The answers to last week’s puzzles by Thomas Gazzola.
Last week, we ran two puzzles in The Seattle Times that were written by Thomas Gazzola, a Washington State University Vancouver math instructor who was part of a winning team in the MIT Mystery Hunt, one of the world’s most prestigious puzzle competitions.
To date, nearly 40 people have submitted answers, and fourteen submitted the correct answer: for the first puzzle, RIMA, and for the second puzzle, NIMBUS.
If you got them right, congratulations — we’ll pick a winner at random and send that person a $50 restaurant gift certificate.
For those who are wondering how our winners derived their answers, here’s Gazzola’s explanation of how to solve the puzzles:
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“For the first one, of course, you begin by filling in the missing words for the limericks. Dice, yAhtzee, woN, yahTzee, twicE; Wall, dRawl, geOrgia’s, staTe, minnEsota; Truck, rEd, fiReman’s, blaZe, hydrAnt; Bob, sLob, prAy, saiNt, thanK. The capital letters help to show what comes next, as clued by the 1,2,3,4,5 in the title. You take the first letter of the first inserted word, the second of the second and so on. The resulting message is ‘Dante wrote terza blank.’ The blank is RIMA, as terza rima was the rhyme scheme Dante used in the Divine Comedy.
“The second one may seem to have some odd elements to the sentences. There are six sextets involved in this problem. All of the answers have one of the original six member cities of the NHL except the first. The missing city is New York, so take the N for that. They also all have one of the simple machines except for number 2 and the missing machine is the Inclined Plane, so take the I. Next they each have the name of one of the Brady Bunch children except the third one and Marcia is missing, so we have an M. Then comes chess pieces minus the Bishop or B in the fourth spot, the quarks except for Up (U) in the fifth and the clue suspect surnames except for Scarlett in the last position. So the aggregate is NIMBUS.”
We noticed that a number of people came up with the same wrong answers — BISHOP was popular — for the second puzzle. Gazzola complimented those entrants for getting a partially correct answer, but added, “All in all, it is a good example of why having a group to solve with is advantageous. If one of the hockey crew had been sitting with one of the chess people, they may well have realized that both were partially right, and thus there must be more to the puzzle than they originally thought.”