CiSRA Puzzle Competition 2009 - Solutions
This is the archive of the 2009 Puzzle Competition. Please visit the current competition site for information about the latest Puzzle Competition.
Each of the stylised pictures represents the title of a novel or story collection. After identifying a few, you can notice that every book title has a number in it. There is also a red element in each picture, indicating a particular item. You need to identify the item marked in red, and put its name in the boxes on the right.
From top to bottom, the pictures are:
Placing the answers in the grid reveals a message written in the bolded boxes:
The message says:
A SEVEN IS WRONG ISBN
ISBN is a common abbreviation for International Standard Book Number. This indicates this is a book we are searching for. Reading the numbers downwards out of the titles of the identified book names gives 1562542731 - ten digits, exactly what is required for an ISBN! But if you search for this ISBN, you find it doesn't exist.
The secret message indicates that the seven is wrong; which means we should try other numbers. The last digit in an ISBN is a check digit which can be used to compute what the seven should actually be. Alternatively, we can simply try different digits in place of the seven and use Google to search for numbers which match to a valid ISBN.
Either way, you can discover that the seven should actually be a nine.
This yields an ISBN of 1562542931, which is the ISBN for the book The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimoore Cooper.
The puzzle is about book titles, and in particular the things named in those titles. The titular "last of the Mohicans" is named UNCAS, which is the solution.