This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #7: Board games.

I was visiting the club yesterday, and I saw some people playing a weird word game araound a table. They use Scrabble-like tiles with colored shapes on them.
And they have weird names.
And they each say a qwote that sounds unusual.

"Yellow up, b down..."

I managed to secretly record the beginning of a game to see if there is a pattern.

Jack: Magenta strange, yellow strange, cyan strange, blue strange, green strange (in order from left to right). And my phrase is...

Jack: Holy Christian Painting For Important Meeting.

Mike: Cyan down, cyan top... and cyan bottom (in order from top to bottom). And it's...

Mike: Pressure put a piece of work with people speaking.

Sophia: Green down, blue down... yellow down (in order from left to right). Here's my sentence.

Sophia: Tactile thread for Tying things Reply about me.

Tom: Well, I'm new at it, and I'm going to put these two at the bottom. Yellow bottom and yellow down (in order from top to bottom).

Mike: And what's your sentence?

Tom: I'm not sure... Finally put club arrested...

Mike: *interrupts* That's not a trochaic hexameter. Try again.

Tom: Times begin because you...

Mike: *interrupts again* No. You have to drink a cup.

Mike poured some wine into his cup and drank.

Jack: Then I'll put Blue Charm and Blue Up (in order from top to bottom) here.

Jack: Back in louder song produced by pair of singers.

Mike: Red charm, magenta charm.

Mike: Perish Cube with Twenty-One Imprinted Circles.

Sophia: Here's a Red Strange and...

(I can't remember what other tiles she put down)

Sophia: Gets to First Position Making Second Patties.

I can't remember further as I left too early.
So, what game are they playing?

Qwestion: Figure out what game they're playing, and find the pattern.

Maybe you can try playing this game with your friends.

Notes on the scoring system:

After Sophia placed the Red Strange,

Jack had 8 points.
Mike had 7 points.
Tom had 5 points.
Sophia had 16 points, including a 6-point bonus.

Hint 1:

They're not just trochaic hexameters. They're also... (read tags)

Hint 2:

The players are also playing on a crossword grid in their mind. The crossword grid is in the shape of the visible grid on the table.

Hint 3:

In some sense, Tom never really got interrupted.


1 Answer 1


The players are playing:

Qwirkle (which is a great little tile game, winner of the 2011 Spiel des Jahres). The game involves laying tiles of 6 different shapes and 6 different colours in matching lines, scoring a point for each tile in each newly laid or modified line and a bonus of 6 points for creating a 'Qwirkle' (i.e. a run of 6 different shapes of the same colour, or 6 different colours of the same shape).

Qwirkle box and example game

This matches the description of using 'Scrabble-like tiles with colored shapes on them' and explains the multiple uses of 'qw' instead of 'qu' in words such as 'qwote' and 'qwestion' within the text. Also, by their rules the six coloured shapes are herein referred to using the names of the 6 quarks - a word very similar in sound to 'Qwirkle'.

The players have, however, modified the game slightly:

In addition to laying their pieces as per the standard rules, they are simultaneously creating a cryptic crossword. Appropriately, their poetic requirement for the clues involves using a hexameter - appropriate since the game involves 6 colours and 6 shapes...

The turns play out as follows:

Jack 1:

Jack lays five of the same shape (which he calls a 'strange' - here I use the circle) in 'magenta' (I am using orange as that matches my tile set at home), yellow, cyan, blue and green (5 points):

Jack 1

Cryptic clue: Holy Christian Painting For Important Meeting = START (Important Meeting) from ST (Holy Christian, i.e. saint) + ART (Painting).

Mike 1:

Mike adds three cyan pieces of different shapes to form a run of four cyan pieces, earning 4 points:

Mike 1

Cryptic clue: Pressure put a piece of work with people speaking. = PLAY (piece of work with people speaking) from P (Pressure) + LAY (put).

Sophia 1:

Sophia lays green, blue and yellow pieces matching the topmost one of Mike's, earning 4 points.

Sophia 1

Cryptic clue: Tactile thread for Tying things Reply about me. = ROPE (Tactile thread for Tying things) from RE (Reply) around OP (me, the 'Original Poster').

Tom 1:

Tom adds two yellow pieces at the bottom, forming a run of 3 yellows and a run of 2 squares; together these earn him 5 points.

Tom 1

I am unsure of exactly what his two cryptic clue attempts are trying to indicate. For now I shall mark them with question marks in the crossword grid...

Cryptic clue 1: Finally put club arrested...
Cryptic clue 2: Times begin because you...

From both of these it seems the initial 'T' is derived from 'Finally put' and 'Times begin', but I cannot spot the definition here.

Jack 2:

Jack plays 2 blue shapes at the top for 3 points (running total 8):

Jack 2

Cryptic clue: Back in louder song produced by pair of singers. = DUO (song produced by pair of singers) from (-l)OUD(-er)<

Mike 2:

Mike lays two more matching pieces (one red, one orange) adjacent to the topmost piece, scoring 3 points (running total 7).

Mike 2

Cryptic clue: Perish Cube with Twenty-One Imprinted Circles. = DIE - a double definition of 'Perish' and 'Cube with Twenty-One Imprinted Circles' (i.e. a gaming die)

Sophia 2:

Sophia merely adds a red 'strange' (circle) to Jack's original play, completing the full set of 6 circles of different colours and earning her 12 points - 6 for the line, and a bonus 6 points for achieving the full set ('Qwirkle'). This brings her total up to 16 points.

Sophia 2

Cryptic clue: Gets to First Position Making Second Patties = STARTS (Gets to First Position) from S (Second) + TARTS (Patties)

The current scores:

As per the note at the end of the puzzle, this leaves the players with:

16 points for Sophie,
8 points for Jack,
7 points for Mike, and
5 points for Tom (but with a turn in hand).

EDIT: For completeness - Tom's turn revisited: (thanks to @GarethMcCaughan and @fljx in comments below)

The two cryptic clues given by Tom should resolve as follows...

Cryptic clue 1: I'm not sure... Finally put club arrested... = TBD (I'm not sure) = (-pu)T (-clu)B (-arreste)D

Cryptic clue 2: Times begin because you... = BY (Times) = B(-ecause) Y(-ou)

(I had mistakenly thought the "I'm not sure..." was flavour text rather than a crucial part of the clue, and had become too fixated on assuming both clues had the same solution beginning with T that I didn't spot the second at all! Thanks to @GarethMcCaughan and @fljx for their observations to help tidy up this loose end.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think "Times begin because you..." rot13(pyhrf OL) and "I'm not sure ... Finally put club arrested" rot13(pyhrf GON). $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Feb 21, 2023 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan Ah, so they don't actually clue the same thing, and the part I omitted isn't just flavour - makes sense. Thanks Gareth! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Feb 21, 2023 at 8:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan I read Tom's first clue as ROT13(GOQ = svanyyl ch(G) pyh(O) neerfgr(Q)) $\endgroup$
    – fljx
    Feb 21, 2023 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ @fljx That reads even better. Will add both of your observations to my answer for completeness. Thanks :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Feb 21, 2023 at 9:36
  • $\begingroup$ Oops, yes. My apologies for the error. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Feb 21, 2023 at 10:17

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