Addendum 1/14/2023: I've given a new, major hint in an answer.

I am a spy for the CIA. Since I am in a hostile territory, my next mission was given to me in a very coded manner.

Today, while playing chess in the local park, a briefcase landed on my head. Feeling that it fell from the tree that was above me, I looked up, expecting to see someone there but mysteriously, no one was there.

Since my chess game was ruined by the case falling onto the chessboard, I shook hands with my opponent and walked away with the briefcase.

After I was in my apartment, I took a look at the many documents inside the briefcase.

There was this newspaper advertisement:

Here Is Fun Every Night!

To be for Queen/One in for Rook in

Six Rooks one/Six Rooks one

Three Knights, three Pawns/There Bishops for

Seven pawns/For knights, one are king

Space bishop/Space dash

Space dash/Sometimes darkness wins over space light And you should never forget WK A8, as I did (The 4th wall simply shatters...)

So come to our poetry club. It’ll be fun every knight for you!

After that was an odd cassette tape that played the following sounds, in ten steps:

  1. Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop, Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop

  2. Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop, Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop

  3. Drip Drop Drip Drop, Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop

  4. Drip Drop Drip Drop, Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop

  5. Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop, Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop

  6. Drip Drop Drip Drop, Drip Drop

  7. Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop, Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop

  8. Drip Drop, Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop

  9. Drip Drop Drip Drop, Drip Drop

  10. Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop, Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip Drop

There was this short poem:

Never trust a gift.

For it has an even deadlier gift.

Never trust Siberian men as well.

For they have cold, frozen hearts.

The (W)elsh don’t quite have the name, and they must be switched

Not even L.L. Zamenhof, a man of understanding, could.

Everyone has a deadly present for one another.

Tharapita brings us thunder.

Tim Krabbe brings us dangerous games.

To Albania we shall find the most deadly gift of all!

Finally, there was a paper with chess notations:

Black Goes First

  1. ? Bf3
  2. f3 g5
  3. g5 c5
  4. e4 e4
  5. g8 h3
  6. h5

Using this information, tell me who I am going after, what I will do, where, and with what.

Good luck!

NOTE TO SELF: The number 10 seems to be a pattern here...

P.S.-This a very layered puzzle, and it is not necessarily in order or all about chess. But that’s why it’s a called a puzzle,after all! Mwuhahahahaha!


Part 1:

Solved by Gareth McCaughan

Part 2:

Solved by Gareth McCaughan

Part 3:

Getting there by Gareth McCaughan

Part 4:

Part 2 applied by Gareth McCaughan

I’m just going to add some hints here.

Part 2:

“Why are they moving their hands so much?” asked the guard. “I really hate the racket!”

Part 3:

It’s all about where each line takes you. Different cultures have different languages.

Part 4:

Apply to Part 2, and then to Part 3. Then comes the time where we have fun every night!

Where And How:

Look at the final position


This is already given


Spelled out by the game

It's time for another round hints after what feels like forever!

The Poem

A link to a link

Where And How

Retract a move and give a check with a tower. What do you see?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (ROT13) Uzz... V abgvprq gung gur gvgyr bs gur arjfcncre nqiregvfrzrag vf 'Urer vf Sha Rirel Avtug'. Ohg gur ynfg yvar fnlf, "vg'yy or sha rirel xavtug sbe lbh". Gurer nccrnef gb or n qvssrerag pubvpr bs fcryyvat urer... jnf guvf qryvorengr? $\endgroup$
    – Mr Pie
    Commented Apr 6, 2019 at 2:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes it is deliberate-however it is just a pun for the sake of the question. It does not partake in then solving of the puzzle. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 6, 2019 at 2:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I've taken the obvious step suggested by that, but there's (deliberately, I assume) something important missing and my only guess so far at how it might be located doesn't seem to work. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 1:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Rewan, presumably @GarethMcCaughan is talking about the fact that manipulating the advert in the way he's hinting at gives a valid output structure, but is still invalid in other ways (too many of some, and not enough of others) making it unclear what to do next, since rot13(gur abezny "arkg" guvat gb qb vf vzcbffvoyr, naq gur "svany cvrpr bs cncre" ng gur obggbz qbrfa'g frrz gb sbyybj rvgure. Va snpg vg nyzbfg ybbxf ivfhny/erohf-rfdhr gb zr engure guna n yrtvg frghc). $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 1:55
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Basically, a good puzzle shouldn’t be “guess what the OP was thinking when he/she created it.” If things are too obscure, or it isn’t clear what the next step will be, then it turns off potential solvers. At this point I’d recommend either editing the clues to make it clearer what’s going on or adding a hint or two. $\endgroup$
    – HTM
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 5:49

2 Answers 2


Partial answer

The initials of "Fun Every Night" are FEN, suggesting Forsyth-Edwards Notation. The stuff that follows fairly obviously seems to correspond to the following FEN string:
2b4Q/1n4Rn/6R1/6R1/3N3P/3B4/7p/4n1rk b - -
and there are various online things that will display the resulting position for you, like this one.

It turns out that the omission of the WK was an oversight, and the question has now been edited to place it on a8. And OP has explained in comments that the bit about darkness winning over light is intended to put a "0 1" at the end of the FEN, though that doesn't make much difference. So the new position is K1b4Q/1n4Rn/6R1/6R1/3N3P/3B4/7p/4n1rk b 0 1. Link.It's not clear what we are meant to do with this position, though. Black's losing in short order whatever he does; my computer thinks White mates in 8, but I wouldn't bet much on the uniqueness of the line it gives. (...Nxg5; Qxc8 Nef3; Rxg5 Nc5; Qc6 Ne4; Nxf3 Ra1+; Kb8 Rb1+; Bxb1 Nxg5; Ne1+ Kg1; Qg2#, for what it's worth.)


the words of the cassette tape are just "Drip Drop" repeated over and over. Therefore, the only information in them comes from the number of "Drip Drops" and the punctuation between them. Each group consists of some "Drip Drop"s, then a comma, then some more "Drip Drop"s; so we have, in effect, two smallish numbers per group: 33, 33, 24, 24, 33, 21, 33, 14, 21, 53. The number-pairs might e.g. describe locations on a chessboard, though if so it's a little surprising that only one of the numbers is bigger than 4, and also that there's so much repetition. One plausible guess is a tap code. There's a standard one of these, and on the face of it it produces nonsense which is why I didn't pursue it further -- but OP added a hint pointing in this direction, and I find that transposing the usual 5x5 matrix we get: N N / R R / N B / N Q / B P and those letters look interestingly familiar. Perhaps it's actually ...N / N R / R N / B N / Q B / P since "black goes first". We can pair these pieces with the squares in part 3, and all the resulting moves are playable from that position encoded in phonetic FEN; we then get the position K5Q1/6Rn/8/6RP/4n3/5N1b/7p/7k b - - 0 6, linked here. Still thinking about what happens next.

The "short poem" is still a mystery. There might be a tenuous chess connection with the stuff about gifts (e.g., one common attacking motif in chess is called the "Greek gift sacrifice"; needless to say, it's not a gift anyone should be glad to receive) but I suspect not. Zamenhof was the inventor of Esperanto. Some chess pieces are denoted in Esperanto by letters different from the ones we use in English, which might make for some entertaining misdirection, but I don't think that can explain the oddness of the position in the FEN. Tim Krabbe is a journalist, author and chess player with a particular interest in chess problems, which I expect is relevant somehow. Tharapita is an Estonian god who may possibly be related to Thor (which might connect with the thunder-bringing, maybe) -- maybe this is indicating that something is happening on a Thursday? (If there's a chess connection here, perhaps it goes via Paul Keres, who was Estonian. But I suspect there isn't.) OP's hint suggests that maybe we should be turning each hint into a place and then maybe into a language.

Perhaps we need to

pair up the 10 lines of the "poem" (it used to be 9, but OP has added one) with the 10 chess moves apparently indicated by the drip-drops and the fragmentary chess game. We get something like this:

     Nf3    33 gr el Never trust a gift.
Nxf3        33       For it has an even deadlier gift.
     Rxg5   24 ru ru Never trust Siberian men as well.
Rxg5        24       For they have cold, frozen hearts.
     Nc5    33    cy The (W)elsh don’t quite have the name, and they must be switched
Be4         21 pl eo Not even L.L. Zamenhof, a man of understanding, could.
     Nxe4   33       Everyone has a deadly present for one another.
Qg8         14 es et Tharapita brings us thunder.
     Bh3    21 nl nl Tim Krabbe brings us dangerous games.
h5          53 al sq To Albania we shall find the most deadly gift of all!

where the two-letter codes are for countries and languages that might be being indicated by the lines of the "poem" (though OP indicates that at least some of them are on the wrong track) and the two-digit codes are the tap-code ones from the drip-drops. Nothing particularly jumps out at me here so far. Another possibility is that those lines pair up somehow with some possible continuation of the game from the position we've reached after those moves, but I don't see that there's a unique continuation; the computer tells me that with black to move here, white will mate in at most another 6 moves, and I bet there are lots of ways for that to happen.

At OP's request

here is a link that I think will get you the whole "game" starting from the initial position encoded by the phonetic FEN in the puzzle: https://lichess.org/tPA52p9N.

  • $\begingroup$ Just a couple of notes for you: Not including the white king was a slip up. The “dark over light” actually refers to the “0-1” that usually is on the end. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 2:38
  • $\begingroup$ I wondered whether it might be something like that, but it felt a bit of a stretch (the stuff on the end is meant to be a 50-move counter and an actual move counter, not a game result, and in particular "0 1" doesn't seem like it makes much sense). No matter. Should we expect a revised version of the question in which there is a white king? (If not, I suppose it confirms that no actual chess is being actually played here, which would hardly be a big surprise...) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 2:48
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I’ll just add that the white king is on a certain square instead of revamping the entire thing, $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 2:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I was expecting a lot of them not to be correct :-). $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 11:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Both added. Let me know if there's anything else you think needs to be there. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 14:49

I now realize that this problem may never be cracked with a major clue. Hence, here is a major hint to the penultimate solution.

Chess notations using other languages I(Greek Horse) W()I(Greek Horse)L(Russian Rook)L(Russian Rook) K(Esperanto Bishop) I(Greek Horse)L(Estonian Queen)L (Dutch Bishop) U(Albanian Pawn) I WILL KILL U N/N R/R B/N Q/B P N N / R R / N B / N Q / B P

  • $\begingroup$ How did you associate the Countries with the pieces? $\endgroup$
    – Stevo
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Stevo By the chess notations they use for certain pieces. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 8:50
  • $\begingroup$ I meant like the Horse, Rook, and The Bishop. How were the pieces derived? $\endgroup$
    – Stevo
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 5:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Stevo They correspond to the deciphered game. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 5:35

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