Cluechaser: The Best Interactive Puzzle Contest on the Web

Game 1, Puzzle 9: Scrabble

Scrabble Tiles
This is not the first time the sentence spelled out by the Scrabble tiles has been used in a puzzle. It first appeared in puzzle #1 of the Puzzle Master series. It was represented in the picture of a fox jumping over a sleeping dog. I brought it back for this puzzle because it was an interesting and easy way to show all the letters of the alphabet. Plus I like continuing a common theme throughout the different games, like this phrase, and the ClueChaser Intelligencer newspaper, and crossword puzzles.
I had been wanting to create a puzzle using Scrabble tiles for a long time. They’re great. Each tile has both a letter and a number which makes for endless puzzling possibilities.

Players found the puzzle by accessing the pile of Scrabble tiles on the floor in front of the desk in the office. (If you click on the image above you can see the entire puzzle)

The puzzle took players longer to solve than it should have. Mostly because it had not one but TWO mistakes in it. That’s what I get for having someone else double check my work. Unfortunately I don’t recall who pointed out the mistakes but I remember that he was clever enough to have figured out what the correct number should have been. Once I found out about it I fixed it quickly and reposted it. So with the errors it took 19 hours and 52 minutes for the first player to solve it, making this the second longest solve time in the game. Without the errors it probably would have been done several hours sooner.

So how is it solved? coded messageThe color coded numbers below the tiles is the key. Each color represents a different direction. To aid in determining which was which I added a colored line to each side of the puzzle. If you look closely (or zoom in, if you have that capability) you can see that the left side had a Red line, the top line is Blue, Green is on the right and the bottom line is Orange. So the color of the number indicates the direction and the number tells how many tiles to move in that direction. The tile you end up on is the letter you need for the puzzle’s solution. Each number or numbers within parenthesis represents one letter. Multiple numbers means the player will move multiple spaces in more than one direction. The puzzle also contains “+” symbols. Each smaller one (unbolded) separates letters and each larger one (bolded) separates words.

The only question left is; Where do you start? That answer is provided in the form of a clue in the puzzle’s title at the top. “X marks the spot”. In other words, start with the letter X. Players would start there then, following the first number clue: Green 3 & Orange 1, they would move 3 tiles to the right and 1 tile down to land on the “T”. From there they would follow the next clue: Green 1, and go one tile right to the “H” and so on until they completed it.

The solution revealed to the players the location of the secret documents that they’ve been looking for the entire game. First though, they had to solve the last part of the tile message. This was perhaps the trickiest part for the players. The last sentence reads “Answer is total of tiles in puzzle X seven”. I had to design the message so that it couldn’t be solved without decoding the entire thing. That’s why I made it a math problem. I’m sure the players first thought was to add up all the numbers for each tile and multiply that number by 7. Doing so however would have given them an incorrect answer. I was quite clever with this part. The key to solving it is by reading the sentence a different way. If you place emphasis on a particular word in the sentence, say “puzzle” then you might understand what you need to do. I won’t tell you the solution in case some of you reading want to solve it on your own but I will make it available below if you want to unhide it.

Successfully solving the puzzle returned the players back to the office where this time they would find two links available. One was located on the bookshelf just beyond the arched doorway. What the players found there might have gotten their hearts pumping a little faster. It may have raised their level of excitement. Why? Because it showed them that the end was near. Their adventure was almost finished. But first, they would realize they need to follow the other link. The one that was the globe sitting on the desk. Finally, they were about to find out what all those pesky numbers they’ve been collecting with each solved puzzle were for. Yep, just one more puzzle. And it was a doozy.

Now, you try it. Solve the puzzle. See for yourself what got the players excited:

For those needing a little help, here is the answer to solving the puzzle: