I found this worksheet going though some old notes. Unfortunately, it seems the answer key got lost. Can anyone help?

Scan of "PA1N 8Y NUM83R5" Worksheet

  • $\begingroup$ rot13(qbrf gur svefg chmmyr jenc nebhaq gb gur bgure fvqr?) $\endgroup$
    – Alex bries
    Dec 12, 2021 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex bries rot13(ab, ohg jbeqf pna or hcfvqr qbja) $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2021 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ Is the final answer the paint by numbers, or figuring out the meaning of the 3 shapes? $\endgroup$
    – hb20007
    Dec 13, 2021 at 7:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @hb20007 The final answer is a satisfying answer to the "Why solve puzzles?' question $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2021 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


This was quite a workout. Shouts-out to @Stiv and @DanielMathias for their contributions in the comment section.

  1. Word search:

10 words in the grid: (ordered by location of first letter)
Stain, Sneak, Elves, Term, Pint, Plan, Pits, Guts, Maul, Mass
enter image description here
The unused letters spell out CINNABAR

  1. (Unknown)

Guessing at the rules, there's an orthogonal path between the arrows spelling out "You found the color BONE"

  1. Rebus:

"bulb" minus "bees" = ul
"two ramen" minus "women" = tra
soldier guy with no uneaten crayons in sight = marine
Combining everything: ULTRAMARINE

  1. Nonogram (pictocross puzzler):

enter image description here
The unshaded parts seem to spell out "No 1", possibly NUMBERONE. In the comments, @Stiv managed to read between the shaded areas, and found "So it is proclaimed the color is TURQUOISE, a hue of blue you surely knew"

(Sorry about the lack of progress pictures, I decided to add an intermediate step whenever I had to pause and work out some non-trivial nonogram logic. Turns out it wasn't necessary.)

  1. Alphametics

This one's super tricky, since the solution to the alphametic is non-unique. But after a long while staring at the weird pattern of the puzzle, it turns out is doesn't matter! Let's solve the regular puzzle first:

From the last digit, D = 1 or 6
From the third digit, since W cannot equal D, W = D-1 and there must be a carry
From the second digit, since P cannot equal D, P = D+1 and there must not be a carry, so D+W<10, and therefore D = 1, W = 0, P = 2
A = 3, U = 5 or vice versa
E = 9, R = 7 or vice versa

giving these plausible additions:

31191 + 52071 = 83262
31171 + 52091 = 83262
51191 + 32071 = 83262
51171 + 32091 = 83262

But now we do what the alphametic words say, and

"Add upwards", meaning we turn the grid upside down, and do the addition that way around. This changes the direction the carried ones go, and also gives a meaning for the superfluous addition symbols in the picture. Apart from the letter assignment, it doesn't matter which equation we pick, (the sum must remain equal), so we get 17025+19113 = 36138. Assigning the letters back to the numbers while sticking to the substitution scheme above leaves only one possible (albeit topically quite painful) colour:

      KUDZU =        83163 =               26238 =
      -----          -----     rotate      -----     -
      ADDED +        51191 +    180        17023 +    |  These rows
    + UPWRD   ->   + 32071      deg      + 19115       > are always the
      -----          -----                 -----      |  valid addition.
    = 83262        = 83262               = 36138     -

BUT WAIT! (This is an interruption from the future. You can also call it an edit, if you don't like time travel.)

The final step (far below) suggests the answer is not KUDZU, but BEIGE instead.

But where on Earth are we going to find such a word? Surely we cannot suddenly just reassign some numbers? Luckily, we won't have to. Remember the addition result above?

enter image description here
(Also independently found and kindly shared in the comments by @DanielMathias)

  1. Connect-y dots:

enter image description here

Doesn't look all that delicious to me.. Judging from the extra clues at the bottom middle of the page, we should find something with 9 letters. So maybe

RASPBERRY? (Looks more like an ARTICHOKE -@Stiv)

  1. Pentominoes

Fitting everything in, the grid spells out
"Congrats on finding VIOLET (the color, not the flower)"
enter image description here

Putting it all together

Filling these in at the bottom, and checking the marked letters, we find the answer to the question at the top:

Why solve puzzles?

For the BLUE BRIGHT COOL of it.

EDIT: ..which, it turns out, isn't some obscure idiom after all. So.. maybe it's a wordplay riddle of some kind? Going through bright, cool shades of blue, the best I got is

"For the PROCESS of it".

And yeah, my answer from puzzle 5 doesn't fit this. The intended solution to puzzle 5 is most likely


This solution has now been sent backwards in time and retconned into the answer of step 5.

And here's the final pain-by-numbers, fully living up to its name:

enter image description here

BUT WAIT! There's more!

@cap noticed something very interesting:

Each question (and the title) has a number in it with a dotted square surrounding it, either in the question itself, or in the solution:
enter image description here

Starting with the title, and ending with the pain-by-numbers (which might actually give an 8, if we colour by the hidden numbers scheme as the picture seems to suggest), we get the number sequence


Interpreting this gives you

..the honour of finding the "true ending" to this puzzle. I didn't manage. The only unfilled part on the page is the "My name" line, so it stands to reason that the author has hidden their name in this somehow. The best I could do was "Esi Gizeli", which doesn't ring a bell even with a google search.

EDIT: After finally catching an entire hour of shuteye, I think I got it. It's about the boxed numbers, but there's no remapping or hidden messages. Instead,

the entire page is the real pain-by-numbers. Like so:

enter image description here

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ rot13(Er 4, ernq gur terraf sbe n cnffntr gung erirnyf GHEDHBVFR; 6 ybbxf yvxr na NEGVPUBXR gb zr...) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 12, 2021 at 21:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ah, brilliant! But does this mean I don't get to go to bed yet? $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Dec 12, 2021 at 21:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ image spoiler for #5, though I guess I should have used at least one lowercase letter there... $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2021 at 21:54
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Nice job. One thing i noticed rot13(Rnpu bs gur zvavchmmyrf nyfb lvryqf n ahzore va n qnfurq fdhner. bar:frira, gjb:guerr, guerr:gjb, sbhe:bar, svir:fvk, fvk:bar, frira:svir. Ba gur svany cnvag ol ahzoref gur ahzoref ner va qnfurq fdhnerf fb znlor gur pbybef arrq gb or erznccrq.) $\endgroup$
    – caPNCApn
    Dec 13, 2021 at 1:14
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Bass You haven't used the bigger dashed box in puzzle 6. The bound region in the bottom of the artichoke looks like a 4 to me. $\endgroup$
    – user39583
    Dec 14, 2021 at 10:47

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