Sunday Surprise #5 – Seeing Stars (and a contest)

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Today’s surprise marks the occasion of Grant Fikes’ 26th birthday. Grant has written a surprise puzzle hunt-style puzzle that will solve to a two word answer. This is likely more challenging than our earlier “Word Search” surprise on April 1st, but we hope it is enjoyable to those who give it a shot while celebrating Grant’s birthday.

Note: the first 26 solvers (or all those who solve it within a week if fewer than 26 solve it by then) will be entered into a random drawing for a copy of Grant’s “Battle of LITS” board game.

Surprise Puzzle by Grant Fikes


Answer String: Enter the two word answer in all capital letters, with a single space between words.

Update (6/2/13): There have been 27 solvers in the week since this puzzle posted and all of those names will be placed into a drawing sometime shortly. Watch here for further updates.

**While this was initially not a numbered Grant opus, we are calling it #48 for our site count.

  • FoxFireX says:

    Very cool puzzle. I hope you don’t mind that I got a little bit of an assist on the second part; I wasn’t exactly sure if I had figured out the right approach, so I tossed what I thought might have been going on at a tool, and it went quite a bit farther than I had expected. If you’d like to DQ me for it, please do so. Glad to have solved it, regardless!

  • Jack Bross says:

    The only assist I got was a reference check on which of the two possible answers it was. Happy Birthday, Grant!

  • hagriddler says:

    Wow ! Loved this puzzle, but I guess I had the same experience as FoxFireX.
    And after that I was a bit unsure about three possibilities.
    You may DQ me as well because of the help of the tool and google.
    Nevertheless a very nice puzzle ! Happy birthday !

    • drsudoku says:

      I tend to think all solving methods are fair game on a puzzle hunt puzzle. Unless I put up specific rules saying not to do a thing, I really can’t hold either of you responsible for taking advantage of resources you had available to you.

  • Aaron Chan says:

    I had to go for a tool as well. There are certain words that I would never have guessed (or know that it was a word) inside the second part.

  • hagriddler says:

    I was also a bit puzzled for a while because the name for the 2nd part has quite a different meaning in Dutch… So for a while I did not understand the clue at all. I even looked at Grant’s site for an appropriate grid to fit the clue, until I realized the English meaning of the clue… I guess that’s some kind of puzzle idea : the same words that mean different things (especially : puzzle methods) in different languages… 🙂

  • James McGowan says:

    In hindsight, if I had been confident what to do, then a tool wouldn’t be required. But I got lost, and threw much data at many tools without luck. Over a day later I finally stumbled on it.
    Admittedly my main problem was I understood the hint to be implying something very different, maybe I was just being too clever…

  • chaotic_iak says:

    Very well made puzzle. Took me a lot of yes/no questions asked to someone that has solved it (because I can’t do inductive puzzles 🙁 ).

    I doubt I’m in the lucky 26, but just in case: Do we need to submit the answer somewhere else besides the JavaScript provided to enter the drawing?

  • Barbara says:

    Well, I could do the first part, then got stuck. Ah well.

  • FoxFireX says:

    “Sometime shortly”? The suspense is killing me! 🙂

  • Arren says:

    Sadly, I was MIA for the week of this puzzle. However I’m not sure it would have mattered as I seem to be stuck on the second part and have yet to determine the significance of the arrows…

    I have a feeling I am missing something glaringly obvious.

  • DGPArtist says:

    Can anyone give me a hint as to what to do with the second part? I’m new to these puzzle hunts and not really sure, specially as some of the rest of you said you needed help too!

  • Andrew Brecher says:

    I keep trying to find a CROAT ACTOR or an ACTOR ENGEL, but I’m not coming up with anything. Did the solution ever get posted?

    • Grant Fikes says:

      Read the letters of the starred spaces, starting with the first column, then the second, and so on. They will give you instructions regarding the unstarred spaces in the marked rows.

  • Andrew Brecher says:

    OK, so nowhere close then. 🙂

    So now I gotta ask — was the ACTOR anagram in the marked stars supposed to be a hint, a red herring, or a complete accident? (An ACTOR being a “star hidden in the above grid”, of course)

    • Grant Fikes says:

      There is absolutely nothing intentional about the marked stars spelling anything; the only intentional thing spelled by the stars is the message formed by all 24 of the stars column by column.

  • Loren says:

    Wow, finally got it. To future solvers: There is no LITS here. -Loren

  • John B says:

    I finally solved this one only months ago. Would’ve been a lot easier if Grant had told us it was the twenty sixth anniversary. But he didn’t, ah well.

  • poony says:

    I’m not familiar to the second hint.
    I need more tips.

    • JohnJBulten says:

      Hi poony! If you read Grant’s first hint above closely, the letters he indicated “will give you instructions regarding the unstarred spaces in the marked rows”. Given the indicated letters, and the contents of the unstarred spaces, and my hint above about the specifics of Grant’s wording in the original puzzle, you should have a standard, correctly spaced newspaper puzzle type, along with a starter hint fitting to that type, which is not hard to finish. Then just answer the trivia question presented.

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