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Since the CS50x Puzzle Day 2018 has ended here in the USA, I think I can now ask this question. The following table has been given and we need to find a single word related to it. The logic could be anything, no restrictions. Try to think outside the box as much as possible.

Puzzle 7 from CS50x 2018

CSV version:

Amsterdam,Athletics: Men's 5000 meters,Gold
Antwerp,Boxing: Men's lightweight,Bronze
Athens,Fencing: Women's individual foil,Silver
Grenoble,Cross-country Skiing: Men's 15km,Silver
Montreal,Boxing: Men's light heavyweight,Silver
Nagano,Alpine Skiing: Men's giant slalom,Bronze
Oslo,Speed Skating: Men's 500 meters,Gold
Rio de Janeiro,Athletics: Women's 800 meters,Bronze
Seoul,Canoeing: Men's K1 500 meters kayak singles,Gold,
Tokyo,Fencing: Women's individual foil,Bronze
Vancouver,Cross-country Skiing: Women's sprint,Silver

I found out all the winners and their respective countries and tried fiddling with them, but no luck. I also made a tally of the medals and tried something with binary numbers as well. I also tried some other normal arithmetic calculations, no luck there either. Any kind of help is appreciated. Thanks.

The link to the puzzle packet. This is problem number 7 in this packet.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling :) Could you share the link to the original source of the puzzle, please. $\endgroup$
    – ABcDexter
    Mar 12, 2018 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ @ABcDexter edited! $\endgroup$
    – 1234567890
    Mar 12, 2018 at 16:20

3 Answers 3

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Okay, this is a puzzle I've looked at multiple times over the past couple of years and never managed to find my way through to a solution. So - full disclosure - I've done some research online to see if a solution had ever been posted anywhere else. And I found one. Hidden away, within a CS50 blog post, in an embedded and unlisted YouTube video. But as far as I can tell there is no write-up anywhere easily found online - so here we go: the solution to this puzzle; research and write-up mine, but the solution as provided by the puzzle's creators...


The first step to solving this puzzle is a big data collection exercise. A table similar to the one compiled by @DqwertyC is a good place to start:

Year Host City Event Medal Athlete Country
1928 Amsterdam Athletics: Men's 5000 meters Gold Ville Ritola Finland
1920 Antwerp Boxing: Men's lightweight Bronze Clarence Newton Canada
2004 Athens Fencing: Women's individual foil Silver Giovanna Trillini Italy
1968 Grenoble Cross-country Skiing: Men's 15km Silver Eero Mäntyranta Finland
1976 Montreal Boxing: Men's light heavyweight Silver Sixto Soria Cuba
1998 Nagano Alpine Skiing: Men's giant slalom Bronze Michael von Grünigen Switzerland
1952 Oslo Speed Skating: Men's 500 meters Gold Ken Henry USA
2016 Rio de Janeiro Athletics: Women's 800 meters Bronze Margaret Wambui Kenya
1988 Seoul Canoeing: Men's K1 500 meters kayak singles Gold Zsolt Gyulai Hungary
1964 Tokyo Fencing: Women's individual foil Bronze Antonella Ragno Italy
2010 Vancouver Cross-country Skiing: Women's sprint Silver Justyna Kowalczyk Poland

Note here in row 3 that we have selected the 2004 Athens Olympics rather than the one in 1896, since this is the only one of the two to feature the fencing event in question. Also, we can ignore the recent '2020' Tokyo games (which played out late in 2021, of course), since these post-date the original question.

Now, in this type of puzzle hunt question we generally need to look for a way to extract a one-word (occasionally, one-phrase) answer from the data available, and usually this will involve systematically extracting one, two or more letters from each entry in the data table. There are very few clues provided in this puzzle, making it particularly difficult to find the solution without a great deal of trial and error. And, in fact, our task on PSE was made even harder as a result of the one clue that was provided to the CS50x Puzzle Day 2018 participants being omitted from the puzzle as presented here!

Here's a link to the original puzzle packet PDF file, with the relevant page reproduced below:

Puzzle in full as per original puzzle packet

We see here that the title of the original puzzle was Medal Table - and this is intended by the puzzle setters to indicate not just the table presented to us but a hint as to how to solve it...

Consider the data table we've collected. Among the data available to us we have the countries represented by the winning athletes. We need to look up the final medal table for each Olympic Games listed here and find out how many of the specified medal that country won.

For example, at the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympics, Finland finished third with 8 gold medals; while at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Olympics, Canada placed twelfth with 3 bronze medals.

Let's seek this information out for the other entries in the table and add this in:

Year Host City Event Medal Athlete Country
1928 Amsterdam Athletics: Men's 5000 meters Gold Ville Ritola Finland 8
1920 Antwerp Boxing: Men's lightweight Bronze Clarence Newton Canada 3
2004 Athens Fencing: Women's individual foil Silver Giovanna Trillini Italy 11
1968 Grenoble Cross-country Skiing: Men's 15km Silver Eero Mäntyranta Finland 2
1976 Montreal Boxing: Men's light heavyweight Silver Sixto Soria Cuba 4
1998 Nagano Alpine Skiing: Men's giant slalom Bronze Michael von Grünigen Switzerland 3
1952 Oslo Speed Skating: Men's 500 meters Gold Ken Henry USA 4
2016 Rio de Janeiro Athletics: Women's 800 meters Bronze Margaret Wambui Kenya 1
1988 Seoul Canoeing: Men's K1 500 meters kayak singles Gold Zsolt Gyulai Hungary 11
1964 Tokyo Fencing: Women's individual foil Bronze Antonella Ragno Italy 7
2010 Vancouver Cross-country Skiing: Women's sprint Silver Justyna Kowalczyk Poland 3

Now, we use these numbers to...

...index into the names of the medal winners. i.e. take the 8th letter of Ville Ritola's name (T), then the 3rd letter of 'Clarence Newton' (A), and proceed similarly down the table.

Year Host City Event Medal Athlete Country
1928 Amsterdam Athletics: Men's 5000 meters Gold Ville Ritola Finland 8 T
1920 Antwerp Boxing: Men's lightweight Bronze Clarence Newton Canada 3 A
2004 Athens Fencing: Women's individual foil Silver Giovanna Trillini Italy 11 I
1968 Grenoble Cross-country Skiing: Men's 15km Silver Eero Mäntyranta Finland 2 E
1976 Montreal Boxing: Men's light heavyweight Silver Sixto Soria Cuba 4 T
1998 Nagano Alpine Skiing: Men's giant slalom Bronze Michael von Grünigen Switzerland 3 C
1952 Oslo Speed Skating: Men's 500 meters Gold Ken Henry USA 4 H
2016 Rio de Janeiro Athletics: Women's 800 meters Bronze Margaret Wambui Kenya 1 M
1988 Seoul Canoeing: Men's K1 500 meters kayak singles Gold Zsolt Gyulai Hungary 11 I
1964 Tokyo Fencing: Women's individual foil Bronze Antonella Ragno Italy 7 L
2010 Vancouver Cross-country Skiing: Women's sprint Silver Justyna Kowalczyk Poland 3 S

And now one step remains...

Note that the list was originally sorted alphabetically by host city. If instead we sort the table by the year of the Games, we reorder the extracted letters as follows:

1920 A
1928 T
1952 H
1964 L
1968 E
1976 T
1988 I
1998 C
2004 I
2010 S
2016 M

i.e. The hidden (and thematic) one-word answer to this puzzle is:

ATHLETICISM!

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Here's the table as CSV. I've also added the individual and the country for the given medal, and the year that that Olympics took place. Hopefully this will help someone with better pattern recognition skills:

Host City,Year,Event,Medal,Individual,Country
Amsterdam,1928,Athletics: Men's 5000m,Gold,Ville Ritola,Finland
Antwerp,1920,Boxing: Man's lightweight,Bronze,Clarence Newton,Canada
Athens,2004,Fencing: Women's Individual Foil,Silver,Giovanna Trillini,Italy
Grenoble,1968,Cross-Country Skiing: Men's 15km,Silver,Eero Mantyranta,Finland
Montreal,1976,Boxing: Men's Light Heavyweight,Silver,Sixto Soria,Cuba
Nagano,1998,Alpine Skiing: Men's Giant Slalom,Bronze,Michael von Grünigen,Switzerland
Oslo,1952,Speed Skating: Men's 500 meters,Gold,Ken Henry,USA
Rio de Janeiro,2016,Athletics: Women's 800 meters,Bronze,MARGARET WAMBUI,Kenya
Seoul,1988,Canoeing: Man's K I 500 meters kayak singles,Gold,Zsolt Gyulay,Hungary
Tokyo,1964,Fencing: Women's Individual Foil,Bronze,Antonella Ragno,Italy
Vancouver,2010,Cross-Country Skiing: Women's Spring,Silver,Justyna Kowalczyk,Poland
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This answer is a work in progress / a reference to help other solve this question too.


Reproducing the data in the image:

  1. Amsterdam -- Athletics: Men's 5000 meters -- GOLD
  2. Antwerp -- Boxing: Men's lightweight -- BRONZE
  3. Athens -- Fencing: Women's individual foil -- SILVER
  4. Grenoble -- Cross-country Skiing: Men's 15km -- SILVER
  5. Montreal -- Boxing: Men's light heavyweight -- SILVER
  6. Nagano -- Alpine Skiing: Men's giant slalom -- BRONZE
  7. Oslo -- Speed Skating: Men's 500 meters -- GOLD
  8. Rio de Janeiro -- Athletics: Women's 800 meters -- BRONZE
  9. Seoul -- Canoeing: Men's K1 500 meters kayak singles -- GOLD
  10. Tokyo -- Fencing: Women's individual foil -- BRONZE
  11. Vancouver -- Cross-country Skiing: Women's sprint -- SILVER

...and now retrieving links for each event:

  1. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1928/ATH/mens-5000-metres.html
  2. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1920/BOX/mens-lightweight.html
  3. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/2004/FEN/womens-foil-individual.html
  4. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/winter/1968/CCS/mens-15-kilometres.html
  5. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1976/BOX/mens-light-heavyweight.html
  6. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/winter/1998/ASK/mens-giant-slalom.html
  7. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/winter/1952/SSK/mens-500-metres.html
  8. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/2016/ATH/womens-800-metres.html
  9. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1988/CAN/mens-kayak-singles-500-metres.html
  10. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1964/FEN/womens-foil-individual.html
  11. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/winter/2010/CCS/womens-sprint.html

...and now correlating with medals to get athlete data (apologies for the bad unicode -- I blame sports-reference for that):

  1. {'name': 'Ville Ritola', 'age': 32, 'country': 'Finland'}
  2. {'name': 'Chris Newton', 'age': 21, 'country': 'Canada'}
  3. {'name': 'Giovanna Trillini', 'age': 34, 'country': 'Italy'}
  4. {'name': 'Eero Mäntyranta', 'age': 30, 'country': 'Finland'}
  5. {'name': 'Sixto Soria', 'age': 22, 'country': 'Cuba'}
  6. {'name': 'Michael von Grünigen', 'age': 28, 'country': 'Switzerland'}
  7. {'name': 'Ken Henry', 'age': 23, 'country': 'United States'}
  8. {'name': 'Margaret Wambui', 'age': 20, 'country': 'Kenya'}
  9. {'name': 'Zsolt Gyulay', 'age': 24, 'country': 'Hungary'}
  10. {'name': 'Antonella Ragno-Lonzi', 'age': 24, 'country': 'Italy'}
  11. {'name': 'Justyna Kowalczyk', 'age': 27, 'country': 'Poland'}
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