Procol Harum

the Pale

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Christmas Quizzes 2017–2018 • Competitors' Comments

'... a sleuth-like battle of wits while being tormented with nuggets of nonsense ...'

Thanks, all, for these interesting and revealing comments!

Once again you evil geniuses provided a night of fun and frustration. Thank you?

It's only taken me eight years to figure out how to tackle the page of final instructions.

A twisted path, a tortured course. It would have been much quicker to have made a guess. Enjoyable nevertheless! Thanks to the compiler/s.

Thanks once again for the pleasantly torturous twelve days of Christmas presents.

Thank you again for a very fun puzzle. I got to explore Novum more thoroughly.

Devilishly clever ‘Yacht Funeral’ / Half a Century: so the one letter answer you are looking for must be ‘L’. Was going to go back to bed but the sun is coming up!

I guessed the response (about halfway through the contest) based on the instructions concerning Roman numerals and which numbers correspond to which letters. (Also the bit about ‘little miniature answer’). But I still haven’t worked it out the correct way (I wonder how many people did) and am looking forward to seeing what that is. Thanks again for running the contest. Happy New Year Jens and Roland!

FWiW the eBay auction was ingenious, whose price tag informed my lateral thinking of my technical blind alley.

Well done Roland. This year I stayed sober and it made no difference. I KNEW the answer would be ‘L’ but couldn’t parse it for the life of me.

Personally I really enjoyed the quiz despite this being my first attempt. At numerous turns I was amused and tearing my hair out in frustration, particularly on the night of the final clue, to be met with a bemused conclusion. It had become no longer about a prize in many ways but a sleuth-like battle of wits while being tormented with nuggets of nonsense. Wonderful stuff! A massive ‘thank you’ for all your work on the quiz and of course the BtP site. Many thanks.

Congratulations, you outdid yourself again with the quizzes! The final instructions were sheer torture! Happy New Year to you and your family and thanks for the annual entertainment!

It did take three hours on and off, but I started at 4am and was very sleepy!

Come on, man, I must say that this year you were especially cruel in your final instructions, particularly to ‘thinkers’ and ‘lateral thinkers’. I don’t know if I am one of them but I’m sure there isn’t enough lead in one #2 pencil to calculate the answer. Keep up the good work.

Well I like the fact that I was temporarily thrown by the fact that the fake CD had TWO world class musicians on it – Charlie Chaplin, and I presume the bearded gentleman was Johannes Brahms – both of whom have sold millions. Putin was a little harder to explain.......Kremlin Rap?

Congratulations. You have earned the ‘Irwin Mainway Prize’ for  developing a twelve-step program that will lead a man to drink. You also take home the ‘Douglas Adams Ingenuity Award’ for devising a Byzantine labyrinth of conundrumology by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-Meson Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian Motion producer.

Enjoyed the puzzles very much. The final one threw me as I was not prepared for the convoluted calculation at the end … especially just beyond midnight. It later dawned on me that the theme was the Fiftieth Anniversary but I had already gone to bed. Only submitted correct answer next morning. Great fun though. Keep up the good work!

Annual fun and games – an institution – but sometimes you are just having a busy (or celebratory) night and just don’t want to do the puzzle at midnight! I was convinced a calculated guess might prove successful – but then no! It is a very special subset of the population who can both run a Procol Harum website and devise such fiendish puzzles! Never give them up!

I write while listening to our great inspiration – no, not that one – JS Bach < laughs>. Actually, I simply guessed that the answer, being a single Roman letter, had to be ‘L for ‘fifty’.

I have to confess that I solved the game just with the last instruction (‘Send us only one letter with the Roman number’). Since I couldn’t work out the anagram quickly, I just went by intuition with the Fiftieth Anniversary concept theme and tried the ‘fifty’ in Roman numbers ... after sending it anyway I was able to work out the anagram and had the confirmation that I was right!

I must admit, I struggled along the way. But fortunately the words to the wise were there. And when the dodgy eBay-CD was priced at £ 50 I began to see the light. Thank you and best wishes.

I’m very sorry to have answered with a kind of desperate attempt, because in this minute I feel like the Hesperus, I wrecked about the finale anagram. As every year I have to admit that BtP Quizzes are one of my very favourite way to spend my Christmas time. See you soon, and have a very good new year!

I’ve tried in the past to do the solution while still hammered – as you know we take New Year very seriously up here – but this time around I was scheduled to work Friday morning so was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (ish) when Thursday turned into Friday. I changed my routine and didn’t try and solve anything after day three until day eleven, so I could get a feel of what was going on. A long sober session on Thursday evening gave me answers 4–11, or so I thought. I saw through some of your more obvious traps. But some laziness or urgency (or panic) started to set in when ‘YACHT FUNERAL’ wasn’t immediately what appeared – like that would have made a difference! But ONE wrong answer was stopping me from getting the benefit of ‘anagram-solver’, and eventually I gave up and went to bed at 1am. In looking at the broader clue about time-periods, I had guessed the answer around 00:30, but didn’t want to burn my bridges by putting up a wrong response. I went to work and afterwards met [a friend] for a drink Friday teatime, at which point I predicted what the answer would be, before sitting down with paper and pen and reworking the whole thing on Saturday morning. I’ll be interested to hear when the first correct answers appeared. Thanks again.

Record-breaking low temperatures and an officially-declared blizzard led into the final moments of this year’s Christmas Conundrums. That, and a visiting son, daughter-in-law, and two grand-babies. Being at least half-optimistic, I enlisted the help of my son and his wife – I mean, why wouldn’t they want to spend hours of their visit to New York helping me and TLC figure out a convoluted, twisting path of clues? Oh, right. They’re normal people … and the babies didn’t even try. Once again, an amazing, frustrating, fun batch of distractions! And of course, yet another excuse to re-hash the musical legacy of one of the finest groups of all time!

I always enjoy these year-end puzzles. I must say, given your instructions on how to play, I was left with a preconceived answer of ‘L’. Had to be, fifty years, Roman numerals, small answer etc., well before the first puzzle. Regardless, I did the puzzles every night and seemed to do well until Puzzles 11 and 12. I wound up with the short message being ‘YACHTFUNERBS’. I knew I was off. So, went back, and struggled and gave up after 45 minutes and just submitted my preconceived answer. Got lucky. The next morning, light bulb! Must be ‘YACHT FUNERAL’, therefore my answer to Puzzles 11 and 12 were wrong. Quite cute that the example was ‘where ships come home to die’. I’m on the right track. Stumped again, though, with the anagram: must have been brain dead by then. I spotted ‘YEAR’ in there, and then figured it was ‘FAT LUNCH YEAR’. What is a fat lunch year … Google would know? Google didn’t. So, I did consult with my daughter Katie, who is on the rise of being a big PH fan. Took her last year to Gary’s concert in New York City, thanks to you guys. I explained where I was stumped and what I thought the answer should still be: the elusive ‘L’. Immediately she said ‘half a century’. That’s it!

I must have gone terribly wrong somewhere as the twelve letters I was left with after my deliberations made no sense whatsoever. Thankfully, I read the final instruction again after thirty minutes had passed and realised the obvious one-letter answer. Pity I didn’t read it sooner! Another consummate, cunning conundrum to while away the long Christmas nights. Many thanks to everyone involved in its preparation and hatching ! Quite splendid! Already counting down to this year’s.

Woohoo. Thanks for a great, and at times baffling, puzzle. Now that I’m in the Homburg in my too-long overcoat and badly-laced shoes, I can tell you this: I’m pretty sure I missed a ‘Q or II’, and started to lose my way toward the end of the Final Instruction. The ‘math’ was fine, but my solution to the ‘little message / anagram’ was dubious, but it made sense, sort of. Well! ... then came the ‘cumulative visual / aural clue’ which I couldn’t sort for the life of me. Then I thought ‘OK, this is Roland and Jens, whose thinking I’m (only) starting to suss – where are they going, wandering through their playing cards – what’s the Big Common Thing here?). Bang. Anniversary!’ Since this tour and year for that matter was all about the Lth Anniversary, there’s my answer. What a great time! My third go, and my favourite, so far. I’m going to guess the Boxed Set and Print are already gone, but I got those covered. Excellent!

I sat down on the eve before the last day’s puzzle and tried to figure out what you guys were up to, and if I could anticipate your final clue. I had a great idea and I told my wife and she liked it. I figured even if you had a long answer to the puzzle, there might be a quicker and easier solution that was from clues right in front of me: the Roman numerals and the Fiftieth Anniversary of Procol Harum. I thought of what happens in the movie The Last of Sheila. In the movie, the answer was right there in the photo in front of everyone. I first converted the letters in my correct questions to numbers via the converter on your instruction page. The eleven numbers I got added up to 48. So I said to my wife if the last day’s correct question is number two then that must be it! If it adds up to 50 and then just convert it to Roman numerals since you hinted it was a ‘miniature answer’ and I figured it had to be maybe one letter, ‘L’. The night your final clue was due to go online, we got hit with a snowstorm. We actually lost power for about an hour. When it came back online I checked the website and found out the final question. But, I was under the gun as I wanted to get outside and take care of the snow before the power went out, and – just in case we lost power again and lost the internet – I sent it out anyway. I was outside for three hours.  So there I was, content in my answer even though I kept checking the posted way to the final solution and not coming up with what I initially had. But I was sure I was right in the Procol universe. The answer found its way to me. Thanks for all your hard work on the puzzle and website.

Have to say that ‘yacht funeral’ still means nothing and various other clues simply flew over my head and didn’t register in any remote shape or form. At times I thought I may need medical mental intervention, such was the frustration: particularly on the final clue where I unfortunately went through the process of counting letters, checking brackets, hyphenated words and still not getting the necessary anagram letters in their totality. But all’s well that ends well and I feel vindicated, but Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for the enjoyment, entertainment and insight.


This year I feel particularly sad because it’s the first edition of Christmas Conundrums I play without my mother, who sailed for parts unknown to man last 15 August, but first of all because I feel guilty for having failed the solution knowing that I have been a kind of fount of inspiration. But, thinking about it, this was my prize, and what a prize! I’m very honoured for this gift from you, Roland! I add that as you can imagine this year it was more important for me to spend my Christmas time with warm and faithful friends than your puzzles are for me.

I can see why you like that first comment from the 2015 set. Because, well, you are … :)

Back to the how-to-play page for the 2017 'Beyond the Pale' Christmas puzzles

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