IHOPE

by Joseph DeVincentis

The plays shown on the board do not score quite as much as E.T. wrote in his records of the game score:

E.T. (cumulative) E.T. (scores) Actual scores Difference
3030264
67372215
120533221
14020137
179392712
20021201
229291019
25223221
29240364
30513121
333281513
367341519

The point differences spell DOUGLAS ADAMS alphanumerically. This, the Scrabble game, and the title of this puzzle interpreted as cryptic wordplay (IHOP + E) gives an association with a scene at the end of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. In this scene, Arthur Dent pulls letters from a makeshift Scrabble set out of the bag to spell out the (erroneous) question to the answer 42, "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?"

Using the empty rack positions after each play and the comment about E.T.'s rack-filling custom to track the letters played, the order of E.T.'s letters can be determined as WHAT DO YOU GET IF YOU MULTIPLY SIX BY NINE AND SUBTRACT ONE. Using the same bad multiplication result from the book, and normal subtraction, gives the answer, FORTY-ONE.