A friend sent me the following puzzle and claimed that with a bit of general knowledge (or compensatory research skills) and creative thinking I could arrive to the answer. Alas, the puzzle exceeds my abilities and I need somebody to crack it - not just anybody - a puzzler from here. enter image description here

N.B. The puzzle is (hopefully) original, and attributed to me; the "friend" is a fictional character.


There are hints scattered throughout the title, description and the image but I will share another (admittedly somewhat cryptic) hint with you. enter image description here

Additional hint:

One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World may guide you to the right direction in solving this puzzle.

Final hint:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Should one read $\sum_{i=1}^N x_i = 16$? $\endgroup$ Jan 5 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Joce It isn't necessary to solve the puzzle but it will let you know if you're on the right track. $\endgroup$ Jan 5 at 9:21
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    $\begingroup$ @draconiansomalian You seem keen and amenable to feedback - so here's some thoughts :) rot13(Rssrpgviryl, guvf chmmyr obvyf qbja gb Negheb'f 'qrpbqr gur frzncuber va gur neebjf', hasbeghangryl olcnffvat lbhe vagraqrq zrpunavfz naq zrnavat gung gur 'zrng' bs lbhe chmmyr - gur yvfg bs Fpenooyr-gvyrq jbeqf - jrag pbzcyrgryl hahfrq. Juvyr gur purpxfhz ryrzrag vf n avpr frys-pbasvezngvba, gur 'tngr' vqrn whfg qvqa'g jbex bhg - fvapr rnpu frzncuber yrggre nccrnerq bapr va gur jbeqf gb gurve yrsg V unq unys-rkcrpgrq gur CBFVGVBA be VAQRK bs gubfr yrggref jvguva gubfr jbeqf gb or fvtavsvpnag.) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jan 7 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ rot13(Na nygreangvir nccebnpu pbhyq cbffvoyl unir hfrq n frg bs yrggref juvpu qvqa'g fcryy bhg fcrpvsvp jbeqf (r.t. NSXYF sbe gur 'F' yrggre) vafgrnq bs erny jbeqf, gurerol fhttrfgvat vg vfa'g gur jbeqf gurzfryirf gung ner vzcbegnag. Yvggyr gjrnxf yvxr gung zvtug uryc thvqr lbhe fbyiref qbja lbhe vagraqrq cngu.) Hopefully there's something of use to you in here. Keep creating, keep improving, and keep enjoying the whole experience :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jan 7 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


Partial Progress

I noticed the arrow sets looked like


And converted them into letters which appear in the corresponding words:

H, S, E, R, P, A, O, M, E

Their scrabble indices match the sum in the red rectangle:

4+1+1+1+3+1+1+3+1 = 16

Anagramming the letters give the final answer:

SEMAPHORE which happens to be the method used!

  • $\begingroup$ A promising first step you've found... Of course, the very first entry in this list (Help!) very famously employs this particular thing too... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jan 6 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv oh for sure.... I only noticed after applying the decoding that Help was a hint towards that. $\endgroup$ Jan 6 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ You're essentially correct. rot13(Gur nafjre vf vaqrrq FRZNCUBER. Gur neebj frgf onfvpnyyl npgrq nf yrggre "tngrf", bayl nyybjvat yrggref gung zngpu gur pbeerfcbaqvat synt frzncuber vagb gur obk. Gura lbh nantenz gur yrggref va gur obk gb trg FRZNCUBER, nf lbh fnvq. V'z arj gb frggvat fb creuncf gur chmmyr jnf fbzrjung synjrq (V guvax V fubhyq unir vapyhqrq gur svany uvag jvgu gur znva chmmyr gb uvtuyvtug gur shapgvba bs gur neebj frg). V guvax gurer vfa'g zhpu zber rssrpgvir fbyivat sbe lbh gb qb fb V jvyy npprcg guvf fbyhgvba nf vf. Naljnl, oenib!) $\endgroup$ Jan 7 at 7:32
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    $\begingroup$ @draconiansomalian My only issue is that having the answer word be a common encoding mechanism feels weird. Had it been an unrelated word it'd've been easier to notice that it was, indeed, the solution, rather than a hint towards another step. Thanks for the confirmation anyway and keep on creating stuff ;) $\endgroup$ Jan 7 at 12:16

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