Editor's Note

By Tom Shroder
Sunday, May 18, 2008

HUNT PUZZLE SOLVING 101. Class is in session.

You there in the back row. I heard that. And I've heard it before. You took a look at the practice Puzzles in this week's issue, and you said, "I'd never figure that out."

Wrong. Time and again, I've seen people who were positive they'd get nowhere come up aces, supplying the key insights that put their team over the top in solving a Puzzle. The secret: Just take it one step at a time.

Consider the golf tee Puzzle on Page 28. Hunt staffers handed out tees. That's all you had to go on. So, step one: Examine the tee. Plain, white ... with the word "fore" printed on its stem. That's obviously important. And since the solutions to all Hunt Puzzles are a number, fore is interesting because it sounds like "four."

So, now you look at the numbers on a list of possible Hunt clues, and you see that four is not there, which means that four can't be the answer. But you knew that -- a Hunt Puzzle would never be solved that simply.

So, think again. The "fore" isn't in isolation, it's on a tee! Put it together, and you get fore tee. Another number! Alas, 40 isn't a possible solution either.

What else could "fore tee" mean? This is where you need to consider another prime Hunt asset: the Hunt Map in the Magazine. The Hunt Map is an actual map of the Hunt area, and it is loaded with clues, real and decoy. The Map also shows coordinates for pinpointing Hunt locations. In the year of the golf tee Puzzle, the map coordinates consisted of a number and a letter.

Bingo! 4-T is a map coordinate. Clearly, the next step is to go to that location. It becomes clear that was the right decision when you arrive to find a huge leader board for a fictional golf tournament, filled with the names of fictional golfers with their scores.

All those numbers! Now you know you're getting close. Very often in the Hunt, when you get a list of options, each with a number, the trick is to figure out which of the options is the right one. In this case, find the right golfer, and the number beside his name will be the solution.

You find no further hints on the leader board, so you still have nothing more than fore tee (or 4-T) to guide you. Is there a way to apply that to the names in front of you? Are there four names that begin with a T? Maybe you could add all those scores together.

But no. There's only one: Eliott Tarantino. Which, when you look at it for a minute, does appear to have ... a lot of T's. One, two, three ... four T's to be exact.

That click is the sound of the solution falling into place.

Tom Shroder can be reached at shrodert@washpost.com.

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