This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #2: IQ Puzzle Parody

People keep asking me if there's anything between me and my good friend Ingrid Deduction... Well, it's... complicated... We go back a long way, and maybe at one point something could have happened between us, but there was one occasion when we were teenagers that probably put the kibosh on that for a long time. Seeing all these IQ puzzles on the site recently has rather brought it all back, so perhaps now is the right time to share...

It was the night of our high school prom, and I turned up at Ingrid's house to be met by her stepfather, the Reverend Richard Spusling. I knew from the off that he wasn't keen on me, and while Ingrid's mother was helping her with last-minute preparations, Rev R. Spusling took me to one side and handed me a sheet of paper, on which was the following IQ-test puzzle:

Rev R. Spusling's "IQ test" puzzle

"I need you to prove you're worthy of dating my daughter," he told me. "I also need a name and two numbers."

Well, the second part was easy - I wrote down my name as requested, and provided my mobile number and my parents' home phone number. Then I looked at the puzzle, and I had no idea what to do. So I just took a leap of faith and picked one of the three options at random.

The Reverend looked at me gravely and said, "You got lucky on the puzzle option, but the name and numbers are wrong."

What? That was the part I thought I got right! Then he kicked me out of the house, and I went to the prom alone. Ingrid never came; I heard she and her stepdad had a bit of a fight that night (and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth)...

So I'm turning to you to help me banish my demons. How should I have solved the Reverend's puzzle?

TASK: Deduce (with explanation) which of the three given options should replace the question mark. Then work out the name and two numbers I should have given to the Reverend.


1 Answer 1


My reasoning:

It's a sudoku. (As hinted by the similar sounding "pseudo-IQ" in the title.)

Each black shape's number of sides is the value to be placed in each cell.shape key

The arrangement is like this: Numbered Sudoku

The three options at the bottom present us with three ways to initialize the bottom right 3x3 box of the sudoku puzzle.

Those correspond to the following three sudoku boards:
Option A: Partial Puzzle A
Option B: Partial Puzzle B
Option C: Partial Puzzle C

Option A produces an asymmetric puzzle; one with more than one valid solution.
Option A is asymmetric

Option B produces an inconsistent puzzle; one that already contains a logical error for which there can be no legal solution.
Option B is inconsistent

Option C has exactly one unique solution. Option C solution

If you solve the sudoku using option C and take the values of the center of each 3x3 box, as indicated by the grey shaded boxes, this becomes cyphered text.
3 2 6
8 6 9
2 5 7

The 26 dots below the puzzle are the cypher key. The dots are the letters of the alphabet, and 9 are differently coloured which are naturally used in order as the numbers 1 - 9.
Cypher Key

Deciphered, they collectively spell out (in natural reading order) 326869257 becomes JESUSWEPT. ("Jesus wept")

This is a famous passage in the Bible at John 11:35. (A quick web search can be used to locate the chapter and verse, if you're not familiar.)

So my guess is...

The right-most option (C) should be selected to replace the question mark. The name is John, and the two numbers are 11 and 35.

A hint was given...

"there was weeping". There are enough biblical references in the text to suggest that the "name and two numbers" refers to a particular verse. This particular clue alone is enough to short-circuit the entire puzzle as the relevant passage is so strongly associated with "weeping".

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ This is a good first answer, and you have the correct solution - well done, and welcome to Puzzling :) What would make this a great answer would be to include a picture of the puzzle's solved state, and to provide more detail about your second spoiler block - what do 'asymmetric' and 'inconsistent' mean in this scenario (not every reader will know immediately)? Can you show these dead ends? (Pictorial explanations for those two as well would really help to illustrate it...) Well done again :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 15:10
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv, I have taken your suggestions to heart and produced images and added further details. I appreciate your guidance. $\endgroup$
    – Wyck
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 17:29
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Fantastic response - great explanations, and thanks for taking all of my feedback on board! As you mention, there are a few other religious 'Easter eggs' lurking in the text (and a puzzle-related hint in the title too), but it's fine for these to be left for others to spot - you've done a great job and deserve the checkmark! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 18:38

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