list of words. Your job is to fit all of the words into the grid, one letter per square, using each word exactly once. These are really more logic puzzles than word puzzles.
A cryptogram is a simple substitution cipher - one letter is replaced by exactly one other letter. A ciphertext message is given that includes the spaces and punctuation of the original text. Your job is to figure out what the original message is. Cryptograms and other ciphers will be covered in more detail in another lesson.
An acrostic puzzle consists of a grid and a set of clues. Next to each clue is a list of blanks for writing the answer to that clue, one letter per blank. The blanks are all individually numbered and correspond to spaces in the grid. When you have solved all of the clues and copy all of the letters into their corresponding spaces in the grid, the grid will spell a quotation. If you read the first letter of the answer to each clue in order, it will typically spell the name of the person who gave the quote and possibly the source from which it was taken (usually a book or movie).
A crossword is a word puzzle that normally takes the form of a square grid of black and white squares. The goal is to fill the white squares with letters, forming words or phrases, by solving clues which lead to the answers. The black squares are used to separate the words or phrases. Squares in which answers begin are usually numbered. The clues are then referred to by these numbers and a direction, for example, "4-Across" or "29-Down"
A cryptic crossword is one of the most challenging types of word puzzles. It has the basic structure of a regular crossword puzzle, but each clue is a word puzzle in itself. For instance, a clue in a cryptic might read: 15D Very sad unfinished story about rising smoke (8). The solution is obviously TRAGICAL ... here's how you know:
(I know you figured it out right away, but I had to look that answer up.)
Even the most avid puzzle-headed weenies get stuck sometimes. Here's some resources that such folks use to break through those roadblocks. This is far from an exhaustive list, but it should be a good basis to get you unstuck and on your way to the solution.
Think you paid attention in class? Try Exercise 4 found at GCYXZ4 Puzzle Solving 101 - Lesson 4: Wordplay.
Save your answer...it will be important later...