The Fool and His Money: Anagrams

By far the most frequent thing I have to do in solving The Fool and His Money is unscramble words.

Sometimes there are tricks to make it more tricky, like when there’s extra letters for some reason. There’s a whole set of puzzles where you unscramble seven-letter words that cross each other in various ways. In most of them, you unscramble entire words in a fixed order, so that completing one word gives you a fixed letter for the next, which helps you. But in a few of them, the subset of letters you’re given to unscramble also includes one letter in a crossing word, which means you have to figure out which letter isn’t really part of the word you’re unscrambling. In some others from the same set, the crossings are treated as gaps in your letter set, so that you have to guess which letter in the crossing word you need.

But most of the anagrams are simply anagrams. And it’s a peculiar thing. I thought I was pretty good at anagrams, on the basis of my facility with them in cryptic crosswords, where I can usually just look at the letters and have an anagram pop out at me. But apparently it helps a lot to have the rest of the clue giving you the approximate meaning of the word you’re looking for. The anagrams in TFahM generally come with no useful context at all. I actually have to push the letters around some before I notice a sequence that sparks the crucial realization. I wind up trying to use as many letters as I can in common patterns, like “the H probably comes after the C or the T” or “The letters N, O, T, and I could make a TION at the end”, but the result is most often something that looks wordish without quite being a word, like CUDMORE or FARMSHINE. I find these amusing at the time.

The weirdest part is that I can wrestle with an anagram to no avail, then come back to it the next day and see the answer immediately. Recognizing this, I’ve been building it into my plans. If I can’t see an anagram with a very small amount of effort, I switch to a different one. There are still enough left that I can get several per session this way.

1 Comment so far

  1. Merus on 19 Aug 2016

    TFaHM’s over-reliance on anagrams was, for me, one of its big weaknesses. While I recognise they’re a useful kind of puzzle for building meta-puzzles, because it’s otherwise very difficult to build a meta-puzzle that actually needs ALL the clues to solve instead of needing MOST of them, it kind of grates when a game ostensible about all kinds of puzzles boils down to one kind of puzzle over and over again.

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