Solution for Puzzle 3

I Can't Hear You!


Solves: 63
Guesses: 402
View guess log

Twelve doctors have rung you about something, but you can't quite understand them because you're not hearing them clearly!

The first step is to figure out exactly what we do with these cryptic-style clues. Ignoring the static noise for now, the first clue reads:

1. ID physician: shout bumbling clumsy idiot Vesper Lynd actress's first name

The key is to not read this literally; we must instead split this clue into several parts, namely:

  • shout = YELL
  • bumbling clumsy idiot = OAF
  • Vesper Lynd actress's first name = EVA

Reading this aloud gives YELL + OAF + EVA = YELLOW FEVER, which is a disease treated by an ID physician! Moreover, note that YELLOW FEVER has 11 letters, while the original clue (including the static noise now) has 11 words. This strongly suggests that we take the letters marked by the static noise. As the static noises occupy the 5th and 7th words, we take the 5th and 7th letter from YELLOW FEVER, which are O and F respectively.

(Regarding the static noises, note that each call has two static noises, namely *CLLLLT* and *CRRRRT* in that order. "L" and "R" of course stand for left and right.)

Doing the same for all 12 calls, we have the following. Note that the emojis 👈 and 👉 stand for the left and right static noises respectively. Letters extracted from the left-static are marked with red, while right-static letters are marked with blue.

(shout) + (bumbling clumsy idiot) + 👈 (Vesper 👉 Lynd actress's first name)YELL + OAF + EVAYELLOW FEVER
👈 (unused) + (people 👉 who create literature, articles)NEW + WRITERSNEURITIS
(fiend 👈 or 👉 monster) + (king of Persia)DEMON + SHAHDEMENTIA
(Tik's partner) + (hand detergent) 👈 to (Scottish girl) + (prophet from Abrahamic religions) 👉TOK + SOAP + LASS + MOSESTOXOPLASMOSIS
(recent) + (cut grass) + 👈 for (the Norse 👉 thunder god) + (lumberjacking tool)NEW + MOW + THOR + AXEPNEUMOTHORAX
👈 (one of 👉 the ankle bones) + (stitch with) + (the hearing appendage)TALUS + SEAM + EARTHALASSAEMIA
(the Royal Queensland Show) + (plants) + (German 👈 👉 yes)EKKA + LAYS + JAACHALASIA
(giant) + (Scomo’s favourite carbon 👈 fuel) + (situated above) 👉MEGA + COAL + ONMEGACOLON
(desperate) + (flightless bird native to 👈 South 👉 America)DIRE + RHEADIARRHOEA
(tide 👈 recedes out from) + (the Nutbush City Limit singer's 👉 first name) + (usually)EBBS + TINA + NORMALLYEBSTEIN ANOMALY
(Vanguard 👈 ASX code) + 👉 (prompt) + (Zippos, as an example)VAS + CUE + LIGHTERSVASCULITIS
(abject fear 👈 of) + (drag) + (female 👉 parent)TERROR + TOW + MATERATOMA

The twelve left-static letters give the clue phrase ONE PUTSCH BAR, which, applying the same mechanism of this puzzle again, gives A + COUP + STICK. Similarly, the right-static letters give FRESH LINE MUM, which is NEW + ROW + MA.

Reading these two answers aloud gives the final puzzle solution of ACOUSTIC NEUROMA, a possible differential diagnosis for hearing loss!

Author's note

Credit: Allen Gu

Originally we wanted to make an audio puzzle (ie. using actual audio clips) but quickly realised that'll be infeasible at MDSC. So, we came up with the next best thing; phonetics!

This puzzle is our first foray into cryptic-crossword-type clues at MDSC. Most solvers are unfamiliar with cryptic clues, so we made these clues cryptic-lite, using only charades as a mechanism. If you liked this puzzle, chances are it's because you enjoyed the cryptic aspect of it! If you want to learn more about cryptic crosswords, we can't recommend Puzzled by David Astle enough. It is the half-autobiography, half-cryptic-crossword-guide written by the undisputed king of Australian crosswording David Astle, aka DA, aka the dictionary guy on Letters and Numbers.

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