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enter image description here The proper word to use as the ninth symbol is in Berlin (3)


Daily Hint 1:

There are many hints in the comment section(s).

Daily Hint 2:

The sudoku is just a regular sudoku, most of the other stuff is for figuring out the missing symbol.

Daily Hint 3:

Even though this very definitely and importantly is a sudoku, there are many other tags that (at least allegedly) apply. You can get (to the general neighbourhood of) the ninth symbol by starting at or , or probably even at . Each choice will bring some subset of the other tags (mentioned in the comment below) into play.

Daily Hint 4:

* (,) -> 9th symbol ->
* (, ) -> (, ) -> -> final answer -> 9th symbol -> ()
* -> (, , ) -> final answer (, )
* (title) -> (all of the above) -> final answer

(Some of these chains may be easier to work backwards, once you have reached the goal by another route.)

Daily Hint 5:

Each sudoku symbol depicts a word (or two). There's another word that can make a compound (of one kind or another) with each of the symbols.

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2 Answers 2

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The answer we are looking for is

GENERALIST

The way I found this was via hint 5,

Which says there is a word that can combine with each of the symbols in the Sudoku. I found that the word GENERAL seemed to fit.

My interpretations (with help from HTM and Stiv) are below:

LAFIREU = Failure (GENERAL Failure)

Skittles = Strike (GENERAL Strike)

Hospital worker = Surgeon (Surgeon GENERAL))

Musical chord = A-Major (A Major GENERAL) [Thanks to HTM in comments!]
E=mc² = Theory Of Relativity (GENERAL Theory Of Relativity)

Martial arts man = Bruce Lee (GENERAL Lee)
painted face = Heath Ledger (GENERAL Ledger) [Thanks to Stiv!]
Micronesia flag = Flag with 4 stars (A four star GENERAL) [Thanks again to Stiv!]

The missing ninth symbol was given as being 3 letters long and to be found in Berlin. To fit with the common word, I guessed it was

IST, i.e. German for "is", giving GENERALIST.

Some additional clues that this is what was intended:

(1) When the Sudoku image is opened, it has the text "JACK OF ALL TRADES MASTER OF NONE OFTEN TIMES BETTER THAN MASTER OF ONE" in the blank squares (found by Steve). Fits nicely with GENERALIST.

(2) This puzzle was the 200th puzzle and thereby unlocks a GENERALIST badge (also found by Steve).

One thing which remains unclear to me is

The title. Is it perhaps saying the OP would rather have a Sudoku badge than a Lamborghini? And why is it spelled Rebenton instead of Reventon?


Post-accept edit by @Bass: this answer gets the green checkmark for being the first to correctly identify the final solution. All the loose ends are tied in @Steve's answer that got a bounty for diligent work.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just to add some of my thoughts on symbols (some of which were mentioned on my partial answer) ROT13(Fgevxr: nabgure cbffvoyr xrljbeq "fxvggyrf". Abgrf: fcrpvsvpnyyl na N Znwbe pubeq. Raretl: Rvafgrva/Eryngvivgl? Fbzr bgure pyhrf znl unir uvagrq ng fbzrguvat vaibyivat "Ora") $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Feb 24, 2020 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ The notes are rot13(na N Znwbe pubeq, naq n znwbe pbhyq or n trareny.) $\endgroup$
    – HTM
    Feb 26, 2020 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ Nice work Jens :) I believe the Micronesia link you're looking for is actually about what's on the flag: a rot13(sbhe-fgne trareny)... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Feb 26, 2020 at 21:14
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    $\begingroup$ Spot on, well done! I'm going to hit this answer with the green tick, since the final solution is correct. It would be nice to have an explanation for the other parts of the puzzle too, though. $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Feb 28, 2020 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, looks like Steve updated his answer already, and I think he tidied up all the loose ends too. I hope you don't mind my adding the comment to your answer, on the off-chance that somebody actually reads these in the future. $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Mar 1, 2020 at 3:59
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Completed solution (unless there are more loose ends to tie up!)

When the image is downloaded

the transparency mask spells out some words in the empty cells - when viewed on a black background it looks like this
Initial image with letters visible

Specifically

(with spaces added for readability)
JACK OF ALL TRADES MASTER OF NONE OFTENTIMES BETTER THAN MASTER OF ONE

I would interpret this as

a clue that this isn't a puzzle for an expert sudoku solver, but one that requires solving several other types of puzzle at the same time - possibly involving the letters as clues, or the pictures, and almost certainly a not-too-difficult sudoku being involved too...

But as others who are more aware of what's going on round here already knew

it was (also) a reference to this very puzzle being the 200th puzzle and thereby unlocking the Generalist badge.

The partial answer given by @Jens

explains how each of the images is linked to the word 'General' (which also indicates I'd correctly identified at least "A Major" and "Failure" before the relevance was understood). The tank shown in an earlier revision could also have been linked, either by a military connection, or having been named after a general.

The textual clue in the question "The proper word to use as the ninth symbol is in Berlin (3)"

"... is in Berlin (3)" hints at the German word for "is" i.e. "ist", being the word that, combined with "General" gives "Generalist". (Also credit to @Jens)
"The proper word to use as the ninth symbol" - the word that links all the others could be considered "the proper word".
Putting both together makes "GENERALIST".

Completely solving the sudoku part (for details of my solving path, see revision 3 in edit history), I get

solved sudoku grid
This leaves the following letters uncovered: C, D, S, I, O, T, E, S, E
Those letters include the -IST, leaving C, D, O, E, S, E
... but the letters subsequently seem to have been a red herring - being used only for the poem.

Relevance of Lamborghini Rebenton:

can be explained with a clip from an old episode of Top Gear (also linked from here) "... but with this you would get a lot of badge".
In context this is another reference to the generalist badge that has been unlocked by this puzzle being posted.

Putting it all together:

I can only assume that the proper image to use for the 9th symbol is the generalist badge itself. In part, because it explains why the grid was so big in order to make it fit!
Final solved sudoku including Generalist badge as the 9th symbol

A further note on the convoluted solving paths:

The puzzle attempts to have some link, however tenuous, to 20 of the top 40 tags. If they were all actually used on the puzzle, it could single-handedly qualify for the generalist badge in its own right.


Dead ends and/or speculation: - now tidied up - see revision 11 in edit history

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  • $\begingroup$ The letters where an image is missing could spell rot13(PBQR VF FRG). $\endgroup$
    – Jens
    Feb 18, 2020 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ Nooooo don't count the pixel positions, I placed everything by hand, it's just random noise X-) $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Feb 28, 2020 at 10:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Bass Hmmm... so steganography didn't go any deeper than the very first observation in my first spoiler block... should have remembered this isn't a puzzle for a steganography specialist! $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Feb 28, 2020 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Steve yeah, when forcibly cramming 20 tags into a single puzzle, many of them are going be pretty close to the surface :-) $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Feb 28, 2020 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ Wow. That new info is a nice find! Definitely not a coincidence. $\endgroup$
    – MacGyver88
    Feb 28, 2020 at 20:50

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