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An entry in Fortnightly Topic Challenge #49: Pub Quiz Camouflage


After a long day at the office with little to show for it, an evening at The Badger and Biscuit (his favourite pub) was exactly what Sergeant Sequence needed to unwind. Plus, Monday night was 'KWIZ NITE' (as the owners insisted on spelling it), which was always good fun, if a little pop-culture-heavy at times.

Sequence had known the barman (known to all as 'Lando') for many years - and certainly well enough to realise from Lando's cagey, almost distant greeting on his arrival at the bar that something was wrong. With a silent nod, Sequence returned to his quiz team at their table in the corner of the pub, drinks in hand, and waited for the signal...

Lando and Sergeant Sequence had established their emergency protocol many years earlier, and only ever had to use it two or three times. On one occasion the secret code had entirely passed the sergeant by (and an opportunity to arrest his nemesis - Patrick Terne - along with it), but tonight he was alert and ready for it. The last 20 questions of the evening's quiz - that was always where the coded message lurked. And sure enough, come the end of the quiz, Sequence gazed down at the answers on his paper and spotted Lando's concealed warning.

(Thanks to Lando's tip-off, Sergeant Sequence returned to the station after work and mobilised his team. Within the hour, a known associate of Patrick Terne was taken into custody, arrested before a planned assassination attempt on the sergeant's life could be made.)

TASK: Answer the last 20 questions of the evening's quiz and find Lando's concealed message for Sergeant Sequence. (Please try to complete as much of the puzzle as possible before posting an answer - no partial answers solving just a handful of the trivia questions, thank you!)

...
31. As a result of its shape, which variety of pasta is named after the Italian word for ‘butterfly’?
32. Which animal cell organelles break down macromolecules, repair cell membranes, and destroy invading viruses and bacteria?
33. Which form of headgear, designed to expose only part of the face, is named after a town near Sevastopol, in the Crimea?
34. Which field of mathematics completes the popular phrase: “Lies, damned lies, and ___”?
35. Belgrade is the capital city of which European country?
36. Which US tennis player has won the most Grand Slam singles titles of any player in the Open Era – 23, to date?
37. Which English pop duo recorded the festive hit Last Christmas in 1984?
38. Which British actress is known for roles in Mulholland Drive, The Ring, and King Kong?
39. Cyclops, Storm and Wolverine are characters in which Marvel Comics franchise?
40. Which US President took office in 2000 despite ‘losing the popular vote’ to his rival, Al Gore?
41. Which graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd was adapted for the big screen in 2005 by the Wachowski siblings?
42. Which song – originally written by Prince – became a worldwide chart hit for Sinéad O’Connor in 1990?
43. DC Comics’ “Kal-El” is more widely known by which 8-letter alter-ego?
44. Which Beatles song is the opening track on their 1966 album, Revolver?
45. Which aquatic insect in the order Ephemeroptera is often considered a byword for something shortlived, as many species live for just long enough to reproduce, before dying?
46. What name is given to the closely-mowed section of a golf course between the tee and the green?
47. English rock band Coldplay performed one of their biggest hits twice during the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games – which one?
48. Which word completes the title of the 1955 William Holden film, BLANK Is a Many-Splendored Thing?
49. Which letter of the alphabet represents both one of the 4 human blood types and one of the 4 DNA bases?
50. Which song was a UK Number One hit for Welsh singer Duffy in 2008?

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  • $\begingroup$ Just a note to solvers: 'Lando' is purely an affectionate shortening of 'Landlord' - no clues to solving the puzzle hidden within the name :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Feb 7 at 22:56
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The sergeant was told

DONT GO HOME!


Answers to the questions:

...
31. As a result of its shape, which variety of pasta is named after the Italian word for ‘butterfly’? FARFALLE
32. Which animal cell organelles break down macromolecules, repair cell membranes, and destroy invading viruses and bacteria? LYSOSOME
33. Which form of headgear, designed to expose only part of the face, is named after a town near Sevastopol, in the Crimea? BALACLAVA
34. Which field of mathematics completes the popular phrase: “Lies, damned lies, and ___ ”? STATISTICS
35. Belgrade is the capital city of which European country? SERBIA
36. Which US tennis player has won the most Grand Slam singles titles of any player in the Open Era – 23, to date? SERENA WILLIAMS
37. Which English pop duo recorded the festive hit Last Christmas in 1984? WHAM!
38. Which British actress is known for roles in Mulholland Drive, The Ring, and King Kong? NAOMI WATTS
39. Cyclops, Storm and Wolverine are characters in which Marvel Comics franchise? X-MEN
40. Which US President took office in 2000 despite ‘losing the popular vote’ to his rival, Al Gore? GEORGE W. BUSH
41. Which graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd was adapted for the big screen in 2005 by the Wachowski siblings? V FOR VENDETTA
42. Which song – originally written by Prince – became a worldwide chart hit for Sinéad O’Connor in 1990? NOTHING COMPARES 2 U
43. DC Comics’ “Kal-El” is more widely known by which 8-letter alter-ego? SUPERMAN
44. Which Beatles song is the opening track on their 1966 album, Revolver? TAXMAN
45. Which aquatic insect in the order Ephemeroptera is often considered a byword for something shortlived, as many species live for just long enough to reproduce, before dying? MAYFLY
46. What name is given to the closely-mowed section of a golf course between the tee and the green? FAIRWAY
47. English rock band Coldplay performed one of their biggest hits twice during the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games – which one? PARADISE
48. Which word completes the title of the 1955 William Holden film, BLANK Is a Many-Splendored Thing? LOVE
49. Which letter of the alphabet represents both one of the 4 human blood types and one of the 4 DNA bases? A
50. Which song was a UK Number One hit for Welsh singer Duffy in 2008? MERCY

A list of the answers:

FARFALLE
LYSOSOME
BALACLAVA
STATISTICS
SERBIA
SERENA WILLIAMS
WHAM!
NAOMI WATTS
X-MEN
GEORGE W. BUSH
V FOR VENDETTA
NOTHING COMPARES 2 U
SUPERMAN
TAXMAN
MAYFLY
FAIRWAY
PARADISE
LOVE
A
MERCY

There is a clue in the questions here

Look at the first letters of the questions. They go in a pattern of 'AWWW', 'BWWW', 'CWWW' etc. This is clueing that the questions can be split into groups of 4.

So as Jeremy Dover and oAlt realised, and as the sergeant's name suggests, each of these groups will act as a sequence. We need to find the next item in each sequence, and putting them together will give the answer.

So, sorting the words:

GROUP 1:

FARFALLE, LYSOSOME, BALACLAVA, STATISTICS

All of these contain a musical note, repeated: 'FA', 'SO', 'LA', 'TI'. The remaining note is therefore 'DO'

GROUP 2:

SERBIA, SERENA WILLIAMS, WHAM!, NAOMI WATTS

(Solved by Mohirl) If you look at the first letters we get 'S', 'SW', 'W' and 'NW'. These are compass directions, and the next would be 'N'

GROUP 3:

X-MEN, GEORGE W. BUSH, V FOR VENDETTA, NOTHING COMPARES 2 U

Each involve one of the last letters of the alphabet, in reverse order: 'X', 'W', 'V' and 'U'. The next letter would be 'T'

GROUP 4:

SUPERMAN, TAXMAN, MAYFLY, FAIRWAY

If we take the first parts of these compound words, we get 'SUPER TAX' and 'MAY FAIR'. These are two locations on a monopoly board, and the next would be 'GO'

GROUP 5:

PARADISE, LOVE, A, MERCY

'Paradise, Love, A Mercy' are all books by Toni Morrison. If we look at the next book in publication order we see the next one is called 'HOME'

So the message is:

DONT GO HOME!

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    $\begingroup$ To confirm, all 20 answers are correct, although one of them can be written slightly differently, which might help you spot what's going on here... Ignore 'ASCII' - that's a delicious but entirely unintentional red herring! :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Feb 8 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ Pretty sure the ambiguity Stiv is referring to is #41: rot13(Guvf Trbetr Ohfu jnf bsgra ersreerq gb nf J, uvf zvqqyr vavgvny. Guvf tvirf gur frevrf bs nafjref K,J,I,H, gubhtu V'z abg fher jung gb qb jvgu vg. Nyfb, gur svefg sbhe nafjref unir n abgr (sn, fb yn, gv) ercrngrq.) $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Feb 8 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ @JeremyDover I assume you meant 40, and I was debating whether or not to write it like that or how I've written it in the answer while writing it. Also interesting observations! I have a feeling it'll be a multi-gimmick, the words will split into groups with their own puzzle and solution, not sure where to start though $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Feb 8 at 12:38
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    $\begingroup$ (edited due to typo) ROT13: Vg srryf yvxr gurfr ner frevrf bs guvatf (urapr Frdhrapr'f anzr bapr ntnva), juvpu arrq gb or svavfurq. Gurersber, nsgre "gv" vf "qb", naq nsgre 'h' vf 'g' (abgvat gur erirefr beqre bs gur frevrf), juvpu znl or tvivat hf "QB [fbzr yrggref] G [fbzr zber yrggref]" sbe gur svany zrffntr. V unir nofbyhgryl ab pyhr nobhg jung gur bgure guerr frevrf ner, gubhtu... $\endgroup$ – oAlt Feb 8 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ Group two is rot13(qverpgvbaf - F, FJ, J, AJ, fb gur arkg jbhyq or A znxvat gur svefg jbeq QBA'G) $\endgroup$ – Mohirl Feb 8 at 15:26

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