## A Present of a Picross

Example Picross

A final present from me for Christmas! This time it’s a Picross puzzle.

A picross is a logic puzzle. They’re also called Nonograms, Hanjie, Griddlers or “Paint-By-Numbers”.

The goal is to blacken squares in a grid to create a picture.

Numbers around the grid are clues. From these clues you can deduce exactly where all the black squares go using logic and deduction. There is only one solution where the clues in the columns and the clues in the rows are consistent.

Each clue number signifies an unbroken line of black squares. These lines appear in the same order as the numbers, running left to right for the rows and top to bottom for the columns. Every line of black squares is separated by one or more un-blackened squares. You can mark these in with light Xs. A zero means the entire row or column is unblackened.

## News and Updates for December

Christmastime is here, by golly!

Whether you call it Christmas, Hanukkah, Hogswatch, Krampusnacht, Pancha Ganapati, Winterval, Yule or Yalda, the end of the Gregorian Calendar year is, for many, a season of glad tidings and enforced time with the extended family.

Puzzles and games are a great way to soothe political and religious differences, offering something entirely different for people to argue about.

As I write this, there’s still time to pick up some of these puzzle books if you’re stuck for gift ideas. Alternatively, there are a few online challenges to while away the northern hemispherically cold winter evenings.

## Cryptic Crossword Primer for Christmas

Cryptic crosswords are one of those things you either love or hate, that you either understand or can’t stand. Part of the problem is that there is a huge set of rules for solving them which you are simply supposed to know. If you don’t know the rules, you’ve got no chance.

This post is a Chritmas present to readers. It includes a short introduction on how to solve cryptic crosswords and a special Christmas themed crossword to try your hand at. It is not like some of the devious cryptic crosswords in the broadsheets. Most of the clues should be fairly easy and fun.

You can click on the image to the right to view the crossword at full size, and here is a PDF version to download and print. Answers are at the end of this post but try it for yourself first!

Puzzles are a great activity for families stuck together for extended periods trying to think up topics of conversation! So print a few of the crosswords off and work together over the holiday period to find the answers.

This crossword and the primer below were written by myself and my partner in crime at inkflamingos.com. Please take a look at her art portfolio.

## Dickens’ Final Chapter: A TimeTrap Escape Room

TimeTrap Escape

TimeTrap Escape are a small escape room company based in Reading, Berkshire. So far they have produced two temporary “pop-up” rooms in bars around the town.

There were some great word-of-mouth reviews for “The Dungeon”, held in the basement of The Purple Turtle, but I couldn’t make it in person. So when I heard that “Dickens’ Final Chapter” was having a short run in the library of the historic Great Expectations hotel and bar, I didn’t miss my second chance and visited them during their final week.

And so a willing friend and I travelled back in time to discover which felon had stolen the manuscript of Charles Dickens’ final book.

Though the room is now dismantled, I have attempted to keep this review spoiler free in case it is recreated in the future.

## The Egyptian Jukebox: Solution Part 2

The Egyptian Jukebox by Nick Bantock is a dark and intriguing conundrum. The book asks a single question: “Where do my worlds join?”. The answer can be discovered in the 10 Drawers that make up the book.

This is Part 2 of my solution to the Egyptian Jukebox. Part 1 is here and provides some hints to get you started before going into the full explanation of the puzzle methodology and the solutions for the first 5 Drawers.

This part will give a brief recap of how the puzzle works before giving the solutions for the last 5 drawers and fitting them together for the final answer.

If you want to avoid spoilers as much as possible and just want a few hints, stop reading this post now and go read Part 1.

Last chance!

## The Egyptian Jukebox: Solution

The Egyptian Jukebox

The Egyptian Jukebox by Nick Bantock is a dark and intriguing conundrum. The book asks a single question: “Where do my worlds join?”. The answer can be discovered in the 10 Drawers that make up the book.

Solving the puzzle requires a few good guesses and a willingness to test out ideas, so it’s easy to get stuck. But I think this is a fun puzzle to solve and do not want to spoil it by giving away the complete solution immediately.

Instead, this post gives a few hints to spark your own ideas before explaining the main method of solving the puzzle. There is then a detailed solution to the Drawer 1 puzzle, and finally a summary of the solutions for the next 4 Drawers. I’ll published solutions for the final 5 Drawers next week.

There are two key steps to solving The Egyptian Jukebox. The first is to crack the cryptic message in the Inscription:
“The gods stand upright and give latitude.
From the yarns pluck golden songs to string across.
With this grid you may now navigate The Egyptian Jukebox.
Ten drawers – ten small solutions – and an answer.”

## Warming Thoughts as Winter Closes In

“The warm sun thaws the benumbed earth and makes it tender”
– The Spring by Thomas Carew (1595-1640)

I have been trying out some Adalogical Aenigmas at Pavel’s Puzzles over the past couple of weeks, and the quote above popped out as an answer to one of them.

I’m sharing it here since, with winter closing in, I’m sure many people must yearn for a little warm sun and a little tenderness at the moment. Winter is coming, but it perforce gives way to the Spring.

Here’s the full poem:

Now that the winter’s gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream;
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree
The drowsy cuckoo, and the humble-bee.
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
In triumph to the world the youthful Spring.
The valleys, hills, and woods in rich array
Welcome the coming of the long’d-for May.
Now all things smile, only my love doth lour;
Nor hath the scalding noonday sun the power
To melt that marble ice, which still doth hold
Her heart congeal’d, and makes her pity cold.
The ox, which lately did for shelter fly
Into the stall, doth now securely lie
In open fields; and love no more is made
By the fireside, but in the cooler shade.
Amyntas now doth with his Chloris sleep
Under a sycamore, and all things keep
Time with the season; only she doth carry
June in her eyes, in her heart January.

## The Room and Other Computer Game Puzzles

The Room

The Room came out back in 2012 and won enough awards to get its own Wikipedia page. I decided to give it a whirl to see what the fuss was about. It can be picked up cheaply as a mobile game, or for a few pounds on Steam in a revamped desktop incarnation.

It’s a short game, possible to complete in an evening. It’s also easy to see why it’s popular as it’s beautifully presented, accessible and contains nothing taxing enough to cause severe frustration.

But all the way through I spent more time thinking about other games, and the numerous problems with computer puzzle games as a genre. Problems that have rarely been solved.

## News and Updates for November

This is a monthly update of treasure hunt, game and puzzle tidbits.

Treasure Trails has produced a Halloween themed puzzle that’s free to try out. If you like it, their main business is selling walking and driving tours of hundreds of different places around the UK. The unique feature is that the tour includes clues for a treasure hunt or a murder mystery that you crack en route. Trails cost £6.99 if you want to print them off at home yourself. » Read more

## Five Fiendish Picture Puzzles

This post contains a small collection of picture puzzles.

Some require logic to solve, others spatial awareness and others are language based.

Good luck