This is part 7 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.


t* u*
v* w*
x* y*

is H...

What relevant (if outdated) 4-letter word do the following tables spell?

*do* *if*
*so* *ti*
*in* *no*
*cara* *tash*
*cat* *orla*
*nina* *tina*
*i*r*e* *n*o*t*
*e*y*e* *n*a*g*
*t*u*b* *s*e*e*
*j* *q*
*w* *x*
*y* *z*
  • $\begingroup$ the three dots after H are deliberate I believe? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 10:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @CatProgrammer Purely punctuation choice. Didn't look right with just a comma. Nothing significant for the puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 10:56
  • $\begingroup$ I get the feeling this has to do with how many countries have certain letter combinations. The problem is, there is no definitive list of countries, which makes it hard to figure out. (e.g. Depending on which list you look at, Taiwan might be included or not. Some lists use East Timor while others use Timor-Leste. Is it officially Ivory Coast, or Côte D'Ivoire? Swaziland or Eswatini?) If I am in fact on the right track, can you provide a link to the list you used, so that everyone is on the same page (literally and figuratively)? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain (Hmm, how to reply helpfully without giving spoilers?!) I shall suffice to say that this puzzle does not really rely on counting anything like that, as I am all too aware that official lists have variations from one to the next. I am pretty confident that what this puzzle does rely on should not be affected by something like what you describe though. Apologies for remaining somewhat cryptic in my response at this stage! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 15:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv No worries. That response is helpful enough. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


I think the answer is:

KIEV, capital of Ukraine. The word is outdated, because nowadays one is supposed to use the Ukrainian transliteration Kyiv instead of the older one, which is associated with Russia and the Soviet era. The word is relevant, because this puzzle is about capitals.

Each of the tables ...

... describes a single letter. There are 2 by 3 table cells below the header in bold, which suggests Braille.

The contents of the table are patterns, where an asterisk means: one or several letters go here. The header describes a continent, the regular cells describe a national capital. If there is a capital matching the pattern in that continent, place a dot in that cell, if there isn't, leave the cell blank.

The H example

The e* is Europe and some of the patterns are matched by (e.g.) Tirana (Albania), Vienna (Austria) and Warsaw (Poland), giving the letter H in Braille:

t* u* o · v* w* o o x* y* · ·

The first letter

The matches in North America are (e.g.) San Salvador (El Salvador) and Washington, DC (U.S.A.), giving the letter K:

*do* *if* o · *so* *ti* · · *in* *no* o ·

The second letter

The matches in Asia are Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Muscat (Oman). They produce an I.

*cara* *tash* · o *cat* *orla* o · *nina* *tina* · ·

The third letter

South America is home to Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Santiago de Chile. They spell an E:

*i*r*e* *n*o*t* o · *e*y*e* *n*a*g* · o *t*u*b* *s*e*e* · ·

The fourth letter

The matches in Africa are, among others, Abuja (Nigeria), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Conakry (Guinea) and Brazzaville (Congo) for a V:

*j* *q* o · *w* *x* o · *y* *z* o o

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is right (well done!), and by the looks of it you didn't need to use the hidden acrostic clue either... Intended just as a pointer as to what each separate table represented... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ Now that you mention it, I can see it, but I'm usually quite good at overlooking these artfully crafted extra hints. Instead, I usually work through a typical puzzler's bag of tricks in alphabetical order. I'm lucky that it was B and Cs this time round. :) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 19:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ rot13(Ohwhzohen'f ab ybatre gur pncvgny, ohg fbzrguvat yvxr Nohwn fgvyy jbexf) $\endgroup$
    – Jafe
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ Good point, @Jafe, and thanks for the suggestion. I would probably have replaced it with Adidjan ... $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 4:19
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @CatProgrammer: Look at the first letters of the first three tables (but not their headers in bold) after the example. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 5:42

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