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Something has been replaced by question marks. Find what's been replaced and then tell me what the two rows stand for.


enter image description here

Hint 1:

The "?'s" are not to be replaced by letters, they're actually to be replaced by.. (yup you guessed it)

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    $\begingroup$ Edit: I changed the puzzle a bit, but this way it's not as messy and more straightforward. Sorry for inconvenience but hopefully it makes more sense now. $\endgroup$ Mar 1 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ Ah! Now the title makes sense ... $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Mar 2 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ I get the title too and I got what the question marks represent and what is next to the numbers but the numbers and the rebus has me stumped atm. $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Mar 2 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ @PDT I just wanted to hint pbhagevrf $\endgroup$ Mar 3 at 6:42

1 Answer 1

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The two rows are representing

The countries…
MEXICO
LUXEMBOURG

The Reason

The title:

I started off by noticing the title had quotation marks around it suggesting a well known phrase and the only well known phrase I could think of that fit the bill, corresponding with the amount of missing letters was “HUGS AND KISSES” which I then speculated as hinting at Os and Xs and so perhaps too the game TIC TAC TOE as being significant for the solution.

The dashes and question marks:

Following from the hint it seemed like the cipher being used here was the MORSE CODE since there were dashes and question marks were hinted at to being dots. So we have dashes and dots... I then proceeded to feed the top line of the left series of dashes and question marks into a Morse code decoder and with one configuration of separating the line into chunks it led to XXO something which I felt highly promising due to the title. Then I saw that the other lines could also be separated exclusively into X and Os since x is -..- and o is - - - This led to something promisingly resembling two games of tic tac toe:

XXO
OXO
OX

OXX
OOX
XOO

I saw in the left game X wins and in the right O wins. So assuming that I had to somehow graft a couple of words out of the two rows, I assumed that this hinted at the left grid representing the letter X and right representing the letter O!

the picture

Being the world map made me assume that it is therefore suggesting that COUNTRIES are probably the theme for this puzzle.

As a result, the numbers on top of the bars

I then assumed probably had to represent the number of letters to be placed next to the X and O which when taken as a whole SPELT OUT A COUNTRY.

So then I thought:

What countries could fit 2X2O on the top row and 2X3O3 on the bottom?? Well only the countries MEXICO and LUXEMBOURG.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer looks correct but it reads like it is skipping a few steps in the solution. If I were answering this, I'd describe it in terms of what you do to the puzzle pieces, not what they are. $\endgroup$ Mar 2 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ @codewarrior0 thanks for the feedback as always, I will try to revise my answer so as to improve it 👍 $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Mar 2 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ What could be the 11-letter answer to the puzzle in its original state? $\endgroup$
    – ACB
    Mar 3 at 3:19
  • $\begingroup$ This is it, well done! $\endgroup$ Mar 3 at 6:41
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! So what about the original puzzle out of curiosity it seems drastically different. $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Mar 3 at 7:25

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