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Cactus Canyon

Pie Shop

by Mike Springer
Answer: AX

How to Solve

This big number is many smaller numbers concatenated. These numbers are mostly little sequences of consecutive numbers, which makes it easier to figure out the "breaks" between them. E.g., the 822823121101121102121103121104… at the beginning is 822, 823, 121101, 121102, 121103, 121104.

Look up these digits of π. Then put these digits together to make numbers in the 1–26 range, and convert to letters. Each sequence of consecutive numbers forms a bigram, two letters. E.g. digits 822, 823 are 2, 5. This might mean B, E (2, 5) or Y (25); you know it's BE because there are just two consecutive numbers and thus they need to form two letters.

This gives character names from movies. The next step is to figure out the movies. In most cases, it's enough to Google the character names; as the team makes progress, they might notice that the movie title has the same length as the character-text; and that the movie title contains "PI".

To extract the next message, line up the character-text and the (same-length) movie title to pull out the text that corresponds to the title's PI, e.g.,

This yields the message NEXT LETTER IN PI AFTER THE SECOND BIGRAM. For each character-text, look in the digits of π after the digits used for the second bigram.

Digits in Pi extraction phrases Movie Extraction with Pi next letter in Pi Final movie
1 belushi and kenNEy and brad a futile and stuPId gesture ne a 3
2 maXTon and basie emPIre of the sun xt r 0
3 MadeLEine Saincaize the sPIder and the fly le t 0
4 Lisa BaraTTi non canto PIù tt e r
5 WatERmelon Lady the PIano lesson er m i
6 Veronica RobINson the electric PIper in i s
7 Mary PopPIns mary popPIns pi s e
8 majors and riff rAFf and weiss the rocky horror PIcture show af i o
9 CliTEesha the PIkers te a f
10 Zanuck and BeRT Alan guilty by SusPIcion rt a a
11 FatHEr Brian Finn keePIng the faith he n n
12 SExy Mary PIckings se d e
13 Jacy and COach Popper the last PIcture show co d m
14 YolaNDi chapPIe nd A P
15 BIlly Dunston PInk cadillac bi X I
16 Nurse InGRid frankenPImp gr o r
17 Nick RAMsey teen sPIrit am s e

This new set of letters forms the message ARTEMISIA AND DAXOS. These are characters in the same-length-title movie 300 Rise of an Empire. That title contains "PI"; the corresponding letters in the character text is the solution, AX.