This is an entry into the Fortnightly Topic Challenge #36
I got a ticket to the Red Herring Puzzle Club in the middle of the street. There was just a guy giving them out, like some advertisement flyers. When I took one, I asked him "This club advertises so hard, are they low on members?"
"That's not the problem here, mister. They just don't accept everyone. First, you need to get to the place, then you get the stamp so they can assess you. Most just give up on the way. There are also rumours that a 7 and a 9 changed places somewhere in their last puzzle, which made it unsolvable".
"So, they are looking for someone who can solve it, despite the mistake".
"They are, but you have to hurry if you want to try. The fortnightly hiring ends on the first of July".
That got me interested. I studied the invitation thoroughly.
After some googling, I found an old-timey tavern "Red Herring", with an emblem that looked exactly like this image (except coloured in tones of red), and got there. It was quite empty.
"Does the puzzle club reside here?" - I asked the bartender straight away.
"Only if you have your ID and the ticket".
After the bartender put a stamp on the ticket, he gave me... a pack of pencils.
"One last problem here, Mr Blue. Your ticket appears to be... uncoloured. How about you order a drink, have a seat there and colour it properly?"
Being caught a bit off guard, I sat at the table. But as soon as I took out a red pencil out of the pack, I saw a bundle of tickets under the table. All different-coloured, some torn or crumbled. The colouring was the test. And I believe I had only one try, because my name had been documented.
I observed the stamp. It was a bunch of numbers (was there a mix-up somewhere? Or was it all a red herring from the flyer-guy?)
с16121205 = 11.270870379354016297
c215425 = t111497820 * 15.259235946713597941088762970061
с5255 = 2.829180819192919080
с1912135 = 13.35143191847259405584977803
Some kind of code, not sure if it's solvable by itself, though. Looking around the bar, I found a bunch of same-looking sheets with a crossword - to keep the visitors entertained, I guess. Now, this is that crossword.
1. Young Beethoven's water tiger
3. Black-and-white apple
6. Jewish lion with German body
7. Fate of australian students
9. It's rad and deep-seated, I ...
11. My mate always brings it to the team
12. First documented source of stem cells
14. A way to store data (very safe)
15. Tears of night
16. A way to store data (relatively bulky)
1. Young Beethoven's wooden snake
2. I am single, I have no ...
4. A kilo that's about 2% bigger than kilo
5. A prickly healer
8. We are not making a funny definition for them, just to be safe
9. A yard, but messed up and noir
10. I am single, I have no ...
13. Bed (a consolation word in case you can't guess anything)
14. I am handy, I can ...
1) Solve the crossword (I mean, the fortnight challenge is 'Twisted Classics', not 'visual')
2) Attach a properly coloured herring to your answer.
The red herring (this may sound like a hint, but will probably push you further from solution):
Bluffing, I called the bartender and told him:
"I see you changed a 9 and a 7 in your puzzle, didn't you?"
Without blinking an eye, he answered: "Maybe it is the God who mixed them up, and I just put them right". I smiled and nodded him to go away. That was pretty fruitless.
Hint number half
- Are you solving this one too? Any success as of yet?
- Not a clue.
A bearded man of unknown origin joined me at the table.
- Tell me about it! I mean, these can't be real clues - unless Beethoven actually had a tiger or something - but this isn't one of those famous cryptic crosswords either! The one who constructed it, clearly didn't know his job.
I didn't answer, understanding, that my newly obtained friend had even less success.
- Anyway, is the "Sink or salt" some kind of a local pun? Because I don't get it.
What do you mean?
- It's totally supposed to say "Sink or Sail" there.
- Well, since when do you write L with a dash and i with this thing on the upper side?
I gave it some thought.
Hint number one
- And that "A"... "S"... - I nervously laughed. - You know what, it might be not a word at all.
- How come?
- There is this thing, called "lit" or something... - I tried to remember, - like, the way of writing words with numbers. This lettering looks like someone curved 5-4-1-7 so that they'd look like a word "SAIL".
- Well, that can't be it. If we take that D-13 is indeed "bed" - you couldn't construct this of numbers, now could you? That would really restrict you.
- I don't know. This puzzle does look a bit restricted, with words this short.
I ordered a beer and started looking through the definitions once more.
Hint number two
The RHPC has closed its doors before me once again. However, after a while I happened to stumble across one of the bar's permanent clients, the creator of the puzzle himself. He didn't remember the solution, but the information was plenty:
- So, it's a crossword, but the words are written with a1z26 code. Thus it should be only digits everywhere. There is something special about the words in italics, but it is still digits only.
- All right.
- But the twist is... the puzzle is also a 10x10 sudoku. That was the idea I had in mind when creating it. I might have made some definitions very unclear so I can't guess them myself, but the latin-square rules may help you make a right choice. I was really drunk when the RHPC ordered it from me.
- Isn't a sudoku supposed to have areas of 10 where the numbers do not repeat?
- Y-yeah. I'm not sure where they are, though. Sorry.
I was outraged. The geezer did give me the thread, but it was still somewhat unreliable.
- I remember them complaining about me starting word in the middle-cells, but that's just silly.
- Silly? You mean, it's enough that the words end where the grid ends, right?
- Please tell me the words at least end where they are restricted by grid!
- They do, except for the words at (1). But isn't is obvious that 1-down and 1-across are of the same length? I mean, they are like, several years apart...
His voice cut to mumbling, then he continued drinking. I think that was all the puzzle intel I could get from him.
And what does it have to do with the colour of the ticket!?
Hint number 3.1
Unlike the previous hints, the ones below may refer to partial the answers that had been given at the moment. It's highly recommended that you solve the crossword before reading the hints further.
Hint number 3.2
You require a finished 10x10 grid of the crossword - which you can borrow from Christoph. You do not require crossword lines or shiplines, just the number-grid.
Hint number 3.3
'c' refers to 'colour', with each line giving a hint on colouring a corresponding part of the ticket. Diagram gives 4 paths, corresponding to 4 ways to decypher these 4 lines. Actually Garreth already found one of the "colours". He didn't even have to use a knife (of course, knife in the diagram corresponds to
Hint number 3.4
The upper strategy represents the path to colour of the plate. You cut the number into pieces of 11 length (thus 11 is a 'knife'), then you put them into the crossword field and see the resulting shape (that's looking into the pot). The result just tells that the plate is supposed to look exactly like a cent coin (representing the tiny size of the herring served). That's 1 of 4.
Hint number 3.14
The 'pi' assumption is correct (but is still not enough for the answer). The 'knight' assumption is correct. Everything is practically solved, so I desperately drawing attention to this question so I can live in peace further.