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…a vaulted chamber lit by a single bulb.
Someone knocked a bowl off the table. The crash echoed from the ceiling and whispered away down the corridors. I broke another on purpose.
“Make sure to take that with you,” I said. “You can never tell when you might need it.”
“Take what?” they wanted to know.
“Isn’t it obvious?”
Taking a vote among themselves they went on to…
- Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]
Solution Summary: [COLLECTION CURATED BY WHITE Raven. SEE COMMENTS FOR ADDITIONAL SOLUTION PROPOSALS.]
● The correct door is 12. [Credit: Unknown - during the 1985 contest.]
● One part of the Riddle of the Path in this room is the obvious “S.” [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.] The other part is the “E” formed by the table legs. [Independent Credit: David G | White Raven]
● The sign labeled “SiGN” is up against the bowling pin. The lower case ” i ” looks like the white part of the bowling pin (the black stripes separate the dot from the stem) making another ” i “. [Credit: Aria | Credit: White Raven] In outlines ” ii ” is the number 2. [Credit: Test / Saints This Way | Credit: White Raven] The remaining letter “SGN” is a reference to the sign function which is abbreviated “sgn” or on calculators as “SN” or “SGN”. So “SiGN” contains both the names “sign” and “sgn”. The sgn function in simple form is written as “sgn(x)” in a function, and the archetypical representation of the function is x=sgn(x).|x| As a person who betters understands math put it, “sgn is a mathematical representation of absolute value “x”.” The upper case “SGN” suggests that this part of the puzzle stays on the arrow sign while the lesser ” i ” is paired with the bowling pin so the solution reads ” xii ” instead of the alternate possible order ” ixi “. In lower case Roman numerals ” xii ” is the number 12, indicating door 12.
● The bowling pin indicates 12 – there is one stripe at the bottom (unusual) and two stripes at the top (normal). Also, the pin is more vertical than the other items in the room perhaps suggesting that the pin is read left to right after falling to the right. [Credit: Aria]
● The stethoscope indicates 12 – the sound starts in one tube and splits into two tubes. Further reinforced the emphasis on sound in this room. [Independent Credit: David G | White Raven]
● The bulb is referred to as a “single bulb” and is circled by two rings in the illustration. 1&2=12. [Independent Credit: David G | White Raven] The “single bulb” and is connected to a light switch. The light switch is in the off position but the light is on regardless – suggesting that the switch is on in both directions. 1 switch and 2 poles of the switch = 12. [Credit: vewatkin]
● The text mentions two bowls falling (one breaking, the other presumably so) and uses the word “echo” – the illustration has a unbroken bowl and no bowl pieces. 1 unbroken/illustration bowl + 2 broken/text bowls. 1&2=12. [Credit: David G]
● A bowling theme points to the correct door, 12. The bowling pin, the word “bowl,” the “crash,” and the knocked over room recall the act of bowling, while the “corridors” recall the lanes and the single bulb the bowling ball. A perfect game in bowling requires twelve strikes. The last two strikes are tacked on after the 10th frame – this is illustrated by the two “bowl” crashes in the text. [Independent Credit: SP / David G | White Raven]
● There is a up/down metaphor which points to door 12. Because the room is tilted door 12 is above the others. The candlestick and umbrella are on the floor but are meant to be picked up, this is reinforced by clown in the poster holding up an umbrella, and in the text the Guide encourages the visitors to take something with them but what this object is isn’t stated, suggesting the general idea of picking something up. Likewise, in the illustration, the table, bowl, sign, and poster are all down when normally such things should but up or upright. In the text, bowls fall and crash, likewise bowling pins are knocked down. Thus up is encouraged (up = door 12) while down is discouraged. (down = other doors) [Credit: SP]
● This solution has several related parts: The barber pole represents the Earth’s pole, the tilt of the room represents the tilt of the earth, the bowls in the text are the two hemispheres of the earth. [Independent Credit: SP | White Raven] The single light bulb represents the sun, the single bowl in the illustration represents one of the two hemispheres of the earth (it is propped up in the appropriate fashion). The light from the bulb/sun causes one side of the bowl/hemisphere to be lit up and the other dark. The light side faces the direction of door 12. It takes 24 hours for the earth to rotate on it’s axis, half of this is 12, the number of the correct door. [Independent Credit: Aria | White Raven] Reinforcing this solution, the barber pole is tilted in relation to the pillar next to it about 23 or 24 degrees. The tilt of the Earth is 23.5 degrees. [Credit: Aria]