Kominers’s Conundrums: Jigsaw Puzzles From Famous Quotes
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Jigsaw puzzles have seen a huge rise in popularity over the last year and a half. But did you know you can make them out of words?
We’ll look at some of the more complex approaches in future Conundrums, but this week we’re showcasing one of the simplest: jumbled quotes. The goal is to assemble famous quotes from their “pieces,” i.e., their individual words.
Each of the lines below is a well-known quote or saying — but the words aren’t in order. We’ve given you the name of the speaker or writer as a hint, and we’ve also sorted the words alphabetically to make them a little easier to pick out.
But also — as sometimes happens with jigsaw puzzles, we kind of got the pieces from one mixed up with the others. Each line has one superfluous word, and those words together form an extra quote. Once you figure out what that is, you should look up who said it. That speaker is this week’s answer.
- a ago all and and and are brought conceived continent created dedicated equal fathers forth four in liberty men nation new on our proposition score seven that the this to years [Abraham Lincoln]
- a between but cards nothing of pack you’re [Alice]
- and animals be comfortable difference fur good in its keep let looks on only original own owner skin theirs your [Tim Howard]
- accomplish accomplished and are basically claim crowded extra first group have is less of people people people the there things things to two types who who [Mark Twain]
- an army extraordinary its marches on stomach [Frederick the Great]
- are buy crazy earth fool greed is is no on one sir that there thneed who with would you [The Lorax]
- eye jest little not or religion the with with [George Herbert]
- nevermore ordinary quoth raven the [Edgar Allan Poe]
- all almost alone and and beauty being can come describe eternity ever experienced for for for have have is joy knowledge little me mine more much mystical nature need no not of of of powerful really say suddenly that that the the there those those to unexpected who who with words [Jane Goodall]
- be be is not or question that the the to to [Hamlet]
Some of these quotes might jump out at you immediately. For others, you might need references — and of course and you’re always welcome to turn to Internet resources (or “Bartlett’s Quotations,” if you happen to have a copy).
For example, Jane Goodall wrote plenty about “nature,” but right next to that word you might spot “mystical.” That’s not enough to pick out the quote on its own, but “mystical” along with “joy” and “knowledge” might lead you to the following line from Goodall’s “Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey.”
“For those who have experienced the joy of being alone with nature there is really little need for me to say much more; for those who have not, no words of mine can ever describe the powerful, almost mystical knowledge of beauty and eternity that come, suddenly, and all unexpected.”
And then if you were keeping count, you would notice that the extra word was, well, “that.” So “that” should get you started on your way to the extra quote that leads to the answer.
There’s a bonus puzzle this week, as well. Once you’ve found the main answer, you’ll want to take another look at the quotes we gave you to start with. Hidden in them somewhere is a clue to what is in some sense the most quotable answer possible. You might have trouble seeing it at first — but don’t forget that classic quotes sound best when read aloud.
Oh, and one other note: We’ve done our best to reproduce the quotes faithfully from references, but we haven’t dug into historical and philological arguments. So the versions here might be slightly different from the forms you’ve heard. For example, that “an army” line is sometimes stated slightly differently, and sometimes attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte.
If you manage to complete this quote quest — or if you even make partial progress — please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org before midnight New York time on Thursday, September 30.
Last Week’s Conundrum: There’s Still Time to Play!
Previously in Kominers’s Conundrums...
Solvers had to make sense of a series of cryptic documents in order to identify a street intersection where an art thief was supposed to meet his contact.
The first clue was the following note:
Knowing the symbols encoded a phone number, you might naturally guess that the separate groups corresponded to country code, area code, and then the three and four digit components of the number. But how to make sense of the symbols themselves? The instruction to “reflect” was a clue — each symbol represented a digit adjoined to its reflection. Thus the phone number indicated was 1-855-957-4162.
Once you’d figured that out, there was a bit of an impasse. There were two more documents provided — a museum map and information guide — but it wasn’t clear how to use them. That said, we had hinted that “the puzzles don’t just live on your computer screen” so you shouldn’t be afraid to “call someone if you can’t figure out what to do next.” This pointed to a surprising next step: to continue solving, you actually had to call the phone number!
The number turned out to be the answering machine for the Barclay Museum, which offered a variety of audio tours, as well as the possibility of speaking with the curator. (You can try it now — the phone line is still working!)
The audio tours corresponded to the four galleries listed on the museum map. For example, for “The Masters,” the tour was as follows:
After reaching the curator’s office line, you received the following message originally intended for the thief:
“Hello there! I knew I could count on you to figure it out. That’s why we hired you. Say, let’s meet ‘under the stars.’ I’d like to have a few words with you there.”
The last step was to realize that each panel of the museum description contained some form of “star” — and the words immediately below those stars indicated the desired intersection: “FIRST AND MAIN!”
We sent our Conundrums surveillance team there and saw that — as you might have expected by the end of the puzzle — our art thief was actually supposed to be meeting with the Barclay Museum’s curator, Vincent Hahn. That discovery leads straight into the story of The Escape Game’s “The Heist” adventure — you should check it out now if you haven’t already!
Ross Rheingans-Yoo solved first, followed by Lazar Ilic, Zoe Schaefer, Sanandan Swaminathan, Clare O'Tsuji, Andrew Garber & Pacy Yan, Will L., Zoz, Rebecca Kon, Sean McCormick, Maya Kaczorowski, Andrew Esten, Warren Sunada-Wong, Pancho Socci, Zarin Pathan, Andrea Hawksley & Andrew Lutomirski, Luke Harney, Henry Godfrey, and Risa Puno. The other 26 solvers were Denise Alfonso, Brody Allsep, Lauren Bello, Rachel Bistany, Jason A. Brown, KD Dekker, Jon Delfin, Todd Geldon, Gil (3P) & Ronit (Origali), Randi Goldman & Zach Wissner-Gross, Yannai Gonczarowski & Elee Shimshoni, Aiden Guinnip & Amanda Jaquin, Sushant Gupta, Meagan John, Paul Kominers, Phyo Aung Kyaw, Jenny Lim, Marvin Meng, Howard Nielsen, Noam Prywes, Bruno Rodriguez, Strom, Audrey Tiew, Eric Wepsic, and Denise Xu. And thanks especially to Matthew Stein, Jennifer Walsh & Dan Rubin, and The Escape Game Team for test-solving, and to Jessica Karl for help with the solution images! Wepsic spotted a variant of the reflection code in the wild, and Walsh & Rubin sent in this fabulous “First and Main” video as their solution.
The Bonus Round
“Magnetic Balls vs. Monster Magnets”; a funny pharma brand-name quiz; and a postmortem on the Bored Ape/Jimmy the Monkey puzzle challenge, from the team that won (plus check out co-winner Justin Tobin’s advice on how to get into puzzles). A 37-year-old message in a bottle (hat tip: Mark Gongloff); Met Gala looks as econ books; the technical brilliance of “Crash Bandicoot”; “intelligent furniture”; and “Classroom Exercises from a Victorian Calculus Course.” “Bearbnb” (hat tip: Tara Lachapelle); an epic time machine puzzle; vaccinating zoo animals (hat tip: Ellen Dickstein Kominers); and “Wuthering Heights,” in miniature. “The Nintendo GameCube Was Design Perfection.” And inquiring minds want to know: what makes the Scottish play so creepy? (hat tip: Alexandra Ivanoff by way of Mark Gongloff)
Although of course you have to be careful because of the one word that doesn't fit each quote.
The other tours were as follows: “The Modernists – The first stop in this gallery should always be the Picasso. After coming face to faces with that, walk around the wall to observe the Mondrian. Once you’re all squared away there, spring around the corner to finish off with the O’Keefe.” “The Sculptors – Every sculpture in this exhibit is worth viewing, but we recommend starting with Michelangelo then making your way over to the Calder. After analyzing the beautiful curves of those statues, turn around and take in the Duchamp and then the Donatello. These masters should be followed by Moore and then Bernini.” “The Impressionists – Our most popular gallery includes many famous paintings, but do make sure to view the Monet first (seeing as it’s our Curator’s favorite!). After this, take in the beautiful brushstrokes of the Degas. A short walk across the gallery will bring you face to face with Renoir. After basking in his wondrous colors head up to see the unique visual world that is the Pissarro. Your tour of the Impressionists should always end with Cézanne, a true master of the form.”
The “EX T” ("EXIT" but missing an "I") in the bottom right corner of the map was a subtle hint that the four digits were to be used as the extension.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Scott Duke Kominers is the MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and a faculty affiliate of the Harvard Department of Economics. Previously, he was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and the inaugural research scholar at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago.
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