Krakit: Cursed   25 comments

(You’ll need to have read my prior posts on Krakit to make sense of this one.)

Canadian Parliament, including the Peace Tower. Public domain, via Wallpaper Flare.

To update on the authorship-mystery of Krakit, Strident in the comments found a reference that specifically gives International Publishing & Software Inc (of Canada and the US) as the creator and Artic (of the UK) as merely a distributor. At the very least, the game seems to have had more mention in UK circles than US one. Not only did the UK have heavier contest-mania, but there was more consumer hardware out there that could run the game. The primary platform for Krakit was the ZX81; the United States equivalent was the Timex Sinclair 1000, which Commodore was actively crushing with its VIC-20 (there was even a trade-in deal where people were buying Timex Sinclair computers specifically to trade in for a VIC-20). Krakit also had a ZX Spectrum version but by the time the US equivalent (the Timex Sinclair 2068) came out in late 1983 the contest was already dead.

Sinclair User, February 1983, with the name Artic showing up much more prominently than IPS. I like how this ad emphasizes the narrative, even though there really isn’t one.

Regarding “of Canada and the US”, yes, I’m not sure which country to blame credit more. For example, this article from December 1982 explicitly says:

The first release I’d like to discuss is called the Krakit Treasure Hunt from International Publishing & Software (PO Box 1654, Buffalo, NY) and International Publishing and Software, Inc. (3952 Chesswood Dr., Downsville, Ont., Canada M3J 2W6). It includes a real treasure for the finder that’s said to be $20,000, with this treasure lode continually increased as time (and sales) pass.

So, this references two companies but with nearly the same name:

International Publishing & Software


International Publishing and Software, Inc.

The actual address given for contest registration is a Buffalo, NY one, and the InfoWorld article I mentioned last time referred to the company being in New York; various other articles definitely place the company in Canada, and the address to send tapes is also in Canada. I’m going to go with the assumption for the moment that the company was situated in both.

With that out of the way, let’s get back to the game.

Remember, each clue is supposed to give us a city, country, and number. One thing I was worried about was the possibility that the city and country would mismatch; that is, the city could be in a different country than the country from the clue. However, based on current evidence I think we can say it always matches, which helps if we have a city with no clear country indicator.

This allows for at least a modicum of cross-checking (given the country is sometimes clued along with the city). The number is still the foggiest part, and I’m afraid on some of these we may need to cross our fingers and guess.

This clue, at least, we can definitively put to rest: it is a phone keypad code. I had some genuine trouble until I realized I could get LAND out of 5263, so pulled up a list of countries ending in -LAND and came up with SCOTLAND. The city is EDINBURGH and the number is just RING changed back to keypad code (7464).

Clue 5 I think we can also say is conclusively finished, thanks to Will Miles:

I’ll just quote Will:

#5 is Ottawa in Canada. The Parliament building, with the Peace Tower, rests on a hill overlooking the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal. Every year in the spring, there’s a tulip festival in Ottawa commemorating Canada sheltering the Dutch princess during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

As the House of Commons had 282 seats in 1982, that’d be the number of seats it was looking for.

In a theoretical sense, the “how many seats” was an important confirmer in the whole thing — there could be some vague coincidences in the text otherwise, but the seats question is such a strange one (even thinking of stadiums, or theaters) it locks things down. I think one of the keys of trying to write this sort of contest question (with no other method of cross-checking) is to have at least one odd and unique part that doesn’t fit the other pieces.

It also would help to have a meta-puzzle that ties things together so we can see if there’s an error, but IPS decided not to do that. Grrr. (Probably? Is there something secret spelled out once everything is written down? Hmmm.)

Moving on to more ambiguity:

This is as Carl points out in the comments, a straight cryptogram:

a divided city,
but not by hate.
how often can the
gnomes cross
from the little to the

My best guess was Budapest (which has two cities, Buda and Pest, and a prominent count of bridges between them) but I didn’t make sense of the gnomes until Roger Durrant pointed out it could refer to Fisherman’s Bastion.

I don’t feel solid about this one, yet, but I’ll still call it the best guess.

Oh to clue 7 and more ambiguity:

This is a list of religious martyrs, not all from the same branch of Christianity and definitely not always close in time. My guess is this is meant to be a Scattergories-type list just meant to hint at the concept of a martyr, which we then apply to the Ten clue. The most strongly related martyrdom to Ten is ten rabbis, the Ten Martyrs from Judaism; the start point being 70 CE, at the destruction of the Second Temple. So that’d be my guess, although it doesn’t quite tie cleanly into part 2:

Carl points out Laury S. Sib is surely an anagram to Salisbury. Salisbury has a major cathedral one that is not in the regular form a Greek cross (note the clue’s phrasing means this is a good thing). So the place from just this part of the clue is Salisbury, England. I feel more confident here than with the ten rabbis; I admit I’m being stretched to the limits of my religious education here.

So this leaves one other clue (“A CURSE? NO, JUST HALF.”) which we really have made no progress on at all:

I guessed, based on letters only going as far as F, having hexadecimal involved. Carl made another guess that “hexadecimal = hex = curse”, but past that we really aren’t sure. Any thoughts are appreciated, no matter how outrageous they may seem.

Now it’s nearly time to give the rest of the clues, but let me just put this one up in front as it is relatively easy:

This quote is from Two Gentlemen of Verona. So 2, Verona, Italy. Hopefully that’s that? Let’s get to the trickier ones:

I also have a strong theory on 10 but I’ll drop that in the comments in case I’m wrong. On the other clues I have no idea yet.

Thanks for everyone who has participated so far! I don’t know about making a completely mistake-free “entry” into the contest but maybe we’ll get close.

Posted May 2, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Puzzles, Video Games

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25 responses to “Krakit: Cursed

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  1. re clue 10

    I’m thinking Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the 1812 Overture

    It is the right Opus, and it is where Napoleon got turned around into retreat (at Borodino, Russia) which matches TO GO FORWARD, THINK RETREAT for me.

    I guess Tchaikovsky is a famous son of Russia?

    • Ooh, yeah, that would give a clear number as well. The one thing I’m not sure about is the “son” connection.

    • My first intuition was Mozart who never really escaped the role of the son during his short lifetime.
      Opus 49 is his Missa brevis (short mass) which is called “brevis” but is actually longer than the regular mass (call it shorter but make it longer – go forward, think retreat…maybe?).
      The place would be Vienna which is where he composed it, I guess. But I admit it’s a long shot and I’m not
      really content with it.

      Will Moczarski
    • Other famous sons include CPE Bach and Johann Strauss II.
      Bach’s Wq. 49 doesn’t seem pertinent but Strauss’s op. 49 was written in Vienna in 1847 or 1848 for what it’s worth.
      I don’t know of any possible connection with the forward/retreat line, though.

      Will Moczarski
    • Another thought: If it‘s Tchaikovsky which seems likely the “son” part may simply refer to the way Russian names work, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky meaning something like Pyotr, son of Ilya, Tchaikovsky.

      Will Moczarski
    • Another thought: If it is Tchaikovsky which seems likely the “son” part may refer to the way Russian names work, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky meaning something like Pyotr, son of Ilya, Tchaikovsky.

      Will Moczarski
  2. For SEND + MORE = MONEY, it’s a numeric cryptograph. It corresponds to:

    9567 + 1085 = 10652

    with O=0, M=1, Y=2, E=5, N=6, D=7, R=8, and S=9.

    That’s eight digits accounted for, so I don’t know why the next bit only lists numbers 0-6, which is only seven?


    M has to be 1, since S+M >= 10, but S+M+1 can’t be >=20. With M being 1, S must be 8 or 9, and O must be 0, since it can’t also be 1. Since E+0 = N or E+0+1=N, E can’t be 9, because then N would also be 0. Thus, S must be 9, and E+1 = N. If N+R(+1?)= E, and E is one less than N, that means R must be 8 (since we already know 9), so that N+R=10+E, and D + E > 10. The highest possible value for D is 7, and the lowest possible value for Y is 2, and if we go with that, that lets E be 5 and N be 6. If Y was greater than 2, nothing works, and if D is less than 7, nothing works. Thus, the answer!

    • that’s because the only number that’s important is 10652

      read starting on the outside from the upper left, moving clockwise

      first letters are M (1), E (0)

      just keep repeating 10652 over and over, when you hit the end of the outside you go on the inside upper left and move clockwise again

      this gives mexic/ochih/uahua

      so the place is Chihuahua, Mexico

      the number is 10652

      • Hey, nice! And, I guess, independent confirmation that ‘10652’ is correct, as well.

  3. “Only half” a curse makes me think octal—half as many digits as hexadecimal. Most of the numbers notably are less than 8; there’s only an 8, A, and D higher than that.

    An “opus” by a “famous son” makes me think of one of the younger Bachs, but their works are generally referenced by catalogue number (giving a number to each piece) rather than opus number (giving a number to each collection). One of the few composers who had a famous Opus 49 is Beethoven: it consists of his piano sonatas number 19 and 20.

    • Wait a second—a famous “son”. Mendelssohn’s Opus 49 is his Piano Trio #1. Looking at Wikipedia, he started writing it in Paris and it premiered in Leipzig. The number could be either 3 (trio) or 1 (number 1).

      • anything re: “to go forward, think retreat” with any of those?

        (there’s a wikipedia list of a bunch of opus 46es, that was the only one that I could think of that matched the other statement)

      • Just searching for “opus 49”, I find that the 1812 Overture is one. I don’t know if Tchaikovsky counts as a “famous son”, but it seems promising just because it gives us a number — and, because it’s about a battle, possibly even a place.

      • (And I guess I missed the very first comment!)

      • It is good to have an answer arrived at independently, helps keep it level how likely a particular train of logic is.

  4. just a brief comment on 12

    the pattern is totally symmetrical except for the stars, and has a couple clear “word search” style plants (TIMEXNOW) which suggest to me there are a lot of letters you’re supposed to ignore. I tried, for instance, just starting from each star and going west, north, south, and east and writing the digits / numbers that are encountered

    1 I L E

    T E 4 D

    R U 0 R

    T E 1 D

    G H 0 O

    A O 2 Y

    M L D O

    R I N X

    0 N A T

    I feel like the stars have some sort of system to them at least which will then pass over the right letters to make something.

  5. The initial instructions say that the numbers range from 1 to 6 digits, so it’s nice that we’ve got a fairly solid 1-digit number to justify one of the extremes. I guess we should be watching for a 6-digit number as well. If we don’t have any in the end, one of our numbers is probably wrong.

  6. the one puzzle nobody has commented on (including me) is 11. anyone with an idea?

    your wrist has 3 muscles pass through it, that’s, uh, all I’ve got

    all the rest I at least have things I can test, I just don’t know how to even read this one

    • It might have something to do with Ireland? (green ballad, easter (rebellion)). Ireland has four parts but only three belong to the Republic of Ireland (the song “Four Green Fields” – is that a “green ballad”? It has three verses.) The abbreviations in brackets only correspond with Munster (MU), though, so I’m not sure if I’m on the right trail here.

      Will Moczarski
    • My first thought for ‘hear green ballad’ was that you might have to transform it. With synonyms, you’d get something like ‘listen emerald song’, or ‘gather lime polka’, but nothing along those lines jumped out at me.

      Then I thought maybe an anagram? There are kind of too many of those, so I think we’d need to hone in on a particular longish word in it, and I don’t have any great ideas. I was amused by a few from “handlebar ear gel” or “herbal nerd algae”. (I gave it a minimum word length of 4, and a max 3 words just to trim it down some, but it didn’t particularly help.) Anagramming the individual words separately also doesn’t work: you can get ‘hare genre’ but ballad doesn’t anagram.

      Are there other transformations in puzzles like this that might be better?

    • Another random observation: MU/SL/IN is a word.

  7. Pingback: Krakit: Self-Confirming Puzzles | Renga in Blue

  8. HEAR GREEN BALLAD is an anagram for Ballaghaderreen, where William Partridge died. He was part of the Easter Rebellion, which took place in 1916.

    So, I would say Ireland (country), Ballaghaderreen (city), 1916 (number).

    • Oh, I like this one! This makes more sense than anything else I’ve thought of.

    • That makes a ton of sense for the second half of the clue, but the first part is still opaque. I looked up the names of the other people involved and none of them seemed to match mu/sl/in. My guess is that the answer might not be 1916, but something clued by the first bit instead.

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