Easy as ABC

by Derek Kisman and Dave Savitt

The underlying logic puzzle is an "End View" puzzle, a type of puzzle

often seen in World Puzzle Championships, U.S. puzzle championships,

and various puzzle publications -- except that "End View" puzzles are

usually 2-dimensional.

In a 2-d end view puzzle, one is given a square grid (e.g. 5-by-5)

whose squares are to be filled by a range of letters (e.g. A through C),

with each different letter occurring exactly once in each row and

column, and the other squares remaining blank.  If a letter appears

at the top (respectively, at the bottom) of a column, this indicates

that the top (respecively, bottom) non-empty square in the grid must

contain that letter; and similarly for rows.

As an example, here is a 2-d end view puzzle, 4-by-4 with letters A

through C to be entered in each row and column.

A

----

B|????|

|????|C

B|????|

|????|

----

And here is its solution:

A

----

B|xBCA|

|AxBC|C

B|BCAx|

|CAxB|

----

The puzzle at hand is a 3-d end view puzzle, 5-by-5-by-5 with

letters A through C to be entered in each rank, file, and column.

The dashed lines at the top indicate vertical clues.  The unique

solution to the logic puzzle, slice by slice, is:

A-CB-

-AB-C

CB--A

-C-AB

B-AC-

CBA--

-C-BA

A-C-B

BA-C-

--BAC

BC--A

AB-C-

--BAC

C-AB-

-AC-B

-A-CB

B-CA-

-CAB-

A-B-C

CB--A

--BAC

C-A-B

BA-C-

-BC-A

AC-B-

Now, from the second grid filled with miscellaneous letters, look at

only the letters in squares which are filled with by an A in the

End View puzzle.  There is one such square in each rank, file, and

column, and so for each of the six axial directions from which one

might try to look at the cube, these squares will appear as a 5-by-5

grid.  The graphic in the title suggests looking at the As from the

top of the cube, in which case one sees:

LASTK

SXFOU

RTHEK

LUFIR

STCTI

Similarly, looking at the Bs from the front of the cube, one sees:

FIRST

ASTBT

HIRDN

RLLAS

TEXWP

Looking at the Cs from the left, one sees:

THIRD

RDEML

ASTXK

WFOUR

THOEA

These three messages are to be parsed as:

LAST KSX; FOURTH EKLU; FIRST CTI

FIRST ASTB; THIRD NRL; LAST EXWP

THIRD RDEM; LAST XKW; FOURTH OEA

Now, as the text of the puzzle directs, look for "something in common":

there is one letter, T, in common between the two "first" clues; there

is one letter, R, in common between the two "third" clues; there is

only letter, E, in common between the two "fourth" clues; there is

one letter, X, in common betewen the three "last" clues.  Hence the answer

is T REX.  (Since there are no "second" clues, the second spot is empty.)