Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Corrupted by the likes of Ken Jennings and Shakespeare Teacher, I discovered the puzzle called Pic-Tac-Toe. Originated in Games magazine many moons ago (and later discontinued), the idea is to compile a series of 9 pictures in a 3x3 grid so that each row, column, and diagonal holds a distinct theme.

Hard as it was solving them, creating one is even harder. Here's my virgin effort. Can you figure out all 8 themes (3 rows, 3 columns, 2 diagonals)? Leave your guesses in the comments. Good luck!

(Click the image to enlarge. Some themes are easier than others.)

SOLVED! Bow down to a pair of dominant players, who figured out the whole thing in half a day. Credit (but not answers) given below. Avoid the comments if you want the puzzle to remain unspoiled and try it yourself.

Top row: solved by Bill of Shakespeare Teacher
Middle row: solved by K-Lyn of And She Was...
Bottom row: solved by Bill

Left column: solved by K-Lyn
Middle column: solved by K-Lyn
Right column: solved by K-Lyn

159(\) diagonal: solved first by K-Lyn (by 4 minutes!)
357(/) diagonal: solved by Bill


K-Lyn said...


first stab:

Left column: Jewish
Middle column: Art (or frames)
Right column: Girls (Mean, California, Gilmore)

Top row: ?
Middle row: David (Star of, Schwimmer, Lee Roth)
Bottom row: Couples

159 diagonal: ?
357 diagonal: ?

Neel Mehta said...

Thanks for playing, K-Lyn.

Your columns and middle row are correct. I'm going for something a little more specific on the bottom row.

Bill said...


This is a really good one!

Top Row: WEINERS (Hot dogs, Weiner dogs, Gretchen Weiners)

Bottom Row: HUG (Jacob & Rachel, Klimt painting "Hug", Couple embracing)

357 Diagonal: RACHEL (McAdams, Green, Biblical)

159 Diagonal: ??? I have to admit I'm stumped on this one for now. More later if I can crack it.

Bill said...

Okay, this is a bit of a stretch, but...

159 Diagonal: CALIFORNIA SPORTS VENUES (Frank Youell Field, Cox Arena, Gilmore Field)

K-Lyn said...

ack! He beat me to Weiners...

Neel Mehta said...

K-Lyn: Too little, too late. If it helps, you got beat by Bill, the Shakespeare Teacher.

Bill: Correct on the top row, bottom row, and 357 diagonal. (Technically, the Klimt painting and bottom row theme is EMBRACE.)

Yes, the 159 diagonal is the true stumper, but you're going about it the right way. Even though the answer has nothing to do with California Sports Venues.

I'll provide a hint if the task proves insurmountable.

K-Lyn said...

Oh please tell me I got it!

The Rat Pack! Frank, Joey, Dean!

If that isn't it, it should be and I declare victory anyway.

Bill said...

RAT PACK MEMBERS (Frank, Joey, Dean)

Bill said...

ARGH! You beat me to it, K-Lyn! Nicely done.

K-Lyn said...

Well played...Well played!

Absent-minded Secretary said...

This was great. I laughed so hard when I saw the weiners/wieners top row.

Neel Mehta said...

AMS: Thank you. Welcome to the Dollhouse aside, Wieners are always funny in their various forms.

K-Lyn (and Bill 4 minutes later): Well done! I thought that would take longer.

For the record...

Top row: WIENERS (Hebrew National brand wieners, wiener dogs, Lacey Chabert's character Gretchen Wieners)

Middle row: DAVID (Star of David, actor David Schwimmer, David Lee Roth)

Bottom row: EMBRACE (between Rachel/Jacob, subjects in a Klimt painting, Rory/Dean)

Left column: HEBREW or JUDAISM (Hebrew National, Star of David, Rachel and Jacob in the Bible)

Middle column: ART (Wiener Dog Art, Friends in a frame, Klimt painting)

Right column: 'GIRLS' IN THE TITLE (Mean Girls, "California Girls," Gilmore Girls)

159 diagonal: RAT PACK (Frank, Matt LeBlanc's character Joey, Jared Padalecki's character Dean)

357 diagonal: RACHEL (actress Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Aniston's character Rachel Green, Rachel from the Bible)

Bill said...

Now that I know the answers, let me say that this was an extremely well constructed puzzle. Having done four of these already, I know how hard it is to fit all eight themes together, and you did it seamlessly. I can only imagine how long this took you.

And I want to say I'm not at all bitter about losing to K-Lyn by four minutes. Just by playing, everybody is a weiner.

Neel Mehta said...

Thanks, Bill. Not quite the level of sausages or laws, but constructing one of these is an ugly process. I played around with Hebrew National as the center square, then Mean Girls, before trying Friends.

Insomnia last night helped a lot.

I've just finished composing my second puzzle, but I may hold off on posting it for a while. I just don't think I can churn these out on a weekly basis, even with the grand gift of Google Images.

Mike said...

I am awed. Great puzzle. Quick answers. My cultural awareness is lacking. I just looked at every row and column and thought "Jews!"

K-Lyn said...

RIP Joey! You will be missed.

Neel Mehta said...

Joey Bishop and Deborah Kerr on the same day? Somewhere, Abe Vigoda is again getting his papers in order.

Kuledood11 said...

I love it. I was looking around for these Pic-Tac-Toe puzzles, but I could not find any besides this one. Any suggestions to where some more might be?