mezzacotta Puzzle Competition

Solution: 3B. Building Blocks

The first page presents us with 17 clues, most of which seem to involves homes or other buildings in some way. There are many possible answers to a lot of them, but a couple are more restricted: A Maori hill fort is a , nuns live in a convent, and the Oxford scholarship is most likely to be the Rhodes Scholarship.

The second page shows a bunch of components, the "building blocks" of the title. They appear to have fragments of words on them (or musical notes in a few cases), and it's reasonable to infer that we should line up the blocks in order to form words or phrases. After noting the components of PA and RHOD, it is a short step to inferring that the things that we form will be the answers to the clues from the first page.

The clue "See minor building blocks" is a fairly transparent reference to the C minor scale, and when we pull out the blocks with musical notes on them we see that they can be arranged in the corresponding order. Everything else yields words or names, and working back and forth between the blocks and the clues enables us to identify everything. We get the following answers:

One thing we might well notice in the process is that six of the answers have connections to the seven wonders of the ancient world:

The missing wonder is The Great Pyramid of Giza, and it seems reasonable to infer that it might have a part to play in the solution of the puzzle.

These answers have ended up in eight "strips". One possibility is that they are supposed to be joined together into a single long strip, but there's no indication as to which order to take them in. Another possibility occurs when we notice the regularity in the lengths; each has length two more than a multiple of four, and all the lengths are different. When we couple this with the notion of a pyramid, we hit upon the following layout:

Reading around the outside, or (as the third hint suggests) looking at the diagram from above, reveals words: RHOMBIC HUT APARTMENT CAUSE I. This enigmatic description seems to suggest that we want someone who "caused" (built?) a rhombic hut apartment, whatever that means. Suitably inspired guessword based on that could lead to the answer, but the more effective option is to realise that these words, too, can be stacked up into a pyramid shape:


This time reading around the outside gives the word ARCHITECT. This is not the answer, but suggests that we want the architect of something. Given the pyramidal motif so far, and the missing wonder, we guess that we want the architect of the Great Pyramid of Giza. (With a sufficient stretch of the imagination, we could consider that to be a rhombic hut.) That architect, and the answer to the puzzle, is HEMIUNU. Another acceptable answer was HEMON, which some sources give as Hemiunu's name.