A Peanuts character would likely find the hidden order.
Looking at the two pictures, we see a 3×3 and a 2×2 tic-tac-toe board. These resemble a pigpen cipher, which is sometimes called a Tic-Tac-Toe cipher. Zoom into the images, we see the numbers from 0 to 9 and a to f. Some numbers have dots beside them. Use the position (and dot) to determine the letter; use the number to determine the order.
0. 1. 2 3. 4. 5 6 7. 8. 9. A. B C D E F. K Y T P P H U P N I L E A D F O
After eliminating the obvious, whatever remains, however invisible, must be the answer.
In Scrabble, each letter appears a set number of times in the bag and has a point value denoted in the bottom right of each tile.
For the English-language editions of Scrabble they are: 1 point: E ×12, A ×9, I ×9, O ×8, R ×6, N ×6, T ×6, L ×4, S ×4 U ×4
2 points: D ×4, G ×3
3 points: B ×2, C ×2, M ×2, P ×2
4 points: F ×2, H ×2, V ×2, W ×2, Y ×2
5 points: K ×1
8 points: J ×1, X ×1
10 points: Q ×1, Z ×1
If we take out the tiles that are on the board, we are left with the following pieces: A B B C D E F H J L M N O T U V
There are 16 missing letters and 16 tiles across the top of the picture.
Figuring out which tile is which by only the bottom requires some guesswork, but you will eventually get: TNVOJUBHCBEDLAMF
Converting c and f to numbers by their alphabet positions comes up invalid, so take their tile values for: TNVOJUBH3BEDLAM4
A quick google image search will find the original image. We see that the yellow lights have been changed.
Write them down in two rectangles of 8×4 dots.
Knowing the format used for volatile media (xxxxxxxx#keyword#), we can see that the number spaces are different. We expect numbers in decimal to be in the 48-57 range. The digit right after the split looks like a braille 5 (5), and the one below it like a braille 3 (3). So, they’re stacked braille numbers, and just lack the extra top row of spaces that normal Braille characters have.
Taking white as 0 and black as 1, read horizontally skipping the spaces: 01101101011101100110010001110011011000010111000101101011011110000011100101100100011010010110011001100110011010010110001101110101011011000111010000111001
Binary to ASCII: mvdsaqkx9difficult9
Take the number values added to the image: 20 1 11 5
14 15 21 20
6 15 18 1
19 16 9 14
43 60 66 66
79 59 58 48
64 46 55 57
77 58 89 65
Take the first 16 numbers, and convert to letters via Alphabet Index: TAKENOUTFORASPIN.
From that, let’s rotate the bottom half of the numbers 180 degrees: 65 89 58 77
57 55 46 64
48 58 59 79
66 66 60 43
Notice that if you do that with the image (rotate the bottom half 180 degrees), the blocks with and without checkers line up perfectly on both sides, pointing to the hint of Symmetry (n.): It adds up.
Using the hint further, add each number pair together in the two sections.
E.g. first half first number is 20, second half first number is 65. Added up it is 85. 85 90 69 82 71 70 67 84 54 73 77 80 85 82 69 57
Note that the board looks unusually similar to the final result of the first game of Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo. The description further confirms this:
The final board position of the first game, an unexpected victory for AlphaGo, is shown below.
Let’s try and manipulate the image with free image editing tools. Go to Adjustments > Curves and select the Red channel. Drag the line to the top left, select the Green channel, and drag that line to the bottom right. Now we can see several letters.
Use the play order of that game to get an order for the letters, using only the plays with letters and splitting between black moves and white moves.
An interactive play order can be found here at the bottom of the blog post. Black: foxtrotoscaruniformsierrafoxtrotdeltaquebeczulu
Convert from the NATO alphabet to letters and numbers: fousfdqz3gravity8
In the image along the top, there are pixels of white, black, and blue. Part way through this is a section that does not follow the pattern.
The top row is black and every other column is blue, so they can be removed.
Now, every other row is white and can be removed. What we are left with is a 7×19 grid of blue and black.
If we assume each column is a character, we can read the columns vertically with black becoming 0 and blue becoming 1. 1001110 1010110 1000010 1001110 1011000 1000001 1010110 1011010 0111001 1000001 1001100 1001001 1000111 1001110 1001101 1000101 1001110 1010100 0110111
Add a 0 onto the front, and convert from binary to ASCII: NVBNXAVZ9ALIGNMENT7
QUITE WEST OF HOUSTON, THE GENTLE HOME OF THE CHINATI FOUNDATION IS THIS TOWN IN TEXAS
What is Marfa?
So, now that we have a keyword, for the letters and numbers apply a filter to differentiate between #FFFFFF and #F9F9F9:
And, take the slightly darker letters: QWHGMEFEFOUSIX
FOU becomes 4 and SIX becomes 6. Insert the keyword: QWHGMEFE4marfa6
The filename of the picture is chess-bbrbnkbbnnkrbnbbbnbnpbpknrnbpkbpnbnkbbpbbknbk.jpg.
The phrase bbrbnkbbnnkrbnbbbnbnpbpknrnbpkbpnbnkbbpbbknbk groups well into threes. We only see 5 different letters (bknpr). Base 5 doesn’t give anything meaningful, but note that the characters represent chess pieces. Add the missing piece (queen) to the index, sorted by chess piece value (pbnrqk). Base 6 decode.