I was hanging out in the Puzzing.SE lounge (the beanbag chairs are heaven) when some random person walked up. They said, "I love this place! Would you try my puzzle?" Their puzzle was a cryptex (inspired by The Da Vinci Code). I found the puzzle to be quite fun, truly showing their appreciation of the high-quality puzzle(r)s on this site. I have reproduced the puzzle and rules below so that you can try as well.


  • Each vertical strip (a column of letters in the below grid) is circular; i.e. it loops around from bottom to top
  • Your goal is to rotate the strips (each individually) so that each row has a word in it
  • Each strip has been rotated from its original position
  • All words are related
  • The words are not all the same length; words that are shorter than 8 letters have nonsense letters padding their ends

$$ \texttt{| E | A | R | M | A | R | K | S |} \\\texttt{| S | E | D | U | P | T | R | N |} \\\texttt{| V | A | A | P | B | O | G | M |} \\\texttt{| W | C | N | A | L | E | C | Y |} \\\texttt{| G | T | O | U | T | E | A | U |} \\\texttt{| R | I | S | D | G | L | S | Y |} \\\texttt{| P | O | I | E | E | L | D | Y |} \\\texttt{| H | I | R | D | D | U | R | S |} \\\texttt{| G | I | S | T | H | E | A | Y |} \\\texttt{| C | P | R | A | T | E | R | T |} $$

Their suggested method of solving is to copy out the columns onto actual strips of paper, then tape in separate loops around a rolling pin. This lets you physically spin the columns :)

Hint 1 (word lengths)

There are three 8-letter words, two 7-letter words, four 6-letter words, and one 5-letter word.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Does "padding their ends" mean "padding the right-hand ends", or "padding the left-hand ends", or "padding the left or right ends, but the same every time", or "padding the left or right ends, maybe differently every time", or "padding both ends, as symmetrically as possible", or "padding one or both ends, perhaps completely differently for different rows"? (Or something else?) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Jun 11, 2020 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ rot13(Jura gur frpbaq yrggre vf c, gur svefg pna or f be r, bgurejvfr n jbeq fgnegf jvgu bar bs gur bgure svefg yrggref naq gura c, juvpu vf rkprrqvatyl hayvxryl gubhtu abg vzcbffvoyr. Va gung pnfr, jr nyfb unir n jbeq fgnegvat tp be n jbeq fgnegvat ep. Fb rvgure gurer ner rkprrqvatyl ener jbeqf urer be, nf @Gareth frrzf gb guvax, fbzr be nyy bs gur cnqqvat pna or ba gur yrsg. V'z thrffvat vg'f gur ynggre.) $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Jun 11, 2020 at 7:04
  • $\begingroup$ The "padding" I used was fairly random; I just stuck the shorter words in and tried to keep the overall amount of padding fairly equal. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jun 11, 2020 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, your LᵃT🇪X seems to be broken. Please take a look at my "Calendar Rebus" puzzle so that you can learn to format your puzzle better. $\endgroup$ Jun 14, 2020 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ It's not broken for me, at least. What are you seeing? For me there are 8 columns of 10 letters, with | characters on either side of each letter. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jun 14, 2020 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


The words (which are indeed connected & relevant) are:

Wordplay, Strategy, Geometry, Anagram, Pattern, Visual, Cipher, Riddle, Sudoku & Rebus.

Here's the final image:

enter image description here

And sorry, forgot to mention that...

All the words are Puzzling.SE tags. (Hence the title?)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Wow, I was literally just writing this up having just solved it myself! Properly pipped to the post - great work :) +1 $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jun 11, 2020 at 7:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv Sorry... :S But well done!! $\endgroup$
    – Walt
    Jun 11, 2020 at 7:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No need to apologise - all part of the fun! :) Out of interest, what was the breakthrough for you? For me it was spotting rot13(PVCURE naq gura CNGGREA). $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jun 11, 2020 at 7:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv Trbzrgel, npghnyyl. Fgngvfgvpnyyl, vg znqr frafr sbe bar bs gur rvtug-yrggre jbeqf gb raq va -el, naq trbzrgel jnf na rnfl pubvpr. [Ohg V gura onpxgenpxrq sbe fbzr ernfba naq gevrq bgure guvatf orsber tbvat onpx gb vg. :/] $\endgroup$
    – Walt
    Jun 11, 2020 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ Good job! It's nice to wake up to a solved puzzle. And yes, the title was a hint. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jun 11, 2020 at 14:19

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