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Letters In Boxes #26

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You Are Games

Letters in Boxes #26

ArtbegottiI mean, let's face it, accidents happen, right? This week, we were going to feature another fantastic set of Letters In Boxes puzzles, hot off the presses and ready for solving. But then, as Murphy's Law would dictate, just before our publication deadline, the puzzles got warmed up by something other than hot ink: Coffee. Whether you're a cappuccino or latte sort of person, all it takes is one coffee spill to bring two creams, no sugars, and a world of pain to a struggling puzzlemaker. (On the bright side, the donut was still delicious.)

Letters in Boxes #26 - Puzzle 1This week, despite the disaster on the final drafts, we still have four coffee-stained puzzles for you to tackle. If you're familiar with Letters In Boxes, you can jump right to the challenge by clicking on the image to the right to open up your first puzzle. If you're new to our game, you can read a full tutorial on how to play here. This batch of puzzles contains four puzzles to solve. On the fourth puzzle, you'll find the email address for sending your final answer. Note: We have included a test image for you to check your final answer this week. We'll hand out a prize to the first correct entry we receive, plus one additional randomly-selected correct entry. Please include your Casual Gameplay account display name with your entry. You must be at least 13 years of age to enter. Only one submission per participant, please. Offer void where prohibited. Your deadline for submitting your answers is Monday, December 19th at 11:59 PM (GMT-5:00). Grab some napkins and start sopping these puzzles up!

Update: Congratulations to the following winners! :D

  • ray9na ...First!
  • Cooler
Both winners were given a choice of prizes. Congratulations and thanks for playing with us! Look for another Letters in Boxes again soon!


Why, Steve, why? We could've had a fun puzzle set this week (like always), but no, you must go and spill coffee on the puzzles!

Got to number #2 already. Although it doesn't look very bright to me.


Same. Too many possible combinations for #2.

Namchokdef December 15, 2011 9:27 AM

coffee time opps you accidently pour coffee in the letter in boxes #26 now i think i can't solve a puzzle again Steve
(but can i have some donut? lol)
(maybe i can solve it later with some hints)


I'm having more trouble with #1 than I feel I should be. I recognize that it's a

variant of Sudoku

but I also see that

all 6 letters are there

so I tried the obvious and

anagrammed it


neither of the 2 possibilities worked.

Does anyone have any hints?



gotta complete the puzzle first, then try looking for a word in the puzzle (think of wordsearch puzzles when trying to find the word :P)


*wonders if anyone's solved #2 yet*

I've tried

solving the puzzle like a kakuro puzzle, and based on the different possible number combinations, I picked out all the numbers between 4 and 9 that appeared on the possible solutions to the kakuro... and tried to form a 6 letter word using each set of letters. but even using an anagram solver site didn't get me an answer that worked... so i guess my method is wrong, or i missed out a possible solution?



Tried the exact same method, but also

tried making some assumptions about the letters not listed.

(e.g. The Q makes me think there should be a U)

Also, I noticed that the two sections you can solve (well, one you can solve, the other has 10 "legal" possibilities) can fit together to make a 4x3 grid.

Then again there's the

"Pick Six" at the bottom, which originally got me thinking "Ok, we're only going to use 6 of these numbers, but that's not possible if we include the 17's in the upper-right section, because you'll need at least 7 numbers to complete it. If we just look at the 7 and 3, we can conclude numbers 1,2,4,5,8,9 are used, but again with the Q. And apparently there are no words that include CAQ plus three wild cards.

And finally

Part of me thinks that all of this is missing something obvious and that it's a lot simpler than we're thinking it is. But if that's the case, I'm at a loss as to what needs to be done.

Ok that's it for now. Got 1st graders coming in. Maybe during lunch I'll squeeze some more time in on it.


Add me to the "stuck on #2" crowd.


@ray9na, I think that crowd may become a mob before we're all done. I've tried all the approaches listed by Disco Dan and snowmoon as well as some desperate but lame attempts but I've gotten nowhere. I may have a better chance playing the Pick Six lottery.


There are plenty of us then, I guess.


Got it!
I took the two kakuro grids and

flipped one so it would superimpose on the other.

Then, I made an educated guess and

picked 6 numbers (one was blacked out on one of the two grids).

That left me with

four known letters and two unknowns, which together make only one six letter word!


Wow, zoz. It took a little playing around with it given your hint. For a while I still wasn't sure I was on the right track, but then after going in circles for a while, I took a slightly educated guess and I'm on #3 now.

And here I was thinking this one was a bad fit.


Eh, Steve!

If we can make out a letter underneath the coffee, can we assume it's correct?


argh! I have to leave for a while. @ray9na, any hints on #3? I've been assuming those partially covered letters are fair game.


@zoz: Nope, no hints. I'm just mucking around same as anyone else right now. Assuming I'm even going about it correctly, right now I've got 2 possibilities for the bottom row.


@ray9na or @zoz

on #2 am I looking to solve:

14, 18, 3 or 17, 7, 6. (the later doesn't seem to work as well),or another combination... but when i solve for the first one, the words i come up with apparently aren't the right answers

if this is too much info, we can delete this...


I take it back! I have #3

The same string will appear in all of them. That's the secret word. And yes, the letters we make out under the coffee are true (that is, they are not red herrings).


I give up for now. I've tried a ton of options in #2 and every single one of them ends in failure.



I'm not sure I can explain #2 any better than zoz did at 12:50pm. Sorry.


@ray9na. i got it eventually. Just kept playing around :)


Okay! Let me try my hand at giving hints all around!


It is a 6x6 Sudoku. Solve it, then treat it as a word find.
(Thanks, snowmoon @10:38am)


It is a Kakuro. Solve the two separately, then rotate one to superimpose upon the other. It won't be a perfect fit, just go for the best possible.
(Thanks, zoz @12:50pm)
The answer lies in only 4 squares. Ignore any doublings.


Each row is a word. There is a certain string that is part of each solved word. This is the answer.


Pay attention to the theme here. What's given only gets you started.


For #2, is there supposed to be

one answer for the rightmost grid? Seems like a lot of guessing otherwise, and I'm boggled how to guess well.


daggonit! As soon as I got home #3 just jumped out at me. Bad timing on my part, I guess. oh well, on to four.


For #4

Google will give you a list, then you just fill in the blanks. At the top of the page, notice that there are at least two more columns (and maybe more) after columns 1-5.


Running into an issue with #2:

The upper right Kakuro doesn't seem to have a single definite answer. I've found at least 3 combinations so far that work for it.



I must be missing something fundamental: when you say, of #2, to

Solve the two separately

it's not clear to me which...

...one of the seven possible ways to fill in the seven upper-right squares we're supposed to consider.

elmerturnipseed December 15, 2011 9:56 PM

#2 is diabolically hard. Here's my attempt at a foolproof walkthrough:

Solve the lower left grid first. The numbers indicate the sum of the value of letters in each row and column. Leave blanks in squares that must be occupied by unknown coffee covered letters. You're not making real words, just make them add up. We've had to superimpose and rotate grids in puzzles like this before, so assume the same unknown letter is in the middle square of both grids. Now solve the upper right grid. Rotate that grid 90 degrees clockwise, and superimpose it over the other. You should have a real mess, but you're supposed to notice four letters alone in their own squares. Go to an anagram server that uses wildcards, enter the four letters and two asterisks for wildcards.

If that doesn't work, remember:

If the glove doesn't fit...


Wow, epic fail on my part...thought I had #2 for a second, then I realized that the puzzle I'd wound up wasn't covered in coffee.



I still don't get #2 :(

when you say 'superimpose the 2 grids'... are we talking about the top-right corner and bottom-left corner of the puzzle only? coz I've tried that, and don't seem to get anywhere lol! maybe I've misunderstood the hint...


oh oops. not sure how I missed elmerturnipseed's hint as I was scrolling down the comments page...

I still haven't figured out what exactly I'm supposed to do on #2, but by using elmerturnipseed's 2nd hint, I could get the answer and will go on to try #3 first :$ thanks!


For the fourth puzzle: if 3 is


and 5 is


, I can't make a word beginning with the letters I've got. Are some of these

past rather than current capitals



@cendare, on #4

could the 3rd be something other than Austria?

another hint for #4

make sure and fill in the capitals you know in a vertical direction by the clue number. That is, for the capital of South Korea, the first letter goes in the box marked 1, and the other letters follow going down.

jeez, I hope that didn't make it more complicated instead of easier.


ok, I'm going to try to make my hint about #2 clearer, without giving it away (btw, @elmerturnipseed, that was a very clever clue you gave above!) My apologies for the length of this post.

First, solve the

kakuro. If you've not seen this game before, try looking up nikoli games on Wikipedia.

There are only two grids that are clear enough to fill in, thanks to Steve's caffeine addiction ;o) For the

lower left grid, I believe there's only one solution. The upper right grid has multiple possiblities.

Next, take a look at the basic

shape of each grid. The tip-off for me was the presence of the two "teeth" on each grid [defined by 18 and 14 on the lower left grid and 7 and 17 on the upper right.)

Now, either use your visualization skills or make cutouts

of each grid. If you take the upper right grid you can flip it upside down and rotate it 90degrees, so that the "teeth" are pointing left and the 7 is above the 17. This positions the other 17 and the 3 at the top.

This will give you a combination of numbers. Here's a MAJOR SPOILER so don't look if you don't want grid answers.

I had the following solutions: for the lower left grid 819, then 95 and a black box. For the upper right grid, AFTER flipping, etc., my numbers were 5 (top row), then 412 (middle row) then 827 across the bottom.

Now you must pick six!

I decided to ignore the number on the right grid where the black box falls on the left. I also ignored the single digit on the top of the right grid, since there is no corresponding digit on the lower left grid.

Now, you are left with [MAJOR SPOILER!]

six numbers: 1,2,4,5, 8,and 9.

You only have letters for numbers 4 through 9, so

you must come up with letters for 1 and 2. It's probably safe to assume that one of those two numbers corresponds to U. So run an anagram search either for your four letters plus U plus a ? or just use the four known letters plus two ? I used scrabblefinder.com/solver/

You'll end up with one answer, which happens to be the solution.


With all due respect to zoz, I really hope (s)he's wrong about that...

I'd call a puzzle incredibly broken if the correct path to the solution is to fill one grid, guess at the other grid, flip and rotate to superimpose them, choose one of the two letters in each of the superimposed pairs, and then anagram. That's a seriously ludicrous series of steps to go through.

Besides, I'd be willing to bed that that's nowhere near unique.


Scrabble helped me reach this far.
As they say in Scrabble...
"May the Q be with U"


My take on #2:

Even with all of the ways you can fill in the upper grid, there is only one solution where you will only use 6 numbers. Those six numbers are the letters you use, and yes, you don't know two of them. You can guess at one of them, because of what one of the other letters is, and then I just put it in an anagram solver to figure out the last one.



Really? We know the lower left Kakuro has one solution, and that gives you four different numbers to work with. The presence of the 7 in the upper right gives you two more. So you're saying that the upper right Kakuro is solvable with only those six different numbers? I don't see it: at the very least, you need an extra number that is not used in the solution.

On top of that, I'm counting 10 different solutions to the upper right Kakuro. Sure, you can just solve the lower left, use the known numbers from the 7, and treat everything else as red herrings, but doing it that way feels like you're skipping a step.


Concluding my battle through this week's puzzle, I must give special thanks to zoz in both puzzles #2 and #4. Without the help, I would still be battling in #2.

And a final admitting: This week was a total mess!


Hey guys, I think the suggestions above for #2 are really making the puzzle harder than it is...

"Pick six" - only six numbers/letters are used.

Solving the lower left one specifies four numbers.

Using logic to reduce the number of options in the upper right block will give you the remaining two. You don't need to solve the upper right grid.


One of the known letters will require that one of the unknowns must be a certain letter. Leaving one unknown.

And finally..

A little brain grease or an anagram solver will finish it off!


I kind of hope @Tahnan and @ron0 are right about #2. I just wrote out what worked for me, but it wouldn't be the first time I made things way more complicated than they have to be. If it gets you to the right solution, go for it!


I think your solution and the steps you outlined were spot on and much less complicated than they seem. I wouldn't have been able to solve it with ron0's method.

*am very grateful for all your hints!*

Vogonviking December 19, 2011 12:56 PM

Thanks Steve for the page confirming I got #4 right, and be more careful next time! *Wags finger!*


Oh, see, now, Steve's explanation is much better than the overly baroque things suggested above. Now I feel bad for not seeing it!



Until you're ready to start stepping up and providing the sort of pithy solutions that you crave, maybe you should stop with the thinly veiled insults towards people who take the time to help other people as best they can. Seriously, there is so much entitlement on this board it's nauseating.



If that's the official solution to #2, then the coffee stain over the fourth square under the 17 in the far right column has to be more opaque! Otherwise...

Since the 3 clue means one of the digits in the 17 clue in the far right must be 1 or 2 then there is no way to solve it in three digits without using a seventh number (6 or 7). Were the coffee stain properly opaque, then we'd have to allow the possibility that the 17 clue is being made with more than three digits and so there would be no such problem.

But as it stands (as pointed out by an earlier poster) the solution isn't self-consistent if you really try to keep the Kakuro self-consistent too. I'd call it a typo but it's more a mis-spill!


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