Dickens Book Club
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The Charles Dickens Christmas Book Club

Every Christmas, eight married couples make a point to meet to enjoy the season.  Each year they pick a topic and exchange a book based on the topic. 

This year the Book Club chose Charles Dickens.   Each couple purchased a famous Dickens Book ahead of time.  At the party, they drew a name from a hat to see which couple would receive their gift book.

Please note that not only does each couple share the same last name, each couple also has the same type of employment.  In addition, each couple shares a favorite hobby as well as a favorite color.   These are obviously the best matched couples of all time!

After a review of the facts, match up the eight husbands and eight wives to their last name.  In the process, identify their style of employment, their favorite hobby, and their color preference. 

In addition, try to identify which Dickens Book each couple gave as a present and to which book they received in return. 

This is a great puzzle, but it is also a toughie.  Don't try it unless you want a challenge.


Dickens Book Club List:

1. Elizabeth Darby and her husband work as Researchers.

2. The book Hard Times was purchased by a couple who like to play chess and love the color orange.

3. Mike and his wife Susan like the color crimson.

4. Gary Torres and his wife Harriet like the color ivory.

5. Janet Keeler and her husband work as Editors and they like to work jigsaw puzzles.

6. David and his wife Ann were given the book David Copperfield.

7. Thomas and his wife like the color purple and purchased the book Tale of Two Cities.

8. Teresa and her husband Richard work as Writers.

9. The Christmas Carol was given to the couple who like to solve crossword puzzles.

10. The Faget couple work as Surgeons and purchased the book Little Dorrit.

11. Mr. and Mrs. Arevalo are both Policemen who received the book Great Expectations.

12. Bobby and his wife like the color jade.

13. Gwen Easton and her husband like the color indigo.

14. Danny and his wife bought the book Great Expectations and they play volleyball in their spare time.

15. One couple purchased the book Pickwick Papers and received the book Tale of Two Cities.

16. The couple who solve Sudoku puzzles also love the color lavender.

17. The College Professors were given the book Pickwick Papers as their present.

18. The couple who work as Programmers like to solve logic puzzles.

19. Anita and her husband are master bridge players who purchased the book David Copperfield.

20. Anita and her husband received the book that Mr. and Mrs. Archer bought.

21. Anthony and his wife like the color sky blue and were given the book Oliver Twist.

22. Mr. and Mrs. Leung work as High School Teachers.

23. Oliver Twist was purchased by a couple who play poker.

Can you find out everything about everyone from these clues?  If so, you are one bright puzzle solver!!

To check your answers, email them to Rick Archer at dance@ssqq.com      Good luck! 


So what does Rick have to say about the Dickens Book Club Puzzle?

Written by Rick Archer
December 2009

This was an extremely tough puzzle for me!!   In fact, it gave me more trouble than any puzzle I have ever worked before.  That said, now that I rewrote a clue or two, it should be easier for everyone else to solve.  I got rid of the ambiguity.

Early in December 2009, a gentleman from Egypt named Ahmed ran across my other "Dickens Puzzle" on the Internet.  Since English is not his native language, he asked me to interpret one of the clues.  Whatever I said must have helped because a day later the correct answer showed up in my email box.

Ahmed was reminded of a puzzle he had worked, so he sent me the Book Club puzzle above that gave me so much trouble.  I definitely didn't do very well!  

I think the puzzle scared the Dickens out of me!

In an odd twist of fate (Charles Dickens would have been proud!) I was so stuck I had to ask Ahmed for interpretation on his clues.

From: ahmed
Sent: Saturday, December 05, 2009 1:58 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: From Ahmed

Dear Rick,

Good luck with the Book Club Puzzle, I know you will do it.

Today, I started with your puzzle private lessons, I liked it!  And I learned about the kinds of dances you must teach.

my best regards, ahmed

From: Rick Archer
To: ahmed
Sent: Mon, December 7, 2009 8:41:16 PM
Subject: RE: From Ahmed

I hate to let you down, but I was unable to lick the Book Club puzzle you sent me. I put in easily 7 hours and was reduced to guessing. Very embarrassing.

Too many variables and not enough "inspiration" on my part; I was making progress, but just ran out of steam.

Out of curiosity, how did you do with the Book Club puzzle?

From: ahmed
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2009 2:57 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: book club

Dear Rick,  This puzzle is not more difficult than ( who owns the fish ) puzzle, but you are busy in mind.  Maybe many things inside you made you not concentrating, even if you stayed long.

I never try a puzzle unless I am happy, have a coffee, cigarette ( Merit ) and slow music ( paul mauriat, richard clyderman).

I shoot a bullet, and leave it, next day, another bullet, until the puzzle is killed.   ahmed

From: Rick Archer
To: ahmed
Sent: Tue, December 8, 2009 9:16:00 PM
Subject: RE: From Ahmed

Okay, Ahmed, Thanks to your encouragement, I made another stab today… and came up empty again.  I made some progress, but was left with about 7 "EITHER-OR" situations… I tried working backwards with educated guesses and that didn't work either…. Too many variables. I think I would have been forced to make three right guesses in a row to solve it this way.  One in Eight is pretty far-fetched.

Yes, eventually I would have gotten it, but my self-esteem would not have benefitted even if I succeeded. This technique is sort of like going to the end of a maze and walking backwards! Not very rewarding.

I do have a question, Ahmed. Here are some examples. I assumed that each couple could borrow more than one book.

Since there were six specific "borrow" clues, I think if I could assume that each couple could only borrow ONE BOOK, that might give me the information I am missing.

From: ahmed
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2009 3:47 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: From Ahmed

My dear Rick,

Yes, each man and his wife came with one books to give, and took ( borrowed ) another different one.

you are completely going right.., I know you will do it.., now start shooting to kill!

I attached my answer to you, have you seen it ??

We are different in the way of going through, I never go through with assumptions. I start with facts, then trying to find the hidden facts logically, until I have additional new clues to complete the picture. I never use ( either-or ) unless near the end.

I started this puzzle by trying from the clues to bind the names of each couple, and it worked and get more clues.  Then I went to the jobs and exclude probabilities with the help of car type and color.

If you say that this puzzle has many variables, so you are going to kill me ( ha ha ha ha ha ha laughing ) because the new one which I sent to you in my last Email have more variables.

Please find attached one of my favourite music.   my best regards to you and your family ahmed

From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 8:32 AM
Subject: book club

Ahmed, you will be pleased to know I have finally solved the Book Club puzzle.  I succeeded on my Fifth Try. This puzzle marks the most work I have ever put into a logic puzzle in my life by a huge margin, possibly 20 hours!

In my defense, my demise in the beginning was related to a poorly written clue.

"Eight married couples meet to lend one another some books."

The key words are "
some books
"… PLURAL which means they can lend several books to each person. This misunderstanding doomed my first two tries.

Once you clarified that it was one book per person, that added in the missing feature which allowed me to start to make more connections on my third try.

One problem that doomed me in my third try was the gigantic "Truth Grid" I had created… you know what I mean…. where you put in "X" sideways and up and down for each incorrect answer until one possibility remains and that is your correct answer. Thanks to all the variables, my grid was enormous. The grid was so big that I spent half my time scrolling across my computer trying futilely to find a way to make the intuitive leaps that solve the puzzle. No luck there.

That is when I accidentally stumbled on using a new technique. I wrote down every clue in a table: 23 rows (23 sentences) and 8 columns for the variables. I did it to make it easier to see the clues, but to my surprise in this simplified form I made an immediate discovery: That one couple could only have one possible surname. I had completely missed that using my previous strategy. I was excited to discover this table could probably be used as a new way to solve the puzzle.

However my downfall was impatience. Even though my new technique was superior, I had lost my patience in my first two attempts.

I was in such a hurry to be done with my nemesis that I made several errors in my third try.

My fourth try went much better, but I made one mistake on a very subtle point. This doomed me.

Determined, I went back for a fifth try and was successful.

On the bright side, I learned a new and powerful way to solve logic puzzles. In addition, it was a pretty cool puzzle once I started making progress.

On the dark side, I can't say the puzzle was particularly good for my self-esteem. And I sure wasted a lot of time with all my charts and dead ends.

Nevertheless, I prevailed in the end.  It has been a while since I ran up against a test of my will power, but I was determined to see it through.  Thanks to your encouragement, I persevered.

All's well that ends well.  Thank you for encouraging me to continue.  

Rick Archer
December 2009

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