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I wrote this for a puzzle swap, and I'm somewhat proud of how it turned out. I'd like to know what you think.

T I U C R I C Z T A S R E J H U
T N A L L A G A I J U N K E T U
T E M N O I P M A H C N F G I P
Z K Q N O I T A N I R G E R E P
C U T O F F F F O R G E D Q E D
V E P M N P G N I T U O M O Z O
E S S F A L S E T H C A T E D N
T R E D H E R R I N G T M X O F
A E U X I M N U D N U O R I L E
L V D Y Z X P T E I Q Z S P U G
U A O X S A R S P D S R T Z X A
S R Q U L A I J X P U J Z Q A Y
N T G A V U Q M E C H M O H T O
I O D E R O V Z X O Q O M I E V
B I L C Z Y R E V E S Z N Y N H
N C A V A L I E R C Y G N Y N N

I've tried to minimize their existence, but words shorter than 5 letters are spurious.

The solution is a short phrase, you'll know it when you get it. Yes, there is more to this puzzle than the simple word search.

Hint:

All words fall into a small number of distinct categories.

Meta:

I want to add more tags but they are spoilery. I don't really know what I normally accepted on this site. Guidance?

Hint policy: I will be adding hints once every day.

Daily Hint #1:

Good job on solving the word search. The categories are your clues to proceed further, but you may have already guessed that. So I will say that two of the clues tell you what to do. One clue tells you how do to it. And the final clue tells you what to use it on.

Daily Hint #2:

I checked Wikipedia, and it looks like there are 18 quadrillion different Knight tours possible on an 8x8 board. So even if there was some hint telling you where to start (X marks the spot was clever, and I wish I had thought of that), I'd have to also specify where you go next approx 54 more times. Clearly, I'm not doing that, so how can I tell you which tour to use only using one of the hints?

Daily Hint #2.5 (Bonus):

The relevant hint is the group meaning "separated" or "disconnected." How can a knight's tour be separated from itself?

Daily Hint #3:

The actual root words for each of the four groups are "knight", "fake", "tour", and "uncrossed"

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    $\begingroup$ Guidance on tags, if you want people to figure out what type of puzzle this is, I suggest the enigmatic-puzzle tag $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Apr 2 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks so much! I've added that. $\endgroup$ – OmnipotentEntity Apr 2 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify, are 5 letter words allowed? And also are diagonals allowed? And one final thing, can a letter be part of multiple words? $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Apr 2 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ I believe the answers are yes, yes, and yes. (But I haven't solved the puzzle and my guesses are therefore only guesses.) $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Apr 2 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ The answers are indeed yes, yes, and yes. $\endgroup$ – OmnipotentEntity Apr 2 at 23:10
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The final phrase:

The black knight always triumphs!

Which is

A quote from Monty Python's Holy Grail


The Completed Word Search:

enter image description here

All the words in the word search:

Forward words:

Cutoff, Forged, False, Red herring, Cavalier, Junket

Down/Up words:

Pseudo, expedition, insulate, traverse, voyage, luxate (Credit Lanny Strack)

Back words:

Circuit, gallant, champion, peregrination, detach, round, sever, ersatz, unmix, outing
(credit Gareth for the last three, would never have even known that 'ersatz' was a word lol)

Diagonal words:

Excursion, bogus, paladin, travel, cruise, phony, dummy, disjoin (Credit Jens)

These words can be put under 4 distinct groups:

Tour:

Expedition, traverse, circuit, excursion, travel, cruise, junket, voyage, outing, peregrination (credit Zimonze)

Fake:

Forged, false, red herring, bogus, phony, dummy, pseudo, ersatz

'Uncrossed':

Cutoff, sever, detach, insulate, unmix, disjoin, luxate

Knight (spotted by Rand and Gareth):

Cavalier, gallant, paladin, champion

Also notice that 'round' can fit in both the knight and tour groups, which shows a connection.

So now what?

These categories are actually instructions: Knight Tour, Fake, Uncrossed:

What do we have to do? A knight's tour
How do we do it? Fake
What do we use it on? Uncrossed

i.e. - an 'uncrossed' knight's tour after removing the fake letters,

So:

If we remove all the letters in the wordsearch which are part of a word (i.e. 'fake') we get left with exactly 64 letters, which just so happens to be the number of squares on a chessboard. So these letters can be re-arranged into a 8x8 grid:

J H U A I U T E
M N F G I P Z K
Q F Q E D V M N
P M O Z O T M X
F Y Z X Q Z P X
T Z Q J Z Q Q M
H O V Z O Q Z Y
Z H C Y G N N N

So the next thing is to do

An 'uncrossed' knights tour. The 'uncrossed' tour leads us to the longest uncrossed tour on an 8x8 grid, via wikipedia:

enter image description here

Applying this, and starting at the left hand starting point gives 'ONETIMEPADFJFFQMXQOPVXQNQJGVZZZZZZZZ'.

And a one-time pad is a type of vigenere cipher

So what next? (Huge credit to Lanny Strack here, who managed to work this out)

Using all the letters in the 8x8 grid that the knight doesn't pass over as the cipher-text:

HUIUTMGZKQNPMYQXTQMHOOYHCYNN

And then removing the Zs at the end of the knights tour string so the key is

ONETIMEPADFJFFQMXQOPVXQNQJGV

Using a one time pad cipher we get the answer:

'THE BLACK KNIGHT ALWAYS TRIUMPHS'

| improve this answer | |
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  • $\begingroup$ You forgot two P-words in your "fake" group list. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Apr 2 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ Another group might be associated with "knight" (cavalier, gallant, paladin, peregrin, champion). $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Apr 2 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor ahh good thinking! Also thanks I have no idea how I managed to make a list and miss out half the things that should be there lol $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Apr 2 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ I'll tell you how to do it, but I won't post. rot13(Gur M'f ner whfg cnqqvat naq ner hahfrq. Abg pbhagvat gurz, gurer ner 28 bgure yrggref chyyrq sebz gur XG. Vs lbh pbzcvyr nyy bs gur yrggref sebz gur 8k8 tevq abg hfrq va gur XG, lbh jvyy frr gung gurer ner 28 bs gubfr, gbb. Hfr gur "bargvzrcnq...." 28 nf gur xrl, naq gur XG hahfrq yrggref nf gur pvcuregrkg, naq qb n Ivtrarer.) $\endgroup$ – Lanny Strack Apr 5 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ "Please avoid extended discussions in the comments, take it to the chat" gave up after like 55 or so lol. $\endgroup$ – OmnipotentEntity Apr 5 at 16:43

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