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Solution to How To Install a Handle


by joon pahk, Sandy Weisz, Shai Nir Hana and Steve Kaltenbaugh
Art by Justin Ladia

The puzzle consists of a 32-player tournament bracket, and an accompanying list of images numbered from 1 to 32. The images are representations of the names of 32 real people who have appeared in the Name of the Year bracket since 2014. What is the Name of the Year bracket, you ask? Founded in 1983 by Stefan Fatsis and a few others, the Name of the Year's mission is "to discover, verify, nominate, elect, and disseminate great names." The names must be real names, but they can be great for any number of reasons—humor, incongruity, shock value, or just from the way the name rolls off the tongue.

NotY's internet presence is, unfortunately, a little bit spotty. It spent a few years hopping from blog to blog after was bought out, and never really found a permanent home anywhere (at one point disappearing from view with the demise of Deadspin), and nowadays its only active presence is its Twitter account. But you can still find individual year's brackets by Google image searching for the year + "name of the year bracket":

2014 (source) 2015 (source) 2016 (source) 2017 (source) 2018 (source) 2019 (source) 2020 (source)

We definitely wanted solvers to spend time combing through the brackets and cackling at the amazing names therein — that's what we spent most of our constructing time on! But to help you out, the names are sorted by year (earliest first), and within each year, the names appear in the same order they appear on the corresponding year's bracket image (top left to bottom left, then top right to bottom right). The full list of name identifications is as follows:

1Curvaceous Bass2014
2Wolfgang Grape2014
3Jetta Disco2014
4Unique Mayo2014
5Fuzzbee Morse2014
6Understanding Bush2015
7Swindly Lint2015
8Lancelot Supersad, Jr.2015
9Infinite Grover2015
10Lyric Generals2015
11Jasmine Albuquerque-Crossaint [sic]*2016
12Jerusalem Monday2016
13Snookie Catholique2016
14Cinderela Guevara2016
15Jorja Pound Turnipseed2016
16Rushmore Cervantes2017
17Kitty Chiller2017
18Salami Blessing2018
19Travis Couture-Lovelady2018
20Darthvader Williamson2018
21Chardonnay Beaver2018
22Dr. Narwhals Mating2018
23Manchester United MacGyver2019
24Tupac Isme2019
25Ecclesiastical Denzel Washington2019
26Bear Spiker2019
27Mathdaniel Squirrel2020
28Gravity Goldberg2020
29Destiny Guns2020
30Mickey Mental2020
31Beanbag Amerika2020
32Stetson President2020

* Her name is actually spelled Jasmine Albuquerque-Croissant, but the 2016 NotY bracket spells it "Crossaint", so that's what we're going with. However, unlike some of the other spelling quirks (Cinderela and Snookie), the solution to the puzzle is unaffected by the spelling of the last few letters of her name.

By and large, the image identifications are quite evident once you find the right name, but for the record, the Morse code in image 5 spells out BEE, and the weapons in image 29 are from the video game Destiny. People or fictional characters with relevant names appearing in the pictures are: chef Wolfgang Puck (#2), Hank Azaria as Lancelot from Spamalot (#8), Grover from Sesame Street (#9), Jasmine from Aladdin (#11), Snooki from Jersey Shore (#13), revolutionary Che Guevara (#14), actress Jorja Fox (#15), writer Miguel de Cervantes (#16), rock star Travis Barker (#19), NBA star Zion Williamson (#20), Richard Dean Anderson as MacGyver (#23), rapper Tupac Shakur (#24), actor Denzel Washington (#25), actor Daniel Radcliffe (#27), actress/host Whoopi Goldberg (#28), Mickey Mouse (#30), and President Joe Biden (#32).

Once the names have been identified, the next step is to put them into the tournament bracket. Each "seed" number in the bracket refers to the corresponding image number, and then the list of numbers next to the seed should be used to index into the name. In each case, indexing will spell out an English word.

The next step is to "play out" the tournament using these 32 words. Each matchup is allocated to one of five made-up venues, and each venue name hints at the kind of wordplay that occurs there. All five wordplay games take two words and produce a third word, whose length is given in blanks in the bracket:

The full bracket is given below. The puzzle answer is the tournament "champion": HALF-COURT.

Most of the wordplay is done by purely mechanical manipulations, but here's an explanation of the matchups in Mutual Associate Arena:

Author's Note

This puzzle came into existence because one of the authors (joon) noted with some surprise that there had never been a puzzle based on Name of the Year. It went through a fairly protracted development process, both to figure out the precise mechanic we wanted, and some general foot-shuffling while we waited to see if there would be a 2021 bracket released in a timely fashion, because if there were, it would be weird for the puzzle not to use it. (Alas, there was no 2021 bracket.)

Sandy was the first one to suggest playing through an actual tournament bracket using various wordplay "games" whose rules had to be determined. Huge thanks to Justin Ladia of the Department of Art & Design, whose illustrations perfectly captured both the gravity and the hilariousness of the 32 names we included in the puzzle.