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Holmes Intriguing Hint

Posted By: Nack Ballard
Date: Sunday, 20 December 2015, at 9:42 p.m.

In Response To: Sherlock Holmes Puzzle (Nack Ballard)

 White is Player 2 score: 0 pip: 149 Unlimited GameJacoby Beaver pip: 152 score: 0 Blue is Player 1
XGID=-a-Ba-D-C---dD---c-d--AbA-:0:0:1:00:0:0:3:0:10

Reach this position after FOUR rolls

From the opening position, the above position was reached with perfect play (according to XGR++ evaluation) after four rolls; i.e., with both players having moved twice.

Which player moved first (Blue or White), and what was the roll sequence?

Dr. Watson, the solution still evading him a couple of hours into working on this puzzle, asked Sherlock Holmes for a hint. After scribbling on a scrap of paper for a few minutes with pens of different-colors, Holmes produced the chart below:

11 22 33 44 55 66 21 31 41 51 61 32 42 52 62 43 53 63 54 64 65
AL AN AR ES IC OS DA LO MO MU NE NI PE PY RE RI SE SO TA TO TY

"Watson, this cipher key contains the eight-letter name of the person who created the puzzle. Retro-solving the roll sequence of the position will give you his or her name. Conversely, if you can find or guess the name, the cipher key will give you the roll sequence."

Watson's eyes darted back and forth, searching for names of people familiar to him. Hmm, Alan Alda (AL-AN-AL-DA)... nah, he's just a movie actor, and anyway a game cannot begin with double 1s.

Watson remembered that he has an Aunt PE-NE-LO-PE who plays backgammon. That's a roll sequence of 42-61-31-42. That makes the 4pt and 5pt for one player, and the 7pt and 4pt for the other player. Nope, that doesn't match the position.

Ah, Sir Datalore from the chess club, who loves logic puzzles; perhaps he plays backgammon as well. DA-TA-LO-RE translates to a roll sequence of 21-54-31-62. Well, nice try but that's not enough pips for the first player -- it can't work.

Suddenly, the answer hit Watson like a thunderbolt. Sure enough, the name was there in the cipher key, and when he translated the name to the roll sequence it produced the puzzle position.

What is the (eight-letter) name of the person who created the position, and what is the (four-roll) sequence?

For a final hint, reread carefully the first paragraph of the original post (though this is unlikely to help if you have never read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books nor seen any Holmes-related shows).

Nack

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