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This is part 6 of A Trivial Pursuit, a 25-part puzzle hunt. Each part is solvable on its own, with the exception of the meta-puzzle at the end.


$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$   ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (28-Dec-1893)
^^^^^^^           ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (06-Nov-1982)
££££££££ ££££     ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (05-May-1990)
%%%%%%% %%%%%%    ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (20-Aug-1994)
(((((((((( ((((   ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (26-Nov-2005).
!!!!!!!!!! !!!!   ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (21-Mar-2006).
--------- ------  ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (19-Aug-2006).
&&&&&&            ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (19-Apr-2008).
)))))))))) )))))) ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (14-Mar-2009).
“”“”“”“           ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (11-Nov-2012)
********* ****    ?-?  @@@@@@@@@ (01-Sep-2018)

The final answer is a 5-letter surname.

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  • $\begingroup$ I swapped the tag that looked the least important (time) with the english tag, because of layout issues international users are likely to encounter. If this interferes with the meta-puzzle, by all means switch it back. $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Bass All good, and fair enough - no damage done :) (But it gives me an idea for the future...) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 15:19

1 Answer 1

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Well,

the title rather suggests football. A bit of searching for "28 december" + "1893" + "football" turns up a match between Crewe Alexandra and Liverpool, and the team name lengths check out. Further searching strongly suggests that all the @-teams are Liverpool, and this makes it not too difficult to complete the table (the only brief obstacle being that one of the games, I think unlike all the others, was played in the FA Cup rather than in the leagues).

So we complete the table to get

4 $  Crewe Alexandra   0-5  Liverpool (28-Dec-1893)
6 ^  Everton           0-5  Liverpool (06-Nov-1982)
3 £  Coventry City     1-6  Liverpool (05-May-1990)
5 %  Crystal Palace    1-6  Liverpool (20-Aug-1994)
9 (  Manchester City   0-1  Liverpool (26-Nov-2005).
1 !  Birmingham City   0-7  Liverpool (21-Mar-2006).
- -  Sheffield United  1-1  Liverpool (19-Aug-2006).
7 &  Fulham            0-2  Liverpool (19-Apr-2008).
0 )  Manchester United 1-4  Liverpool (14-Mar-2009).
2 "  Chelsea           1-1  Liverpool (11-Nov-2012)
8 *  Leicester City    1-2  Liverpool (01-Sep-2018)

where

the prefixes indicate the number-key on a UK computer keyboard (the appropriate type of computer keyboard, given the theme) where the symbol used to represent the opposing team name may be found. (Except for "-" which is found to the right of 0 and isn't a number-key.) And the numbers between the team names indicate their scores.

Now

it's natural to arrange these in order of key position, which also turns out to be in alphabetical order by non-Liverpool team name

thus:

1 !  Birmingham City   0-7  Liverpool (21-Mar-2006).
2 "  Chelsea           1-1  Liverpool (11-Nov-2012)
3 £  Coventry City     1-6  Liverpool (05-May-1990)
4 $  Crewe Alexandra   0-5  Liverpool (28-Dec-1893)
5 %  Crystal Palace    1-6  Liverpool (20-Aug-1994)
6 ^  Everton           0-5  Liverpool (06-Nov-1982)
7 &  Fulham            0-2  Liverpool (19-Apr-2008).
8 *  Leicester City    1-2  Liverpool (01-Sep-2018)
9 (  Manchester City   0-1  Liverpool (26-Nov-2005).
0 )  Manchester United 1-4  Liverpool (14-Mar-2009).
  -  Sheffield United  1-1  Liverpool (19-Aug-2006).

Well, now, what about

those scores? Are they maybe indexes into the names? Doesn't look like it. All the left-hand digits are 0 or 1, so maybe these are 2-digit decimal numbers. Are those indexes into the names? Nope. A1Z26 perhaps? That gives GKPEPEBLANK and, aha, there is a footballer (who, yes, has played for Liverpool FC) called Pepe Reina. (Why GK? Because he is a goalkeeper.)

So our final answer is

REINA.

One thing I was puzzled by but forgot about when writing up the answer:

why do some but not all of the lines end with "."? Daniel S, in comments, says that those are the games in which Reina played; I haven't checked this but it seems plausible enough. I remain puzzled by one thing: Stiv says in comments that the explanation of the "."s clarifies why the title is "Life Goals" but if this is the correct explanation I don't really see how it does so.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is the correct solution path and final answer, well done :) However, those two leading letters in the final string have a different meaning... Also, as msh210 points out, the periods are significant to this answer... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 5:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv rot13(vf guvf n ersrerapr gb gur terng T ONAXf, nabgure terng T(bny) X(xrrcre)? Bs pbhefr ur qvq abg cynl sbe Yvirecbby...) $\endgroup$
    – Daniel S
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielS Ha, that was not an intentional reference at all! (Although that is the significance of those two leading letters in Gareth's string...) No, the periods help to make sense of why this is called 'Life' Goals, and really provide a way for the solver to be absolutely sure their answer is correct... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 6:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv rot13(Nu V frr! Gurfr jrer gur tnzrf va juvpu Ervan cynlrq.) Gareth, feel free to add to the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel S
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 6:57
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I think it would be useful to specify rot13(Pbzchgre xrlobneq va HX ynlbhg, va xrrcvat jvgu gur Yvirecbby gurzr), it certainly doesn't match mine. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 14:05

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