Room 37

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…a long, open room with no roof.

“What is going on here?” they wondered.

“Sometimes, important messages are couched in ambiguous terms,” I said. “That net may help you catch the answer to your question.”

They looked doubtful. “We must look at this from all sides before we make a decision.” At last, they were learning.

They really couldn’t decide which way to go; half of them wanted to go one way, half another. They were close to splitting up when there was a rattling sound and one of the doors was shaken from the other side.

They all stopped talking and moved closer together. They soon agreed on a direction and we departed for…

  - Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]


Room Type:  PATH     Doors:  10  15  20  42


● The correct door is 20. [Credit: Unknown - during the 1985 contest.]

● The part of the Riddle of the Path in this room has been surmised to be “E” either from the five on the dice (“E” is the fifth letter of the alphabet) or by seeing an “E” in the rope ladder. [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.]

● The correct door is 20. This is shown on the dice which has a 2 and a blank. The blank being a zero. [Credit: Raphael Vanier] In the text the Guide says, “That net may help you….” The shadow of the net provides us the missing zero from the blank side of the dice. [Credit: White Raven]

● The ladder, the lack of roof, and the line in the text about looking at things from all sides encourages us to look down on the room. From the top down the various objects of the room look like zeros which go with the blank on the dice to make 20 – the number of the correct door. [Independent Credit: SP / vewatkin | White Raven] The eyes looks like zeros. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven]

● The zero from the shadow of the net (see above) combined with the two table legs (it encircles one) gives us 20. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven] The zero from the shadow of the net is connected via a lighter shadow to the net itself, the rim of which looks like a zero. The shadow zero encircles a table leg suggesting a 1. The net has a long handle suggesting a 1. 10 + 10 = 20. [Credit: SP]

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127 thoughts on “Room 37

  1. Wow and both dice can individually be read as 1,5. On the near one it is the only 2 faces we see, and on the far one 2+3=5, and then there is the 1 to give 1,5.

  2. Or how about: Viewed from above – 4 sphereical objects and 2 cubes, and there is another 42 indicator.

  3. Corked bottle might look like an “eye” from above. With sphere could hint at 10 if you read “eye” as “I” and then “1″.

  4. Holy cow, the eyes! Just like in 34!

    It’s like a meta-connection, the eyes in both rooms being part of clues to Room 10. Just that, here, in 37, it’s not a totally accurate clue; though it’s part of the solution. I still think there’s a better solution in 34 than calling the eyes 0s, but this is a definite link between 34 and 37.

    • Other than the fact that they are eyes, what is the link? So far it sounds like a hypothesis. A 2nd link would make it “a thing” let’s say, IMO. Ah, they are on two sides of room 10, missed that bit. OK a false lead then. Where is the one I wonder. The net handle and the net together could be a 10. 42 is reasonably clued too, by the dice. Seems only 15, where we came from on path is left out.

    • Right, to clarify, I don’t mean that the eyes in both places go together as part of a puzzle. Rather, it’s like the 10/37 connection with the rattling of the doorhandle, just an interesting little thing to pick up on. 34 has a million little clues to “eye” and points to 10, and 37, with its disingenuous clues to 10, has the literal eye depictions across the wall.

    • HA, and really, let’s say you noticed the dice could be 42 or 20, and that the NET in backwards 10 in a room where we are supposed to read the ending e of the shapes – 3 reasonable clues. Then since 15 is NOT clued you might start thinking odd-one-in for 15. This room leaves you know choice to find a convincing exit in this room OTHER than doing the bigger solutions. My H20 using all the room would cover it. Perhaps the looking from above and finding the zeroes would cover it as well if there is a real strong “two” indicator we are missing. There are the 2 dice with one showing a two, and just the fact that the ladder goes up and you had to look down on the room to see the zeroes. 2 table legs with the shadow zero. But then only ONE leg is circled, so that is a 10/20 split too.

  5. The left side of the Room clues to 10. The Right side to 20. This is why the group is split as to which way to go, until a door rattles and they “moved closer together,” presumably away from the door. (I.e. from the left side of the room to the right side.)

    Many things in the room indicate zero: the eyes (I GUESS), but more importantly, many of the objects in the room, when viewed from above, form Os or circles: the cone, the vase, the bottle, and the sphere. This viewing from above is indicated by the text (“look at this from all sides”), and is also consistent with the way the dice and the net will be used. All of these zeroes doesn’t settle the issue, though they suggest either 10 or 20 to be the right door.

    The net is suggested by the guide. NET is TEN backwards, and its head and handle form a sort of 1 and 0; the net thus suggests 10.

    The dice, as has been amply commented on, display 2 and 0 (nothing) on top. They also present 1 and 5 on other sides, which might create ambiguity about 15/20, but the fact that 1. the theme is looking at things from the particular angle of “above,” 2. it’s not clear that 1 and 5 are on the “same” side of the two dice, and 3. the blank die face draws our attention by distinguishing these dice from real, ordinary dice; suggests that 20 is what is being clued by the dice.

    The tie between 10 and 20 is broken when the door from 10 is rattled, and the group moves away from it; presumably those who thought they had found the right answer with the net now believe that 20 is the right answer, and that’s the way they go. (This is why it’s important that the doors are on the left side of the room.)

    Climbing the ladder to 20 also seems to tie in with the theme of seeing the room from above.

    • vewatkin,

      I also concluded that the eyes are zeros but like you I am not married to the solution. I am adding it to the summary but am open to another interpretation in the future.

      White Raven

  6. A top view of this room reveals that all the objects in front of the wrong doors are round and the correct door has a square object (odd man out principle). Although this seems basic, combined with the fact that the top view of the dice yields the correct door, and the up-theme of this whole room, I like it.

    • As noted- viewed from above all the objects except the dies would look like circles. The one visible die face wold give a 2 to put with those “zeroes”. The text has “look at things from all sides” which helps with this. Plus the open ceiling helps.

  7. Room level problems I think can be solved using only 3 operations, and by operating first on visually grouped objects. We find intersections of sets. We use examples to form the narrowest possible simple set that includes the examples. We use the “donut-hole” method to pick out the unlisted member of a set”. How do you know which one to use? You try them to see which works well. Let’s try 37 this way.
    Find the intersection of the following two sets:
    1) Things associated with a sphere
    2) Things associated with a net
    Answer) Sports (maybe basketball if you look at the type of net)
    Find the intersection of the following two sets:
    1) Words associated with “bottle”
    2) Words associated with “ball”
    Answer) Medicine
    Next step)
    Find something that is a member of all the following sets:
    1) Things that sound like “dice”
    2) Words associated with “cone”
    3) Things that come in cube form
    4) Things associated with sports medicine and a leg
    Answer) Clearly ice.
    Find the intersection of the following 4 sets:
    1) Things associated with ice
    2) Things associated with a vase.
    3) Things associated with eyes
    4) Things that give you an exit indicator here.
    Answer) Water because water is H20 and the correct exit 20 has a ladder that looks like an H.

    • But wait, someone might cry. What if I say

      1) Things that look like a cone
      2) Things that are associated with Sports
      Answer) Intersection is a Megaphone.

      What’s wrong with that? Nothing at that point. It’s an OK hypothesis, but it ends there. You can’t make other narrow sets from other objects that also intersect with the above sets at the point “megaphone”. There is no confirmation.

      Because you have a lot of freedom in creating sets that include the cone for example, various 2 way intersections with sets including other objects will be possible. But once we find 3 or 4 sets that intersect at the same point, we are golden.

  8. The net’s shadow,does two things: it forms a clear zero, and it encircles the table leg. There are two legs visible on the table, annd if we associate the 2 and the 0, well, there we are.

    The solution seems a bit arbitrary, but with the focus on furniture legs elsewhere, and our attention drawn by the text to what the net is catching, this may be a real thing.

    • vewatkin,

      Congratulations on catching the zero! Bumping it up one!

      Six full or partial riddles remaining.

      White Raven

  9. The cone and the dice which both sound like “ice” and are shaped like cube should bring to mind Ice and ice cream. Cone => ice cream => ice => dice (or ice => cube => dice). The net and the sphere? Basketball of course. But then the ball also goes with the bottle. Medicine ball and medicine bottle. The leg of the table is also circled for us. So leg, basket ball, and medicine – looks like something like “leg injury” to me. Ok so what unified the sports injury and ice of ice cream? Well, ICE. So now we’ve used the room except for the vase and we have ICE. What unifies there 2? Water. The answer to the room is “Water?” Well, that ladder looks like an H, and the is a 2 0 over the door and H2O = water. 20 is the correct door.

  10. There are several indications to go up in this room. The giant cone could be an arrow point up. The room has no ceiling. The correct door has a ladder going up. The 2 and 0 are on the top side of the dice.

    • sp,

      I think you may be right about this, it is always difficult to confirm the metaphorical puzzles.

      > When playing dice the top side is the side you pay attention to but because of our vantage point it may be a subtle UP hint.

      > The cone is part of another riddle but could be doing double duty as an arrow.

      > Several rooms have an open ceiling but none so open-yet-enclosed as this one.

      My tentative vote would be yes but I’d like to hear what the rest of you think about these.

      White Raven

    • > Several rooms have an open ceiling but none so open-yet-enclosed as this one.

      It’s mentioned explicitly in only this room that it has no ceiling. I think this is a big tell considering descriptions of other rooms contain clues in them. In addition to this, thematically, the underground/lower rooms are not good places to be. There are a few exceptions where down is better but not many.

    • If it’s not a strong enough indicator that you would consider it a solution on its own, or somehow supportive of another puzzle solution, I wouldn’t consider it a solution.

      Things pointing in directions are not trustworthy clues absent other factors.

      The room lacking a ceiling doesn’t, as far as I can tell, suggest we should walk out a door and climb a ladder.

      If looking at the top side of something were an indication to go up, we’d be directed up in pretty much every room that has something on the floor.

      On the other hand, I think a number of accepted solutions here have been too generous with what has been considered a solution or door indicator, so take my opinion here with a grain of salt. And half of my own solutions have been prefaced with declarations that the solutions are terrible.

    • Upon reflecting on the other solutions in this room and how they interrelate I have concluded that the UP message is correct-ish but too intertwined with other riddles to separate.

  11. I don’t know if the shadow will help solve the room but here are my assembled clues for the shadow:

    It is nighttime now.
    The word couch recalls 35 and the identity of the guide.
    What is the shadow?

  12. My best guess based on your observations: there are often what I call uber puzzles. Harder than basic room indicators. Since I’ve not found one at this point the patterns you see may be related to that.

    Yes final “e”s are not uncommon. All but 1 of 6 or 7 things is. If we take away the known false clue is is 100% even more rare. Then notice even the false clue is telling us to read backwards. Ten is reverse of net. So in two ways he is signalling us to turn words around.

    And then of course we get the right answer e. So it looks certainly intentional to me.

    But again you are very probably right that there is more. If it is like other cases then there is a big uber the breaker puzzle do call the the between 42 and 20.

    • Boy that last sentence went poorly. There is a big uber tie breaker puzzle probably. To break the 20 42 tie.

    • Yeah, I can live with that, and I understand what you’re saying about the final Es. I find that much less persuasive than the initial Hs simply because of how common silent Es at the end of words are in English. Also, the items don’t seem as arbitrarily assembled as, say, the H items in 15 or the B items in 2. The objects in 37 seem to form a theme apart from their spellings. I’m not calling this solution plainly wrong, just relatively poor, such that I hope Manson intended better.

  13. All the explanations for getting “E” from this room have been kind of crummy. here’s another crummy one: there’s a small E on the white patch on the bottom of the vase. It appears to be a bit of crosshatching, but it has no artistic justification as shading.

    • Except for the false clue , the net , all the objects end in e and the text talks of being all turned around. In a room not long before this the “h” in 15 comes from many objects beginning with the same letter.

    • Yes, the “many objects in the room end in E” interpretation was taken into account in that “crummy” comment.

  14. “That net may help you catch the answer to your question.”

    It’s hard to ignore that the net casts a shadow that circles the table leg, but just what to make of this I don’t know. Is there some way that “table” or “leg” solves a puzzle here?

    • Happened to be looking there just now for another reason. If it helps I think it is 10 at night there and that is actually moonlight.

    • Ah. Knowing what I said above did help. I know what the shadow is about. But ill wait to say for a bit.

  15. The dice point to room 20, as mentioned below.

    The net points toward room ten. (NET–>TEN; again, looking at things from all sides.)

    “[H]alf of them wanted to go one way, half another. They were close to splitting up when there was a rattling sound and one of the doors was shaken from the other side.”

    There is a door before Room 10, but not Room 20. The implication of the text is that they were intimidated by the noise/shaking behind a door and went the other way: Room 20.

    • Well, I’m not sure that’s the ambiguity solved by the rattling door–you can see how it could come down between 15 and 20 as well. But it does seem that we come down to two rooms and the rattling behind a door sends them to twenty.

      It’s interesting as well that the group decides on a “direction.” Suggesting that their decision comes down to two different directions implies that they aren’t deciding between the two doors which, whatever winding may take place beyond, lead in the same direction. And, since we know that the route they forego is a door, that means they will either be moving up (20) or down (42).

  16. Since White Raven hasn’t chimed in or bumped up the solve meter, let me try again. My reasoning is almost identical to my previous post but there are some key simplifications.

    Assuming they are identical, the two dice can be determined to have the 0 opposite the 3, the 1 opposite the 4, and the 2 opposite the 5.

    1-5 can be seen on the front die from the front view.

    1-0 can be seen on the back die from the right view.

    4-2 can be seen on the front die from the back view.

    The full wrap-around for each die is 1-5-4-2-1 for the front die and 3-1-0-4-3. Neither of these makes 2-0. This makes 2-0 the odd-one-in. It’s the only room not hinted, so it’s where we should go.

    So this is only a slight simplification of my previous argument:
    • We are, in fact, meant to consider the dice from ALL SIDES, excluding their tops and bottoms. This supports my original theory and does away with the mucking about with the pillars’ perspective and reading left-top-right. Also, I think this is further supported by the many objects’ cylindrical symmetry. That’ supposed to clue the reader that they need to ignore the tops and bottoms of the dice.
    • The dice are again assumed to be identical and to include the number 4.
    • We still have to read (the sides of) the dice from left to right, but we no longer have to use my funky reasoning about reading the number on top.

    I’ve been overzealous before, but I really think I’ve got it now. I don’t know how I could reasonably simplify this theory. It seems fairly straightforward now.

    One last thought because I don’t know where else to put it: I was looking at the net and table and thought they might be significant. My theory was that the objects on the table might represent pips on the dice. (Notice how the shape of the table and the placement of the objects mimics the two pips on the top of the back die.) The net suggestively circles one corner of the table/die. If the orientation of the two pips and the sphere and bottle are faithful, the circled corner corresponds to the corner adjacent to either 1-3-5 or 4-0-5. I’m stuck at that point, but maybe someone can make something of it later on.

    But I hope (and think) that theory is completely bogus. I like my other theory and I don’t think I’ll be changing it in the foreseeable future.

    • Ethan,

      An impressive intellectual feat, I went down a similar path myself, even made paper dice, until I realized that almost every room has multiple riddles.

      The riddle of the dice has been solved and is straight forward (two + blank = 20). All the things mentioned in the text refer to a different (but somewhat related) riddle. Once you get this other part of the riddle everything mentioned in text makes sense.

      There are three related riddles in this room that indicate the correct door. Only the easiest one (the dice) has been solved publicly, thus 2 out of 5 on the solution meter. You have a highly analytically mind, I am eager to see you turn it on the rest of the room.

      White Raven

  17. The phrase, “We must look at this from ALL SIDES,” seems highly significant to me. I think we are meant to take both of those key words quite literally:

    • “All” means to literally consider all– a continuum– of sides. What I mean is that we don’t want to look at, say, two sides of of a card or six sides of a die.
    • “Sides” means consider only the sides, not the top and bottom.

    From there, I quickly notice that most of the objects in the room are cylindrically symmetric. They look exactly the same from all sides (excluding top and bottom). Note that this meshes well with the guide’s hint that important messages are couched in ambiguous terms. All these symmetrical objects have ambiguous orientation.

    And then I quickly get lost. The fifth paragraph lays on the symmetry metaphor thickly. The solvers cannot *de[s]ide*, *half* want to to one way or another, they were on the verge of *splitting* up, and one of the doors was shaken from the other *side*. It’s troubling, however, that these metaphors indicate a sort of dual symmetry, contrary to the “all sides” symmetry. Maybe it’s simply directing the reader to the number 2?

    The asymmetric dice lie closest to door 20 and even seem to “point” to it. As was mentioned, the dice also have the numbers 2 and 0 facing up. I’m tempted by the “all sides” clues to speculate on the hidden sides of both dies. Anyone who has carefully examined dice before knows that opposite sides of a die add up to seven. I’m not sure how this rule applies, however, to a die with no pips on one side. Is the opposite side a six or a seven? All this speculation may be pointless because the “obvious” clue is that the sides facing up are 2 and 0, corresponding to the correct room.

    I have no insights regarding the net.

    • I’ve given this a little more thought and I’m not sure if I’m right, but I can expand on my previous theory a bit.

      Having obtained access to some high resolution scans of the book (I own a hard copy, but it isn’t with me at the moment), I notice the eyes engraved in the pillars. It is now clear to me that we are supposed to consider the room from an alternate perspective, where the eyes are.

      From our perspective, the dice read (left-top-right):

      Let’s assume that the dice are identical and that they also include the number 4. We can deduce that the 2 is opposite the 5, the 0 is opposite the 3, and the 4 must be opposite the 1. From the pillars’ perspective, the dice must therefore read:

      (I tried this using the bottom face of each die as well, but that didn’t lead to anything I could make a clue out of. I think we are meant to consider the room literally from the pillar eyes’ perspective.)

      On the front die from our view, reading from left to right, we can see that both 15 and 10 are indicated. From the odd-one-in rule, both of those rooms are eliminated. Now we need to eliminate one of the remaining doors. On the back die from the pillars’ view, the only numbers we can make are 02, 04, 24, 40, and 42. Since 42 is indicated and 20 is not, 20 must be the correct choice.

      So in review, this hinges on a few assumptions:
      • The dice are identical. If they are not, then we cannot “map” their surfaces.
      • The 4 lies opposite the 1. This must be true if the numbers 0 through 5 are represented and the dice are identical.
      • We are meant to read the dice from the pillars’ perspective as well as our own. This means we disregard the numbers on the bottoms of the dice.
      • We are only “allowed” to read left to right. If we can read right to left, then 20 is just as easy to construct as 42 and we aren’t able to deduce anything.

    • Oops! In the second to last paragraph, I said, “On the back die from the pillars’ view…” I should have written, “On *either* die from the pillars’ view…”

  18. As far as the letter “E” goes, I’m going to give one to Dave Gentile for once. His explanation is that all of the objects within the room can be identified very plainly by words ending in -E: “sphere”, “bottle”, “table”, “vase”, “cone”, “die/dice”, and “eye”. (Gentile adds “rope”, which I don’t like so much — the most intuitive single word for it is clearly “ladder” — but since that’s not within the room itself, I’m willing to dismiss it.)

    The ubiquitous presence of “-E”, so Gentile says, ties in with the visitor’s comment that “We must look at this from all sides before we make a decision.” This can be interpreted as a clue to flip the words backward and “look at them from the other side” (it can be interpreted as many other clues too, granted).

    Gentile, however, doesn’t offer any reason why “net” should be an exception. I’ll suggest an idea: When the host advises that the net may help them “catch the answer”, he’s referring to the fact that there’s a letter E evenly in the middle of the word “net” — caught there, if you like.

    One more note: while I agree that the dice are probably meant to be the main clue to choose door #20, I think there may be an extra verbal clue in the text. The passage ends with “They soon agreed on a direction and we departed for . . .” But this is a strange choice of words when all four doors are lined up against the same wall! I wouldn’t call it a flat-out incorrect use of “direction”, but it’s attention-grabbing, much more so than if the doors were aligned with two or more walls. And yet notice that doorway #20 doesn’t actually lead evenly into room #20: instead, the visitors have to climb a rope ladder. That is, rather than moving levelly forward, they’re moving up. “Agreed on a direction”, in here of all rooms, might be a deliberate suggestion that the choice you want is the only one defined by a wholly unique direction of movement out of this room.

  19. Room 37 Solution: Partial.
    Fifteenth room of the path – The hidden letter is “E” supposedly but I don’t see it.

    The correct door is 20. This is shown on the dice which has a 2 and a blank. The blank being a zero.

    Unsolved: Everything but the dice and the “E” where that is.

    • The Umbrella collected this correct solution from the now defunct John Bailey site (solution posted by independently by Raphael Vanier & Slala).


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