The Scottish Display (MIT Mystery Hunt 2020)

The Scottish Display
MIT Mystery Hunt 2020
The Grand Castle
The puzzle's icon, a theatre stage situated outside to represent the connection to Macbeth.
Author(s)Jan Chong, Ian Tullis (original concept)
AnswerClick to revealUNCERTAIN GRAY

The Scottish Display is a word-based puzzle from the Grand Castle round of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt. It features multiple lines of trigrams, each colored differently. This puzzle also does not contain any flavortext whatsoever.

Solve Path[edit | edit source]


Ignoring the title at first, the only thing solvers are presented with is a selection of trigrams and the occasional bigram/single letter, grouped into 28 sets of up to 14 alphabetically-sorted fragments. These sets are colored in one of 16 distinct ways, with some colors repeating.

As is the case with most trigram-based puzzles, the first step is the rearrange each set into a sentence that makes sense. Two such results are "LET NOT LIG HTS EEM YBL ACK AND DEE PDE SIR ESI" and "IDR EAM TLA STN IGH TOF THE THR EEW EIR DPS IST ERS". As solvers put these together, they will hopefully notice two things. First, that all of the sentences are direct quotes from Macbeth, a play by William Shakespeare that is often referred to as "The Scottish Play" to avoid saying its (reportedly) cursed name. Second, each of the completed rearrangements has a single extra letter inserted into them (The letter I at the end of the first example, and the letter P in the second between "weird" and "sisters").

Upon further investigation, solvers may also notice that each of the quotes is from a different one of the 28 scenes of Macbeth, thereby providing an ordering for the extra letters. Those letters spell out the phrase "APPLY APPROPRIATE COLORCHECKER". With a bit of a research, solvers should discover that ColorChecker's Color Rendition Chart was originally known as the Macbeth ColorChecker, and all of the colors used in the puzzle are also present in it.

Armed with this information, solvers can then assign a letter of the alphabet (A-X) to each of the colors in the ColorChecker in reading order, and use it as a way to extract a new single letter from each of the trigram sets (retaining the ordering determined by the Shakespeare lines). Doing so, the phrase "NAME OF SW PAINT SIX TWO THREE FOUR" will be extracted.

This gives us the final answer, Final AnswerUNCERTAIN GRAY.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]


Trigram Hell - Practically the entire puzzle! Until solvers make one of the later connections, all there is to do is rearrange the trigrams into...

Shakespeare - ...quotes from Shakespeare's play Macbeth, with a single letter added to each.

Hint In Title - While not immediately obvious, the reference to "The Scottish Play" in the title is confirmation that turning the trigram strings into Macbeth quotes is a good idea.

Reordering (Chronological) - Each of the provided quotes ends up being from a unique scene from the play, allowing solvers to reorder them chronologically within the play (and there are exactly enough scenes in Macbeth to have one quote for every scene).

Uninvited Guests - The first extraction of the puzzle involves taking the extraneous letters that had been added to the quotes. When ordered correctly, they spell APPLY APPROPRIATE COLORCHECKER. In this case, that means the Macbeth ColorChecker.

Color Identification - While exact hex codes may not be essential to solving the puzzle, being able to match colors from the puzzle text to those on the ColorChecker is key, as each set of trigrams is colored one of the 24 colors from the ColorChecker.

Alphanumeric Substitution Cipher - Once solvers have identified the colors, they can use the official order from the ColorChecker (starting at 1 in the top left corner and travelling in reading order) to translate each color to a number, and then to a letter. That should give solvers the phrase...