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A mad lexophile sits alone in his apartment obsessively rearranging his Scrabble tiles and writing words on every available surface, even filling each floorboard with a word. The Scrabble tiles have had enough. They are plotting their escape.

The tiles have discovered that they can scuttle across the floorboards unnoticed, as long as they obscure one letter at a time and maintain a valid word on each floorboard. But, if they create a non-word, the mad lexophile will notice.

The tiles can move forward, backward, left, or right. No diagonals.

Which tile is able to cross the patch of floor shown below and make its escape? What route does it need to follow?



illustration_jpg

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    $\begingroup$ This is just brilliant! rot13(Gurer ner irel srj ercynprnoyr yrggref va gur obggbz ebj, juvpu xvaqn tvirf njnl gur fbyhgvba ng fgrc bar. Vg'f fgvyy irel rawblnoyr gb genpr gur cngu nsgre gung gubhtu :-)) $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Oct 20, 2021 at 7:08
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    $\begingroup$ This question would benefit from specifying what "escape" exactly means. Even after seeing the answer, I can only make assumptions. Does it have to start from the bottom row and exit at the top? Can it exit to the right or left? Is it an existing tile shown in the image, or a new tile entering from somewhere?? $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Oct 20, 2021 at 7:26
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    $\begingroup$ @vsz the escaping tile enters from the top (where the blue tile with a question mark is drawn), has to cross the "patch of floor", and escapes if it arrives at the bottom (where the word "Escape!" is written. $\endgroup$
    – wimi
    Oct 20, 2021 at 7:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Bass — Thanks! Addressing your question: I originally designed the maze to incorporate many misleading dead-end paths, for both the correct letter itself and for other letters as well. Like the Winchester Mystery House! But that requires a lot of smaller words with common letters, and those words carry a danger. The solvers on this site are very clever and are able to find obscure words to create solutions that I didn't intend. So, I turned the first row and the last row into carefully restrictive sentries. That prevents any unintended solutions from going in or coming out. $\endgroup$
    – SlowMagic
    Oct 20, 2021 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ I liked the dead ends! 'R' was an interesting one. Alas, I followed a few and by the time I found the answer I'd been beaten by a few minutes. Nice puzzle! $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Oct 20, 2021 at 15:54

1 Answer 1

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The letter

L

can escape by taking the following path:

image from original question, with replaced letters marked with blue dots

This creates the words:

CLAMBER, VALIANT, HELD, HEAL, SAIL, BULGING, BUGLING, STEEL, BLAST, LEAST, PEARL, PEALS, SLEEP, LUGGING, SLID, LAID, LEAD, GOAL, GOLD, GLAD, LOAD, PANEL, PAL, PLY, LAY, PALES, BOLT, BLOT, LOOT, LANES, COOLS, COLTS, CLOTS, LOOTS, HEAL, HELP, POOL, MEAL, MELD, LEVERAGE, FOOL, FOLD, LEAD, LOOP, PLOP, LEAP, REALTOR, LAUGHTER, OUTLAST!

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    $\begingroup$ Well that was no easy task, props to you $\endgroup$
    – Tofandel
    Oct 20, 2021 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ ...... How? How do you ever every come up with that. Genius. Both setter and solver. $\endgroup$
    – DRF
    Oct 20, 2021 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ What a brilliancy! $\endgroup$
    – Avi
    Oct 21, 2021 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ @DmitryKamenetsky Yes, it's the only one possible (for any reasonable definition of "English word"). There aren't really any other letters that have a chain even close to getting across. The bottom few words only have a few options for replacements - OUTLAST, FLATTERING, and SQUIRT - and the two Rs die immediately. Then all that's left is to explore the maze with L: keep trying to move up/down/left/right, and see which options make words. There aren't any dead ends, so it's just a matter of perseverance. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Oct 21, 2021 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ (I actually started out thinking the letter would be R; there are lots of nice red herrings with R, including OVERHEARING, NEARNESS, BARGES, GENERICALLY, and FLATTERING. But when I noticed OUTCAST, L popped out to me as an option instead, and once I got REALTOR I was sure it was correct.) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Oct 21, 2021 at 23:28

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