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UPDATE: It's been a day, so let's open this up to any interested solvers.

A recent Connect Wall I wrote seemed to attract some interest from newer solvers, so I'm putting together a few of these puzzles to provide a gentler introduction to this puzzle type.

A Connect Wall is a set of sixteen words/proper nouns/phrases which can be broken into four groups of four related items, where the relationship can be described by another word/proper noun/phrase. The four items defining the relations are themselves related, and that relation is defined by a single word/proper noun/phrase as well. Stiv's excellent post provides more information about these puzzles. Good luck!

+------------+------------+------------+------------+
|  BELGIEN   |    CANE    |   CRITIC   |    DATE    |
+------------+------------+------------+------------+
|    DINE    |   ERSATZ   | FRANKREICH |    GRAM    |
+------------+------------+------------+------------+
|   LOGIC    |  OVERSAW   |    PER     |  PORTUGAL  |
+------------+------------+------------+------------+
|  REVERSAL  |  RUSSLAND  |     TA     | VERSATILE  |
+------------+------------+------------+------------+
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The groups are

BELGIEN, FRANKREICH, RUSSLAND, PORTUGAL: the German names of four European countries
ERSATZ, OVERSAW, REVRESAL, VERSATILE: four things with ERSA as substring
CRITIC, GRAM, LOGIC, PER: four things that can come after DIA to make words
CANE, DATE, DINE, TA: four things that can come after IO to make words

with the proviso that

IOCANE isn't really a word outside The Princess Bride. (I know, it's inconceivable.)

And now the final answer is

EUROPA

which is

the German word for Europe

and also,

like DIA, ERSA and IO, the name of a moon of Jupiter (and, not coincidentally, like them a Greek mythological figure associated with Zeus).

The title

is presumably because TITAN is also a moon (albeit of Saturn rather than Jupiter) and the title of a number of beings in Greek mythology.


Since this was kinda supposed to be educational, here are a few notes on the solution process for newish solvers, and some comments for the author.

The first thing that jumps out at me is that BELGIEN, FRANKREICH and RUSSLAND are all German country names. PORTUGAL might be but of course it's also the English name. ERSATZ isn't a country name but is also a German word. So, first question: is PORTUGAL also the German name for that country? It turns out that it is. This gives us a pretty plausible group of four. Of course the puzzle creator could be playing with us and trying to mislead, but this is explicitly billed as a relatively straightforward puzzle so probably not.

Now

looking over the remaining words, I notice two things. One is that a lot of them are rather short. PER and TA are especially suspicious. It seems likely that these are prefixes or suffixes of something somehow. What about the longer ones? In descending order of length we have VERSATILE, REVERSAL (hmm, those are interestingly similar-sounding), OVERSAW (wait, do they all have VERSA in?) and ERSATZ (hmm, not all VERSA or even VERS -- but all have ERSA). That seems likely to be another group of four, especially as the ones it leaves are all nice short words likely to be prefixes or suffixes. It's not clear how "they all contain ERSA" is going to end up having anything in common with "German country names", but no matter; perhaps everything will become clear later.

At this point

we have CANE, CRITIC, DATE, DINE, GRAM, LOGIC, PER, TA, and I am strongly suspecting that they will turn out to be prefixes or suffixes of a couple of things. DATE and DINE sure look like suffixes, for instance. I spent a while trying to think what might go in front of some of these and I confess I didn't find anything convincing, so I turned to computerized help. The excellent tool Qat can answer questions like "find me something that's a prefix of both DINE and DATE" (you put in "Adine;Adate") but I felt that was a bit too cheaty, so what I actually did was to look for words ending in individual words from the list and scan them by eye looking for promising prefixes. When I was looking for "*gram" and saw DIAGRAM, it hit me that DIAPER was also a word -- ah, and DIACRITIC and DIALOGIC, not that the latter is at all common.

So now

we have three of the four groups, and if we haven't made some unfortunate guesses the last group is CANE, DATE, DINE, TA. If you are fortunate enough not to consider CANE first, it's not hard to spot IO- even without electronic help.

At this point we have

German names of European countries; -ERSA-; DIA-; IO-. Well, the German for Europe is EUROPA and that and IO are both moons of, errrm, I think Jupiter. (Check? Yup.) But what the hell are ERSA and DIA? Find their Wikipedia disambiguation pages ... and, lo, it turns out that both of these are also moons of Jupiter. So EUROPA is connected to them all and we're done.

So, was there a reason beyond bad luck why this didn't get solved by a less-experienced solver in the first day? Where were the difficult points?

I personally found that even when I was sure I wanted prefixes for the short words, my brain was not good at finding them. Maybe that's just me, but I'm guessing it's just genuinely a bit tricky. I think CANE was a bit of a low blow, since IOCANE is not really a word and (alas) not everyone has seen The Princess Bride. And, for the final step, maybe I'm just ignorant but I had never heard of ERSA and DIA either as mythological figures or as Jovian moons. I guess they're relatively obscure.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well done! I especially like the detailed explanation...really hits the spirit I was trying to get at with these puzzles. Your answer is essentially correct, but in my mind the connecting word for the first group is rot13(rhebcn), for all the same reasons you suggest, and then the final connection was rot13(whcvgre). I wanted to make this one a bit different from my previous ones. And your point re: rot13(vbpnar) is well-taken, but honestly that was the inspiration for the puzzle so I couldn't take it out :-) Thanks for your great answer! $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Aug 26 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, interesting that one can arrange the conections in those slightly different ways. I think I do like yours better than mine. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Aug 27 at 9:04

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