So I was presented with this puzzler:
The answer to the puzzle is a 6 letter word with 6 different letters. Each of these 12 words have one - and only one - letter of the mystery word in the correct position (i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.)
MYRIAD FUMBLE CATKIN RECKON TOWARD OUTAGE STEADY SWAYED BOUNTY TONGUE STOLEN UNREST
I couldn't find a very efficient algorithm for solving it - more on this later - so I decided to put my programming skills to use and just generate all possible solutions via brute force.
Imagine my surprise when there was only a single 6 letter combination that met the criteria, and it was the answer to the puzzle!
I don't want to give away the answer in case you want to solve it yourself, but as I'm not interested in the answer so much as the method of devising the problem and its solution, I have a mild spoiler: each letter of the answer appears exactly twice in its correct position.
So my questions are basically:
- Is having 2 words per letter-position a function of building a unique solution to such a puzzle?
- What's the algorithm for doing this without a computer? One attempt I worked at noted that the words
RECKON, OUTAGE, BOUNTY, UNREST, and
SWAYEDdon't share any letter-positions so they contain 5 of the letters, but I couldn't finish the thought.
I think I'm missing something obvious about the puzzle's design and intended solving process. I usually crank through puzzle books in an hour or two, but this one just felt impossible!