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


My first can hold flags (No matches).
My second lasts three months (No matches).
My last is your attention (1 accurate match).
My whole is the game you're playing.

Obviously that isn't enough to solve the puzzle, so here are three cryptic clues to complete.

  • 10 thousand as 12.25 (1 accurate match)
  • How The Beatles make Help relies upon just very beginning (No matches)
  • Bend down for no points (1 accurate match, 2 misplaced matches)

Can you find the word that matches the six clues?

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1 Answer 1

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The Riley Riddle resolves to clue the board game:

MASTERMIND

My first can hold flags.

MAST - where on a ship one might find sails and flags.

My second lasts three months.

TERM - 3 months is a common length of term for a school or university term to last.

My last is your attention.

MIND and attention are synonyms of sorts.

My whole is the game you're playing.

Together (with overlap) they make MAST + TERM + MIND = MASTERMIND. But hang on... 'the game you're playing'?!

We're not done yet. Because as well as solving this riddle we are also actually playing a game of this! (This is what the mentions of 'accurate' and 'misplaced' 'matches' after each line refers to...) So let's solve the 3 cryptic clues too to give us everything we need...

10 thousand as 12.25

XMAS (12.25, i.e. Christmas Day) = X (10) + M (thousand) + AS

How The Beatles make Help relies upon just very beginning

RUJV = R(-elies) U(-pon) J(-ust) V(-ery). This (or possibly NUJV) is the word actually spelled out by the Beatles on their album cover for Help!:

Help! album cover

They had originally intended to spell 'HELP' but it didn't look as great as they'd hoped from an arty point of view apparently...

Bend down for no points

DUCK - a double-definition for 'Bend down' and 'no points' (in cricket).

So altogether this gives us the layout of the board:

 MAST ....
 TERM ....
 MIND B...
 XMAS B...
 RUJV ....
 DUCK BWW.
 

Here, 'B' indicates a black peg for an accurate (exact) match, and 'W' a white peg for a misplaced match.

We can now solve this to find the answer:

XKCD.

The first 3 rows reveal that there is no A, E, M, R, S or T in the answer. Row 4 then reveals the answer begins with 'X'. Rows 5 and 6 together reveal that the remaining letters must be D, C and K (no U), and with the help of row 3 we can confirm that the 'D' goes last, then the 'C' in third position and the 'K' second.

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  • $\begingroup$ I suspect there is one more step, based upon your last result $\endgroup$
    – Tony Ennis
    Mar 1, 2023 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ @TonyEnnis I thought that was a possibility myself too, but while solving it a Google search of the two key search terms led to no 'edition' of any relevance, and there appears to be no thus-far-unused information left in the puzzle to help narrow it down further. Unless of course the answer is anticipated to be rot13(Enaqnyy Zhaebr, nf KXPQ'f 'znfgrezvaq'), which is a possibility. I think the puzzle is sufficiently self-contained to not necessarily require an additional step though :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Mar 1, 2023 at 7:22
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know how you do it. that was impressive $\endgroup$
    – Tony Ennis
    Mar 1, 2023 at 14:46

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