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Hints to solve the #sophospuzzle – that prize could still be yours!

There's still time, so don't give up on the #sophospuzzle yet. You could still bag a prize! This will help...

A few readers have contacted us to say that they got going OK with the latest #sophospuzzle

…but then they got stuck and didn’t really know how to continue.

We gave a number of hints via the #sophospuzzle hashtag on Twitter, which helped a few of you over the line.

But Twitter isn’t really the place – with apologies to all Twitter fans out there – for intellectual clarity.

So here’s some slightly clearer advice.

What we gave you

We gave you a 12×4 grid of “dance moves”:

And a 12×4 grid of emojis:

Your quest?

Find the hidden message!

What we hinted in words

All we said was that the answer is a short and simple declarative sentence (i.e. a statement, not a question) in a Germanic language.

As we hinted on Twitter, Germanic languages include English, so we’ll save you time by saying, “It is in English.”

We also advised you to ignore the numeric Unicode values of the characters, tempting though they might seem, and treat them as symbols.

We also pointed out that there are 8 emojis used, which has a whiff of octal about it, as if each emoji represented a 3-bit pattern.

And we sort-of confirmed that by reminding you that 48×3 = 144 = 18×8.

In other words, if you turn each of the 48 emojis in the grid into 3 bits (one octal digit), and then divide them into 8-bit bytes, you won’t have any bits left over.

In short, you are after an 18-character sentence in English.

Some visual hints

If you’re still stuck, here are some more hints, with diagrams as hints for the hints:

1. Treat the dance moves as a route map. Can you navigate the emoji grid cleanly?

2. Treat the 8 different emojis as octal digits. How many different ways are there to assign them?

3. Lay out the 3-bit values in blocks of 8. If the high bit in each byte is 0, as you might expect for ASCII text in English, can you eliminate some emoji assignments?

Hint 3 may help you eliminate some assignments in the emoji-to-bit-pattern table.

For example, the first bit of all is probably zero, and the first emoji is the smiley face.

So the smiley face can’t have the octal value 4, 5, 6 or 7, because those have bit patterns that start with 1 (100, 101, 110, 111).

If you can find another smiley face that lines up so the last bit is probably zero, then the smiley face can’t be 1 or 3 either, because those end in 1 (001, 011).

And so on.

Alternatively, if you’re a programmer, you could skip the cerebral part and write a script to try all possible ways of numbering off the emojis.

Then dig through them and see if the solution jumps out at you.

How to enter

How to enter, who’s eligible, and what information you need to tell us can be found on the puzzle page itself.

Happy #sophospuzzling!



1 Comment

I’m glad you gave hints Paul, but I think I may do what CFO’s and CEO do in this situation: throw money at the problem and have someone else solve it for me and then collect the prize. :P


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