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Ian’s Labyrinth (Part 5)


This Post contains SPOILERS of puzzles that appear the book The Maze of Games by Mike Selinker, specifically ones in Chapter 2: Joining the Clubs. 

My nephew Ian is on spring break. He and his dad brainstormed some road trip ideas but they all fell through for one reason or another. They decided to hang out in Denver for the weekend. Ian tried his first puzzle room — he enjoyed the concept quite a bit — and then he spent the night at my place where we ate junk food, watched movies, and solved puzzles.

Our Maze of Games cosolve was The Chairman of the Board in chapter two. It’s basically a grid puzzle so I offered clues to Ian to see what he could solve, and tried rephrasing the clues if he was having trouble. In many cases, Ian simply struggled with crosswordese that puzzle fans learn from experience.

“The clue is ‘Gold, in Madrid.’ Do you know the Spanish word for gold?”
“Okay, it’s ORO. Probably no reason you would know that other than puzzles. Or, maybe some of your Spanish-speaking schoolmates would have reason to mention it.”
“Not so far.”

Because the puzzles in the book are written using the sensibility of the 19th century, I could help Ian by translating to the modern era.

“13-Across is ‘Nipponese victuals’. Do you know what either of those words mean?”
“Uh. No.”
“Nipponese is an old-fashioned word for Japanese and victuals means food.”
“So think of the clue as ‘Japanese food’.”

Ian did get a handful of answers using the original clues and no help from me. He solved {Where a sailor might head to: 2wds.} with just OP????? and {Fable: 2wds. with F?????ALE. For the clue {Part of the eye} he noted that he had recently dissected an cow’s eye in biology class. He named the structures he could remember — iris, pupil, cornea, retina — but not the answer UVEA. Also, for the clue {Work of Horace} he asked, “Wasn’t Horace the guy who carried the sun in Egyptian mythology?”, which was an impressive bit of knowledge despite being off the mark. When we completed the grid I coaxed him toward the final answer of HORSE (the five-letter word found in both grids). While it took him a moment to register this shared word, he did note that the answer was appropriate given the chess knight theme of the puzzle. We plan to work on some more puzzles together via text message.


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