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# Tricky, Tricky

Can you figure out the number I am thinking of?

Some cryptic clues:

• Call it sin, and mess it up (9)
• Between θ and κ (4)
• Engage emotionally (5)
• Half a byte (6)
• Mottle (5)
• Never mix meds & gin (7)
• – (4)

If you have all the answers right, that’s only about 33% percent of the solution: you need to justify them too.

Some clues were left over, so here’s a second set:

• Sing about the matter (10)
• Frog’s pole (3)
• Heroin or slap (5)
• 0 or 1 (1,3)
• A toy asking a question on an online forum (4+2 = 6)

An ingenious and very difficult puzzle by Bass on Puzzling StackExchange (spoiler warning: contains the solution)

#### Solution

The number I was thinking of is 5. It’s a fun and very challenging process to get to this answer.

##### First Set of Clues

“Cryptic clues” mean the clues are in the style of cryptic crossword clues:

• Call it sin, and mess it up (9)
• SCINTILLA, because “mess it up” means to mess up the letters, and “scintilla” is an anagram of “call it sin”
• Between θ and κ (4)
• IOTA, because iota is the Greek letter after theta and before kappa
• Engage emotionally (5)
• TOUCH
• Half a byte (6)
• NIBBLE, because a nibble is an obscure unit equal to 4 bits (and a byte is 8 bits)
• Mottle (5)
• FLECK
• Never mix meds & gin (7)
• SMIDGEN, because “mix” means to mix the letters and “smidgen” is an anagram of “meds” and “gin”
• – (4)
• DASH

But what do you do with these answers? The key is in the sentence: “If you have all the answers right, that’s only about 33% percent of the solution: you need to justify them too.” Justify (line up) the words, and take the third letter from the right:

```SCINTILLA
IOTA
TOUCH
NIBBLE
FLECK
SMIDGEN
DASH```

This gives you “LOU BEGA”.

##### Second Set of Clues

If you don’t know the answer yet, keep going with the next set of clues:

• Sing about the matter (10)
• SMATTERING, because “sing” is spelled around “matter” in “s matter ing”
• Frog’s pole (3)
• Heroin or slap (5)
• SMACK, because smack is slang for heroin and is a synonym for slap
• 0 or 1 (1,3)
• A BIT, because 0 or 1 represents a binary digit or “bit”
• A toy asking a question on an online forum (4+2 = 6)
• DOLLOP, because a “doll” is a toy and “OP” refers to the “original poster” in a thread on an online forum

Following the same trick as the first set of clues: “Some clues were left over, so here’s a second set”. Take the second letter from the left this time, and you get “MAMBO”.

##### Put It All Together

Now this requires a bit of pop culture knowledge, but all the clues point towards one song: Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega.

As a bit of fun flair, the answer to every clue was a synonym for “a little bit”, which is a phrase repeated often in the lyrics of the song!

(The title “Tricky, Tricky” is the name of another song by Lou Bega.)