Quintessence by John Bulten

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(Note: this puzzle is like a Sunday Surprise with very high difficulty.)

Quintessence by John Bulten

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PDF

Theme: 14 Nisan, 2018 (Pasch 5778)

Author/Opus: This is the 45th puzzle from our contributing puzzlemaster John Bulten.

Rules: See PDF link above for complete rules as well as a solvable example by Thomas Snyder.

Answer String: The solution string is 3 words in ABC order, in all capital letters and separated by commas. (There are a total of 28 letters in this string.)

Time Standards (highlight to view): No time standard (GM time > 2hr).

Solution: Answers for this week in this PDF.

Editor’s Note: The giant grid here is one of the hardest puzzles we have ever presented. If I knew in advance John wanted to make a puzzle like this, I would have said no because of the combination of so many kinds of rules, new puzzle styles, and my expectation it would take hours to solve (and it certainly does!). But there is something inspirational about the elements brought together here by John, many unexpected Ahas that will cure the headaches you’ll also get in the middle. While the giant puzzle was originally created to stand on its own, John added the four medium difficulty puzzles we posted earlier this week to introduce the four subgenres. Be sure to solve these as you prepare for this large test at the end of the week. -TS

Author’s Note: Thanks to Thomas and Grant for encouraging me to construct new puzzle types. Thanks to patron Randy Rogers for requesting 4-grid combination puzzles, which sparked this idea. Thanks to Prasanna for his giant 11/29/15, 3/2/16, and 3/2/17 puzzles, which directly inspired this puzzle. Thanks to Serkan for inventing Light and Shadow, because whenever I tried experimenting with shading puzzles I found myself trying to reinvent Light and Shadow. Thanks to Izak for inventing Surf, which has more potential than either of us realize. Thanks to God for this day. -JB

  • Kevin Barrington says:

    I have some questions on rules, for the Turf section. If a Turf area bleeds outside the Turf Grid, it sounds like the highest number within the turf grid is used for the size of the plot?

    Do numbers outside the grid that are part of that plot have to keep to the rules too? I think the answer is yes but I was confused by the explanation.

    Say I have a Turf area that is inside the turf with a 6 as the biggest number, and it bleeds outside into an 8. Does the size have to be 8 with 6 white squares adjacent to the 6? Or does the area size have to be 6 and then the 8 has to have 8 adjacent white squares? Or does the 8 not follow any of the rules?

    I think this clarification will help me a lot on a section I am working on that I am currently thinking has no possible solutions.

  • Kevin Barrington says:

    I just realized that either clue can be the area in Turf, not just the bigger one. The example solution for turf always had the bigger clue the area, so I accidentally in my mind made that the rule instead of the written rule.

  • JohnJBulten says:

    I intended that questions like this mostly be answered by very close reading of the rules for all 5 puzzles, and I’m glad you picked up on the distinction about biggest clue not being relevant. Remember that every region in the Turf grid has its area specified by some clue in that grid (same for Light, and white Surf). For the sake of PDF redundancy I’m just copying the important rules. Note below that Quintessence clues, in the space between grids, have different meaning than any of the 4-grid clues:

    Each puzzle’s contiguous regions may extend beyond the borders of its individual grid and cross into any other cells across the whole diagram. Any region that has one of more cells in a puzzle grid must obey all the rules of that grid ….

    Two cells connected by a white dot must be the same color; two cells connected by a black dot must be opposite colors ….

    Clues in the space between grids may be either numeric or alphabetic, where A equals 0, B equals 1 …. SHADE some white cells black so that any black clue cell between two puzzle grids indicates how many color changes, white-black or black-white, occur in the entire row (if the clue is in columns 11 or 12) or entire column (if the clue is in rows 11 or 12) from 0 to 31 …. Any white clue cell between two puzzle grids must indicate how many cells in the same position within the two grids are the same color. For clues in columns 11 or 12, compare the 10 cells in that row in the left grid to the 10 cells in the same position in the right grid and double that value for the total count (from 0 to 20). For clues in rows 11 or 12, compare the 10 cells in that column in the top grid to the top 10 cells in the bottom grid, and then again to the next 10 cells in the bottom grid, summing the total count of matches from 0 to 20.

    Some cells in the space between grids are enclosed by bold black borders and are missing-clue cells. ADD up the number of cell matches (up to 20) and the number of color changes (up to 31) to determine any missing white clue or black clue. FILL any such cell with the appropriate letter clue for its color to reveal message text. REPEAT until the solution is revealed, consisting of 2 words and 2 half-words (which can be combined to form a third word), with 28 total letters.

  • Andrew says:

    I don’t follow — there are 10 missing clue cells, but the solution is 28 letters? Is the idea that the ten clue letter spells a message that provides some sort of additional instruction?

  • David Olmsted says:

    “Any region that has one or more cells in a
    puzzle grid must obey all the rules of that grid.” One of the rules for Turf is “Any other clue in the region must indicate how many of the clued cell’s
    immediate neighbors are white (up to 9, including itself).” This means that if a region has a cell in Turf, and includes a clue cell in the border region, for example, the clue in the border region must fulfill the border rules, but must also indicate how many of its 9 neighbors are white.

    I would like to think that is not actually intended. Could you please elaborate a little on what “Any region that has one or more cells in a
    puzzle grid must obey all the rules of that grid.” means?

    Thanks,
    David

  • JohnJBulten says:

    Congratulations, you get the technicality award! But the intended context was the statement that “one of the grid’s clues” indicates area; that means, for “Any other clue in the region”, read “Any of the grid’s other clues in the region”. We could start an interesting conversation on construction and intent, but best to just solve with that context. Thanks for bringing this up!

  • David Olmsted says:

    Thanks! I just wanted to be certain what was intended. It is too ferocious a puzzle to be thinking, well maybe I already broke it because ….

  • Jeanne Albert says:

    Thanks for an amazing puzzle!

    I have managed to complete the four interconnected sections, and have filled in the question marks with their corresponding letter, but I am confused about the instruction to REPEAT… does this refer to the message text? (so far I have two possible interpretations for that.)

  • JohnJBulten says:

    Sorry not to reply sooner; the replies I have are cryptic because finding out the answer to that question is of course the point of the metapuzzle.

    Since you have sensible letters for the question marks, you have found the correct method of deriving the message text from the grid, and can congratulate yourself for getting almost all the way there!

    Now the instructions that you need to repeat are “Some cells in the space between grids are enclosed by bold black borders and are missing-clue cells. ADD up the number of cell matches (up to 20) and the number of color changes (up to 31) to determine any missing white clue or black clue. FILL any such cell with the appropriate letter clue for its color to reveal message text.” Any confusion means that something specific in those instructions has not yet been given its full and complete meaning; then the grid can also be given its full and complete meaning. Following the instructions will make the answer words easy to determine with only slight searching necessary.

  • Jeanne Albert says:

    Thanks, John. I believe I’ve made some progress with the instructions… will keep at it!

  • SS says:

    Good gracious, this took me a month. Finished the grid, but can’t figure out what to do with the new “instructions”. Any help?

  • JohnJBulten says:

    I want to thank Thomas for the phrasing, “Some cells in the space between grids are enclosed by bold black borders and are missing-clue cells.” Obviously that means the square bold black borders.

  • SS says:

    Yes, I got that far and have a message of “NQQ ABJ SVYY” (rot13). Not sure what that refers to exactly. I already tried filling in more letters in the location you are hinting at, but only get gibberish.

  • JohnJBulten says:

    Sorry I didn’t get to reply to this in time. If you’re still wondering, it should be a simple word searching operation now. You’re searching for “2 words and 2 half-words (which can be combined to form a third word), with 28 total letters.” “The solution string is [these] 3 words in ABC order.” I picked some obscure Greek-origin words that have a satisfying constraint and an arcane link hinted at in the solution packet, but then that’s another enigma. All words are current in American Scrabble.

  • egrieg says:

    After putting this one off for five months, I finally got my courage together and solved it in two days 😀 Fantastic construction, I am glad this was published here. I loved not only the puzzle itself, but also all the subtle hints in the rules for the metapuzzle, which I think is quite tough for a non native speaker.
    Thanks John and Thomas for this highlight of the blog 🙂

  • drsudoku says:

    Congrats egrieg on getting through this challenging puzzle. Great work!

  • Nick Ellis says:

    Oh my word, that was tough! Simply brilliant with so many discoveries along the way. I wish I’d double-checked my calculations before attempting the metapuzzle though, as that would have saved hours of frustration!

    Warmest congratulations to the authors.

  • LorenR says:

    Nick, I tip my hat to you. I have started this puzzle but still haven’t managed to crack it.

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