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The 2021 Excel Community pantomime - Min and Max return!

Author: Simon Hurst

Published: 13 Dec 2021

Some years ago, the Excel Community Christmas Special posts featured Min and Max as the heroes of our Christmas pantomime. It seems that now might be the time for another pantomime to take our mind off other things. As many of you will fondly recall, our previous pantomime script featured dozens of poorly hidden Excel function names for you to try and identify. This year, while we continue the search for the lost comments feature, we will not ask you to let us know how many function names you have found but instead, as a precursor to our imminent competency framework self-assessment test, we will use the pantomime for you to assess your Excel expertise, based on the number of function names you spot.
Less than 10 There are many uses of Excel that don't require you to use, or know about, a lot of functions. There are many uses of Excel that don't require you to use, or know about, a lot of functions.
10-20 Good start but plenty of opportunities to learn new functions to improve your productivity.
21-30 Not bad – but it might be worth your while spending those long winter evenings browsing through the list of Excel functions in the Formulas Ribbon tab.
31-50 Very good – but remember that new functions are continuing to appear in Excel. Keep looking at the Excel Community update posts to make sure you don't miss anything significant.
51-60 Impressive.
Over 60 Are you sure you didn't cheat?

Note that, unlike our debut pantomime script, function names might be hidden within a word or spread across multiple words as in surpluS UMbrellas – ignore any punctuation, we haven't (intentionally) included any function names that include a full stop. If the same function name is featured multiple times, it only counts once towards your competency rating and you can't count one function name within another, so for 'work day' you can count either workday or day, but not both, a separate instance of day can be counted.

Of course, you could get Excel to work out the number of hidden functions for you, but it will probably be more fun to try and spot as many as you can before doing so.

Good luck!

Your quest starts below:

Aladdin for Ever

The last time we met Max and Min they were battling a plague of voracious crimson beetles. After a battle lasting many days, the beetles were finally vanquished, and Max and Min resumed their idyllic rural lifestyle in their small house on the outskirts of Windsor. Three years went by and Min thought it was time for another adventure. Towards the end of that year, fracking started in a nearby field. Valued agricultural land was put at risk and a lamb dangerously upset but, far worse as it turned out, a large crack appeared at the entrance to an ancient mine-working near the site. At night, strange sounds could be heard coming from the old mine.

Although it was late autumn, Min's favourite fruit tree still had pears on and she had gone out to search for a couple for lunch. She managed to find one and thought that she had found a second, but on closer inspection she noticed a minute blemish. Whilst picking the pears, Min noticed her friend Dave walking across the upper path to the town. She branched off from the lower path to intercept him. Dave could sometimes be a bit hyper, linked to the consumption of certain food colourings. When Min caught up with him, Dave raged about the goings on at the abandoned mine. Min said that she had to round up the goats but promised to meet Dave by the mine entrance in an hour.

When they got to the mine, Dave asked Min if something looked strange. As Min stared towards the entrance she thought she could see wisps of multicoloured smoke drifting out. She wasn't sure whether the smoke was real or imaginary so she walked towards the mine to take a better look. "That is odd" she exclaimed as she peered through the widening crack extending around a boulder and between the rocks at the entrance. Min thought it was time to call for reinforcements, so she sent a text to Max. A few minutes later Min, Max and Dave squeezed themselves through the crack and into the mine workings. Min saw something glistening on the floor in front of them. "Wait a sec" said Min as she took a large step in order to pick it up. It was an ornate flask containing some sort of elixir, reddy-brown in colour. Min wondered whether to wait for a bit or carry on and what would be the consequences of drinking the strange potion. She took stock, history suggesting that discretion would be the better part of valour in the circumstances.

As their eyes became acclimatised to the dim light, they realised they were standing in a dank cell, next to the base of a round column, one of a row of several columns supporting the ceiling. Suddenly, a small boy appeared carrying a lamp and gave it to Min. On the side of the lamp there was a disc engraved with strange writing. "What does it mean?" asked Dave. "Let me have a look" said Max "I have several degrees in exotic languages". Max studied the lamp inscription carefully and then said "I can say with some confidence that it reads: 'rub the side of the lamp three times and wish for the resolution of a major geopolitical problem'".

Dave looked across at Max and asked where he thought that the power of the lamp came from. The more Min thought about Dave's power query, the more certain she became that it was the answer to all of their problems.

A few days later, Max and Min were looking through the Sunday paper and saw that there had been a coup, days before in an oppressed part of the world. The coup had been successful and all those involved were certain to live happily ever after. At last, things had begun to look up.

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