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Part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #10: Möbius Strips, Klein Bottles, and other unusual topological surfaces


+--->--->--->---+
| o | r | t | h |
^---+---+---+---v
| n | o | g | o |
^---+---+---+---v
| a | l | l | y |
^---+---+---+---v
| y | l | n | o |
+---<---<---<---+

+---+---+---+---+
| a | w | n | f |
+---+---+---+---+
| r | y | g | c |
+---+---+---+---+
| i | f | l | e |
+---+---+---+---+
| a | i | y | t |
+---+---+---+---+

+---+---+---+---+
| o | n | g | h |
+---+---+---+---+
| n | g | u | b |
+---+---+---+---+
| i | f | o | p |
+---+---+---+---+
| t | i | i | s |
+---+---+---+---+

+---+---+---+---+
| n | e | g | k |
+---+---+---+---+
| d | r | a | c |
+---+---+---+---+
| a | n | r | o |
+---+---+---+---+
| r | o | g | u |
+---+---+---+---+

+---+---+---+---+
| e | e | a | l |
+---+---+---+---+
| e | l | s | v |
+---+---+---+---+
| o | r | t | c |
+---+---+---+---+
| n | m | e | e |
+---+---+---+---+

+---+---+---+---+
| a | s | s | s |
+---+---+---+---+
| t | e | c | y |
+---+---+---+---+
| s | o | h | g |
+---+---+---+---+
| p | c | i | r |
+---+---+---+---+

What is the hidden 5-letter word?

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4
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ thought I had it, but 'what' is only 4 letters $\endgroup$
    – SteveV
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 19:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think there's an 8-letter word misspelled in the fourth grid - there's only one 'c' and no 'i'... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 19:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv Ah, good catch. I mistakenly used an O instead of an IC. $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2023 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ @LukasRotter No biggie - it's still solvable as it is, so I've posted a solution :) Enjoyed working this one out, thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 20:00

1 Answer 1

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The hidden 5-letter word is:

EEVEE, a Gen I Pokémon which can evolve into several different Pokémon, each of different elemental 'types'.

The way to find this is first to note that what we are looking at is...

...a set of Boggle grids (hence the use of 'boggles' in the title) - but with a Monthly Topic Challenge difference! In each case, we are able to move off one edge of the grid and come back on to the opposite side, but with a twist, as if the grid is a kind of Möbius strip. (EDIT: As the OP points out in comments below, the correct topological name for this phenomenon is the 'real projective plane'... Note further that the arrows in the first grid's border correspond to those in the linked Wikipedia image.)

Grid edge connections

(i.e. In the diagram above we can link between spaces marked with the same letter, as well as merely just horizontally and vertically as normal within the confines of the usual 4x4 grid...)

Now we look at the first grid and notice...

...a concealed instruction: ORTHOGONALLY ONLY, spelled out by moving along the rows and down. This suggests we should move from letter to letter horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally (which would be usual in regular Boggle).

So let's get to work. I spotted a few real words at first and soon realised that among them I had the makings of a complete set:

The 18 Pokémon types. You can find them all in the next five grids as follows:

Solved grids

Grid 2: WATER, ICE, FIRE, FLYING, FAIRY
Grid 3: BUG, POISON, FIGHTING
Grid 4: DRAGON, ROCK, GROUND, DARK
Grid 5: NORMAL, STEEL, ELECTRO (NB A corruption of 'ELECTRIC' here...)
Grid 6: GRASS, PSYCHIC, GHOST

We can then find the final answer by...

...reading off the 5 unused letters in the grids. These spell out the name of the Pokémon EEVEE, who is particularly relevant to the puzzle since it can (unusually) evolve into many different Pokémon, each of which is of a different type - a mind-boggling Pokémon property!

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  • $\begingroup$ Well done :) A small addition: The ASCII arrows on the edges of the first grid represent the orientation of the edges (like in the MTC post). If my googling is right that would be a real projective plane $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2023 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ @LukasRotter Ah, thanks for pointing that out. Topology has never been my strong point. Do you think questions under this MTC should have the topology tag? $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 20:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "and understanding the connectivity properties of elastic figures" fits in this case, so I will update it. I'd assume it will likely apply to future entries in this MTC as well. $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2023 at 20:46

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