(Bloomberg review) — Puzzles have seen a huge increase in popularity over the past year and a half. But did you know you can do them with words?
We’ll look at some of the more complex approaches in future Conundrums, but this week we’re introducing one of the simplest: shuffled citations. The goal is to put together famous quotes from their “pieces”, i.e. their individual words.
Each of the lines below is a well-known quote or saying – but the words are out of order. We’ve given you the name of the speaker or writer for your convenience, and we’ve also sorted the words alphabetically to make them a little easier to spot.
But also – as sometimes happens with puzzles, we kind of mixed the pieces of one with the other. Each line contains a superfluous word, and these words together form an additional quotation. Once you figure out what it is, you should find out who said it. This speaker is this week’s answer.
Some of these quotes might jump out at you right away. For others you might need references – and of course you are always welcome to turn to internet resources (or “Bartlett Quotes”, if you have a copy).
And while the blends may look like a word salad at first, they’re not that hard to untangle. A good first step is to search for long or unusual words, just like you might start with the unusual colored or patterned pieces in a normal puzzle.
For example, Jane Goodall wrote a lot about “nature”, but right next to that word you might see “mystical”. It’s not enough to pick the quote alone, but “mystical” along with “joy” and “knowledge” might lead you to the next line from Goodall’s “Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey.”
And then, if you counted, you’d notice that the extra word was, well, “it.” So “that” should get you started on the way to the extra quote that leads to the answer.
There is also a bonus puzzle this week. Once you’ve found the main answer, you’ll want to revisit the quotes we gave you to start with. Hidden somewhere in them is a clue to what is sort of the most quotable answer possible. You might have trouble seeing it at first, but remember that classic quotes sound best when read out loud.
Oh, and one more note: we’ve done our best to faithfully reproduce the quotes from the references, but we haven’t delved into the historical and philological arguments. The versions here may therefore be slightly different from the forms you have heard. For example, this line “an army” is sometimes worded slightly differently, and sometimes attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte.
If you manage to complete this quote quest – or even make partial progress – please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight New York time on Thursday, September 30.
Last week’s riddle: there’s still time to play!
You can still enter our “Guess Four-Sixths of the Average” contest until midnight New York time on Thursday, September 23! The format is simple: Send us a number between 0 and 64000; whoever comes closest to four-sixths of the average of all numbers submitted wins. Registration form here.
Previously on Kominers’s Conundrums…
Our most recent escape room-style Conundrum was an immersive puzzle adventure set in the world of The escape game‘s “The Heist” – composed with Troy Armstrong and Ben Enos of The escape gameas well as ours Lara Williams.
Solvers had to make sense of a series of cryptic documents in order to identify a street intersection where an art thief was supposed to meet his contact.
The first clue was the following note:
Knowing the coded symbols of a phone number, you can naturally guess that the separate groups correspond to the country code, area code, then the three- and four-digit components of the number. But how to give meaning to the symbols themselves? The instruction to “think” was a clue – each symbol represented a number next to its reflection. So the phone number listed was 1-855-957-4162.
Once you figured that out, there was a bit of a stalemate. There were two other documents provided – a map of the museum and an information guide – but it was unclear how to use them. That said, we had hinted that “puzzles don’t just live on your computer screen”, so you shouldn’t be afraid to “call someone if you don’t know what to do next”. This indicated a surprising next step: to continue solving, you actually had to call the phone number!
The number turned out to be the Barclay Museum answering machine, which offered a variety of audio tours, as well as the option to speak with the curator. (You can try it now – the phone line is still working!)
The audio guides corresponded to the four galleries listed on the museum map. For example, for “The Masters”, the tour was as follows:
These suggested a path of movement through each room which, when traced, indicated a number – 7 in the case of “The Masters”. Tracing the four paths yields the code “7354”, which can be entered as an extension in the telephone book in order to reach the curator’s office.
After reaching the Curator’s Desk line, you received the following message originally intended for the thief:
The final step was to realize that each panel of the museum description contained a “star” shape – and the words immediately below those stars indicated the desired intersection: “FIRST AND MAIN!”
We sent our Conundrums surveillance team there and saw that – as you might expect at the end of the puzzle – our art thief was actually supposed to meet Barclay Museum curator Vincent Hahn. This discovery leads directly into The Escape Game’s adventure story “The Heist” – you should check it out now if you haven’t already!
Ross Rheingans-Yoo resolved first, followed by Lazar Ilic, Zoe Schaefer, Sanandan Swaminathan, Clare O’Tsuji, Andrew Garber and Pacy Yan, Will L., Zoz, Rebecca Kon, Sean McCormick, Maya Kaczorowski, Andrew Esten, Warren Sunada Wong, Pancho Socici, Zarin Pathan, Andrea Hawksley and Andrew Lutomirski, Luke Harney, Henry Godfreyand Risa Puno. The other 26 solvers were Denise-Alphonse, Brody Allsep, Lauren Bello, Rachel Bistany, Jason A. Brown, KD Dekker, Jon Delfin, Todd Geldon, Gil (3P) & Ronit (Origali), Randi Goldman and Zach Wissner-Gross, Yannai Gonczarowski & Elee Shimshoni, Aiden Guinnip and Amanda Jaquin, Sushant Gupta, Megane John, Paul Kominers, Phyo Aung Kyaw, Jenny Lim, Marvin Meng, Howard Nielsen, Noam Prywes, Bruno Rodriguez, strom, audrey tiew, Eric Wepsic, and Denise Xu. And especially thanks to Matthew Stein, Jennifer Walsh and Dan Rubin, and The escape game team for solving tests, and for Jessica Karl for help with solution images! Wepsic spotted a variant of the reflection code in the wild, and Walsh and Rubin sent in this fabulous “First and Main” video as a solution.
Of course, you have to be careful because of the one word that doesn’t match every quote.
Other visits were: “The Modernists – The first stop in this gallery should always be the Picasso. After coming face to face, walk around the wall to observe the Mondrian. Once you’re all squared off, jump around the corner to finish with the O’Keefe. “The Sculptors – Every sculpture in this exhibit is worth seeing, but we recommend starting with Michelangelo and then moving on to the Calder. After analyzing the beautiful curves of these statues, turn around and admire the Duchamp and then the Donatello. These masters should be followed by Moore and then Bernini. “The Impressionists – Our most popular gallery includes many famous paintings, but be sure to see the Monet first (as it’s our curator’s favourite!). After that, admire the beautiful brushstrokes of Degas. A short walk through the gallery will bring you face to face with Renoir. After basking in its wonderful colors, head to the unique visual world that is the Pissarro. Your Impressionist tour should always end with Cézanne, a true master of form.
The “EX T” (“EXIT” but missing an “I”) in the lower right corner of the card was a subtle hint that the four digits were to be used as an extension.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Editorial Board or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Scott Duke Kominers is an MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and a faculty member of Harvard’s Department of Economics. Previously, he was a Junior Scholar at the Harvard Society of Fellows and a Senior Scholar at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago.