King's Ransom (MIT Mystery Hunt 2020)

King's Ransom
MIT Mystery Hunt 2020
Creative Pictures Studios
Author(s)Jonathan McCue, Summer Herrick
AnswerClick to reveal🎈
No. solves14
No. total guesses77

King's Ransom is a physical puzzle from the Creative Pictures Studios round of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt. It was presented in the manner of a stereotypical ransom note made of letters cut out of other words.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]

Physical Puzzle - Solvers received a stereotypical ransom note (composed of letters from many different typefaces, background colors, and font colors) along with a bunch of cardboard tiles, with a word (missing a letter) on one side and part of a picture on the other.


Paired Up - Given that each of the tiles have a word with a different typeface, background color, and font color to each other, the natural thing to do is to match them with a letter on the ransom note.

Jigsaw Puzzle - Group tiles with letters on one line together. The reverse (picture) side can now be assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. (If solvers wished, this could be done without separating them, but doing the grouping first is the easier route.)

Rebus - The assembled reverse now forms a rebus...

Identification (List_of_arts_and_media_puzzle_topics#Literature) - ...for a novel by Stephen King. (This handily explains the "King" part of the title.)

Eigenletters - Meanwhile, the words on the front side now form a crossword clue that can be answered with a word with the same number of letters. Between the answer word and the novel on the back side is one shared letter in the same position. Extracting that letter...

Intermediate Clue Phrase - ...yields "YOU'RE ALMOST DONE". Yes, there's another step.

Indirect Indexing - Solvers then need to realize that the number of squares used in the puzzle matches the length of the title, and pull that numbered square (in reading order) out of the rebus. These can now be assembled into one final image (of Pennywise, as depicted in It (2017)).

Final Clue Phrase - On the obverse of this final image is the final cluephrase: "YOUR PAPER BOAT COULD OFTEN FLOAT BUT THIS GIFT OF MINE IS MUCH MORE DIVINE". This clues the final answer.