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Fourteen

marriage - love = ruin

volts + amps = pleasure + pain

cheese + tomato + heat = pizzas

beer + wine + gin = alcoholism

puzzled + amusing = ?

Hint: frantic groping blue loses University after college fellows reverse honours degree (8)

Solution

author: Rich Wareham (rjw57)

This is a variant on the "word equation" style of puzzle. The hint at the bottom is a cryptic crossword clue which should be parsed as:

Putting this together we get the clue SCR-AB-BLE or, clearly, "Scrabble" which is not only a board game but a frantic groping.

Once one thinks of Scrabble, the puzzle becomes easier since one can readily confirm that the equations hold true for the Scrabble scores corresponding to each word. The puzzle, therefore, is to find a word which scores 38 (the sum of "puzzled" and "amusing") but also matches the "sense equation".

The answer is: "quizzical".

The title is a reference to fourteen being the score of Scrabble in Scrabble.