Sunday, January 6, 2013

NPR Puzzle - 1/6/13 -- Little Boxes

Good morning puzzle people ... it's Crossword Man again with the NPR Sunday Puzzle commentary. Today's graphical puzzle is from the inimitable Sam Loyd and was first published exactly 100 years ago in 1913.

What other puzzle was first published in 1913? Why, the crossword. Yes, 2013 is The Centenary Of The Crossword, although the exact anniversary is on December 21 ... the first word cross [sic] puzzle was conceived as just another piece of holiday fun. And they thought it couldn't last.

Anyway, here's the gist of this week's NPR puzzle:
Draw a square that is four boxes by four boxes per side, containing altogether 16 small boxes. There are 10 ways to have four boxes in a line — four horizontal rows, four vertical columns, plus the two long diagonals. There are also eight other shorter diagonals of two or three squares each. The object is to place markers in 10 of the boxes so that as many of the lines as possible have either two or four markers. What is the maximum number of lines that can have either two or four markers, and how do you do it?
Here is my artist's impression of the setup:

How do you fill those little boxes, and more to the point how do you convey that using the submit your answer link? At least you get 64,000 characters to express yourself.

Here are some completely random things to get you thinking inside the box:

Time for

This is where we ask you how many entries you think NPR will get for the challenge above. If you want to win, leave a comment with your guess for the range of entries NPR will receive. First come first served, so read existing comments before you guess. Or skip the comments and send an email with your pick to Magdalen (at) Crosswordman (dot) com. Ross and I guess last, just before we publish the Thursday post. After the Thursday post is up, the entries are closed. The winner gets a puzzle book of our choosing.

There were around 650 entries for last week's puzzle, and we all picked too high ... though I got closest and hereby claim the prize.

You can win either a puzzle book or the warm glow of satisfaction knowing you're a generous person who caused a contribution to the Fairfield County Community Foundation. Guess the range for this week's puzzle, and good luck!

Here are the ranges:
Fewer than 50       
51 - 100
101 - 150
151 - 200
201 - 250
251 - 300
301 - 350
351 - 400
401 - 450
451 - 500

501 - 550
551 - 600
601 - 650
651 - 700
701 - 750
751 - 800
801 - 850
851 - 900
901 - 950
951 - 1,000
1,001 - 1,050         
1,051 - 1,100
1,101 - 1,150
1,151 - 1,200
1,201 - 1,250
1,251 - 1,300
1,301 - 1,350
1,351 - 1,400
1,401 - 1,450
1,451 - 1,500

1,501 - 1,550
1,551 - 1,600
1,601 - 1,650
1,651 - 1,700
1,701 - 1,750
1,751 - 1,800
1,801 - 1,850
1,851 - 1,900
1,901 - 1,950
1,951 - 2,000
2,001 - 2,050
2,051 - 2,100
2,101 - 2,150
2,151 - 2,200
2,201 - 2,250
2,251 - 2,300
2,301 - 2,350
2,351 - 2,400
2,401 - 2,450
2,451 - 2,500

2,501 - 2,750
2,751 - 3,000
3,001 - 3,250
3,251 - 3,500
3,501 - 4,000
4,001 - 4,500
4,501 - 5,000

More than 5,000
More than 5,000 and it sets a new record.
Our tie-break rule:   In the event that a single round number is announced with a qualifier such as "about" or "around" (e.g., "We received around 1,200 entries."), AND two separate people picked the ranges of numbers just before and just after that round number, the prize will be awarded to whichever entrant had not already won a prize, or in the event that both entrants had won a prize already or neither had, then to the earlier of the two entries on the famous judicial principle of "First Come First Serve," (or in technical legal jargon, "You Snooze, You Lose").  As of July 2012, this rule is officially no longer obsolete (and also I just like having fine print). 


Mendo Jim said...

I like Will's apparent New Year's resolution to admit mistakes(e.g., "classical mythology") from now on. A concomitant effort at making fewer could be next.

The on-air guy was great.

I am afraid today's challenge hasn't aged well.
Depending on the reporting, I'll guess 101 to 150 submissions with fewer than 50 correct.

Paul said...

151 - 200 FCCF

skydiveboy said...

Interesting that Will Shortz admitted to and then corrected one error from two weeks ago, but then went on to commit two more, one of which is egregious.

He said Peary, whose name he mispronounced, was the first to reach the North Pole, when research has proven this to be a huge hoax and lie by Peary. Roald Amundsen was the first to reach both poles, and there is no dispute over his achievement.

Hoaxes and lies and deceptions seem to always win out over truth. My favorite is the one about cold temperature causing the common cold, when it has long ago been proven to be completely false. It pops up everywhere and people seem to be willing to die defending this nonsense.

KDW said...

May I have the 51-100 range, please?

skydiveboy said...


curtisjohnsonimages said...

I haven't landed on an answer for this one yet, but I'll take a stab at the range: 351 - 400.

EKW said...

Hint: Ask Mrs. Wiggs!
I'll guess I'll guess 451-500.

Anonymous said...

I was trying to log in using my Wordpress blog account above, and it displayed my name differently than I would hope.

- Curtis

jan said...

I'll take 201 - 250, please.

jan said...


zeke creek said...

301-350, please.

zeke creek said...

So we can catsup to that last parcel, will it have a fedex or ups routing number? The pix are purrfect.

Paul said...

Little foxes / litter boxes ?
I'm still flummoxed!

Henry BW said...

So if I have 10 Schroedinger's cats, and 16 boxes, what proportion of the entries are probably dead wrong?

My usual 1051-1100, please.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I'd like the 901-950 - I think this puzzle is hard but sweet.

--Margaret (how do I put my google ID in here?)

Joe Kupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Kupe said...

251 - 300 please! My friends and I still stumped trying to figure this one out.

David said...

My regular 1001 to 1050, please.

Marie said...

Ok, I think I solved it. I was resisting trying because I don't like this type of "maximum number" puzzle. But I made a chart and started moving pennies around and got hooked....anyway 401 for me.