A long, long time ago, when the Jolly Quizmaster could open normally, we would often sit enjoying a pint after a long day quiz writing. This hostelry has had some interesting visitors, as you will have read in earlier puzzles, and over a number of weeks we noticed a succession of strange people, always arriving on a particular day of the week.
These shadowy types always had a sneaky check on the customers in the bar, before going to a door that leads to a back room. After another glance round the room they would knock, the door would open, a short exchange of words took place, and the person would be let in.
Of course, being quizzers we were curious about what was going on. So one evening on the correct day we stationed ourselves at the nearest table to the door, and waited.
Sure enough, a visitor arrived and knocked on the door. Once the door was open we heard the exchange "Twelve" with the response of "Six". Ah ha thought we, a secret code - can we work it out?
Shortly after a second visitor arrived and the exchange went "Six" followed by "Three".
At this point one of our group felt that he had cracked the code, and we were all very interested in what was happening in the back room. He knocked on the door and heard "Ten". Confidently replying "Five" the door was slammed in his face.
Thinking that our cover was blown we finished our drinks and left. And within a week the Jolly Quizmaster was shut. However, normal service will be resumed soon, we hope, and we want to try again.
What number should we have responded with, and what is the pattern of the code?
From the first two exchanges the obvious pattern is to halve the first number, but our attempt disproves that theory. There is another pattern of responding with the number of letters in the first number - six letters in Twelve and three letters in Six. This isn't disproved by our attempt, so we should have responded "Three" (the number of letters in Ten).
It might be prudent to listen to a couple more exchanges before testing the code for real.
Or we could just ask the landlord what is going on in the back room!