Solution to Stata Center

Back to Puzzle

Answer: IRON OUT THE INKS

by Curtis Chou, Jakob Weisblat, Lillian McKinley, Anderson Wang

The answers to the puzzles in the round are:
PuzzleAnswer
ADNAAMINO ACIDS
BConnectionsWIRE
CThe Emperor's New KitchenPIZZA
DPClueRSBLADE
EBounce HouseMIRROR
FEscape From LifeFLYER
GNot A CrosswordBED
HExtensiveCOMPUTER
ISlitheɹlᴉuʞsNET
JTreasure MapsTEXTILE
KBracketeeringSTRATA
LRadical RebusesSKIN
MCareful What You Wish ForCARDBOARD
NIn CDOUGH

First, we can fill in the letters in the grid from the labelled feeder answers. For example, the top-left cell (H6) is a T because the sixth letter of COMPUTER is T.

TEOCROIDHAEOPTM
DEONETRDIGTDCEA
TRCEUPROTESAGEA
WRIHTFCLINEIDEI
EDEPXORRDEAYSES
ECIEPWIDDTOANDP
PAPEAUOOPERIWIO
ZTEDBPBROCHBERA
TDICYALRDEIIONR
KETORIBCGOELRAR
GORSEGAZEWNETLO
PENKSMPACTDBNDI
IZTRCALZBURLASA
EDKIREIMSGETMCE
DEPLYTEAIEDRONK

The main diagonal spells TECH X-WORD ON BACK, which suggests looking at this week's crossword in The Tech. We might notice that the theme of the crossword is the Stata Center, which is appropriate.

If we read the first letters of each of the across clues, we produce the message THESE CLUES AND THE DOWN ONES DO NOT HELP YOU, so we can assume that the clues themselves are not relevant. The completed crossword grid is below:

SANTAREEKLAP
ASBADMELEEUMA
NOAMCHOMSKYPAC
KLEEERIEICANT
ORDERINONE
LOADINGDOCK
CLIPSSKYACLU
RELEASEEXERTED
OSSOEMOSNAFU
CHARLESVEST
IANENTERAL
IFEARTRIOUSOC
NEGSTATACENTER
CEOERDOCCURIA
ATSNAANOPOLY

Like our original grid, the crossword is 15 x 15, and the phrase on the diagonal suggests that we should tape it to the back of our grid. When we do that and read the letters that are opposite black cells on the crossword (the cyan cells in the grid below) we get the message CHANGE FEEDERS AND PAPER ALIKE TO GET LOST LETTER.

TEOCROIDHAEOPTM
DEONETRDIGTDCEA
TRCEUPROTESAGEA
WRIHTFCLINEIDEI
EDEPXORRDEAYSES
ECIEPWIDDTOANDP
PAPEAUOOPERIWIO
ZTEDBPBROCHBERA
TDICYALRDEIIONR
KETORIBCGOELRAR
GORSEGAZEWNETLO
PENKSMPACTDBNDI
IZTRCALZBURLASA
EDKIREIMSGETMCE
DEPLYTEAIEDRONK

When we solve a puzzle, some number of blanks appear on the meta page to the right of the answer. The above message suggests that we should change each feeder answer somehow to produce a new word that matches the enumeration given by the blanks.

Eventually we realize that we can “fold” each answer to produce a new object. For example we can fold a COMPUTER to get a LAPTOP and fold a PIZZA to get a CALZONE.

Answer“Folded” Answer
AAMINO ACIDSPROTEIN
BWIREPAPER CLIP
CPIZZACALZONE
DBLADEPENKNIFE
EMIRRORCOMPACT
FFLYERBROCHURE
GBEDFUTON
HCOMPUTERLAPTOP
INETPOLYHEDRON
JTEXTILEPLEATS
KSTRATAANTICLINE
LSKINWRINKLE
MCARDBOARDPACKAGE
NDOUGHCROISSANT

The message suggested that we should change the paper “alike.” By folding the paper along vertical lines, with the crossword pasted on the back, we can align the letters to produce the folded versions of our answers, missing a single letter. Each word requires a different fold offset and some are folded from the right and some from the left.

TEOCROIDHAEOPTM
DEONETRDIGTDCEA
TRCEUPROTESAGEA
WRIHTFCLINEIDEI
EDEPXORRDEAYSES
ECIEPWIDDTOANDP
PAPEAUOOPERIWIO
ZTEDBPBROCHBERA
TDICYALRDEIIONR
KETORIBCGOELRAR
GORSEGAZEWNETLO
PENKSMPACTDBNDI
IZTRCALZBURLASA
EDKIREIMSGETMCE
DEPLYTEAIEDRONK
SANTAREEKLAP
ASBADMELEEUMA
NOAMCHOMSKYPAC
KLEEERIEICANT
ORDERINONE
LOADINGDOCK
CLIPSSKYACLU
RELEASEEXERTED
OSSOEMOSNAFU
CHARLESVEST
IANENTERAL
IFEARTRIOUSOC
NEGSTATACENTER
CEOERDOCCURIA
ATSNAANOPOLY
TEOCROIDHAEOPTM
DEONETRDIGTDCEA
TRCEUPROTESAGEA
WRIHTFCLINEIDEI
EDEPXORRDEAYSES
ECIEPWIDDTOANDP
PAPEAUOOPERIWIO
ZTEDBPBROCHBERA
TDICYALRDEIIONR
KETORIBCGOELRAR
GORSEGAZEWNETLO
PENKSMPACTDBNDI
IZTRCALZBURLASA
EDKIREIMSGETMCE
DEPLYTEAIEDRONK
SANTAREEKLAP
ASBADMELEEUMA
NOAMCHOMSKYPAC
KLEEERIEICANT
ORDERINONE
LOADINGDOCK
CLIPSSKYACLU
RELEASEEXERTED
OSSOEMOSNAFU
CHARLESVEST
IANENTERAL
IFEARTRIOUSOC
NEGSTATACENTER
CEOERDOCCURIA
ATSNAANOPOLY
Answer“Folded” AnswerLetter
AAMINO ACIDSPROTE[I]NI
BWIREPAPE[R]CLIPR
CPIZZACALZ[O]NEO
DBLADEPENK[N]IFEN
EMIRRORC[O]MPACTO
FFLYERBROCH[U]REU
GBEDFU[T]ONT
HCOMPUTERLAP[T]OPT
INETPOLY[H]EDRONH
JTEXTILEPL[E]ATSE
KSTRATAANT[I]CLINEI
LSKINWRI[N]KLEN
MCARDBOARDPAC[K]AGEK
NDOUGHCROI[S]SANTS

Reading the missing letters in the original order of the feeders spells the answer IRON OUT THE INKS. To fix Stata we have to use an iron to draw out the ink from the scribbles!