Thursday, September 30, 2010

PUZZLE: Big Cross-Out Swindle

Here's an easier one. Martin Gardner made this for GAMES a long time ago.

Cross out nine letters in such a way that the remaining letters make a single word. 


N A I S N I E N L G E L T E T W E O R R S D


A reader later wrote in with an alternate answer, which was also correct, and unforeseen by Gardner or the editors. Each answer requires a different kind of logic: one requires more lateral thinking, while the other is more language based.

6 comments:

Karen LH said...

Cross out every other letter, starting with the first one. You have crossed out the phrase "NINE LETTERS" and are left with the phrase "A SINGLE WORD".

Thomas L. McDonald said...

Yep, that's the answer Gardner intended and which we printed. A reader found another, trickier answer, however.

The B in ABCD said...

If you choose to cross out nine letters as opposed to the phrase "NINE LETTERS" are you allowed to rearrange the remaining letters in an effort to make a single word?

Thomas L. McDonald said...

Nope, no rearranging. I mean, you can if you want to, but that's not one of the solutions I had in mind.

Since this one eluded one of the best puzzlers of the century, as well as the entire editorial staff of GAMES, I will give a hint: the result is a 3-letter word.

The B in ABCD said...

Would it be a cheat to claim that ONE of the nine letters that I will be crossing out is E and then crossing out all four occurrences of E but only considering that as having crossed off one letter, the letter E?

In this way, you can cross off E,I,L,N,R,S,T (all the letters that appear multiple times) which leaves you with A,G,W,O,D and two letters remaining to cross out. Crossing out W,D gives the word AGO and crossing out A,W gives the word GOD.

Thomas L. McDonald said...

You nailed it: cross out AEILNRSTW every time they appear.

It was actually a complete accident.

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