Magister Ludi (3): Cardinals & Capitals

By: Patrick Cates
April 5, 2010

Every few years at my nerdy prep school, a sheet of brainteasers, blurred and blotchy after repeated photocopying, would circulate around the playground. It was a time long before Scrabulous, Scramble and other online lexical diversions. We were comparatively starved back then. And so, when a shoddy list of cryptograms appeared, demanding a solution without any offer of a reward, we jumped in cerebrum-first, even though we’d solved exactly the same list at least once before.

The sheet contained fifty combinations of numbers, letters and connectives that needed to be deciphered to yield famous numerical relationships. For example, “The 7 W of the W” was shorthand for “The 7 Wonders of the World”; “The 12 D of C” stood for “The 12 Days of Christmas”;  and “9 P in the S S” was expanded to “9 planets in the Solar System” (Pluto was still an undetected gatecrasher at the planetary party).

There were tougher ones, too: “108 E in the PT” (“108 elements in the periodic table” — this was an age that knew nothing of meitnerium and darmstadtium, let alone unonoctium); “13 P in a R L T” (“13 players in a rugby league team”); and “4 B in a P” (“4 bushels in a peck”).


This week’s challenge is a list of 30 parsimonious posers along the lines of those I puzzled over as a lad. Each poser conceals a cultural product or producer. Your job, as Lusor Ludi, is to identify as many of the 30 as you can.

The rubric:

  1. Each answer will be one of the following: a musical artist, an album, a song, a film, a play or a book (fiction or non-fiction).
  2. There may be more than one possible correct answer for each poser.
  3. Numbers are represented numerically in each poser, regardless of how they are represented in the answer. For example, in accordance with this rule, “G in 60 S” could be decoded as “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “The S of 4” could yield “The Sign of Four”.
  4. The Lusor Ludi who correctly solves the most posers will be crowned Victor Ludi.
  5. The Victor Ludi will win a t-shirt and a copy of The Idler’s Glossary (signed and personally dedicated by co-author and editor, Joshua Glenn).
  6. In the event that there is a tie for first place, a tie-breaking question will be set and posted soon after the competition closes. The winner of this tie-breaker will be crowned Victor Ludi.
  7. Lusores Ludi should email their answers to me by 9PM EST on Sunday 11 April.

The list:

  1. A 1 B the D
  2. 1 A 909
  3. The 2 G of V
  4. A T of 2 C
  5. 2 F 2 F
  6. 2 M to M
  7. F V and the 4 S
  8. S 5
  9. 6 D 7 N
  10. 7 and the RT
  11. The M 7
  12. S W and the 7 D
  13. 8 D a W
  14. P 9 from O S
  15. The 12 C
  16. 12 M
  17. A on P 13
  18. 21st C S M
  19. 24 H P P
  20. 28 D L
  21. 30 O F of G
  22. The C of L 49
  23. 50 W to L Y L
  24. H 61 R
  25. A the W in 80 D
  26. 84 C C R
  27. 100 M and R
  28. The 120 D of S
  29. The T of P 123
  30. D 1963 (O, W a N)