When trying to solve “Strategy 1” puzzles, a few puzzles will immediately (a)rouse your suspicion. For instance, the puzzle text for (4) clues “subtile” (inferior tiles), but “subtle” is the more commonly used word in this instance. Similarly, the murder mystery board game in (5) is “Clue”, which fits into the sentence, but the more commonly used phrase is to “cue” someone in.
These should provide a way in to the “camouflage” mechanism for Strategy 1 referenced in the flavourtext - the puzzle text provides clues to the missing word, but another word with one fewer letter but a similar definition is hidden within this missing word. Extracting the extra letters will give the first cluephrase: ATTILA THE PUN.
|Answer||Hidden word with similar definition||Extra letter|
For “Strategy 2” puzzles, several of the sentences have relatively straightforward answers, for example, (7) gnashing; (13) campaign; (14) guitar. When reading these sentences aloud, one might notice that these answers are formed by combining the starting and ending syllables of two consecutive words in the sentence (e.g. Nash’s crushing → gnashing, campus, champagne → campaign, geeky avatar → guitar).
These should provide a way in to the “quiet” mechanism for Strategy 2 referenced in the flavourtext - combining two consecutive words together and retaining their starting and ending syllables while dropping the middle syllables (or staying “quiet” on them). Having established the list of words, the next thing to note is that these words all have a silent letter that is not pronounced when reading the words (a second connection to the word “quiet”). Identifying these silent letters will give you your second cluephrase: LOOKING AT LANGUAGE.
|SALMON (several lemon)||L|
|COLONEL (curvy tunnel)||O|
|LEOPARD (leper, shepherd)||O|
|KNAPSACK (napkin, gunnysack)||K|
|BUSINESS (bistro’s openness)||I|
|SOLEMN (solid xylem)||N|
|GNASHING (Nash’s crushing)||G|
|DEAFENING (definitely stunning)||A|
|RAPPORT (rapid downpour)||T|
|ALMOND (arguably diamond)||L|
|DREADED (dreary, bull-headed)||A|
|COLUMN (core curriculum)||N|
|CAMPAIGN (campus, champagne)||G|
|GUITAR (geeky avatar)||U|
|AESTHETIC (as pathetic)||A|
|REIGNING (rain darkening)||G|
|EXPENSE (extreme suspense)||E|
The two cluephrases reference RICHARD LEDERER (he gives himself the nickname “Attila the Pun”, and authors the weekly column “Looking at Language” in US newspapers). Richard Lederer, who is best known for his books on the English language and wordplay, is thus the thematic answer to this wordplay puzzle.
As a big fan of puns, I (Chork) always wanted to construct a pun-ny puzzle, which I thought would bring in an element of fun to the hunt. When constructing this puzzle, the biggest challenges came in the Strategy 2 puzzles, firstly to identify words with unambiguous silent letters and secondly to find two words whose starting and ending syllables could form the answer words. We tried to be as accurate as possible in the second instance, and adopted the British pronunciation over the American one whenever there is an ambiguity - apologies if that caused some confusion to the solvers, but we hope that the overall experience was still a fun one!