Ponder This

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December 2022 - Challenge

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This puzzle was suggested by Victor Chang.

The New York Times' "Letter Boxed" puzzle consists of a square with three letters on each side - a total of 12 unique letters. In the puzzle, you write down a sequence of words while following these rules:

1. All words must be accepted words in English.
2. No two consecutive letters in a word can be from the same side of the square.
3. The last letter of a given word becomes the first letter of the subsequent word.
4. All the letters in the square must appear in the sequence of words in the solution.

For example, if the box consists of the following letters, three on each side: 'hou wcr tka nbl', a valid solution would be ['burnt', 'throw', 'warlock']. There is also a two-word solution, ['unclot', 'throwback'] if one accepts esoteric words (which is not necessarily the case for the NYT).

We are interested in finding puzzles with unique two-word solutions, even when the allowed dictionary is large. For this puzzle, we used the word list located here

Your goal: Find a box that has only a single two-word solution. Submit the box as a string, e.g., 'hou wcr tka nbl', with the two-word solution as well.

A bonus "*" will be given to those who find a sequence of at least 15 letters that also has a unique solution. This can be achieved by either adding more sides to the polygon (e.g., a pentagon with three letters on each side instead of a square) or by adding more letters to each side (e.g., 4 letters on each side of the square). Submit your solution in the same format as shown above.

We will post the names of those who submit a correct, original solution! If you don't want your name posted then please include such a statement in your submission!

We invite visitors to our website to submit an elegant solution. Send your submission to the ponder@il.ibm.com.

If you have any problems you think we might enjoy, please send them in. All replies should be sent to: ponder@il.ibm.com


Challenge: 30/11/2022 @ 12:30:00 PM EST
Solution: 16/01/2023 @ 12:00 PM EST
List Updated: 16/01/2023 @ 12:00 PM EST

People who answered correctly:

*Lorenz Reichel (5/12/2022 11:19 AM IDT)
Paul Revenant (5/12/2022 12:06 PM IDT)
Lazar Ilic (5/12/2022 1:17 PM IDT)
Laurence Warne (5/12/2022 4:13 PM IDT)
*Giorgos Kalogeropoulos (5/12/2022 9:18 PM IDT)
*Bert Dobbelaere (5/12/2022 10:28 PM IDT)
Reiner Martin (5/12/2022 11:22 PM IDT)
*Arthur Vause (6/12/2022 12:16 AM IDT)
*Sanandan Swaminathan (6/12/2022 9:23 AM IDT)
*Sri Mallikarjun J (6/12/2022 2:01 PM IDT)
*Latchezar Christov (6/12/2022 2:02 PM IDT)
Daniel Chong Jyh Tar (6/12/2022 2:33 PM IDT)
Prashant Wankhede (6/12/2022 3:56 PM IDT)
Lorenzo Gianferrari Pini (6/12/2022 6:55 PM IDT)
*Michael Branicky (6/12/2022 7:20 PM IDT)
Gary M. Gerken (7/12/2022 6:13 AM IDT)
*Stéphane Higueret (7/12/2022 2:36 PM IDT)
*Harald Bögeholz (7/12/2022 4:46 PM IDT)
*Franciraldo Cavalcante (7/12/2022 9:17 PM IDT)
Andreas Puccio (8/12/2022 11:53 AM IDT)
Tamir Ganor & Shouky Dan (8/12/2022 4:17 PM IDT)
*Amos Guler (8/12/2022 7:03 PM IDT)
*Kennedy (8/12/2022 8:53 PM IDT)
*Tim Walters (8/12/2022 10:09 PM IDT)
*Chintan Maggu (9/12/2022 1:44 PM IDT)
*Dieter Beckerle (9/12/2022 3:27 PM IDT)
*Chris Shannon (9/12/2022 9:23 PM IDT)
*Alper Halbutogullari (11/12/2022 10:00 PM IDT)
*Sean Egan (12/12/2022 6:10 PM IDT)
*Asaf Zimmerman (14/12/2022 12:09 AM IDT)
*Nyles Heise (14/12/2022 4:56 AM IDT)
Clay Pearson (14/12/2022 8:15 PM IDT)
*David Greer (15/12/2022 12:30 PM IDT)
*Evert van Dijken (15/12/2022 2:48 PM IDT)
Stefan Wirth (15/12/2022 5:22 PM IDT)
Marco Bellocchi (15/12/2022 10:38 PM IDT)
*Andy Greig (17/12/2022 12:04 AM IDT)
*David F.H. Dunkley (17/12/2022 12:34 AM IDT)
Wilder Boyden (17/12/2022 5:39 AM IDT)
*Peter Moser (18/12/2022 4:06 PM IDT)
*Dominik Reichl (18/12/2022 6:47 PM IDT)
*Tyler Mullen (19/12/2022 6:04 AM IDT)
Thomas Mangan (19/12/2022 4:11 PM IDT)
Todd Will (19/12/2022 11:47 PM IDT)
*Martin Bisson (20/12/2022 11:28 AM IDT)
*Vladimir Volevich (20/12/2022 6:08 PM IDT)
*Guillaume Escamocher (21/12/2022 6:54 PM IDT)
Shirish Chinchalkar (22/12/2022 3:21 AM IDT)
*Hakan Summakoğlu (22/12/2022 4:11 PM IDT)
*Daniel Bitin (23/12/2022 4:50 PM IDT)
*Phil Proudman (23/12/2022 5:23 PM IDT)
*Li Li (23/12/2022 7:53 PM IDT)
*Kang Jin Cho (28/12/2022 9:09 PM IDT)
Jeff Harris (29/12/2022 9:19 PM IDT)
Justin Stanley (29/12/2022 10:29 PM IDT)
Fabio Michele Negroni (30/12/2022 5:04 PM IDT)
Sachal Mahajan (31/12/2022 6:35 AM IDT)
Christoph Baumgarten (2/1/2023 10:38 AM IDT)
*Bertram Felgenhauer (2/1/2023 12:58 PM IDT)
*Motty Porat (4/1/2023 12:36 AM IDT)
Radu-Alexandru Todor (7/1/2023 10:58 PM IDT)