Solution to ★

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by Rahul Sridhar

First we try to solve the clues. After researching a few of them we'll realize the following things:

  • Each of the answers can be described as some kind of "miracle".
  • The numbers of symbols in the parentheses are the number of words in each of the answers.
  • ★—which is always the first symbol—always represents the word MIRACLE.
  • Numbers represent words of the corresponding enumeration.
  • The clues are sorted alphabetically by the final word of each answer—represented by one of nine unique symbols.

The answers are as follows:

Clue Symbols Answer
This fruit’s signature effect works via a protein that binds to certain mouth receptors in low pH environments. ★ ✜ MIRACLE BERRY
The coiner of this term credits the result to a group of men who studied at his university and subsequently returned to their home country to implement economic reforms. ★ 2 ✤ MIRACLE OF CHILE
This event was made possible in part by a lengthy halt order made by the leader of the opposition, which was considered to be an enormous tactical blunder. ★ 2 ◉ MIRACLE OF DUNKIRK
Despite the fact that the vehicle involved in this incident sunk fully, it was eventually recovered and is now on display in a museum in North Carolina. ★ 2 3 ‡ MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON
Although this event refers to a critical game played between the two geopolitical rivals, the underdog didn't clinch the gold medal until two days later. ★ 2 ✿ MIRACLE ON ICE
This bird managed to survive the incident that made it famous largely because its jugular vein and brain stem remained intact and the wound itself clotted over. ★ ⌘ MIRACLE MIKE
This local-area bar is known for its distinctive menu which is formatted like a periodic table. ★ 2 ☉ MIRACLE OF SCIENCE
This condiment made its debut at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair and quickly became a huge success. ★ ❊ MIRACLE WHIP
Of the papers published during this time period, the author is best known for the last two, but won his Nobel Prize for the first. ★ ◈ MIRACLE YEAR

Now we can turn our attention to the Sudoku. It's titled "★ Sudoku", and since we've realized that ★ represents "Miracle," we can conclude that it in fact is a Miracle Sudoku, a variant Sudoku format popularized by a viral Cracking the Cryptic YouTube video.

A Miracle Sudoku adds two constraints on top of the usual Sudoku ones:

  • No two of the same number can be either a King's move or a Knight's move away from each other.
  • No two consecutive numbers can be adjacent to each other.

If we treat our given grid (ignoring the symbols for now) like a Miracle Sudoku with two given digits, we can in fact solve it uniquely:

396 852 417
741 396 852
285 741 396
639 285 741
174 639 285
528 174 639
963 528 174
417 963 528
852 417 963

Finally, we can turn to the symbols in the Sudoku grid:

The numbers in the positions of the nine red symbols in the first row obviously span the numbers 1 through 9, and can give us an ordering. The numbers in the positions of the nine blue symbols can then act as indices into the word corresponding to the symbol:


The indexed letters in order give us our answer: RED DIESEL.