SPLITS AND MERGERS

by Thomas Snyder and Dan Katz

Solution: HALF-MARATHON

This puzzle consists of 42 colored maze pieces that must be reassembled into a 6 x 7 rectangle by matching the colors on their sides. Solvers then must trace three paths - a red, blue, and yellow path - through the maze. As hinted in the flavor-text, each individual path is a valid maze path and does not cross itself. However, the three paths must overlap at various points to pass through the different colored exits on the tiles (for example, to pass through an orange exit, BOTH the red and yellow path must pass through the exit).

As there are 6 identical pairs of colored tiles (3 pairs on the borders, 3 pairs on the inside) that vary only in their available maze paths, there are actually 64 valid configurations of the pieces based on color, but only 1 configuration that yields a solvable maze for all three paths. Careful consideration of forced paths based on "merged" colors and dead-ends contained on some of the tiles will resolve the maze. The final grid will be arranged as follows.

The paths through the maze are shown below:

The puzzle also contains a set of numbers and operations mapped onto the same grid as the maze. Orienting by the colored numbers in the upper-left corner and then tracing out the solved maze paths in the indicated ABC order will give the following:

A = Yellow: 347366-3523+4134622+3185344+347397 = 8011206 = HALF

B = Blue: 27924+6+16324757+5421-3988523+642216 = 13011801 = MARA

C = Red: 19765234+676649-3154826+3289675-343-495342+467 = 20081514 = THON

or, the result of splitting a very long race in two, a HALF-MARATHON.