12
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chrysanthemum_bejeweled_with_dew_drops



If you squint, you might be able to see letters in the reflections of some of the dew drops. Those will help get you started.

In this puzzle, the adventure begins just after 12 o'clock and the direction of movement is always clockwise, but the words alternate between reading inward and reading outward.

Starting at the tip of the petal just after 12 o'clock, you should see the word PRICETAG heading inward and doing a dogleg bend down the crease at 1 o'clock.

Then, proceeding from there and read outward to the tip of the next petal (always tending in a clockwise direction around the flower) you should see the word GATEKEEPER.

Notice that you're always using the last few letters of the previous word (but in reverse) to form the first few letters of the next word.

The next word reads inward again, beginning with the four letters R-E-P-E and then four more letters down the 2 o'clock crease. You must complete the word by filling in those last four letters. So, you're looking for a word that looks like REPE _ _ _ _.

Keep going around this way, filling in 17 more words. The 17th word looks like _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ATOR.

The final two words, ROTAVIRUS and SURINAMESE are already filled in.


BTW, don't worry if the words ROTAVIRUS and SURINAMESE seem unfamiliar. All the words that you must fill in are much more well-known.

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  • $\begingroup$ How do you feel about the use of computer assistance (1) just for answering questions of the form "what words begin/end with X?" and/or (2) for more complicated searches? $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jul 8 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan — I deliberately did not attach the NO-COMPUTERS tag because I suspect human intuition may have a slight edge over computers on this one. We'll see... So that means, solve it however you can. Just indicate your approach in your answer. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jul 8 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ Which word categories are permitted ? Obviously nouns, do adjectives & (inflected) verbs qualify as well ? $\endgroup$ – collapsar Jul 8 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ @collapsar — Any distinguishable English word in any part of speech will do. For example, these are all distinguishable words: RUN, RUNS, RAN, RUNNING, FAST, FASTER, FASTEST, QUICK, QUICKLY, GREEN, COW, COWS. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jul 8 at 17:13
4
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Solution (Without computer search):

pric//etag
gate/ke/eper
repe/ater
reta/iler
reli/eved
deve/l/oper
repo/rter
retr/i/ever
reve/aler
rela/psed
desp/o/iled
deli/v/erer
rere/le/ased
desa/lin/ated
deta/ined
deni/gr/ated
deta/iled
deli/g/hted
deth/r/oned
deno/min/ator
rota/v/irus
suri/na/mese

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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent work. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jul 10 at 14:16
5
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Computer-assisted solution

Here's my simple-minded Python code:

words = set(w.strip() for w in open('...')) # dictionary filename here
b1 = [['pricetag','gatekeeper']]
lengths = [8, 8, 8, 9, 8, 9, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10, 11, 8, 10, 8, 9, 9, 11]
def flat1(lists):
    result = []
    for l in lists: result.extend(l)
    return result
for l in lengths:
    candidates = flat1((prev+[w] for w in words if len(w)==l and w[:4] == prev[-1][:-5:-1]) for prev in candidates)
    print(f'after length {l}, #candidates={len(candidates)}')
candidates = [c for c in candidates if c[-1].endswith('ator')]

It would be more efficient to work inward from both ends and then intersect in the middle, and/or to turn the list of words into a map from first 4 letters + length to corresponding words -- but computer time is cheap and simple code has fewer bugs.

(I have in fact implemented the second of those. It does make things way faster.)

I have three word-lists readily to hand on my computer, of different sizes. With the smaller two, or indeed with the union of the smaller two, no solutions were found. I assume they're missing some "ordinary" words. With the biggest, after maybe 10 minutes of grinding (I didn't actually time it so that might be way off) it finds 216 solutions. The one with the simplest words (measured by, first of all, how many are in my smallest wordlist, then by how many are in the second one) still has quite a number of obscurities in it:

pric//etag
gate/ke/eper
repe/ated
deta/iler
reli/eved
deve/l/oper
repo/rter
retr/i/ever
reve/rter
retr/aced
deca/l/iter
reti/c/uled
delu/st/ered
dere/gul/ated
deta/iled
deli/ne/ated
deta/iled
deli/g/hted
deth/r/oned
deno/min/ator
rota/v/irus
suri/na/mese

This one scores a little worse by my metric but seems maybe less obscure; only one word in it gives me pause:

pric//etag
gate/ke/eper
repe//ated
deta//iler
reli//eved
deve/l/oper
repo/rter
retr/e/ated
deta//iler
reli//eved
deve/l/oped
depo/s/itum
muti/ne/ered
dere/gul/ated
deta//iled
deli/ne/ated
deta//iled
deli/g/hted
deth/r/oned
deno/min/ator
rota/v/irus
suri/na/mese

All the solutions my computer finds contain at least one of the following words, the last of which I think isn't even a word:

reticuled, depositum, reticella, citicorp

I'm not very happy with any of these, so the next question is what words are missing from my list...

[EDITED to add:]

So, I looked at all the words in solutions found by my program, and reclassified some of them that were inexplicably-to-me omitted from the smaller word lists, and added to the large list everything that was in the smaller ones. The best solution found is still that last one, except that maybe

RETREATED/DETAILER is better than RETREATER/RETAILER.

The same list of inevitable obscurities applies to the solutions I found. I suspect there are still some holes in my lists.

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  • $\begingroup$ Most of your words aren't bad, although I do feel there is another solution with somewhat more familiar words. BTW, I had to look up the word at the point where our solutions diverge, just to make sure my mind was playing tricks on me! $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jul 8 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ I'm familiar with the word [rot13]ergvphyrq[/rot13] so I think your first solution isn't bad at all. Actually, I thought "qryhfgrerq" and "eriregre" were more obscure. Perhaps what is missing from your list of words are names/places, e.g. Surinam. $\endgroup$ – JS1 Jul 8 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ @JS1 — In the solution I have, at least, there are no other proper names. (That's why I specifically called out SURINAMESE as being more exceptional than the words you are required to find.) I just think that Gareth's dictionary is missing a particular variant/inflection of a common word. $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Jul 8 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JS1 I've much more often seen "reticulated" rather than "reticuled". I agree that the other two you mentioned are also quite obscure (the first more than the second). And I agree with SlowMagic that most likely my word list is missing some things common enough that they shouldn't be missing from it :-). $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jul 8 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan Now that you mention it, I was thinking of the word "reticled" as in "the crosshairs of a scope on a gun". So yes "reticuled" is an unusual word. $\endgroup$ – JS1 Jul 8 at 19:00

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