Investigator’s Report (solution)
by C. Scott Ananian
This is a critic meta. The answers which feed into the meta are:
[show 1] ENUMERATE OCTOPOD [show 2] SOCLOSE VESTIGE [critic 2] BIZARRE CARMACK CELLULAR FOGBOUND LIQUEURS MAXWELL PAINED REYKJAVIK
The input puzzles are transformed into a draw string by first alphabetizing all the input answers, then reading down all the first letters, then down all the second letters, etc:
As you take each letter in this string, there will be exactly one valid chess move in the list corresponding to that letter. But! At move ‘Bb4’ (the V from VESTIGE) you will run into problems: none of the moves in the V row are legal! Not only that, but (if you were missing that answer) none of the moves in the S, T, U, W, X, Y, or Z rows are legal either!
The first aha is that this isn’t normal chess. It’s Alice Chess. That will let you play the V. The game runs as follows:
1. g4 e6 2. a4 Qh4 3. Ra3 Nc6 4. Re3+ (32) Kd8 5. d4 d6 6. Nf3 Bb4 7. a5 (130) Qf6 8. Ne5 Bd7 9. Nd3 Bc5 10. Rc3 Nb8 (146) 11. Rc8 Qh4 12. Rxg8+ Rf8 (171) 13. Rxf8 Bxf8 14. Bf4 Kc8 15. Bg2 d5 (187) 16. 0-0 Bc6 17. Nb4 Bd6 (254) 18. Nxc6 Qh1 19. Bg3 Bxg3 20. Rf6 gxf6 21. Qxh1 (328) Nd7 22. Qh8+ Nf8 23. Qxf8 Kd7 24. Qxf6 Rd8 (342) 25. Qxf7+ Kd6 26. Nd2 Rf8 (357) 27. Nd8 Rxd8 28. Qf1 (387) e5 29. Qc1 Ke7 (402) 30. Qc8 Kf7 31. Qxb7 Rd7 32. Qf3+ (426) Kg8 33. Ne4 dxe4 34. Qe3 (455) Rd2 35. Qxd2 Bb8 36. Bxe4 h5 (481) 37. Qc1 c6 38. gxh5 Bc7 39. Qd1 (520) Bd8 40. Qxd8+ Kg7 41. Qc7+ Kh6 (621) 42. Qxa7 Kg5 43. Qc5 Kh4 44. Qb6 Kg4 45. Qa7 (641) Kf4 (653) (657) 46. Bb7 Ke4 47. Ba6 Kd5 48. Qf7+ Kxd4 49. Qc4#
The numbers in parentheses show the scrabble score at that point in the concurrent scrabble game. The first few plays are from a tournament game of Alice Chess, which ought to help you get the aha. The last few plays in the game are padding; if you backsolve you’ll find that the missing input string suffix would be HERRING generating the unused tiles BENOISY.
You take the tiles corresponding to each chess move, so that the tiles dealt out are in this order:
Then you play scrabble solitaire with this tile set. Only the words appearing in Through The Looking Glass are considered valid words (as is confirmed when you figure out what the first word played is!). Each play must be the highest scoring play possible with the given tiles. The solution has been computer-checked to be unique.
The first letters of the words played, in order played, spell out a clue phrase.
The completed grid looks like:
. . . . A F T E R . . . . . . P U N C H . . . E . . . . . . . . . . . . E B A R G T U O . . . . . . . X . D . . . . N . . . . . R . A L I C E . . L . . . F . A . C . L . . . . Y . . . R . T . T . Y . E . . . . . . A W H I L E . . D . . . T . . B . S . Y . . . G . . . H . . J . . . . . . H E . . N O . T O V E S . . H U S H . . U . . U . . . . G . M . . . . G . . S N O W D R O P . . . . H . . . . . . . E . T . . . . T . . . . . . . W . Y H T I L S
The words played, in order, are:
AWHILE 32 points FRABJOUS 130 points TOVES 146 points EXACTLY 171 points RATHS 187 points SNOWDROP 254 points EBARGTUO 328 points ALICE 342 points ONLY 357 points GREW 387 points READILY 402 points AFTER 426 points PUNCH 455 points HUMPTY 481 points YHTILS 520 points THOUGHTS 621 points HUSH 641 points EDGES 653 points NO 657 points
The clue phrase (reading down the first letters of the words played) is
AFTER SEAOGRAPHY THEN
A quick google will turn up this passage from Alice in Wonderland:
‘Well, there was Mystery,’ the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers, ‘—Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling—the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: HE taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.’
which indicates that DRAWLING is the perfect way to annoy this critic.