As my grandfather reached the end of his long and satisfying life, I sat by his bedside and asked him what advice he could give me to help me in my own. Unable to speak, he pointed to his bedside cabinet where I found this curious puzzle!

My Grandfather's Final Message

This made me smile. It was typical of my grandfather who loved language and riddles. It took me a while, but I finally solved the puzzle and decoded his message!


1. Tell me his final message


2. Explain the cipher!

A clue (if you need it):

I asked my grandfather if he could give me a clue to the cipher, and he just held up 4 fingers. It helped me - perhaps that will help you too?

A second clue (if you need it):

I quickly figured out that my grandfather didn't mean the number 4. He was never much of a numbers man and much preferred riddles and wordplay.

A third clue (if you need it):

I realised that my wordsmith grandfather must have meant the word "for", and that decoding the message involves exchanging one letter for another. But which letters? Surely the images next to each letter are involved...

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that you can almost form the word "Minkoswky" with the letters given. Does he has a certain cipher? $\endgroup$
    – O0123
    Jun 8, 2018 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ Clue 3 tells you HOW the cipher works. You need to work it out. The correct answer needs to show working out. $\endgroup$
    – Astralbee
    Jun 8, 2018 at 19:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Because the SO! seem to be sort of separate from the other letters, I thought this might be a key. One can notice that, to go from S to O one needs to go back 4 spots in the alphabet. Doing the same for the whole text yields something as (from top to bottom, first the left line and then the right line): OK! EJIK UEZNQGKS. Doing the same 4 spots further in the alphabet yields the equally non-elusive: WS! MRQS CMHVYOSD. Just reporting what seems like a dead end. $\endgroup$
    – O0123
    Jun 9, 2018 at 8:00
  • $\begingroup$ @VincentMiaEdieVerheyen I like to think I have given enough clues within the main question and the subsequent clues to indicate that the "cipher" is not mathematical. In fact I hope "cipher" is the right word! There are puzzles within the puzzle. The only additional thing I will give away is that the board should be viewed as two halves, left and right. $\endgroup$
    – Astralbee
    Jun 11, 2018 at 11:17

1 Answer 1


Complete Answer:

KNOW YOUR IDIOMS! this anagrams from the letters

If this is correct, it seems that we must

form idioms with the icons, then replace the icons with the corresponding letters.

Here are my guesses so far...
1st (numbering 1-16, down first for the images)

An EYE for an EYE swaps K (1) and S(14)


HORSES for COURSES swaps N (6) and (2)


my KINGDOM (crown) for a HORSE swaps exclamation (3) and O (15)


MONEY for NOTHING swaps W (16) and _ (4)


MONEY for (OLD) ROPE swaps I (5) and Y (9)


DOWN for THE COUNT swaps U (13) and M (7)


JUST(ice) for KICKS swaps O (8) and R (12)


PLAY for TIME swaps I (10) and D (11)


Each answer uses for which matches up with Grandpa's clue

Which gets me to:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ I imagined some people would resort to working backwards, which is why I insisted the correct answer must include an explanation. This way the final answer becomes another clue. Very meta. You're on your way! $\endgroup$
    – Astralbee
    Jun 13, 2018 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ Just to be clear - the correct answer will show not only the final message but also the idioms used to get the letters in that order. $\endgroup$
    – Astralbee
    Jun 14, 2018 at 7:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Perhaps ROT13(gevcyr pebja ubefr enpr) is involved, especially given the timing. $\endgroup$
    – cobaltduck
    Jun 14, 2018 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ @cobaltduck No, but you are starting to think about what the symbols represent. Remember you are looking to substitute one for another. $\endgroup$
    – Astralbee
    Jun 14, 2018 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ ROT13(gvzr vf zbarl)? Previously deleted comment after thinking it was in the answer $\endgroup$
    – Klyzx
    Jun 14, 2018 at 22:40

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