Straight Dope Message Board > Main Sunday Morning Puzzle #73 ---What's the Magic Word?
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#1
07-12-2003, 04:47 PM
 Biotop Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: North Garden, VA Posts: 1,873
Sunday Morning Puzzle #73 ---What's the Magic Word?

(Gotta post this early because I will be at work all day Sunday. No fair starting until Sunday! )

The magic word in this puzzle is a seven-letter word with no repeating letters. The word may, if you are a believer, explain the subject of the decoded text. Letters in the magic word are henceforth known as the magic letters.

The puzzle below is a magic cryptogram. It works just like a regular cryptogram unless a letter from the magic word appears in the text to be encoded. Any time a letter from the magic word appears in this original text, the previous letter in the same word is encoded a second time. It does not matter if the previous letter is a magic letter or not. If a magic letter begins a word, it obviously cannot change a previous letter, and nothing special happens.

Sound confusing? Here is an example:

**********
Normal Cryptogam (using, for simplicity's sake, the code of A=B, B=C, C=D...Z=A):

THE STRAIGHT DOPE becomes UIF TUSBJHIU EPQF
GENERAL QUESTIONS becomes HFOFSBM RVFTUJPOT
CAFE SOCIETY becomes DBGF TPDJFUZ

Magic Cryptogram (using the same code and with magic word "BOARDS"):

THE STRAIGHT DOPE becomes UIF TVTBJHIU FPQF
GENERAL QUESTIONS becomes HFOGTBM RVGTUKPPT
CAFE SOCIETY becomes EBGF UPDJFUZ

**********

The actual coding in the puzzle is not as simple as in the example (A=B, B=C...). However letter substitution is not random. A very astute solver might even discover the rather-difficult-to-discern pattern. And, if there was a "Q" in the original text (there' isn't), it would become a "P". Of course, if this theoretical "Q" was followed by a magic letter, it would not become a "P" at all, but would instead become what the "P" usually becomes---which in this case is an "H". Got it?

Source and author for the text are given.

Any potential wizards out there able to post the magic word?

^^^^^^^^^^

MTO DTKAZO BR MTO QBOXAWU DTCKWOG DIAWIAZO AD LAMGCSOL AW MTO ROSC ALKIBN SBSXWO AW NBD CWYBWOD. IBWLBAKCSOL FG NV BVZODMB SBDTO SBWMUFDBVG, AM QCD AWDXCKOL FG C JALABW TO TCL ZTCWO SKCJBWWAWU AW MTO IISKODD'D XKAJCSO OOM. SBWMUFDBVG LIAL MTCM C WIVYO HXBMBYKCHX BR TCS QAMX DIAWIAZO TCL RBOW LBOW DTOLNAWU SBIVD CWL AWDXCKOL SODSCSBWG BR TBIWAWUD.

MTO DIDSBMX FBBJ BR BLLRIWND CWL BAAOWSKCID/ EIKN DTCZ
#2
07-13-2003, 07:47 AM
 Biotop Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: North Garden, VA Posts: 1,873
Where are Merlin and that Potter kid when you need 'em?
#3
07-13-2003, 11:49 AM
 DocCathode Guest Join Date: Jul 2000
So close

four letters and most of the message.

But I've misunderstood something or miscopied something.

So very close.
#4
07-13-2003, 12:22 PM
 DocCathode Guest Join Date: Jul 2000
YES!!!!

I've got it!

[spoilers] I knew that r and c were magic letters. I had good reason to suspect m and l. Then, like a shout from my inner child, it hit me. The magic word is miracle.

Not the explanation I would have picked. But, then again, I'm not nearly as interested in how the picture of Mcloone weeps as I am in how a temple can be named Beta Israel. I had to check that one out. Not a spelling error. Not Beth Israel. Beta Israel. We need this meshugass like I need a loch in kaph.[/spoilers]
__________________
Nothing is impossible if you can imagine it. That's the wonder of being a scientist!
Prof Hubert Farnsworth, Futurama
#5
07-13-2003, 08:33 PM
 Biotop Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: North Garden, VA Posts: 1,873
Congratulations to this week's SDMB wizard: DocCathode!

The magic cryptogram was 4 Star difficult, and I wondered if this puzzle was going to require hints. But no! Your excellent cryptography is sure to bring a tear to the eye of all those who love decoding miracles.

As to the actual LA site... I wonder if any of our Cal Dopers have been there?
#6
07-14-2003, 12:18 AM
 Peregrine Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: SnUggLYpUPPY Posts: 400
I've been looking for the "rather-difficult-to-discern pattern". The pattern I've got starts out nicely with multiples of three, but then it goes all wonky after I, with an up four, up five, up four kind of thing that just gets worse as it goes. Is there a pattern behind this pattern that I might discover with persistence? I expect there must be, but I've gotten as far as I'm going to get for now.
#7
07-14-2003, 10:02 AM
 Biotop Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: North Garden, VA Posts: 1,873
Peregrine:

There is indeed a pattern, but as I said, it's difficult to discern. Here's a suggestion, try looking at it from a puzzlemaker's point of view. If A=C and B=F, how would YOU encode the rest of the alphabet?

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