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A MIND-(8) PUZZLE FOR (4)s in (8)

¹ δ (1)

² Junior (2) remifasolati (2)

³ biggest little (4) IO (2) gold (2)

⁴ ccTLD 🟦🟥⬜🦅 (2) UU (1) You're it! (3) 👀 (1)

⁵ chapter (2) tee (1) "Medium: Solid, Phase: Liquid" (3) kgmsAKmolcd (2) α (1)

⁶ indefinite french female (3) versus Henry Wade (3) ccTLD Nauru (2)

⁷ that is (2) line break (2) Capital of Peru (1) milligrams (2) U+0041 (1)

⁸ Auto parts company (4) 李 (2) microgram (2) The person reading this. (1)

⁹ plural "be" (1) petanewton (2) oil company (2) Sit at the past (3)

¹⁰ Bombay blood (2) at the apex - l (5)

¹¹ Illinois (2) in + das (3)

¹² え (1)

enter image description here

What are the missing words in the title?

Hint 1:

PLAY (8) AND CAPITALIZATION'S IMPORTANT

Hint 2:

spleef

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  • $\begingroup$ Spleef!? @poco What is i-SPLAT $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 22:03

2 Answers 2

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Since it's been a couple of days, here's a substantial partial answer to get things rolling (I have solved very nearly all of the clues satisfactorily, and have made progress in the step that follows too...)

First of all, my immediate suspicion on seeing this puzzle was that the first missing word in the title would be:

BOGGLING (as in 'mind-boggling'), and that we were expected to populate the grid with answers to the questions and then play a game of Boggle using it, to find a set of related words spelled out in chains among the oddly-shaped grid.

This would turn out to be true, but before that, here's what the (almost) completed grid should look like, and how the clues resolve:

Almost-completed grid

¹ δ (1)

D for 'delta' (NATO phonetic alphabet)

² Junior (2) remifasolati (2)

JR and DO (the only missing Solfège note)

³ biggest littlez (4) IO (2) gold (2)

???? (no idea yet), ON (that's what the bolded symbol means on an electrical appliance), AU (the symbol for gold in the Periodic Table)

⁴ ccTLD 🟦🟥⬜🦅 (2) UU (1) You're it! (3) 👀 (1)

Possibly AS, the country-code top-level domain for American Samoa, whose flag matches this description (although 'RS' for Serbia might equally be intended...), W, TAG, and C (homophone of 'see').

⁵ chapter (2) tee (1) "Medium: Solid, Phase: Liquid" (3) kgmsAKmolcd (2) α (1)

CH (abbreviation for 'chapter'), T, GAS, SI (this is a list of all the SI base units), A for 'alpha' (NATO phonetic alphabet)

⁶ indefinite french female (3) versus Henry Wade (3) ccTLD Nauru (2)

UNE, ROE, NR (ccTLD for Nauru)

⁷ that is (2) line break (2) Capital of Peru (1) milligrams (2) U+0041 (1)

I.E., <BR>, L for Lima (NATO phonetic alphabet), MG, A in Unicode.

⁸ Auto parts company (4) 李 (2) microgram (2) The person reading this. (1)

NAPA, LI, UG, I

⁹ plural "be" (1) petanewton (2) oil company (2) Sit at the past (3)

R (homophone of 'are'), PN, BP, SAT

¹⁰ Bombay blood (2) at the apex - l (5)

HH, APICA(-l)

¹¹ Illinois (2) in + das (3)

IL, INS

¹² え (1)

E

Now note that the OP has provided a way to confirm that my initial suspicions were correct - look at the shaded letters...

These are an anagram of BOGGLING - that's the first missing word confirmed...

So let's play! After a while searching, a pattern started to emerge for me...

There are lots of names of Asian countries hidden in the grid:

Boggle countries found

Here you can see JORDAN, ARMENIA, NEPAL, BAHRAIN and PHILIPPINES. Also IRAN, but at this stage I am not sure if this one is entirely intentional, since none of the others share letters with each other...

It is also possible to find the following words that may or not be of any consequence:

ANGUILLA, CUBA, USA, UGANDA (countries that are not in Asia)
MUSCAT (the capital of Oman, an Asian country)
BERLIN and ROME (capitals of non-Asian countries)
Two instances of ASIA itself...
The element HELIUM
The word MESSAGE
And very nearly some other world countries, but not quite: BELGIUM, GERMANY, GEORGIA, ISRAEL, ANGOLA

My suspicion is that I am on the right track, due to how many I have been able to find. However, I really need to resolve that one missing clue in the top-left, and then get some feel as to whether the answer immediately below it is correct. This may help find still more, and potentially leave some unused letters to help us spell out the other words missing from the title...

My current working hypothesis is that:

Given how many countries outside of Asia I am beginning to find, I wonder whether I need to expand my search space to consider all countries, not just Asian ones. My thinking is that the missing 4-letter word in the title might be something like 'team' and that we are looking for nations who have competed (or are currently competing) in some kind of international sporting tournament.

Still thinking on it...

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  • $\begingroup$ (There's a second instance of the one in red, in a diamond shape near the bottom left - on reflection, this one may be more intended...) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 7:32
  • $\begingroup$ I had the same first idea as you here, of course, but didn't see the significance of the shaded cells. When the two adjacent G's didn't lead me where I wanted to, I lost steam. (For what it's worth, I had this for the solid medium and liquid phase, but it will mess with one of your findings.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 11:01
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I'll continue from Stiv's answer, which has the grid filled with letters and also several very good results of the word search.

Stiv's expalantions of the letters that go into the grid are very thorough. I won't repeat them, but have two things to add: I think the word for "biggest little" should be FARM and that the word for "Medium: Solid, Phase: Liquid" should be GEL. That makes ARMENIA vanish from the grid, but opens up possibilities for other countries:

enter image description here

Now I'll take a shot at the overall solution and work backwards from there. I think the title should read:

A MIND-BOGGLING PUZZLE FOR WORDs in CAPITALS.

Note how the title is written in capitals. There's also a hint that states thet "CAPITALIZATION'S IMPORTANT", again in capitals. And the capitals of the countries in the grid all contain at least one (common) English word:

Jordan - AM(MAN)
Uganda - KAM(PAL)A
Tonga - NUKU'AL(OF)A
Cuba - HA(VAN)A
Israel - JERU(SALE)M
Iran - TEH(RAN)
Nepal - KATH(MAN)DU
Angola - LU(AND)A
USA - (WASH)INGTON
Philippines - (MAN)ILA
Bahrain - (MAN)AMA

(There's also a SHIN and a TON in Washington and an AND an Kathmandu. And Stiv has found MUS(CAT) in Oman.)

So, yeah, I think that's it: The capitals of the countries contain words and therefore have "words in capitals". I'm not super-sold, because the words are rather short. A lot of MANs and PALs and VANs. (Well, just one VAN, but had Armenia still been valid, there'd been another one in Yere(VAN).) And the OF in Nuku'alofa is weak. (I mean, Tuvalu's capital is (FUN)AFUTI.) And a lot of good candidates such as Madrid, Warsaw or Moscow were ignored. Perhaps I'm missing something here.

Oh, the word WORD also appears in the word search near the top. And CAPITALS would appear if FARM, which doesn't play any role in any of the found countries, were replaced by ??PI. So perhaps my answer isn't so bad after all. :)

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this idea and I agree that your 3-letter G word is better than mine, explaining why I almost had ISRAEL! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, with the new hint, I can see where this is going. (Spleef? Back in my day, this was called Boulderdash.) I can see how transforming the playing field by removing hits and letting the letters above fall into their place opens up new countries. I've found OMAN and NIGER and Stiv's near-hits are probably also candidates. But, but, but! The countries have to be removed in the correct order or you run the risk to get stuck in a dead end. This makes solving this puzzle quite tough. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 16:33

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