This type of word puzzle is a featured regularly in “The Enigma”, the NPL’s monthly puzzle book. It is generally a thoughtful, witty or downright funny quote.

A quotation is divided into trigrams, which are presented in alphabetical order. A leftover letter or bigram goes at the end, not alphabetically. All words and punctuation are shown in the enumeration, with capitalization indicated by *, as in this example:
(4 10 2 6 3 3’1 5 12 6 3 3’1 4 3 6 3 3’1 4. 5* 6*)

adf ali alk can ein ewh ewh for gpe kjo kza ntt ntw oca oca opl opl peo ple ppa ran rit roc smi spe ter tre urn vie who win

Solvers arrange the trigrams, using the given word lengths, to find the quotation and author, whose name is usually included after the quotation. In the example:

Answer: Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read. Frank Zappa

So, using the example, here is an anaquote to try your hand at:


“Energized” Anaquote

arg bat bun dch ene edw ith nya rgi rre ste ter zer y

Answer: [spoiler] Energizer Bunny arrested, charged with battery. [/spoiler]

New Subscription and Invitation Links

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Air Vent Rearangements

Beyond the shuffling of architectural air ducts, if you have the tenacity to rearrange the letters of this post’s title by hand you may have the good fortune of discovering the hidden words – INTERNET ANAGRAM SERVER – but it would be much easier if you simply went to the Internet Anagram Server at and let the interweb do the work for you. It’s a great tool to test seemingly nonsensical strings of words in a puzzle, hiding your own clues in rearranged letters or simply discovering that GATOR PEED IN ONE CORRAL is an anagram for your full name – well at least mine.

David Blaine: Puzzle Cache Hider Extraordinaire

Most of you are probably familiar with edgy street magician and endurance stunt perpetrator David Blaine. But did you know that he hid one of the most difficult puzzle caches ever?

On October 29, 2002, David Blaine published the book Mysterious Stranger which contained a $100,000 challenge: solve the puzzles in the book to reveal the location of a treasure hidden somewhere in America. The puzzle had been created by Cliff Johnson, noted puzzle constructor and author of the legendary computer game The Fool’s Errand.

On November 4, 2003, the treasure still had not been found. That evening, David was interviewed on Larry King Live and offered this cryptic hint: If my tattoo is fearless, then climb ten weeks to find the route, and “route” is spelled “r-o-u-t-e”.

On March 24, 2004, retired schoolteacher Sherri Skanes solved the puzzle and found the treasure after working on it for only six weeks.

The tale of the puzzle’s construction and solution is amazing reading. There are two parts to the solution: deciphering and interpreting the hidden clues. This puzzle was so complex that its solution managed to elude the entire collective intelligence of every puzzlehead on the internet for nearly 18 months.

Fortunately for us, Sherri Skanes kept a diary of her adventure to recover the treasure. It’s the best “Found It” log I’ve ever read. It’s got all of the important elements: hard work, research, analysis, trespassing, giving up and going home, encounters with homeless people, “ah-hah!” moments, vomiting, spectacular views, injuries, deer sightings, Frank Zappa, weird coincidences, night caching, ticks, begging your family and ex-spouse to be involved in your nerdy hobby, and – most importantly – “coyote crap”, and all of that in a single day.

The solution to the challenge was an homage to one of my favorite movies of all time and probably the greatest treasure hunt film ever made: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

What’s almost as good as Sherri’s story are the folks who developed highly elaborate and completely incorrect theories about the solution. Cliff Johnson refers to these crackpot theories as Just Blaine Crazy. I doubt anyone has ever been as far off in the weeds as those folks were.

The puzzle published in the book wasn’t Cliff’s first attempt to create a puzzle for David. The Harry Green Shuffle and the San Dimas Prototype provide an interesting insight into how puzzles are constructed and evolve.

Some people just responded in outright silly ways. One woman played a lovely April Fool’s Day prank, and others … well, it’s kinda hard to describe.

Spoilers, Spoilers Everywhere!

I’ve added a new plugin to this site to make it possible to post spoilers, like this:

What is the next number in this series?

1, 11, 21, 1211, 111221, 312211, … ?

[spoiler /Show Answer/ /Hide Answer/]13112221[/spoiler]

[spoiler /Show Solution/ /Hide Solution/]Start with 1. The string “1” has one “1” in it, so the next number is “11”  (one one). Now repeat the process with the new string: “11” has two ones in it, so the next number is “21” (two ones). The new string has one two and one one, so the next number is “1211”. And so forth.[/spoiler]

Here’s a short description of how to use the spoiler tags.


A few years ago, Games Magazine ran an article on a puzzlehunt called Jackpot. Imagine the The Amazing Race with bigger teams, smarter contestants, and much harder puzzles. I would *sooo* have loved to have been a contestant … *sigh*

Amazingly enough, the folks that put on the Jackpot event managed to turn their preoccupation with puzzles into a full-time occupation.

I once helped a friend who’s an Amazing Race fan put together something similar for a corporate team-building event. He and I did the overall race design, and I did some of the puzzle construction – including setting up a geocaching-style event.

If anyone is interested in doing something like this together in the future, let me know. My free time between family and work is limited, but I’d love to be involved somehow.