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Once you figure out how to approach the puzzle below, try to find the hidden four-word phrase.


Skillful and experienced, single

Flexible and agile, on a shirt

"To", in it's natural state

Chest, vehicle

Shoot, came together

Companion, part of the back

Rubbish, annoy

Miss is a?, a future animal inside

Long animal, shoot

On snow, cold


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  • $\begingroup$ Some images appear twice. Is that intentional? $\endgroup$
    – ACB
    Dec 15, 2022 at 17:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ACB Yes, it's intentional $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2022 at 18:04

1 Answer 1

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The hidden 4-word phrase is:

A LETTER IN COMMON

The first thing I did was identify the countries and territories whose flags were depicted and also...

...list their 2-letter ISO codes (out of force of habit, I guess):

Bolivia (BO) + Isle of Man (IM)
Panama (PA) + Austria (AT)
Saint Helena (SH) + Guernsey (GG)
Canada (CA) + Ireland (IE)
Canada (CA) + Ireland (IE)
Saint Helena (SH) + Guernsey (GG)
Faroe Islands (FO) + Aruba (AW)
Slovakia (SK) + Cyprus (CY)
Burundi (BI) + Antigua & Barbuda (AG)
Peru (PE) + Argentina (AR)
Puerto Rico (PR) + Niger (NE)
Anguilla (AI) + Ethiopia (ET)
Anguilla (AI) + Ethiopia (ET)
Puerto Rico (PR) + Niger (NE)
Burundi (BI) + Antigua & Barbuda (AG)

Then I noticed that...

...there are 10 different flag pairs listed (some multiple times) - the same number as the number of what appear to be pairs of definitions in the list at the top of the puzzle. I reasoned that there may well be a one-to-one correspondence between the two, and so we should look for a way to connect the definition pairs and the flags.

I then spotted that...

...many of the definitions appeared to clue 3-letter words, e.g. 'came together' = MET, 'Companion' = PAL, 'Skilful and experienced' = PRO, 'single' = ONE...

Moreover, in each case, these words contained 2-letter sequences that appeared in the country ISO codes: M(ET), (PA)L, (PR)O, O(NE)...

And even more interestingly, within these words flags depicted on the left appeared at the left-hand end of a word - (PA)L, (PR)O - and flags depicted on the right appeared at the right-hand end of a word - M(ET), O(NE).

And still even more interestingly, for the two words that paired up - (PR)O and O(NE) - the flags also paired up, and the additional letter in both words was the same ('O').

This led me to a hypothesis:

Perhaps all of the definition pairs clue two 3-letter words of the form ABX and XCD, where 'AB' and 'CD' are the ISO codes of a pair of countries in the flag diagrams below, and 'X' is a common letter.

And it turned out I was right!

Note: Not all are strict definitions - some are more word association...

Skillful and experienced (PRO), single (ONE) = O
Flexible and agile (CAT), on a shirt (TIE) = T
"To" (FOR), in it's natural state (RAW) = R
Chest (PEC), vehicle (CAR) = C
Shoot (AIM), came together (MET) = M
Companion (PAL), part of the back (LAT) = L
Rubbish (BIN), annoy (NAG) = N
Miss is a? (SHE), a future animal inside (EGG) = E
Long animal (BOA), shoot (AIM) = A
On snow (SKI), cold (ICY) = I

Finally, we can...

...decode the flag pairs by replacing them with the 'common letter' that they map to in the corresponding clues:

Bolivia (BO) - A - Isle of Man (IM)
Panama (PA) - L - Austria (AT)
Saint Helena (SH) - E - Guernsey (GG)
Canada (CA) - T - Ireland (IE)
Canada (CA) - T - Ireland (IE)
Saint Helena (SH) - E - Guernsey (GG)
Faroe Islands (FO) - R - Aruba (AW)
Slovakia (SK) - I - Cyprus (CY)
Burundi (BI) - N - Antigua & Barbuda (AG)
Peru (PE) - C - Argentina (AR)
Puerto Rico (PR) - O - Niger (NE)
Anguilla (AI) - M - Ethiopia (ET)
Anguilla (AI) - M - Ethiopia (ET)
Puerto Rico (PR) - O - Niger (NE)
Burundi (BI) - N - Antigua & Barbuda (AG)

Which read in order spells out the answer:

A LETTER IN COMMON - which is exactly what these 3-letter country-substring words have!

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  • $\begingroup$ You got it, great job! $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2022 at 7:24

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