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This is part 24 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.


It’s been a tricky day. After yesterday’s eventful murder arrest, the prisoner has spent the night awake in her cell, jabbering away to herself and scrawling upon the walls. All of her scribblings seem to take the form of a set of connected boxes in some combination or other. For an example, see this photograph:

Solution grid

It is possible to make out snippets of what she is saying under her breath – words like ‘regret’ and ‘too late now’ – but I’m not entirely clear what’s going on. It’s like an obsession, these boxes – everywhere. Something is clearly on her mind, but what? Perhaps yesterday’s evidence log holds a clue…

Case Number: ATP24

Evidence log prepared by: Chief Inspector Stiv (PSE Police)


Case background: Call at 9:55pm from housekeeper of Tudor Mansion. Owner of the house shot dead by a guest during an altercation after dinner.


Context for evidence: Five witnesses to the deed, interviewed as a group.

Witness 1: Well, it was after dinner…

Witness 2: And what a splendid dinner it was, I cannot venerate it enough…

Witness 3: Thank you, Father…

Witness 2: I really mean it – you excelled yourself this time. Didn’t she, everyone?

(Others all murmur in agreement.)

Witness 1: So the seven of us were all reclining in the lounge, and I thought it would be a bit of fun if we played a game. Nothing too taxing – a parlour game of sorts.

Witness 3: Not that there’s an actual 'parlour' in the house…

Witness 1: Merely a turn of phrase… Anyway, I started up a game wherein I would say a single word that followed a particular rule, and the others present had to deduce that rule by offering a word themselves, whereupon I would confirm if it was a correct submission or not. Once a player had successfully found a valid word, they could take no further part in the game, and the remaining players would continue playing until just one remained. At that point, the remaining player would have one last chance to identify the rule – if incorrect, they then lose the game and there’s a forfeit attached.

Interviewer: Are the details of this game important?

Witness 1: I would say very much so. It was, after all, a direct consequence of this game that the shooting took place at all. She was most frustrated to find herself among the final two remaining players despite having gone first, and when our host – who was the other of the two – gloated that he had at last worked it out, she shot him dead out of bitterness!

Witness 4: To be fair, the odds were rather stacked against her. I know it wasn’t an easy game for me, but of all of us who played, she surely had the fewest potentially correct words she could say.

Witness 1: That’s not my fault – blame her father!

Witness 5: I actually kept a record of all of our guesses on a slip of paper, in case it helped me work out the rule. Sort of thing I used to do in the army – old habits and all that, what? I have it here, if you’d like to see it. I’ve annotated it with some of the other things we said at the time too…

(Witness 5 produces a slip of paper)


Item of evidence: Transcript of handwritten game summary, recorded and provided by Witness 5.

WITNESS 1 (W1): FRUIT.
SUSPECT (S): PINEAPPLE? W1: N.
WITNESS 2 (W2): BLUEBERRY? W1: N.
WITNESS 3 (W3): VEGETABLES? W1: N.
WITNESS 4 (W4): DAIRY? W1: N.
WITNESS 5 (W5): FLUTE? W1: N.
DECEASED (D): FLIRT? W1: N. “And just to warn you all, I’m only going to accept answers where it’s really obvious to me that it’s right…”
S: MANSION? W1: N.
W2: MANSION? W1: Y! “And if someone gets one right, that word – and others like it – cannot be used by another player…”
S: “But I said it first!” W1: “Indeed, but it wasn’t right when you said it…”
W3: “Wait, could I have said MANSION?” W1: No response, just a wry smile.
W3: “In that case… STANDARD!” W1: Y!
W4: “No idea what’s going on. SAUSAGES?” W1: “No, I don’t think so. Not really…”
W5: GLOVE? W1: “No, but (laughs) that’s actually quite funny!”
D: LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOCH? W1: “Show-off. No.”
S: GOD… W1: N.
S: “That wasn’t my guess! Er… SPIDER?” W1: N.
W4: INSECT? W1: Y!
W5: “Was that deliberate?” W4: “No, I have no idea what just happened!”
W5: “Ah, I think I see – might I have… FLATULENCE?” W1: Y!
S: “Oh, wait – I could say TEMPERATURE!” W1: “Technically no, sorry – this isn’t 1963 to 2016!”
D: “Aha! I’ve got it. I could have JAGUAR!” W1: Y!
S: (Shouts)

FIREARM DISCHARGES.


Evidence signed in by:

╔═ ═╦═ ╦ ║ ║
╚╗  ║  ║ ║ ║
═╝  ║  ╩  ║

The final answer is 7 letters long.

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1 Answer 1

14
+100
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The final answer is

MOFFATT.
Wait, what? Is that even a word? Yes it is, but specifically it's a surname. And we'll see more details about it in the explanation below.

i) Main idea of the puzzle

The setting of the puzzle is a Cluedo board game. There are some confirmations, on the surface, that this is the case:

- The title of the puzzle, "Color Patterns", since there are seven colors in the board game, each associated with a piece/character - Red (Miss Scarlett), Yellow (Colonel Mustard), White (Mrs./Chef White), Green (Rev./Mayor/Mr. Green), Blue (Mrs. Peacock), Purple (Professor Plum), and Black (Dr. Black);

- "Tudor Mansion", which is in fact the setting of the board game; and

- The fact that the victim was shot in the lounge, since the revolver and the lounge are a real weapon and room respectively in Cluedo.

The deeper kind of confirmation we are looking for is that the identities of the witnesses, the suspect, and the victim are in fact the Cluedo characters themselves!

Witness 5 is a retired military officer, since his note-taking was the sort of thing he "used to do in the army", so he must be Colonel Mustard.

Witness 2 was addressed as "Father", so he must be Reverend Green.

Witness 3 was implied to have prepared the dinner, so she must be the housekeeper/cook/maid Mrs. White.

Witness 1 had the idea to start a word game, so he must be the intellectual Professor Plum.

And the victim must be Dr. Black as in the original game.

We have that the suspect and Witness 4 are Miss Scarlett and Mrs. Peacock in some order. But wait! Are we now unable to figure out their identities?

Thankfully, the answer is no. We can still find out who each of them are after we figure out how the word game works...

ii) The mechanism of the word game

The way the word game works is that the word said by a person must have a synonym (or hyponym or hypernym), such that that person's name before the synonym forms a known English term (which is a common noun). What does this mean?

For example, Witness 1, Professor Plum, said fruit. This is because a hyponym of "fruit" is tomato (i.e. a tomato is an example of a fruit), and a plum tomato is a type of tomato.

Then Witness 2, Reverend Green, said mansion, and a hypernym of "mansion" is house (i.e. a mansion is an example of a house), and a greenhouse is a place where plants can be grown.

Witness 3, Mrs. White, said standard, which is a synonym of flag, and indeed a white flag is a symbol of surrendering in war. Now, note that the answer to Mrs. White's question, whether she could have said "mansion", is in fact yes: the White House is the official residence of the United States president.

Witness 5, Colonel Mustard, said flatulence, which is a synonym of gas, and mustard gas is an infamous toxic gas which has been used in warfare.

And the victim, Dr. Black, said jaguar, and a hypernym of "jaguar" is panther, and a black panther is a type of animal.

Now, who are Witness 4 and the suspect?

Here, I remembered that scarlet fever is a type of disease, and immediately realized that temperature must be sometimes used to mean a condition of high body temperature, which is exactly what a fever is. So we have that the suspect is Miss Scarlett. But wait, why was her answer not accepted?

This is where the "this isn’t 1963 to 2016" clue comes in: as it says in the Cluedo Wikipedia page, Scarlett's name was spelled with only one T starting 1963, and the spelling of her name with two T's was only brought back in 2016. Hence, if the word game were played from 1963 to 2016, her name would have been Scarlet, and so scarlet fever would have been her answer which is acceptable; but since it is not 1963 to 2016, her name is thus Scarlett, so her answer was scarlett fever which was not accepted as it is not a term that exists in English!

This leaves us with Witness 4 as Mrs. Peacock. She said insect, and a hyponym of "insect" is butterfly, and a peacock butterfly is also a type of insect. I can now also attest to what she said, that "the odds were rather stacked against her. I know it wasn’t an easy game for me, but of all of us who played, she surely had the fewest potentially correct words she could say.". Indeed, there aren't many terms which start with the word "peacock", but also, to my knowledge, there are no terms which start with the word "Scarlett"! In that case, I think the best Miss Scarlett can do here is to form proper nouns (for example, saying "Johansson"). And in fact, that is what will happen...

iii) The final answer

Ordering the answers by the order they were said, we get:

          |
          v
        TOMATO
         HOUSE
          FLAG
    BUTTERFLY
         GAS
          ?
       PANTHER

And spelling the column pointed at by the arrow and in the direction of the arrow, we get MOFFA?T.

Now, it took a lot of tinkering to arrive at the conclusion. It turns out that if we put a T in the blank, we get Moffatt, which is a real surname. And in fact, one of the people with that surname is Scarlett Moffatt, a British television personality who (as OP remarks in a comment) is well-known in her country! Again, note that the answer was formed in the same way as the other terms were: the relevant name plus a word. So MOFFATT is our final answer.

Appendix:

iv) Summary of how I broke into the puzzle

The 1963 - 2016 clue was suspicious, so I decided to search that. No relevant results came up. After many other searches which resulted in dead ends, I went back to one of my earlier theories which I had discarded before: Cluedo is the only board game I know which has colors and is about a murder scenario, which are also characteristics of this puzzle, so maybe this board game is related to this puzzle after all?

Indeed, a search for "black jaguar" turned up "black panther", and then I figured out "flatulence" as well. After realizing that, I went through the processes of figuring out the identities of the witnesses and figuring out why their answers were valid at the same time. Wiktionary and Wikipedia were a huge help, since they may give a list of terms starting with the same word.

Lastly, I struggled for a bit more with the significance of "Moffatt" but that was eventually resolved, with help from OP.

v) Loose ends

a) Professor Plum said "No, I don't think so. Not really..." to Mrs. Peacock's sausages, when he could have just said a simple "No". This alludes to a type of sausages starting with the word "peacock", which seems to be uncommon as evidenced by my many Google searches which turn up no famous results (and by OP's comment below).

b) Professor Plum found it funny when Col. Mustard said glove. OP says there's a classic pun to be found there, which I can't find, but I'll try my best... glove -> it dresses the hand -> dressing -> mustard is used in dressings. Sorry I disappointed you. :P

If anyone can help tie up these loose ends, that would be great.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ (Applause) Very well done! This was a difficult one to solve in my opinion, and you have SMASHED it! The confirmation that this is correct is the fact that it completes the grid and satisfies the game, no secret TV references secreted here. Her 'regret' etc. just refers to her coming up with an answer too late. As for 'b', I would say that's an exotic meat that W1 could not permit as sufficiently common. And 'c'? There's a classic pun for you to find! (Just an Easter egg...) Well done again - excellent job! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 4, 2023 at 8:00
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    $\begingroup$ Far from it, that is exactly what I was aiming at in this puzzle! Rot13(Fpneyrgg Zbssngg jbexf va gur fnzr jnl nf Cyhz Gbzngb, Terraubhfr rgp. Gbezragrq ol abg univat sbhaq ure nafjre fbba rabhtu, va ure pryy Zvff Fpneyrgg cynlf jvgu gur jbeqf ure sryybj tnzrcynlref jrer nyyhqvat gb, va fhpu n jnl gung gur nafjre gung ryhqrq ure pna or sbezrq...) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 4, 2023 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW while relatively unknown in the US and the rest of the world, rot13(va gur HX fur vf cerggl jryy xabja. Fur sbhaq snzr nf n erthyne ba Tbttyrobk gura jba V'z N Pryroevgl Trg Zr Bhg Bs Urer, naq abj obgu cerfragf fubjf naq srngherf nf n pryro pbagrfgnag ba fcrpvnyf.) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 4, 2023 at 11:29
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    $\begingroup$ There are still a few Easter eggs out there (e.g. note who is first to have a guess, bearing in mind the usual rule about who opens the game, and the parlour remark) but I am happy to leave those for readers to spot for themselves - definitely deserving of the checkmark already, so here it is! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 4, 2023 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielS Now that all is resolved, the reason behind the signature is a PSE callback to my write-up on this past puzzle of Lukas Rotter's... Purely an Easter Egg for those who may have remembered that puzzle or might go on to discover it later! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 11, 2023 at 10:55

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