The Fleb 100K Special

Fleb reviews mechanical puzzles on YouTube. I subscribe to his puzzle review channel and it’s jolly interesting. Today, in celebration of his hitting 100,000 subscribers1, he published a video reviewing the Mini Puzzle Box (sold out, as I write this) and, more intriguingly, a link to a “100k special”, a puzzle produced by Fleb for viewers to look at. It’s at www.flebpuzzles.com/100kspecial2 and it presents the first in a series of four puzzles, for channel viewers.

These are “Puzzle Hunt”-style puzzles; that is, the answer to the puzzle is a word or phrase. Here, I’ll show you how I solved each. Be warned: if you’re looking to solve these yourself, stop reading now. Really.

The Opening

Puzzle 1, at www.flebpuzzles.com/100kspecial, is entitled “The Opening” and consists of a number of clues about puzzles. Each of these clues indicates a puzzle which has been reviewed on Fleb’s channel, but with a single letter alteration. The bracketed letters indicate the length of the puzzle name. So, to make a start on solving this, list all the puzzles reviewed on the channel with the length of the puzzle names, and that’ll help. For example, “This puzzle was about the pigs owned by one of the United States’ greatest presidents. I think it was called the (7 4) puzzle!” suggests The Lincoln Logs Puzzle because its name is of length 7 and 4 (“Lincoln Logs”).

But the clue mentions pigs, and there are no pigs involved? What gives? Well, this is the next step; each puzzle name has a letter changed in it to better match the clue. So LINCOLN LOGS becomes LINCOLN HOGS, and now it’s about the pigs owned by an American President… and the changed letter is “H”. That’s important. The clues in order have these answers:

…the last moment of a punch (4 3)CAST BOX WIT’S ENDCASH BOX3 HIT’S END4
…a small chirping insect which is located directly to the right of the solver (4 7)CAST CRICKETEAST CRICKET
…the strange hybrid of a young man and a buzzing insect (3 3)BEE BOXBEE BOY
…a four sided geometric shape embedded in something found on a piece of clothing or a mattress (6 2 3 3)SQUARE IN THE BAGSQUARE IN THE TAG
…the pigs owned by one of the United States’ greatest presidents (7 4)LINCOLN LOGSLINCOLN HOGS
…a rectangular tile and something that connects two points (5 & 4)PANEL & LINGPANEL & LINE
…a score of payments for monthly living accommodations (2 4 9)20 CENT PUZZLEBOX20 RENT PUZZLEBOX
…a spiral (4)GYROGYRE
…a brave machine that tells you how long you have until you have to move your car. It was near the sea (4 5 7 5)GOLD COAST PARKING METERBOLD COAST PARKING METER
…the final, cute, regular three dimensional figure with all edges the same side (4 4)CAST CUBYLAST CUBY
…a light source that was run on a black rock (4 2 4)LUMP OF COALLAMP OF COAL
…a man who checks gas gauges (9) METERMASS??5 (N)
…small breads designed for small cats (6 8)BITTEN BISCUITSKITTEN BISCUITS

Take all the changed letters in order and you get HEY THERE BLANK6. And the puzzle’s named “The Opening”, and how does Fleb open every video? With “Hey there, puzzlers!”. So BLANK is PUZZLERS, and our link to the second puzzle of the 100K special must therefore be www.flebpuzzles.com/PUZZLERS.

The Spoiler Break

This second puzzle has a bunch of pictures where each picture has an associated phrase, and then separately a list of clues for “spoilers” from film and TV history. Our job is to match up the phrases with the spoilers, and that will give us the pictures in order.

Each picture is a 7×2 grid in which one or more coloured squares is placed: one example (the first example) looks roughly like this:

So first, the list of spoiler clues and their answers7:

  • He killed Dumbledore: SNAPE (from the Harry Potter series)
  • He was dead the whole time: BRUCE (Willis from The Sixth Sense)
  • He never existed and was a figment of the imagination: TYLER (Durden from Fight Club)
  • It was his sled’s name: ROSEBUD (from Citizen Kane)
  • It was this planet the whole time: EARTH (from Planet of the Apes)
  • He was Keyser Soze: VERBAL8 (from the Usual Suspects)
  • She shot JR: KRISTEN9 (from Dallas)
  • He is the one: NEO (from The Matrix)

Now we pair those answers with the picture clues:

  • BGREED BAUSE BN BIGHTING: BRUCE (the phrase “Agreed pause in fighting → Truce” with initial letters all replaced by B)
  • FLOWERBUD WITBID THORNBUD: ROSEBUD (the phrase “Flowers with thorns → Roses” with final S replaced by BUD in each word)
  • DOUGHNTIN SHTIN ______ KRETIN: KRISTIN (the phrase “Doughnut shop Krispy Kreme” with the final two letters of each word replaced by TIN)
  • LETTEREO AFTEREO MEO: NEO (letter+eo after+eo m+eo → letter after m + eo → n+eo → neo)
  • NOMPKOP REBPUN YTNPWT EERPT: (don’t know)reverse to give POKEMON NUMBER TWENTY THREE with letters replaced by P; Pokemon 23 is EKANS, so reverse and replace one letter by P to give SNAPE
  • LOOR ROUND IREPLACE: EARTH (the phrase “floor around fireplace: hearth” with initial letters all removed)
  • LYLGE SYLIPED CYL: (don’t know)LARGE STRIPED CAT with pairs replaced by YL; replace “ig” with “yl” in TIGER to give TYLER
  • VYPE VF VEA: VERBAL (the phrase “type of tea: herbal” with initial letters all replaced by V)

This gives us an ordering of (SNAPE/TYLER) BRUCE (SNAPE/TYLER) ROSEBUD EARTH VERBAL KRISTIN NEO. It’s not clear to me which clues the SNAPE and TYLER answers match with and why.10 We’ll go with SNAPE first and TYLER third, because that makes the below answer work.11 So we can take the pictures in that order:

and if we plot the lines drawn by the different colours then we get the following four coloured tracks:

or, slightly fancifully:

the word LOOT, leading us to puzzle 3 at flebpuzzles.com/LOOT.

The Solution

OK, it’s becoming apparent that these puzzles are named after the stages of a Fleb puzzle review: the first puzzle was named the opening, the second the spoiler break, and now the solution. This third puzzle has a series of letter grids, each of which apparently matches with a clue. The letter grids are:

GNMEATY
PLATGRO
SAEBOION
GEAYUSIN
NEOSTES
GOLHNTELT
ROSENR
COORDT
CORIVEN
JAASOGE
LAARITIY
DRIGNDD
MVEION
ORNASLD
CAACHOER
SCINILL
BAEKNER
TSCEG
HOXECS
BOONBAY

and the clues (of which more later) make it fairly obvious that we’re supposed to extract multiple words from each grid and then use that to work out which clue applies to each grid. Well, I stared at this for a long, long time, trying to find words in the grids, see what the deal was, and so on. The implication from the clues is that we should be extracting at least five words from each grid (one clue refers to “the fourth word”, and then “the final word”, so “final” is more than four) and it’s hard to see how one could consistently remove six or more words from a 5×5 grid, so I figured I was looking for five words. I got nowhere with this for quite some time until it occurred to me that I could brute-force it and see if that gave me an answer. Slightly off the pure puzzler mindset, but, hey, computers are handy. So I wrote a little program that tried every combination of letters from the grids, in this way: we assume that each word takes its first letter(s) from column 1, its second letter(s) from column 2, and so on. So in the fourth grid, above, a word might be S-C-I-NI-LL or S-E-K-N-ER or S-X-N-N-Y or something else… and was it possible to decompose a grid this way into five separate words which used up all the letters?

Well, yes it is. My little script printed out this:

  • For grid 2: CARTER, COOLIDGE, GRANT, JOHNSON, ROOSEVELT
  • For grid 3: CARNATION, DAISY, LAVENDER, MARIGOLD, ORCHID
  • For grid 4: BASEBALL, BOXING, HOCKEY, SOCCER, TENNIS

Nothing for grid 1, but that’s probably down to its dictionary. So this helps a lot! I was honestly surprised at how successful that was. The clues look like this:

  • LOTUS: Take the 1st letter of the 4th answer and the second to last letter of the final answer.
  • CAST CRICKET: Take the 3rd letter of the 2nd answer and the 1st letter of the final answer.
  • XBOX: Take the 4th and 5th letters of the last answer.
  • LINCOLN LOGS: Take the 5th letter of the 1st answer and the 4th letter of the last answer.

and they pretty clearly match up:

  • LOTUS matches grid 3 (flowers, like a lotus), so Marigold + orchId
  • CAST CRICKET matches grid 4 (sports), so boXing + Tennis
  • XBOX… we’ll come back to
  • and LINCOLN LOGS matches grid 2 (US president names), so cartEr + rooSevelt

But what of grid 1, matching XBOX? Well, knowing now that it’s about the XBox it’s pretty quick to decompose the square by hand into GAMEBOY, GENESIS12, NEOGEO, PLAYSTATION, SATURN13 and so its letters are satURn. And so our whole word for this puzzle is MI+XT+UR+ES, leading us to puzzle 4 at flebpuzzles.com/MIXTURES.

The Comment Section

So, for this fourth puzzle, we’re confronted with a set of eight images. Since I’m now pretty familiar with Fleb’s selection of puzzle reviews, these images look like they’re each portraying a word I recognise; they are DEVIL, some knots which I think clues FIGURE EIGHT, COAL, LOTUS, HORSESHOE, GYRO, SQUARE, and BEE, each of which is relevant to a reviewed puzzle. Fleb also says at the top of this puzzle: “Don’t forget to respond to comments on old videos! It’ll help to pin the best ones!”, hinting that the comments section for these puzzles may have some extra hints. And indeed it does; Fleb has pinned a comment on each of these videos, reading as follows:

  • DEVIL: “-[opposite of good]”
  • FIGURE EIGHT: “-[black ball number] -[small carpet] -[chemical symbol for iron]”
  • COAL: “-[centilitre, for short] -[universal donor blood type]”
  • LOTUS: “-[remove from power]”
  • HORSESHOE: “-[Kentucky Derby racer] -[female pronoun]”
  • GYRO: “-[cowboy Rogers]”
  • SQUARE: “-[they might be burning] -[17th letter]”
  • BEE: “-[exist]”

And, obviously, each comment is a clue to remove some letters from each of the puzzle clues. So DEVIL - EVIL (the opposite of good) gives D. The others:

  • FIGURE EIGHT - EIGHT - RUG - FEI
  • COAL - CL - O → A
  • LOTUS - OUSTL
  • HORSESHOE - HORSE - SHEO
  • GYRO - ROYG
  • SQUARE - EARS - Q → U
  • BEE - BEE

and so our final puzzle word and the link to the solution is DIALOGUE.

If you’ve got thoughts or responses to all this, or answers to the couple of clues I didn’t understand, or want to chat more, best to reply to my YouTube comment linking to these solutions on Fleb’s announcement video, here!

Thank you to Fleb for this fun set of puzzles, and congrats on the milestone. What’s next?

  1. nice one Fleb; a hundred thousand! sweet!
  2. since the website was down when I started writing this, I pinged Fleb and said: install WP Super Cache and talk to your hosting provider, and I added a mirror of puzzle 1’s text in a youtube comment
  3. the letter is definitely H, but I’m pretty dubious about my solution; “a punch” is obviously BOX, but is “the last moment” CASH? Should it be HAST? CHST? CASH is the best I can come up with, but I’m not really sure why it’s the answer
  4. Thank you to JDiMase8 for the correction!
  5. from context, this is obviously an N, but how does it match the clue? METERMANS? But that’d be more than one man. A “gas gauge” is presumably a METER, so is a man who checks them a METERNASS? Maybe a METERMASN? Another one I don’t fully understand.
  6. well, you get _EY THERE BLA_K, and then you ping Fleb for help because you don’t get it
  7. warning! spoilers
  8. Láttam a Keyser Söze-t! Te nem értesz?! Keyser Söze!!
  9. not Sue Ellen, which is who I thought it was until I looked it up
  10. One of the nice things about Puzzle-Hunt-style puzzles is that you don’t necessarily have to have worked out every step in order to get the answer; you’ll see that in both this puzzle and the first one I deduced some parts of the answer from context without actually having a proper solution for the clue which gives that part of the answer
  11. Suggestions as to why LYLGE SYLIPED CYL clues TYLER (lots of Ys in there), or NOMPKOP REBPUN YTNPWT EERPT clues SNAPE, are invitedSuggestions and hints were received from Angus Mills, Robertlavigne1, and PANICFAN1227, for which many thanks!
  12. Americans, eh? Tch. It’s called a Sega Megadrive, yes it is
  13. and now you see why my script didn’t get it; not many dictionaries have “neogeo” as a word

More in the discussion (powered by webmentions)

  • Birmingham.IO responded at twitter.com Stuart Langridge: The Fleb 100K Special by @sil buff.ly/2tfQrA0 #PlanetBirmingham
  • FLEB responded at twitter.com I'd be happy to share the ones that you didn't get! Some of them are just awful clues, where I couldn't think of anything better!
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com That would be useful; a couple as you see I just did not understand :-) I'll update to link to your answers, when you publish?