Eureka Puzzle Primer

Eureka puzzles are word search puzzles for teaching teamwork and diversity of thought. To solve them you must deduce the theme by determining enough of the hidden elements that are disguised in a set of short sentences. The hidden elements could be words in a sentence, or words within words or syllables, or letter sequences, or many other such elements. The themes could be almost anything. There is something in each sentence that binds it to the other sentences as a set with a cohesive and well-defined identity.

The solutions to these puzzles will be “Aha” moments. You won’t have to ask if you have it right. You will know because everything will fit together in a way that could not be a coincidence. Eureka means I have found it, and that is what you will say when the solution unfolds in your mind. Each puzzle has a title, a set of objectives, and a list of discrete sentences. The title is usually a subtle puzzle in itself, sometimes an obscure hint, or perhaps an anagram of a hint, or an obvious synonym, or even a direct hint. It usually won’t help you until you solve the theme. Once you know the theme, the title should make sense in some obscure way. Here is an example.

Example 1: So, Lars Is Temp?

Consider the following list of short sentences. Each sentence contains a hidden element. Together, the elements from each sentence form an obvious pattern or connection to a common theme. The title is a subtle hint, but probably too subtle to understand the connection until you have discovered the common theme.

To solve this puzzle, you need to:

  • Discover the hidden elements in the sentences and deduce the theme that binds those elements together as a set.
  1. Some inept, uneducated people fell into the scam-artist’s trap.
  2. General Motors initiated the Saturn brand to compete with Japan.
  3. There were only seven usable images in the whole batch of photos.
  4. Nondescript, vague art hung in every room.
  5. Opossums, koalas, and kangaroos are examples of marsupials.
  6. Jupiter, Florida, is a popular retirement community.
  7. If you concur, an usher will take you to your new seat.
  8. The San Jose Mercury News is the primary newspaper in Silicon Valley.
  9. Goofy and Pluto are the original Disney dogs.

Page down for the answer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each sentence contains the name of one of the nine planets of our solar system (OK, maybe Pluto is no longer a planet, but we need it for the coordinates). The coordinates can be determined by substituting the sentence number corresponding to the first letter of each element. And, the connection to the title should be possible to reason through. If you speak the title in a slurred way, you should come up with something close to “solar system.”

  1. Some inept, uneducated people fell into the scam-artist’s trap.
  2. General Motors initiated the Saturn brand to compete with Japan.
  3. There were only seven usable images in the whole batch of photos.
  4. Non-descript, vague art hung in every room.
  5. Opossums, koalas, and kangaroos are examples of marsupials.
  6. Jupiter, Florida, is a popular retirement community.
  7. If you concur, an usher will take you to your new seat.
  8. The San Jose Mercury News is the primary newspaper in Silicon Valley.
  9. Goofy and Pluto are the original Disney dogs.

That was easy enough. Now let’s try a more obscure one.

Example 2: In the News

Consider the following list of sentences. Each sentence contains two hidden elements. Together, the elements from each sentence form an obvious pattern or connection to a common theme. The title is a subtle hint.

To solve this puzzle, you need to:

  • Discover the two related hidden elements in each sentence and the theme that binds these sentences together as a set.
  1. If the Red Sox win or the Yankees lose, we move up in the standings.
  2. John’s outhouse was thirty meters down past his garage.
  3. We left the brand new establishment with a poor first impression.
  4. They were astounded by how right he had been all along.

Page down to see the answer.

 

 

 

 

In this puzzle, the theme is two words hidden in each sentence. Each sentence has a compass direction (north, south, west, east) embedded as a hidden string and the more common word (up, down, left,  right) aligned with the compass direction. The connection to the title is that the first letters of the compass directions can be anagrammed into the word news.

  1. If the Red Sox win or the Yankees lose, we move up in the standings.
  2. John’s outhouse was thirty meters down past his garage.
  3. We left the brand new establishment with a poor first impression.
  4. They were astounded by how right he had been all along.

The other Eureka puzzles that I publish occasionally on weekends in my blog will be more challenging than these. They are usually easier to solve with multiple people with diverse perspectives brainstorming and throwing out ideas. Have fun.

Here is your first test, a rather easy one.

Eureka puzzle #1: Noisemakers

Consider the following list of grammatically correct short sentences. Each sentence contains two hidden elements. Together, the 24 hidden elements pertain to a common theme. The title is a subtle hint. To solve this puzzle, you need to:

  • Discover the two related hidden elements in each sentence and the theme that binds these sentences together as a set.
  1. The fishing ban jolted the ecology, and the amoebas soon overpopulated the pond.
  2. It was an odd story about three homeless hoboes involved in a love triangle.
  3. Ensnared in the trap was the young wolf that escaped from the Alaska zoo.
  4. The unorganized, impromptu barbecues were the highlight of the summer.
  5. To enhance their flavor, the ravioli needed some sharp Parmesan.
  6. No audit violations occurred in the transaxle assembly unit.
  7. Zigzagging among the rose’s thorns, the bug left a distinct trail.
  8. The university chancellor stated that he too was a thespian once.
  9. After she turned the charm on, I carefully moved in to sit around the fire.
  10. Across a wide spectrum, Pete set the bar for blue ribbon gossip.
  11. The last topic Colonel Smith presented was the effectiveness of flu tests.
  12. The woman doling out the mixed rum drinks at the bar was quite efficient.

If you want the answer, you can find it in Eureka! Discover and enjoy the hidden power of the English language in Appendix C puzzle number 15.

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