By Wesley Graybill and Nicholas Georgiou
Answer: NICK OF TIME
La Sala de Puerto Rico, Friday 2200 hours

When faced with a stressful situation, you’ve got to know how to think fast as the clock counts down. Send two recruits who don’t hesitate when faced with a serious conundrum.

When teams arrived at La Sala de Puerto Rico, they were given the following puzzle sheets:

This is a puzzle version of the British game show Countdown. In Countdown, there are two types of round: “letters” rounds and “numbers” rounds. In letters rounds, contestants are shown 9 letters and try to make the longest word possible wtih the given letters. In numbers rounds, contestants are shown 6 numbers and are instructed to use arithmetic operations (+, −, ×, ÷) to use these 6 numbers to get as close as possible to a target number. There is also a final “conundrum” round where playesr are presented with a 9-letter anagram that they race to finish first.

In this puzzle, there are far more rounds than usual, and all rounds have unique answers:

Letters Rounds

Letter bank Best word
GEAMRNAPS MANAGERS
SISXUNESE SEXINESS
MRYEGUOMH MEMORY
BTOVARFSE BOATERS
TCEFSIREI CERTIFIES
DORCUPTSE PRODUCES
DUEHKGSIH HUSHED
LTCLAIGCE CALCITE
LJCAOREBY CAJOLERY

Numbers Rounds

Number bank Arithmetic Target Number Leftover number
50 8 3 4 1 10 ((50 − 3) × (10 + 8)) − 1 845 4
5 2 4 10 3 8 ((10 × 8) + 3) × (5 + 4) 747 2
25 1 8 10 5 6 (((8 × 5) + 25) × 10) + 1 651 6
100 25 75 50 7 9 (100 + ((75 + 50) ÷ 25)) × 7 735 9
75 4 1 8 6 7 ((75 + 6) × (8 + 1)) - 7 722 4
50 100 25 1 9 6 (50 + 1) × (9 + (100 ÷ 25)) 633 6
25 100 1 8 7 6 ((25 + 6) × (8 + 1)) + 100 379 7
75 2 10 1 8 3 ((75 + 8) × (10 + 2)) + 1 997 3
1 9 3 5 7 2 ((7 × 6) + 1) × (9 + 2) 473 3
75 25 100 50 2 8 (50 × 8) - ((100 + 75) ÷ 25) 393 2

For the conundrum rounds, each of the given conundrums has multiple answers. (For instance, CRIMITOES could be EROTICISM or ISOMETRIC.) The correct answer is a synonym of one of the letter rounds answers. The corresponding number round digit can be used as an index into the correct conundrum to get the final answer, `NICK OF TIME`.

Original Letter Rounds Synonym Correct Conundrum Number Rounds Digit Letter
TENDESAUR WANDERED SAUNTERED 4 `N`
STIRCORDE MANAGERS DIRECTORS 2 `I`
CRIMITOES SEXINESS EROTICISM 6 `C`
HACKFLABS MEMORY FLASHBACK 9 `K`
NOSECATIS BOATERS CANOEISTS 4 `O`
STIFETISE CERTIFIES TESTIFIES 6 `F`
TREEGEANS PRODUCES GENERATES 7 `T`
ISOSLEENS HUSHED NOISELESS 3 `I`
LENTOMISE CALCITE LIMESTONE 3 `M`
CUITONDES CAJOLERY SEDUCTION 2 `E`