13 June 2009

Predictive Puzzling

In today's Grauniad, Chris Maslanka's pyrgic puzzle numero uno is:

1. They say it pays to advertise. Supercaff chain of coffee shops have an advert running which says: "9 out of 10 coffee-lovers prefer Supercaff." What's wrong with that?

Of course, I already answered a very similar question at great length several months ago in response to the latest ad campaign from my favourite mediocre chain of coffee shops. Given that it's rare for me to solve any of these puzzles, though (not least because if I can't work out the answer within about 30 seconds, I usually get bored and give up), I'm pretty impressed with my prophetic puzzle-solving.

I probably shouldn't rest on my laurels for too long, though, as I still haven't really worked out what--if anything--pyrgic means. It isn't in the OED; but the closest entry is pyrgocephalic, from the noun pyrgocephaly, which means, "The condition of having a skull that is abnormally high (and often pointed); oxycephaly." Further digging into the etymology (oh, how I love to have access to the OED again, via my library membership card) suggests pyrgic might come from the ancient Greek word for tower, πυgος (the Greek characters may not render correctly but the Greek word that is spelled approximately in this way). In other words, these are towering or lofty puzzles. I have to say that uncovering the etymology of the word pyrgic was more interesting for me personally than most of the puzzles--and I might have done even that wrong.

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