What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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another puzzle from michele

Da Vinci’s Other Code

As steam rises off the nervous surface of the water in his black marble bathtub, a frail, tired Leonardo Da Vinci considers his fate. Stymied on how to make a mechanical dragon he has been constructing spout real flames, he turns his attention to an episode that occurred in the market earlier that day.

A small boy placed something in his hands and darted away into the crowd. DaVinci now examined it.

It was a small, long, plain wooden box, containing eight blocks, each intricately engraved with a single letter. The letters had to be arranged in their box according to the following rules:

1. H was two places to the left of U.

2. T was three places to the left of M.

3. A was two places to the right of U.

4. X was two places to the right of O.

However, the cryptic instructions stated that exactly one relationship was a lie.

Of course, Leonardo soon realized there were many possible solutions. Then, just as he was recovering the soap from between his toes in the water he saw his arrangement, which made no particular word in the box, with the M four places from H and three to the right of the W. What was Leonardo's solution?


Send your correct answer and/or complaints to and we'll randomly pick three people who get it right and send them a limited-edition disc set of the Pixies live in Japan and one of Dead Can Dance live in America.

We'll pick one person who gets it right and send them the spectacular Leonardo Da Vinci: The Complete Paintings and The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (Volume 1). Good luck.

Note I: We were tempted to include the phrase "show your work" with the rules for entry but then we figured that any dork who would Google a puzzle like this in order to win would have to live with self-loathing and guilt for the rest of their life and that would far outweigh the value of the prize package.

Note II: Also big thanks to puzzlemaster Barry R. Clarke for permission to adapt one his beauties for this.

Note III: We've received a flood of wrong answers and even a couple correct ones. Some people have attached diagrams and and other visual evidence supporting their work. We love that, but unfortunately can't show them yet. It wouldn't be fair.

Note IV: OK, you've tried the puzzle and been frustrated or you've tried the puzzle and think you have it right or maybe even you took a look at the puzzle and gave up right away. In any case, here is the solution.

Note V: Winners were randomly selected from the correct answers. Grand Prize: Rick Fletcher. Runners Up: Matt Sharkey, David Ball & Anne Peattie.

Note VI: For people who like this sort of thing, check our original Einstein's Fish Puzzle or the "other" fish puzzle or even Which Porn Star Ate the Most Hot Dogs?. Get busy.

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