23 November 2022

Fiendishly difficult cryptic puzzle

Every month I enjoy tackling the cryptic puzzle in Harper's magazine.  The December one that came this week is particularly frustrating.  I've figured out the 24 words in the clues, but I'm facing the task of fitting them into the dodecahedron.

The instructions note that there are 12 letters left over after "subtracting" the five-letter answers from the 6-letter answers, and those 12 letters will spell "the name of the holiday person to whom the puzzle is dedicated." (no indication whether that "name" is a proper name or an occupation or other descriptor and whether it is one word or two or three).

Here are the 12 letters: BEGIIILNNRRV

If I could figure out how to rearrange those 12 letters into a name, the rest of the solution would fall into place more easily.  Even Wordsmith's excellent Internet Anagram Server couldn't come up with any relevant one- to six-word solution - but perhaps names are not in its database.

I'd appreciate any suggestions.  [answer in the Comments]


  1. I haven’t don’t the puzzle, but I can tell you that you’re looking for a proper name that is two words. I can give you more clues if desired.

  2. The letters for "virgin" are in there, but not sure how to make mother/madonna/Mary/Maryam out of the remaining letters BERLIN?

  3. If you're interested, I would be happy to work through placing the answers in the grid with you. That's definitely a non-trivial step if your brain doesn't immediately anagram things like some of us weirdoes. :)

    1. Already done. With the 12-letter name in hand, that provided the order for the twelve words in the dodecagon; then it just took ten minutes to sort out the couple duplicates and follow the arrows to insert the twelve 5-letter words.

  4. For proper name anagrams (and lots of other things), Nutrimatic(.org) can be very helpful


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