Last Friday, I was feeling a bit sad because I hadn't earned much rep recently, so I decided to try this awesome sock puppet thing everyone's been raving about. I logged out of my normal Puzzling account, and started to create a new account. I entered all the relevant made-up information, then of course I had to prove that I wasn't some sort of malicious program, so I clicked the reCAPTCHA button at the bottom of the page.

Unable to verify humanity. Activating rereCAPTCHA

"Unable to verify humanity?" What's that supposed to mean? Maybe they'd realized that my sock puppet had the same IP as I did. Clever SE programmers! Nevertheless, I pressed on and looked at the "re-reCAPTCHA" they presented.

Standard reCAPTCHA

This looked simple enough, like the good old CAPTCHA days, so I typed "overlooks" and "inquiry" into the box. A few seconds later, another message appeared.

Still unable to verify humanity, activating re-re-reCAPTCHA

Ouch, internet! Calling us humans non-human hurts a bit. Now I really needed that sock puppet rep to feel better about myself, so I waited while the re-re-reCAPTCHA loaded, then saw this:

enter image description here

Um, what? This looks daunting enough that I'm about ready to throw in the towel, but I would love to at least know what the answer is. It looks like a bunch of these, but not all, are cryptic clues. Maybe some of you can help?

And kudos, SE engineers, for having a true Puzzling challenge to prevent gaming the system. I'm in awe.

So...what is the verification phrase I should type?

(Though I wasn't able to solve this myself, I did manage to copy down all the clues—left to right, top to bottom—in text format, to help you help me.)

Text of clues:

1. Beginning after combat, nothing contained my Guatemalan uncle's hostilities (6)
2. One of a listening pair are confused (3)
-3. Departed behind schedule (4)
4. Shawshank inmate's hearing studied (3)
5. In the cult, I mated with the best (8)
6. At Bern, even Hamilton's home (3)
-7. Dude has the case (2)
8. A bit of pure stagnation! (4)
-9. Interminable delays yield little Starbucks (4)
10. Devil dazzled—without break—in speech (3)
11. Go back and erase life's first awkward stare (4)
12. Captain of Gryffindor followed snitch in to score (6)
13. Write with a marker (3)
-14. Loose modern communication breaks record (4)
15. Nothing happened while heading from London to Liverpool this time (3)
16. Part made with revolutionary hair product (3)
17. Hurried and opened teapot spout (4)
18. I heard any street can make home (4)
19. Apple launched a leading product, ignored petition (4)
20. Malfunctioning gear fume (4)
-1. Sibling with little work ends up penniless (5)
2. We tracked a couple of errors, then went back to be certain (4)
3. Standard mark (4)
4. Present sage final advice for a neighbor (4)
5. News organization covered President's program (3)
6. In retrospect, the accidental exlcamation cut short was "Shit!" (3)
-7. Part of what "amen" does! (3)
8. Big kid forgot opening of anthem, told to leave (2)
10. A beer was left to chill inside (3)
10. Possesses an endless variety of avocados (3)
-11. Most common dialup device lacks premium core (4)
12. Primate, at heart, is a bird (3)
-13. Register the contents of the will I started (4)
14. Expression for rat bastard (3)
15. Peace for Englishmen interrupted by South African revolution (4)
-16. As one, we left to get that girl (3)
17. Checks in with future inspiration (5)
18. A neighbor started peeking into gym class' window (4)
19. License to go outside of Cuba or Jamaica (2)
20. Automaton purchased by phone (3)
1. Copy
2. Race
3. Tempering
4. Netiher here nor there
5. Search
6. Obfuscation
7. Trouble
8. Spear
9. Last-ditch fix
10. Transparent
11. Serious
12. Delight
13. Nearly final
14. Tale
15. Most in need
16. Core
17. Satisfy
18. Contributor
19. Firm
20. Obvious
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @jstnthms I'm pretty sure the "(N)" are cryptic-clue length indicators. More about cryptic clues here if you're not familiar. As for the "-", no idea. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 16:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the - sign indicates direction. So 1 would be 1 Across and -1 would be 1 Down. $\endgroup$
    – MMAdams
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 17:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Deusovi Thanks! I took my time and tried to get at least some of them to that "next level". $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 20:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Of course if you did solve this before your session expires, a singularity-termination squad would likely be dispatched to your location. $\endgroup$
    – mr23ceec
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 14:43
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ I would of answered with f**k captcha. That's the ultimate "I'm human" proof. $\endgroup$
    – Overmind
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 6:32

1 Answer 1


The "gimmick":

Each of the non-cryptic clues is made up of two cryptic clue components. For instance, regular clue 13, "Nearly final", is made up of PEN from the first #13 ("Write with a marker") and ULTIMATE from the first #5 ("In the cult, I mated with the best").

When you take

all the sums of the two cards that make up each regular clue, you get the phrase "I PASSED THE TURING TEST".

This sheet has all of the annotations; here's just the list of answers and how they combine.

enter image description here

(Various parts solved by jagoandlitefoot, Deusovi, durron597, ffao, jstnthms, PaulEvans, Gareth McCaugham, M Oehm, and Rubio.)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "We tracked ...": it's US (we) following (tracked) ER (a couple of errors) backwards (then went back). $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 15:29
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ And present = HERE is HERB (sage) with the B ("a" neighbor in the alphabet) replaced by (for) E (final, ie last letter of advice) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 15:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I added some of the completions (PANELIST, LEGEND) but had much less luck solving actual clues. cryptics are apparently not my thing. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 3:10

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