ENIGMA

A word or phrase is clued indirectly through wordplay.

ENIGMA (*6 5)
In the city I run, up north quite a ways,
If you take the gold, you’ll get thirty days.
You can call me Your Honor, but I’ll warn you, son --
If you take my gold, you’ll get thirty-one.
=Atlantic

The solution: Juneau mayor. (If you take the AU from Juneau -- Au being the chemical symbol for gold -- you’ll get June. If you take or -- the heraldic term for gold -- from mayor, you’ll get May.)

Like most flat bases, enigma answers should be dictionary entries. “Juneau mayor” is not an entry: now and then a puzzle that breaks a rule is so clever, with a verse so lively and well clued, that the editor finds it irresistible. But not often.

There is no hard and fast distinction between an enigma and a riddle. Generally, a riddle describes a thing and an enigma a word; riddles have deceptive descriptions, enigmas some form of wordplay. An occasional flat can fairly be classified as either.

 RIDDLE

Something is described enigmatically in verse. Riddles are not enumerated -- any synonym of the solution is acceptable as long as it satisfies the clues. A riddle describing a matchstick, for example, can also be answered with “a match.”

RIDDLE
He fixes crowns of kings, I’m told,
When they are showing wear.
He patches them with shiny gold;
He’s expert at repair.
You needn’t be a monarch, though --
He’ll also fix your cap.
But though at work he’s quite a pro,
He’s still a boring chap.
=Manx

The solution: a dentist.

There is no hard and fast distinction between a riddle and an enigma. Generally, a riddle describes a thing and an enigma a word; riddles have deceptive descriptions, enigmas some form of wordplay. An occasional flat can fairly be classified as either.


This page was last updated on Friday, December 17, 2010. /webmaster