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The alphabet snake

snake_uncamouflaged



is a master of camouflage. It finds a section of text in an old book or newspaper...

example_text_original



...crawls upon it...

example_text_with_snake_highlighted



...and disappears.

example_text_with_snake_not_highlighted



Now see if your camouflage skills can match those of the snake. Figure out how the alphabet snake would disguise itself on this text:

problem_for_solvers


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    $\begingroup$ Well, now I know which question I'll be nominating for the best of 2023 Q2... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jun 13, 2023 at 16:29

1 Answer 1

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How about here:

Snake problem with solution filled in

Solve path:

Started by looking at where the letter Q might go, and there aren't a lot of options. In particular, the Q generally needs a U next to it and it can't be the U from the snake because they're an even number of spaces apart. (In chess terms, if the Q is on a dark square the U also ends up on a dark square.)

Eventually found suit -> quit which is pretty much the only place the Q can go that makes a real word, even though that's not the word that actually ends up in the solution. Everything from the Q upwards is pretty straightforward, but in the other direction it took me a while to get what to do with the word "love" which ends up disappearing completely under the elusive snake.

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    $\begingroup$ I wonder how long did it take for OP to handcraft all those sentences that make contextual sense both with and without the snake. This puzzle really hits it out of the park. (Oh, also, cool solve :-) ) $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Jun 13, 2023 at 7:28
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, @Bass. The most difficult part was pruning or evaluating the 1.12 trillion possible snakes against the 47,000 word list to find the most compact possible fit. That took about a week of programming and computing. In most cases, the program offered multiple options for each word pair (for example, overSTated/overheated could just as well have been bluSTer/blunder). I purposely chose word pairs which had the same part of speech so at least the two words would be grammatically interchangeable and the two resulting sentences would make grammatical sense, if a little "mad lib". $\endgroup$
    – SlowMagic
    Jun 13, 2023 at 11:38
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    $\begingroup$ Then, within those options, I chose the word pair that seemed most unexpected and might also have some semantic commonality. Finally, the wife and I had some fun coming up with generic, vaguely journalistic sentence fragments which could accommodate both words in the pair in a somewhat meaningful way. $\endgroup$
    – SlowMagic
    Jun 13, 2023 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ @BobaFit What step would that be? $\endgroup$
    – Jafe
    Jun 14, 2023 at 0:41
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    $\begingroup$ @BobaFit the example in the question is the reverse of the puzzle in the question. In the example the snake has already infested the text, and we only see the infested text, removing it gives the second image in the question. The puzzle itself with the last image, though, is about how to infest the text. So we start with the original text, and find a way to put the snake there to make new text. I was confused by this at first as well. $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Jun 14, 2023 at 4:01

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