When we left off, our intrepid solvers had discovered two pieces of information – a 3×3 grid of colored squares and a trio of strange sounding words:
At this point, most reasonably experienced solvers have likely recognized this setup as a ternary number problem. The issue before us now is to figure out the correspondence between the colors green, orange, and purple and the ternary digits 0, 1, and 2. As the name of the post suggests, the key can be found in a collection of polygonal tiles that can be placed next to each other to form other shapes – tangrams.
Once Madness players were on the clock, it didn’t take long for them to start discovering tangram pieces scattered throughout the environment. Most of them were laying out in plain sight, but a few were placed underneath seat cushions, or in other conspicuous searchable locations. After gathering pieces for a few minutes, players quickly realized a few things:
- The pieces came in three colors: green, orange, and purple.
- There are far more pieces than would comprise a single tangram set.
- The pieces appear to have writing on them.
It took a few playtests, but I eventually found spots for all the pieces such that players were rarely unable to find them all. Indeed, there are 21 total pieces – enough to form three seven-piece tangram sets:
Puzzlers gonna puzzle, turning the above into this:
This gets us one step closer, as now we can attempt to find a link between pairs of words (a Latin word and a food crop), as opposed to a word and a color (which is intentionally arbitrary).
In a future post, I’ll compare solving puzzles in a general-to-specific approach to a specific-to-general approach, but for now – just take my word that this step of the puzzle is a good example of the latter. It’s probably not difficult to imagine that most people wound recognize the words Solanum, Cucurbita, and Diospyros as Latin words. A quick Google search of any of them reveals them to be various plant genera – perhaps not surprising, considering that we’ve just found three plants lurking in the tangram puzzles.
If we look up the Latin names of our tangram crops we find:
- Courgette (zucchini): Cucurbita pepo
- Persimmon: Diospyros kaki (and other species)
- Aubergine: Solanum melongena
Putting all the pieces together, we can conclude that:
- purple = Aubergine = Solanum = 2
- green = Courgette = Cucurbita = 1
- orange = Persimmon = Diospyros = 0
Now we can return to the mosaic and convert color trios into ternary numbers. From there we can convert them to their decimal number equivalents, and finally into letters. The whole process looks like this:
Thus, the answer to this puzzle is the word ZYMURGIST, which I believe is someone who does something with mushrooms. I’m not 100% sure about that though – like I said, it’s been a while since I built this thing.