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Solution to Cheers


by James Sugrono and Renee Ngan

Cheers is a fairly classic zebra puzzle, with the twist being that the language used by the speakers is not consistent, and with the added complication that categories are reused. Each person is from Australia, where beer glass size names are not consistent between states, (and 'beer' and 'glass' are sizes). This is hinted at by the flavour text mentioning 'arvo' and 'grog', as well as the main puzzle being presented upside down.

The puzzle comprises a series of statements, and solvers need to solve for the size of drinks, the number of drinks, and the Big Thing each person lives near.

Reading the synonyms for big used, in order of appearance, clues JUSTTHESTATES, indicating to solvers both that they are to ignore any territories of Australia (notably the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory), and also not focus on the individual towns or cities that speakers may live in.

Two of Australia's Big Things can be solved from the start: the "thing with radioactive elements" (Big Periodic Table) in WA, and the "thing mentioned by Slammin' Sam" (We Love Our Lamb ad campaign, leading to the Big Lamb) in NSW. All other Big Things need more information to narrow down what they are.

The states where speakers live can be solved by observing the language that they use to name specific drink sizes, combined with using the clues of the people who live near each other, and the fact that Cathy is the only person who lives in her state.

Once all language has been clarified, sizes of drinks can be fairly easily solved through the logic, and remaining Big Things can be solved, once their descriptions are combined with the state where they should be found.

The number of drinks can be logically solved once Big Things and drink sizes have been solved, using some mathematical deductions.

Indexing the number of drinks bought into the Big Thing that each person lives near, and then sorting by names alphabetically gives the string RABRETSYO. The last step is to invert this order, as hinted at by the original upside down presentation of this puzzle, to get the final answer OYSTER BAR.

NameStateBig ThingClueNumber of drinks boughtSize of drinkIndexed letter
ItaQLDORANGEFruit, with name that references rainbow colour1200 ml (7 fl oz)O
HarryVICCHERRYFruit with a seed/pit6425 ml (15 fl oz)Y
GraceTASWICKETSFound at a sporting event7425 ml (15 fl oz)S
FredWAPERIODIC TABLEContains radioactive elements9200 ml (7 fl oz)T
EvonneSAPELICANBird, found near the water2570 ml (20 fl oz)E
DawnQLDORANGEFruit, with name that references rainbow colour2285 ml (10 fl oz)R
CathyNSWLAMBSlammin Sam: "We love our ????"4425 ml (15 fl oz)B
BernardSAPELICANBird, found near the water6285 ml (10 fl oz)A
AdamVICCHERRYFruit with a seed/pit5570 ml (20 fl oz)R

Drink size reference

200 ml (7 fl oz)sevenbeerbutcherglassglassseven
285 ml (10 fl oz)middypotschoonerpotmiddyten
425 ml (15 fl oz)schoonerschoonerpintschoonerschoonerschooner
570 ml (20oz.)pintpintimperial pintpintpintpint

Authors' notes

This puzzle was born from an observation that we Australians call things by different names in different states - think pop vs soda - and in its earliest iteration you would have learnt about "potato scallops/potato cakes", "drinking fountains/bubblers" or "cossies/togs/swimmers". The next version had references to Australian currency (pineapples and lobsters), state mammals, fish, and flora, but for a more thematically consistent puzzle we eventually settled on beer glass sizes and Australia's Big Things.

During testsolving, we found that being familiar with Australian beer glass terminology sometimes held solvers back - one of them amusingly referred to the four sizes as middies, schooners, pints and jugs. Meanwhile, it was a joy hearing people discover all the various roadside attractions we have scattered around Australia.

We originally had the clue for the Big Lamb as simply "we love ours" without mentioning Slammin' Sam, which was a delightful find for the first group that tested our puzzle, and not so much the others, until we added more detail. Even though Australia has more than one famous Slammin' Sam, we are, of course, referring to Sam Kekovich and the national We Love Our Lamb ad campaign that has become part of Australia's calendar.

The final extraction requires solvers to recognise the importance of the Big Thing, rather than the state or town that they live in. Solvers are discouraged from trying to index into towns, because there are two Big Oranges in Queensland, and two Big Pelicans in South Australia. Incidentally, Wikipedia also lists two Big Cherries in Victoria, the other state where two people are from, but it turns out that it is the same Big Cherry that was relocated.

Finally, you might have also noticed that our people aren't named Alice, Bob, etc - their names are a final nod to the strong Australian theme of this puzzle, all of them being names of former Australians of the Year. This detail is entirely unnecessary to solving the puzzle, but hopefully it's a nice little Easter Egg that arrives at a dead end quickly enough for anyone who followed it.