by Chris Morse and Matt Gruskin
with puzzle content read by Victoria Coren Mitchell
Problem: Pi Day Town/​Bloomsday Town

In this puzzle, you see a 4 × 4 grid of boxes that has 16 Egyptian hieroglyph symbols on it (the first 6 of which are the ones from the UK game show Only Connect, in order). These hieroglyphs also appear above the grid/wall in the same order, but with indexes after them in parentheses. Clicking on each box gets you a minipuzzle that pops up in a window with an answer checker as well. After a minipuzzle is solved, that answer and the hieroglyph now appear on the box, and the box has become “selectable.” Once you have begun to solve many of the minipuzzles, you are able to click on four boxes to try to make a set. Once you make a set, the set is removed from the grid and moved to the bottom of the page, and four clues appear below the grid. Eventually, all four sets will be at the bottom and the full set of 16 ordered clues will appear below the grid.

Each of the 16 minipuzzles gives a word or phrase, and you can then index into these answers using the hieroglyph-keyed numbers at the top of the puzzle to get the clue phrase USE FIFTH FOR VIGENERE KEY. These indexes and their order remain at the top of the grid, even as the answers move down after making sets. Each of the sets of four things you had connected in an Only Connect fashion could have a fifth word added, and the same word works in all four sets. That word is ARGO. Now you have 16 questions (with blanks) and your 16 answers fit into them to complete trivia clues, and the new set of 16 answers can be indexed by the number at the end of each clue. If you take this string of 16 “gibberish” letters, and use ARGO as the Vigenere key, it spells out “It’s INCLINED FAULT” and your answer is INCLINED FAULT.

(8, 4)

Each of the clues gives a word in the official state nickname of the U.S. state. If you take the number and index into the state it spells “Connecticut’s.” If you repeat the process, Connecticut is officially the CONSTITUTION state, and that’s the answer.

Annoy persistently (4)BadgerWisconsinC
Not as far off in time (6)SoonerOklahomaO
Coors-owned beer introduced in 1989 (10)KeystonePennsylvaniaN
Like most American coins before 1965 (1)SilverNevadaN
One who offers help freely (9)VolunteerTennesseeE
Michael who wreaks havoc upon the Hoover Dam, Alcatraz, and New York City in his movies (6)BayMassachusettsC
Cussler novel with antiquities hidden in Texas (4)TreasureMontanaT
Emerald, e.g. (1)GemIdahoI
1967, for Canada (1)CentennialColoradoC
Bill Monroe’s genre (5)BluegrassKentuckyU
Marge Simpson’s hairdo (2)BeehiveUtahT
Indian, e.g. (7)OceanRhode IslandS

The first words in the list, before it becomes alphabetical, spell FORM GRIDS. If you make 5 × 5 grids (interlocking in alternate letters), you can make 4 grids from the 24 words.

The grids contain the words FIRST, BRACE, THREE, and FINAL which clue the ordering, and since the grids are symmetrical the central letter will always be the same, and in that order they spell LEAR.

L E H  L M X  O E R  U E E
R A R  N E L  E L T  U V R

Each of these is a clue to a 4-letter word, and these form a looping word ladder that could only be missing one possible word to complete the loop, if repeated letter positions never repeat the change. That missing word is RAFT.

Hobbit clanTOOK
TV alienMORK
Zenyatta, e.g.MARE
Lion’s pride?MANE
Walking implementCANE
Chuck Palahniuk novelRANT
(Your Answer)RAFT
20th-century U.S. presidentTAFT
Dessert pastryTART
Wrongful act, legallyTORT
Sound from a hornTOOT
(2, 1)

Each of these clues is for a compound word or two-word phrase that form a looping chain. The element that is missing to complete the chain is FIREWALL. The clues are listed in alphabetical order so that you can form the chain.

Set of little kids having fun together as set up by their parentsPLAY GROUP
Residence for a collection of people requiring care or supervisionGROUP HOME
Person who rarely goes outHOMEBODY
Actor who stands in for a star, often during more revealing scenesBODY DOUBLE
Act of betrayal involving an associateDOUBLE CROSS
Former CNN nightly debate showCROSSFIRE
(Your Answer)FIREWALL
Metonym for the U.S. financial and corporate worldWALL STREET
Item supported by a lamppostSTREETLIGHT
S.H.I.E.L.D. bunker found near Lake Ontario, with “The”LIGHTHOUSE
Male domestic worker from the British colonial era originallyHOUSEBOY
Young man who offers himself as a sex objectBOY TOY
Dog breed much smaller than its standard versionTOY POODLE
Fashion item popular with teenage girls in the 1950sPOODLE SKIRT
Long, flat cut of beef often used for fajitasSKIRT STEAK
Utensil for cutting your T-boneSTEAK KNIFE
Form of BDSM using daggers and swordsKNIFE PLAY
(7, 8)

Each of these clues is read aloud to you by the actual Only Connect host, Victoria Coren Mitchell. Each of them clues a 6-letter word that contains the letters AESTR and one other letter. These additional letters, in each case in order, spell out KING ARTHUR.

Run around intentionally nakedSTREAKK
Gulliver's Travels, for exampleSATIREI
Italian witchSTREGAG
Cowboy ropesREATASA
Winery employeeTASTERT
Famous American newspapermanHEARSTH
French painter of the late 1800sSEURATU
Decliner of a Nobel PrizeSARTRER

Each of these sets of words contains an anagram of a word, an antonym of a word, and a rhyme of a word. If you read the first letters of these words, it spells out another set FELT, REFFED, RIGHT, which clues LEFT.

AntonymRhymeAnagramWordFirst Letter
(2, 3)

Each of these clues a word that is one letter off from one of the radio alphabet words. Taking the new letters in order spells SOUTH OPPOSITE which clues NORTH.

Enterprise helmsmanSULUZULUS
Pricey prom rideLIMOLIMAO
Tumbler or chrysalisPUPAPAPAU
Highland apparelKILTKILOT
Long walk in the woodsHIKEMIKEH
Cinco y tresOCHOECHOO
Speak directly to GodPRAYX-RAYP
Constellation near Columba and DoradoPICTORVICTORP
Common name for infectious pododermatitis, which affects the hooves of cattle and sheepFOOT ROTFOXTROTO
Opening in the head where the shaft of a golf club fitsHOSELHOTELS
Maeby portrayerALIAALFAI
Band that charted with “Together” in 1980TIERRASIERRAT
Pixar fairy taleBRAVEBRAVOE

Clues lead to answer pairs in which each answer has a single consonant—the same consonant in each pair. The consonants spell CBNCPTL which can be re-expanded to CUBAN CAPITAL or HAVANA.

Farewell in Firenze; Frigidciao; icyC
Reed instrument; One of many waterways in Louisianaoboe; bayouB
Ancient region to the west of Lydia; Former Hawaiian senatorIonia; InouyeN
Billiards need; Group Clarence Thomas once chairedcue; EEOCC
Howard role; Fencing weaponOpie; epeeP
Tribe of the central plains; Sewing caseOtoe; etuiT
Founder of the American Dance Theater; Fancy mayonnaiseAiley; aioliL

The first clue in each pair leads to a “long” answer of 7 or 8 letters. The second clue leads to a “short” answer of 3 or 4 letters comprising the exterior letters of the “long” answer. The initial letters of the unclued, four-letter interior words spell out ACTOR BRONSON VESSEL which is another set of clues giving P(INCH)OT, and the unclued portion, INCH, is the answer.

Make rougherPrisonerCO(ARSE)NA
Director LinklaterDisencumberRI(CHAR)DC
Adult male horseGerman electric car due out in 2019S(TALL)IONT
Type of chemical bondPennyC(OVAL)ENTO
Like many infected wound dischargesFlat-bottomed boatPU(RULE)NTR
Aria from Carmen, familiarly“Abdomen” in Japanese medicineHA(BANE)RAB
Let out of prisonPlace to take notesPA(ROLE)DR
Carbonate mineral used for decorationPass (out)DOL(OMIT)EO
Phonograph needle holderMale catTO(NEAR)MN
Separation in time or spaceCraps needDI(STAN)CES
Solemn agreementInclinationC(OVEN)ANTO
Wisconsin cityGreen New Zealand parrotKE(NOSH)AN
Debased or distorted imitationWaiter’s carrierTRA(VEST)YV
Money coming into a companyBitter woody herbR(EVEN)UEE
Baby holderFeline-headed Egyptian goddessBAS(SINE)TS
Having a front rim, as a hatShort movieVI(SORE)DS
Hillary’s daughterMedical care provider in MIT’s townCH(ELSE)AE
What Jeanne d’Arc was the maid ofLogic gatesOR(LEAN)SL

Each of these clues gives an answer that has an animal name hidden inside it. The first letters of those spell out PEANUTS DOG BREED which is BEAGLE.

Sparkling wine from AstispumantePUMAP
Longest bone in the human bodyfemurEMUE
Its capital was NinevehAssyriaASSA
1,000,000 gram-meters per second squaredkilonewtonNEWTN
Moving with a sudden jerk, like when a subway startslurchingURCHINU
Author of Doctor ZhivagoPasternakTERNT
Country that borders Namibia and South AfricaBotswanaSWANS
Take arbitrary or forceful possession of, particularly for police or military usecommandeerDEERD
Second largest city in the NetherlandsRotterdamOTTERO
Swift’s travelerGulliverGULLG
Ent that hangs out with hobbitsTreebeardBEARB
Watery poopdiarrheaRHEAR
New Hampshire county whose seat is LaconiaBelknapELKE
Movie that has a 1976 sequel entitled DrumMandingoDINGOD

Each clue in the first column can be paired with one in the second column such that their answers are reversals of each other. The initial letters of the second-column answers, ordered by the first-column clues of their reversed counterparts, spell out FLIP ACHY OR MAD which means reverse sore, or EROS.

Tiger’s sportWhipGOLF/FLOGF
Seaweed sheetPressNORI/IRONI
Small town or villageGoadDORP/PRODP
Mediterranean islandWilling partner?ELBA/ABLEA
Sam on GLOWStudy hastilyMARC/CRAMC
Expression of contemptEarring shapePOOH/HOOPH
Heavy cartLinear measureDRAY/YARDY
Famed captainSignNEMO/OMENO
Villain’s baseShiraz scratchLAIR/RIALR
Type of cheeseIdentifiedEDAM/MADEM
Famed volcanoPay to playETNA/ANTEA
The Defenders actorBambi, e.g.REED/DEERD

Each of these sets contains three clues, where each clue solves to a 6-letter word, and in the first set the first two letters are the same, in the second set the middle two letters are the same, and in the third set the final two letters are the same. Taking these three bigrams in order spells DOMINO.

Medicinal amountDOSAGE
Set of cases before a courtDOCKET
Aussie currencyDOLLAR
Like a virgin, e.g.SIMILE
Stone used at a nail parlorPUMICE
Corn-based breakfast foodHOMINY
One lacking melaninALBINO
Foxwoods, e.g.CASINO
San Joaquin Valley cityFRESNO
(5, 6)

There are two columns of clues in alphabetical order. Each clue solves to a word that can be arranged with the other words into a series of transdeletions. The letters that are removed each time, from each of the three words, in each column, spell out QUA and KER to make QUAKER.

Sid Sackson gameAcquire
Amicus followercuriaeQ
Heath-type shrubericaU
Cereal grassriceA
Component of hairkeratin
Rods’ homeretinaK
“Drops of Jupiter” bandTrainE
One opposedantiR

Each of these sets of clues is alphabetized, and the sets are alphabetized as well. Each set of clues solves to six 3-letter words, which will make a word square. Ordering by the upper left letters (which are A through G), the central letters spell RED STAR which is the answer.

Agency in HHSFDA
Hearing organEAR
Legolas, e.g.ELF
Lentil dishDAL
Price to enterFEE
Sound from SandyARF
Aladdin’s partner in crimeABU
Close male palBRO
Coastal Indian stateGOA
Cross the sportscasterIRV
Home to the CavaliersUVA
Insurance company bailed out in 2008AIG
Common chat requestASL
High school equivalency testGED
Trygve followerDAG
Automated responderBOT
Caspian, e.g.SEA
Diet soda brandTAB
National anthem contractionOER
Ozawa used to head itBSO
Travel like a WhitelighterORB
Corn remnantCOB
Despot AminIDI
Dry, as a wineSEC
Opposite of transCIS
Pen manufacturerBIC
Poetic formODE
Fish eggsROE
For all time, poeticallyEER
Greek vowelETA
“Takin’ Care of Business” bandBTO
Fleischer the press secretaryARI
Period of timeERA
Ruby, e.g.GEM
Russian fighter planeMIG

At the top is a series of clues, clued in an important order. Below is a series of longer answers, clued in alphabetical order (though there is a missing clue, for the final answer). Each of the clues below is for a longer phrase that is an anagram of two consecutive words in the upper list. Upon doing this, there is no clue for BALL + PACKER which anagrams to BLACK PEARL, the minipuzzle answer.

Beer holder (5)STEIN
Director Frank (5)CAPRA
Oversee, as a bar (4)TEND
Gas (5)VAPOR
Garner vehicle (5)ALIAS
Hip-length clothing item (5)TUNIC
Vandyke and Balbo (6)BEARDS
Burning (5)AFIRE
Not shy (5)UNCOY
Washington, e.g. (5)STATE
Coming-out location? (4)BALL
Midwestern NFLer (6)PACKER
Milo’s partner (4)OTIS
Turbulence causers (2 wds.)AIR POCKETS = PACKER + OTIS
Common American administrative center or home to local government (2 wds.)COUNTY SEAT = STATE + UNCOY
Living room furniture itemDAVENPORT = VAPOR + TEND
What a police officer might investigateDISTURBANCE = BEARDS + TUNIC
Late Beatles hit (4 wds.)FREE AS A BIRD = AFIRE + BEARDS
Defiantly aggressive (hyph.)IN-YOUR-FACE = UNCOY + AFIRE
Blofeld's pet (2 wds.)PERSIAN CAT = CAPRA + STEIN
Caribbean nation (2 wds.)SAINT LUCIA = TUNIC + ALIAS
Source of iodine, usually (2 wds.)TABLE SALT = BALL + STATE
Gregory Hines, e.g. (2 wds.)TAP DANCER = CAPRA + TEND
Inflammation of connective tissueTENOSITIS = OTIS + STEIN
Indiana universityVALPARAISO = VAPOR + ALIAS
(3, 6)

Here, a list of trigrams can be arranged into four words. If you look at these words, they form a loop, where the first/last two letters of each overlap. Taking those overlapping letters in order spells AMETHYST.


These 16 answers can be arranged into 4 sets:

  • Alan Arkin Movies (EROS, HAVANA, NORTH, FIREWALL)
  • words that become new words with a C in front (LEFT, LEAR, INCH, RAFT)

Each of these sets could have a common fifth word added to them. That word is ARGO, which then becomes the Vigenere key.

Figuring out all 4 sets will give you all sixteen clues in order. Below are the answers to the clues, and the letter that is extracted from each answer.

Her ___ was angry (5)INCHHEDWIGI
Full name of the actress who played ___ in 1983 (1)DOMINOKIM BASINGERK
State where a ___ is the D-I sports mascot (6)QUAKERPENNSYLVANIAY
Full name of the female athlete nicknamed The ___ (1)BLACK PEARLWILMA RUDOLPHW
Best-known work by Peter ___ (9)BEAGLETHE LAST UNICORNN
Month N : Month N - 1 :: ___ : ? (6)AMETHYSTGARNETT
Youngest daughter of ___ (3)LEARCORDELIAR
The last alphabetical attribute in the category with ___ (1)CONSTITUTIONWISDOMW
Real full name of G.I. Joe character with the codename ___ (14)FIREWALLMICHELLE LACHANCEN
A ___ can be found in the middle of a white region on this African flag (2)RED STARDJIBOUTIJ
Surname of French painter who painted a ___ from a famed shipwreck (9)RAFTGERICAULTT
Word after ___ in a Le Guin novel (2)LEFTHANDA
Full name of the singer of the 2017 hit song ___ (12)HAVANACAMILA CABELLOL
___ of the Iran Contra Affair (6)NORTHOLIVERR
Goddess considered the mother of ___ (3)EROSAPHRODITEH

Now you have IKYWNTRWNVJTALRH, which if you use ARGO as the Vigenere key can be decrypted to ITS INCLINED FAULT.