The Scrambler (MIT Mystery Hunt 2020)

The Scrambler
MIT Mystery Hunt 2020
Balloon Vendor
Author(s)Asher Walkover
AnswerClick to revealCORTES
No. solves81
No. total guesses426

The Scrambler is a wordplay puzzle from the Balloon Vendor round of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]

Flavortext - You encounter the balloon seller (dressed as a Spanish gentleman) just after getting off The Scrambler—a chaotic ride that's left you feeling dizzy and confused. He has some instructions for you, but in your current state it's hard to understand what he's saying.


Hint in Flavortext - "Dizzy" and "confused" refer to how the clues are scrambled up, but also reference how the resulting answer words can be anagrammed. In addition, they're synonyms, cluing that step down the line.

Clue Centric - Each line in the puzzle is a crossword clue...

Rebuild the Sentence - ...albeit disordered in an inconsistent manner from clue to clue. The clues must be rearranged to make sense, after which they can be answered.

A Letter Worth Every Word - Notably, each answer has the same number of letters as the clue does words, meaning each letter can be matched to a word.

Anagrams - Reversing the rearrangement on the letters causes them to spell another word...

Synonyms - ...that happens to be a synonym of a word in the clue. Since that word has a corresponding letter, one can use that letter in extraction...

Once More, With Feeling - obtain A CHART PIECE PIE OF SHAPE, another disordered clue. It can be rearranged to read "SHAPE OF A PIE CHART PIECE", which clues a word that can be rescrambled to obtain the answer.

Asked and Answered - The flavortext's otherwise irrelevant reference to "a Spanish gentleman" is justified upon finding the answer, which happens to be a Spanish surname.