Room 8

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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]


Room Type:  PATH     Doors:  6  12  23  29  31


● 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]

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183 thoughts on “Room 8

  1. 12 is the only exit we have to go up towards, and it is well lit although they all are except 31.

  2. Turn it upside down and middle of SiGN looks like 9! Lot’s of fake 6s in this room. We are probably suppose to double them becsaue of the 2 crashes for some reason or another.

  3. Well this seems useful

    The secret word for the Masonic handshake is tubalcain. Two-bowl-cain and the cain on a ring pictured is shaped like that umbrella handle. Not sure where it leads yet, but…

    The secret word is given one syllable at a time, so there is that. It might relate more to SHOULDERS, or might mean something here.

  4. Well, this is my first comment. This room was suggested for my examination. I’m not particularly interested in this room and I still haven’t examined all pages or read the dialogue past the first and ‘middle’ room. Many incorrect rooms can be in paths that form loops. Thus, if this is your second time, you see the bowling pin as a strike. Often rooms are where you are going, where you have been, or where you should be. 33 or EE is a clue in that direction. ( 33 could be a false clue or a door you should take if you get there.). The ceiling looks like an umbrella. Umbrellas are often significant when shown in a room. Often, clues indicate fire or water, light or dark, water or umbrella (another subject if you do not yet grasp their significance.) Here then, we have not water but fire, as in the candle.

    The ‘S’? Yes, the S is tricky. The S here is for SECRET, in my opinion. Again, you either know what the secret is or you don’t. The answer is not in this room, but in a different room. The jester is part of the overall riddle, as are many other hats, boots, and such. I think the stethoscope is related to the snakes on page 21, though still a mystery to me. Perhaps a listening tool or that your host broke a bowl so as to mask a certain sound form your hearing. The key text word appears to be ‘bulb’ and ‘bowl’ is incorrect, thus it is broken. The unbroken bowl on the floor, resembles a doorknob. The significant red objects are the barber’s signal, part of the pin, the ‘sign’ and perhaps the ‘S’. 5 of the 190 doors are shown on this page.

    How did I do? I have tried not to read anything from others yet.

    • Hidden Mystery,

      If you would like to join the conversation please read the posted solutions. If you would like to work on a room that does not have much progress thus far, chose a room with a zero or one rating.

      You have some interesting observations, especially that the room looks like an umbrella. Not a bad attempt.

      White Raven

    • Hey, that’s not a bad 1-left/2-right, to go along with the sign/S, bowl/pin/pole, uh, what else, did we say anything else? Oh, umbrella/parasol/Punch the Hunch.

    • Yep those probably prompted me.

      I really don’t want to know more about Gothic vaults…

      The bulb could sit in the middle of a 8 faced clock. Down is where electric runs. That would be E = 5. Time here is GB. Not much help.

      Masonry is not the same on every wall. Different number of bricks going up. Not much help.

  5. Punch wears a masons hat. Secret? Not here. I think it is to connect to literal stone work – vaults.

  6. Main point of 8 , I think:

    Many of the items in this room are jumbled together, so rather that proceed in some manner structured by the proximity of objects, let’s just list important concepts found in the room and the support for them.
    BOWLING is suggested first by the bowling pin. Also two bowls are mentioned in the text and one is pictured. By subtracting the “S” on the wall from “SiGN” we have “iNG” and we can make “bowling” from “bowl”. The crashing echoing sound can be a bowling alley sound. We have lightning in this room as well and an expression is that “thunder is the angles bowling in heaven”. “Candle pin” bowling exists. (thanks podcast 4) We can get some bowling related terms too. As the 2nd umbrella on the path, it may be a “spare”. The 2nd bowl may be “split”. (both thanks podcast 4) And we have a number of references to “strike” below.
    LIGHTNING: We have a “chamber” which can be a lightning chamber. We have the crashing sounds, which can be thunder. We have a very obvious electrical wire from the switch to the bulb. We have both the candle and the bulb for “light” and again “ing” from the sign. (Maybe “in” from pin and sign together). The vaulted ceiling connects to gothic cathedrals and again brings us to the idea of angles bowling. Strike is found here in a number of ways and of course there are “lightning strikes”. We should “obviously” bring the umbrella because of impending rain.
    “TILT”: The room is clearly tilted. All the objects are as well. The smile is “crooked” which can mean tilted. Also “tilt” can mean (per OED) to strike with a weapon, so again we have a connection to all the various “strikes” in the room.
    STRIKE : As Abyssians have noted the figure on the paper is “punch”. A stethoscope gives you a “heartbeat”. Put those two together and you have “beat” which can also be “strike”. Bowling of course gives us “strikes” as well. “Lightning” gives us strikes. “Tilt” also can be “strike”.
    GROUND: We have a “vote” in the text which can be a “poll” (Abyssians noticed a vote is a poll) and we also have a “pole” which in this context could be a lightning rod or ground. A “lightning chamber” would also “ground” electrical discharge, and the “ground” here is tipped.
    GOTHIC VAULTS: We have the vaulted ceiling itself. We have the hunchback which can make us think of Notre Dame. There in particular 12 was used as a perfect number in construction. (12 tribes, 12 apostles), etc… Sometimes in gothic architecture the 12 signs of the zodiac would be depicted. The bare bulb could represent the sun. And the “SiGN” could make us think zodiac as well.
    PERFECTION: 12 strikes is a perfect game of bowling. 12 is a perfect number in gothic construction.
    So then room solutions: First we have two indications that 12 is a perfect number. Secondly we have heard two strikes (the “crashes” of the bowls (or “strikes”)), and a strike is a “tilt”. And the room is tipped about 24 degrees, 12 degrees for each strike, and 12 is the correct exit. (Actually I measure anywhere from 24 to 26 degrees). Also, the tip of the Earth’s axis is 23.44 degrees, so this might be another hint that the answer to the puzzle is “The World”. The unlabeled room, which if we are on the correct path we just came from, is room 23, BTW. The barber “pole” might start us thinking about the North Pole and the tip of the earth. Also the “sign” if we hear it as “sin” might start us thinking about measuring angles. Maybe with the “perfection” indicators mentioned we should think that the perfection of heaven and earth should be connected as was a goal of gothic construction.

  7. “tilt” according to OED can mean “strike” (with a weapon) as in “tilting” at windmills (And you all thought Don Quixote was a joke).

  8. Sign goes with mosaic too

    Strike one
    Strike two (is bowl in 2 pieces?)
    You’re out

    Perfection on earth should mirror the heavens.
    Is that the connection to tipping and deaths axis?

  9. The bare bulb may be Sun moving through zodiac. Huncback and cathedral say notre dame. It uses the number 12 in construction to represent perfection. Zodiac 12 tribes 12 apostles etc. 12 strikes is perfect game of bowling. So we have two separate contexts in which 12 is perfection.

  10. Someone may have to go learn about symbolism in gothic vaults. All I got was they can show the zodiac amoung other things.

    Also did any one else’s grandma say thunder was just the angels bowling??

  11. if you don’t want to watch me being verbose on the podcast, here are main points:

    * bowl and bowling pin only items that lean towards the right to the only door on that side
    * the first paragraph could be a metaphor for throwing a bowling ball down a bowling alley and hitting the pins, making a crashing sound
    * strikes are X and spares are / on a bowling score sheet. breaking a strike in two is a “split”, perhaps a synonym for ‘broke’
    * XII could appear depending how you interpret the second paragraph–namely if you consider another ‘spare’ as what the guide’s telling them to take.
    * the spare/second umbrella/parasol is pointing toward 12
    * there is such a thing as candlepin bowling
    * on the SiGN, you can take the letters and create ‘bowling pins’. the ‘i’ is small because it’s not the first letter of a word.
    * the bumbershoot handle is shaped like an L, the 12th letter of the alphabet

    • Lots of Bs: bowling pin, bowl, barber pole, bumbershoot (is any else getting real tired of trying to say “bumbershoot” with a straight face?), bulb (as denoted in the text)

      Ss: smile, sign (“SiGN”), S (on paper), stethoscope, switch, potentially “slope” or “slant” (but just as easily “tilt” or “incline”).

      In noticing that the bowl and bowling pin lean right, notice also that this fact is somewhat obscured by the tilt of the room, which makes the bowling pin appear to still be leaning left. This obfuscation suggests to me that this observation is on the right track.

      In deciding how much you care about that L on the umbrella handle, remember (as noted somewhere else on this site, god knows where) that every umbrella in the book has a different handle, suggesting that Manson’s depiction of umbrella parts is not completely arbitrary.

      If the focus on B prompts us to alphanumerically code it (and who knows), then the phrase “single bulb” in the text may be suggesting 12 (single = 1; B = 2).

      My numeral parts “solution” (hardly complete enough to justify use of the term without quotes) suggested looking at noted things as parts of the numerals 1 and 2. The vaulted ceilings, the bowl, potentially the parasol and the jester’s hunchback all suggest the curved top of the numeral 2; various slanted objects, the stripes on the barber pole, potentially the slant of the room itself, suggesting the slanting line connecting the curved top of the 2 to the flat base; various straight objects, but notably the repeated concept of pole (barber pole, “taking a vote among themselves” –> poll, perhaps the suggested by “vaulted” ceilings) constitute straight lines, maybe the 1 or the bottom of the 2–notably, the “SiGN” sign, although apparently arrow, is partway out of frame, such that only half of it features a visible protrusion, making it resemble a 1. (Take a look; if it were labelled “ONE” instead of “SiGN” it might be easier to imagine, although the “1″ is backwards anyway, so feel free to not be compelled. I suspect the “i” is not capital so that it would not, in itself, constitute a 1 to be used in the room.)

      I suggested the stethoscope is telling us to pay attention to the sound of the word indicated by the hunchback, and suggested that this word is “stroll,” important because it rhymes with “bowl” and “pole,” which seem to be key objects in this solution. No one really cared for that, and it’s clearly true that any number of synonyms for “walk” could be indicated by the hunchback’s movement; I think the clue only works backwards, indicating that poles and bowls are indeed central here, but the greater weight of opinion holds that the clue doesn’t work at all.

      I liked the fact that “slope” is an anagram of “poles,” but it does me no good.

      No one has put the S recurrences to any use, or done anything with the smile. In block letters (including elsewhere in this book), S can look the same as 5 and, when mirror-imaged, 2, but it seems like if Manson were going for that, he would have just used some Zs. Maybe the prominent SWITCH is there to suggest changing the direction of things, but I think it more likely that this is the wrong track.

  12. Maze podcast #4 exists; link to follow. This week it’s all about Room 8, so I figured I’d mention it here.

    Alex presents a proposed solution involving some connections to the sport of bowling, and I propose one involving reconstructing the shapes of the numerals in 12 with the various objects in the room. Some minor, unrelated clues are suggested as well.

    We didn’t exactly crack the case, but hopefully something will inspire someone.

  13. Not much time… Had an idea.. Please elaborate:
    Vote among themselves… Letters in common= vte
    Hidden E in the table= vtee
    Break a bowl= wl
    wl + vtee= twelve

    • The WL from the broken BOWL, that’s appealing, the E from the table, that’s there…

      Taking VTE from VOTE because they’re in THEMSELVES, I don’t like that.

      From the text, we have both that they took a vote, and the Guide’s suggestion that they take “that” with them.

      If the puzzle involved taking the first letter of objects, I’d be more comfortable taking a V from vote, but even that seems a leap under these circumstances. And maybe a T from “that.” Then, uh, a second E from the table…

    • I dig what you’re saying. I think if you’re going to take anything from vote, it has to be from themselves. Otherwise the text would just say, “taking a vote”

    • Just to be clear, it’s the Taking and the Among that make the “Taking a vote among themselves..” noteworthy.
      Note the other taking: “Make sure you take that with you…” Follows the purposeful breaking of the second bowl. What is obvious that they take is the WL.

    • Oh, good call on “that” meaning the broken bowl. Perhaps the two breaks refer to breaking off the B and the O, or perhaps the W and the L.

      So, we have a lot of objects here in the room doing nothing. What do we do with the hunchback and the stethoscope? Seems like we should either get a letter there, or that should be an instruction on getting letters. The stethoscope is suggestive that we should be listening, maybe listening to sounds in the interior of words? But that hunchback/jester/fool/Mr. Punch, what do we do with that, man? Boy, I don’t know. Sorry, I’m sinking back into Room 8 despair.

    • Well, and notice there’s only one bowl showing and it’s whole. It’s not broken at all. The text never says the dropped bowl broke.
      Also, you don’t see the shards of a broken bowl. I take that to mean it got taken.

      I was realizing while I was supposed to be doing something else that I didn’t really use the visual part of the room much at all.
      I have nothing for you about all those objects right now.

  14. Let’s just get right to the room solution here. As Abyssians have noted the figure on the paper is “punch”. A stethoscope gives you a “heartbeat”. Put those two together and you have “beat”.
    The table is shaped like an “E” (also from Abyssians) and we have a bowl. Together we have “bowl-ee” = “bowling” (with a little help suggested by the pin).
    Put “bowling” together with ‘beat” and you have “strike”. Bowling => strike => beat.
    At this point we can note that 12 strikes in bowling is a perfect game and 12 is the correct exit.
    The Pin and the SiNG with the small “i” gives you “in”.
    The bare bulb and the candle give you “light”
    “Light” + “in” = “Light’in” = “lightning”.
    The group takes a “vote” and there is a barber “pole” this yields “pole”.
    Lightning and pole is a lightning rod.
    There we have the Vaulted “chamber” and we have the noise whispering down the hallway. This is a “lightning chamber” and it makes the strikes go around us.
    The cage and the lightning rod together give us “ground”.
    That smile is “crooked” and the table and other items are “tipped”, together we have the idea of “tipped”.
    So it seems “lightning strikes” cause the “ground” to “tip”. And there were two “strikes” (the “crashes” of the bowls (or “strikes”)). And the room is tipped about 24 degrees, 12 degrees for each strike, and 12 is the correct exit. (Actually I measure anywhere from 24 to 26 degrees).
    Also, the tip of the Earth’s axis is 23.44 degrees, so this might be another hint that the answer to the puzzle is “The World”. The unlabeled room, which if we are on the correct path we just came from, is room 23, BTW. The barber “pole” might start us thinking about the North Pole and the tip of the earth. Also the “sign” if we hear it as “sin” might start us thinking about measuring angles.
    I don’t think this is intended, but I like it: We can also spell TWELVE from the clues as follows – We need TABLE, BOWL and then a “broken BOWL”. Break the loops off the B to make another E, and break the W into two Vs.
    The umbrella is what we are supposed to take with us. It is a red herring for the guide and guides are useful (see prologue). And here is mostly gets in the way, since it is not part of the puzzles. But it is obvious we should take it with as the text tells us because of the lightning strikes. Interestingly this is also about the same time as the rain storm outside The time is “GC” here MAZE time and it is 6 pm outside time.

  15. “Taking a vote amongst themselves…”

    Is this a reference to taking a poll–>taking a pole? Is the barber pole the item they should take? Not close to solving anything here, just noting the poll/pole thing.

  16. The upper table legs form an “E”, in a distinctly more convincing fashion than the lower legs do (which is why I think it is an E and not just some table legs).

    The stethoscope is reminiscent of the snakes from room 21 (though this is a bit weak of a link).

    The ‘i’ in “SiGN” is the only Lowercase letter on the sign.

    • Si is the symbol for Silicon which has an atomic number of 14.

      Punch is a hunchback- another portmanteau.

      The bowl that someone knocked off the table didn’t break.

    • Good observations. Has anyone noted that portmanteau is coat rack is French?

    • I guess it does seem much more likely that Manson devised a clue that called for a hunchback, and then depicted a famous hunch-backed fictional character; than that Manson devised a clue that required depicting Mr. Punch, and then decided to make him a human instead of a puppet. Maybe “hunchback” is all we should be reading here.

    • I don’t know. I wouldn’t rule out Punch since it’s been demonstrated that exterior references are fair game. Since there is a portmanteau pattern, however, I thought I’d bring that up.

    • Anchorperson Smith,

      Congratulations on noticing the “E”!

      White Raven

  17. Is that a non-puppet version of Mr. Punch by the stethoscope? He has the clothes, the hunchback, the nose-chin formation; but he has a parasol instead of a beating stick. And he’s not a puppet. But look at him! He’s Punch!

  18. There is a discussion of room 8 going on, so I’ll put what I have here. This is a room I am not 100% happy with. I think I have part of it only.

    This room is tipped! And it is the only one. Might it be tipped by 29 or 30 degrees? No, I get anywhere between 24 and 26 when I measure. But the *two* bowls are tipped off the table. I think this is supposed to mean the room was tipped twice, and the correct exit is door #12, half of 24.

    Also, the tip of the Earth’s axis is 23.44 degrees, so this might be another hint that the answer to the puzzle is “The World”. The unlabeled room, which if we are on the correct path we just came from, is room 23, BTW. The barber “pole” might start us thinking about the North Pole and the tip of the earth. Also the “sign” if we hear it as “sin” might start us thinking about measuring angles.

    We can also spell TWELVE from the clues as follows – We need TABLE, BOWL and then a “broken BOWL”. Break the loops off the B to make another E, and break the W into two Vs. One of the two bowls might be the bowling pin, and the echoing crash of the first one might make us think of a bowling alley. This may be a stretch but 12 strikes make a perfect game of bowling.

    It also is not exactly clear what “another” is referring to. It could mean another table. Then if we note the table has 6 legs, then that would be twelve total legs.

    The umbrella is most likely what we are supposed to take with (see the prologue). We take it with because “guides” are useful.

    The “S” is one of the letters we need to spell “SHOULDERS”, or with “SHOULDER” from the text of the previous room, it is the last letter we need.

    The candle stick might be a clue to look at the candles in room 29 which is connected to this room.

    The smile on the wall might just re-enforce the idea that we have a usable “S” here, although this is less than completely satisfactory.

    We also have a “Christopher here. “Stethoscope” and “corridor” give us the needed letters, except for an “H” and the man is wearing a “Hat”. And here again I think we have a very good example of a “Christopher”. If not “Christopher”, why a stethoscope?

    But – I’m sure there is more here, and the above is not perfect.

  19. Note that the room is distinctly tilted left like a funhouse room (all of the objects have fallen that way and the S sign hangs that way, as well. 12 is the only doorway on the right side of the room.

    Stethoscope is echoed in room 21.

    The fool is echoed in rooms 16 and 39- his hat is akin to some of the Maze’s human denizens- see 26.

    What do y’all make of the face above the unlabeled door?

    • And room 21 has the topiary 8s! That’s, uh….That doesn’t help.

  20. I just picked the book up the other day. Taking a stab at this room too.

    There seems to be a “doubling” theme going on here. The “echo” mentioned in the text set me on this path. The items all either are compound nouns or portmanteaus (barber pole, bowling pin, candlestick, light bulb, light switch, stethoscope) or are doubled (a sign with “sign” printed on it, two umbrellas).

    The umbrella could alternately be “bumbershoot”, which is a portmanteau.

    Three things don’t fit:
    1) the fool or clown (no idea here)
    2) bowl – the image shows only one, but a second was broken in the text.
    3) the table

    The table has 6 legs. If we double the table like everything else, we get 12 legs. I just cant fit the clown in with this line of thinking.

  21. Of course it’s not “obvious” which item the host means, the one which the visitors can never tell when they might need. One option is the candlestick, with the very dark room #6 nearby; the most conspicuous is surely the umbrella, given the recurring rain & bumbershoot theme; and, perhaps, the soundest is the letter “S” on the wall, which the reader really does need to “take with” him/herself to solve the riddle. My best interpretation of the drawing on the floor — and it’s not great — is that only a fool would pick the umbrella, and you should be looking elsewhere in the room; the stethoscope may point to “S” purely by virtue of beginning with that letter, although there’s also a notably S-shaped bend in the cable.

  22. Room 8 Solution: Partial
    Tenth room of the path – The letter to take from this room is “S.”

    The correct door is 12. We don’t know why.

    Unsolved: Everything besides the “S.”


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