# You Are Games: Letters In Boxes #19

Think fast! How quickly can you say the alphabet... backwards? It's harder than you might think! That sort of backwards intuition is what will help you succeed in this week's Letters In Boxes challenge. You've got to throw your brain in reverse to walk away from this puzzle series a winner. (It was either that, or making you guess European football crests or catching paper butterflies in nets.)

Take a look at the puzzle posted below. Click on it to open it up in a new window, and see what you can make of the muddled matrix. When you think you've spotted an answer, move up to the address bar and change the image name (in this case, "neetenin") to your answer, making sure you stay in the same directory and keep the same file extension. If you're right, you'll move backward— I mean, forward to the next puzzle! If you're wrong, you'll hit a dead end, but like every good maze solved, you can just back up and try again.

Update: Congratulations to the following winners! :D

• Dataman ...First!
• Zzedar
Both winners were given a choice of prizes. Congratulations and thanks for playing with us! Look for another Letters in Boxes again soon!

First two were a breeze, #3 is more of a challenge. :)

October 20, 2011 9:31 AM

First two puzzles I found really easy but I'm stuck on #3.

October 20, 2011 9:37 AM

I can see several words but nothing is making sense. Any ideas ray9a?

October 20, 2011 9:38 AM

Sorry, I meant ray9na.

Sorry, Norse explorer who writes bad poetry. I think we're in the same boat with the usual cryptic clue that helps less than we would hope.

I'm also stuck on the third, anyone got any clues whatsoever?

No clues, just a hypothesis that I've yet to prove right or wrong.

Process of

elimination?

got the first two quickly... now also stuck on three

got the first two quickly... now also stuck on three

On three there are

two backwards five letter words on each line except the middle line

@pterion:

This is arguably true
(

I found a 6-letter word

)
-- the question is: Is this useful? :-P

Stuck on 3:
I noticed a few things, but they didn't help me:

One of the obvious backwards written 4 letter words, appears in the description of this week's puzzles. Maybe it is supposed to help us somehow.

Also, I found 3 vertical anagrams that make 5 letter words but didn't lead me anywhere.

Same boat here- first two were easy (the 1st was maybe the easiest one in LIB history), but the 3rd has me stumped. I also see various backwards words, including one on the middle line, but it doesn't seem to go together in any way, nor does it work with the clue as far as I can tell.

Same as everyone else commented so far, I've complete #1 and #2 and got stuck on three.

There are quite many backwards words there, still... Some letters just don't seem to fit in there.

The middle line might have two words.
Still doesn't help much though.

An Indian musical instrument
Something to do with Willy Wonka (a bit of a stretch this one)

Small tiny thing I've noticed on 3:

If you look in the top right, the word Final can be sort of spelt out if you swoop round. Previous 3rd puzzles generally indicate something along the lines of 'final puzzle at...' so maybe blacking out some letters and reading them in a specific order or something might work?

Two other theories:

Back back down pattern to be repeated until a message is found? I've tried starting in a few places like that but nothing's popped out

I've tried taking two adjacent letters (e.g. M and A start from bottom right) and finding the letter between them in the alphabet. However Z and E, the next two, don't have an exact letter between them, so stumped there too.

Steve can be diabolical. Some of the words

overlap, and I'm not sure how to treat those. Here's to much trial and error!

Any help on #2?

I've converted the numbers to letters, but I can't make any sense of them.

Nevermind. Just got it.

@ Ray9na

I was thinking

two words in each line ("backwards backwards") with words of an odd number of letters giving a central letter to go "down the middle" for the answer

but I agree I got a bit over excited, especially as

I found a third 5-letter word in the bottom line :(

Ho hum.

I'm with everybody else; first two were so easy they were disappointing, but #3 is making up for that. I'm trying to find

the maze

that seems to be implied here.

For #3, it would be helpful to know

the minimum number of letters in the words we're

eliminating?

i seem to be missing something on #2

@Sunney, think about the whole theme of this week.

Help for #3:

Yes, of course there are lots of words in there. Now take another close look at the article for a hint.

sunney444, the solution to #2 involves

alphabetical order.

@sunney444 re: #2

Go for the obvious, then reverse it.

I noticed something about the middle row in #3:

I couldn't find any 5 letter words there, but there are 3 words written backwards, that form other words forwards. don't know how this helps though.

Thanks for your help zoz and ray9na!

I've got:

that we are going to be backwards here in the answer

but even the obvious reversed didn't work. The letters just don't seem to make anything. I may just need to stop overthinking this...

@Sunney444:

Atbash

#3:

contains every letter in the alphabet at least once, except J.

@sunney444 re: #2

A pretty big spoiler follows:

Normally, A=1, B=2, etc.

Consider the theme.

October 20, 2011 1:12 PM

@Ray9na

I feel so lame for not getting this! Thanks for your help i finally got it. Thanks!

@donhuando

There is one 5-letter word in the middle row in #3. It's just not an often-used one unless you live in a particular part of the world, or are a musician. Or both. Also...

You're on the right track.

October 20, 2011 1:59 PM

@thomstel:

I found the 5 letter word in the middle row.
And then after removing all the backwards words i found I get 5,5,3,5 and 1 leftover letters in each row from top to bottom. taking the middle letter left from each row doesn't result in a sensible word though. Am I just missing a step or is it completely the wrong direction?

@donhuando

You've eliminated the content that contains the answer!

For #3

I have found words in the top and bottom row sufficient to use up all the letters. My leftover letters number 1,3; 1,2; 4,1 and I can't extract anything meaningful from them. (Anagramming just returns numerous word-salad results.)

I'm obviously attacking this the wrong way. Not sure how to adjust my strategy, though. I had found

what donhuando was talking about in the 3rd row

but I likewise don't know what to make of it.

I am very confused by the conversation between donhuando and thomstel.

Looking at the first row, if I remove all of the five-or-more letter words, I have the five remaining letters that donhuando mentioned. However, doing that gives me 5,5,10,5,4, not the 5,5,3,5,1 he mentioned. If I go with four or more letters, that takes away all remaining four letters in the bottom row, so I see now way to get the list of numbers he mentioned.

Basically I see words of the following lengths (with multiple choices depending on where you break things):
3,2,5,5 (no leftover)
5,5 (five leftover) or 5,3 (seven leftover)
5 (ten leftover) or 2,2,3,4 (four leftover)
5,5 (five leftover)
4,6,5 (no leftover)

More hints for #3:

The hint isn't in reverse order.

To find something "down the middle", there needs to be a definite "middle".

Don't look for the "middle" in the grid itself.

October 20, 2011 2:37 PM

Can't figure out #3 still:

I looked for words of 3 letters or more, without overlapping to try to remain with as little possible letters. I'm not sure I managed, and worse, I don't know if it helps.

I also can't figure out any of the hints given so far.

I'm lost on #3 too:

I have found 10 backwards 5-letter words: 3 in line 1, 1 in line 3, and 2 in lines 2,4, and 5. If I take the middle letter from each word I get a nice group of letters, but I don't know what to make of them.

@Sniddle

Only one more to find!

@thomstel: Thanks, I found it.

October 20, 2011 3:00 PM

Ooh, ooh! Just when I thought I would completely give up on finishing any "letters with boxes" again, I got this one all on my own!

I did get the answer to #3, but does anyone know if there is a way to get it without

gratuitous anagramming?

October 20, 2011 3:04 PM

thanks thomstel
solved #3 now.

in retrospect I was trying too hard to make sense of things that were not related

@zxo

Notice anything odd about the first letters in each word?

#3

Ah, so the backwards 5-letter words can overlap? Interesting. I have found eleven of them (3,2,1,2,3), now to figure out what to DO with them.

October 20, 2011 3:09 PM

zxo:

i noticed that the 5 letter words start with the letters P-Z, and it seems to be in almost reverse order for the middle letter with the answer

Got #3

And I like the puzzle a lot. It would help, though, when I transcribe the letters to Excel for analysis, if I would double-check to make sure I didn't make any mistakes. Sigh.

Wow, I totally missed the feature donhuando and thomstel pointed out about #3. That would have saved me a lot of time spent brute forcing it....

I totally over-thought #3.

October 20, 2011 3:41 PM

is there a check for #4?

And done. #3 was much harder than the rest...couldn't have solved it without everyone's help. Thanks!

I've read all the comments but #3 still isn't clicking for me. Any hints?

My progress:

I have 11 5-letter words (some overlap) distributed 3, 2, 1, 2, 3. I've made note of their initial, middle, and final letters and their -- hm -- opposites. I've made note of the 3 reversible words.

It's just not coming together. :(

I need an aspirin after #3, but I finally got it. X_x;;

WOO! Got the last one!

ray 9

Basic word search = a lot of words (especially longer word) have common ending like,-ing, -able, and -tion.

I don't think there's a check up for 4, unless I just didn't get it right...

ray9na, here's some step by step instructions for #3. Large spoilers ahead, obviously:

Start by arranging the 11 words you have in a particular order...

Since the puzzle is all about things being sdrawkcab, try...

...reverse alphabetical order. Then

look at the middle letters.

October 20, 2011 4:29 PM

I think we would all appreciate an overall clue for #3.

@iq8w7ht:

Thanks, got it now. Feelin' kinda derp about it.

I checked. There's no check for #4. But if it helps, it does use all the letters you'll put down.

Anyways, hints for all!

#1:

#2:

It's as easy as 1-2-3, Z-Y-X.

#3:

There are eleven five-letter words hidden in the grid...backwards, backwards.

Once you've found them all, stack 'em down in alphabetic order, then read down the middle.

#4:

Only the bottom two are backwards.

Got #4. Emailing my entry. :) Thanks to all who provided hints.

Ha! I can probably say the alphabet backwards than my 8-year-old daughter can say it forwards. I got the through the first two in about the time it would take for me to say the alphabet backwards twice. Slammed to a stop on #3, though. No idea yet, but I expect I'm going to like it along with #4 when I get there.

Number three was the only one that stumped me, but after I read a certain comment...

Are you sure you want to see this?

See donhuando's comment at 3:09 PM.

...it became easy, and I just went straight through number four.

This really seemed like one of the easiest sets for me so far. Fourth one completed within time limit for me!

Finished! So long as I got it, I guess it would be civil of me to offer some clues.

#1

Don't overthink it; just think "backwards".

#2

If you can say the alphabet backwards...

#3

If you didn't spot it, there are a lot of words hidden backwards in the grid. A lot of them are of the same length. Find those backwards, then "...Backwards...Then down the middle." just like it says.

#4

Don't overthink this one either. Only some of it is backwards, but there's a pattern.

I solved all the puzzles, and am disappointed to find that the ability to say the alphabet backwards by memory was only useful a single time. I feel as though I was mislead by false advertising.

#3 was pretty clever, though the other puzzles were pretty easy. #4 pretty much falls apart the moment you get the first clue.

However, sometimes it's nice to get a break! Now I can get back to other games!

October 20, 2011 7:09 PM

Well, #3 was the only REALLY tough one this time around. I got it thanks to Thomstel, and was expecting a killer #4 as well. It ended up being kind of disappointing, but it brought back memories from LIBs past, specifically

the final puzzle/s of LIB #15 (the one with two different GIFs).

And, like SirNiko, I was highly disappointed when I didn't get to sing my "Backwards Alphabet Song" (written when I was about 3) even once.

October 20, 2011 7:44 PM

Wow, I really liked this week's puzzles. I got stuck for a while on #3, but breezed right through the others. #4 was especially fun.

Yes, fun. It's nice to have a series of puzzles that is fun, rather than bang-head-on-desk frustrating.

October 20, 2011 8:38 PM

I'm having some trouble with #4.

I got the two first words, and I can only think of one answer for the fourth word. But then I end up with letters for the third word that don't make sense.

Am I right to think that the second word is also the name of a party but missing one letter, and that the fourth word has a wife that's even more famous?

October 20, 2011 8:49 PM

ThemePark:

You're right about the second word, but the last word... well, I'm actually not sure who you're thinking of. Let's just say that the last word is still among the living.

@ThemePark re: #4

1.The clues are boustrophedon style.

2.This puzzle shares one element in common with #3.

3.Mary's not so proud, but her gray days are now quite colorful.

October 20, 2011 9:39 PM

While I've heard of the person, he's not really familar enough to me that I would ever have thought of him. The man I was thinking of was the husband of a famous female singer.

@ThemePark:

If it makes you feel better, your guess was the first one I thought of, too. I guess it helps that I wrote a paper on the works of the answer guy back in college in the mid '90s.

October 21, 2011 12:23 AM

Whew, that was awesome. I really appreciated the help from thomstel, especially the one about

finding all 11 words!

The one that earned myself a face-palm was the one with

Thanks to everyone for the fun time!

#4 you'd end up with an incorrect answer if U worked with the English spelling.

@GlixD:

But it tells you how many letters are in the word, so that should be a clue.

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