Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Blocked Cryptic #9: Kangaroo Court

Not much to say today, just a fun little bonus puzzle as promised! We helped to hit 400 donors here, but if you've yet to donate and if you have the means, there's more work to be done - every dollar counts. Also, if you like cryptics and enjoy putting good into the world, make sure to check out (and donate on behalf of!) a recent puzzle from Neville benefitting the Premier Ultimate League. Many thanks to Neville for testsolving today's cryptic and for spreading word of another great cause. Enjoy the solve, and don't hesitate to reach out with any feedback you might have. Grab the puz file here, the pdf (recommended) here or solve online in the client below. Be well all!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Themeless (!!!) Crossword #1: Buns, Hun (with Izzy Culver)

Hello all! Super excited to share a first attempt at a standard themeless with you all, especially since it was a collab between me and one of my best friends Izzy Culver (make sure to follow her and give her a warm welcome to crossword Twitter!). We've constructed a few puzzles together, and we think that this one is super fun (huge thanks to Paolo for test solving). A lil' blurb from Izzy about the puzzle:

Hi all :) I’m Izzy (she/her) and I’m a sophomore at Brown. I've been solving crosswords for about two years now, and I’m just getting into constructing! Please reach out if you want to talk Veep, powerlifting, anything that Sacha Baron Cohen has ever done, or if you wanna see pictures of my labradoodle (my pride and joy). Hope you enjoy solving our puzzle as much as we enjoyed making it!

Grab the puz here, the pdf here, and the interactive solver below. Happy solving all - and keep your eyes open for a bonus cryptic tomorrow!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Blocked Cryptic #8: A Slice of Pie(t)

Welcome to 2021, all! Hope the start of the year has been filled with some fresh puzzles, and that you all are staying safe and well. Starting off the new year with a bit of a ridiculous puzzle: I hope that the novelty of the grid shape can excuse the double unches (and if not, blame et tu etui for inspiring me to make this). Many thanks to Steve for test-solving and providing me with fantastic feedback. Find the puz file here, the pdf here, and the interactive client below. Also, I'm going through my old posts and adding solutions, so keep your eyes out for new additions to them over the next two or three days. Enjoy!

Monday, December 28, 2020

Themed Crossword #4: Scout's Honor! (with Malaika Handa)

Hello all! Wrapping up the year with a cute standard American puzzle. Was super lucky to collab with Malaika on this one! In case you hadn't heard the great news, her new site will feature a 7x7 grid six days a week (!!) in 2021, and if you keep up with it, I can guarantee you'll see some familiar names and faces :) Paraphrasing her quote about this puzzle, she had this to say: "no specific quote but... :D" which sums up the joy of this grid.

In non-this-puzzle news, I'm hoping to put out solutions for my whole backlog of old puzzles sometime before New Years. Sorry for the long delay, school and life have kept me busy recently. Wishing everyone a safe and happy end to 2020, and I look forward to sharing more puzzles with you in 2021!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

"We Demand to be Taken Seriously!" a 2020 Hanukkah Cryptic Extravaganza

Hello all! Apologies for the lack of posts in the last two weeks, but hopefully the next eight days (!) of puzzles can make up for it. For Hanukkah 2020 (slash 5781), I'll be posting a cryptic-like puzzle for the first six nights, a bonus on the seventh as a brief intermission, and it'll all culminate with a meta on the eight night. I've tried to make these puzzles accessible and interesting to folks who are new to cryptics and experienced solvers alike, and as always there are more than a few whacky/novel cluing angles to be found throughout. Find the set-up/story here (yes i am well aware the theme is ridiculous), and the list of puzzles below! Chag Sameach, and have fun!

Many thanks to those who helped me develop/edit the set, especially Pacho and Story of the NPL for inspiring the two non-cryptic puzzles as well as the slew of test-solvers who caught various mistakes and help clean up some clues. Full acknowledgements to be posted with the wrap-up, which I'll put up with the solutions + full puzzle pack (for those who'd prefer to binge solve) in eight day's time. For now, keep checking this post for updates every day, usually around 5-6pm. Enjoy the puzzles, and please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, feedback, complaints, or anything of the sort!

List of Puzzles (updated daily):

  1. The Semicolony (Dec 10)
  2. hack/slash (Dec 11)
  3. The Carat Cake Bakery (Dec 12)
  4. Dotty and the Line Dancers (Dec 13: error found 9:00pm, the down arrow with a 9 should actually have a 12. will fix asap)
  5. Space in Vaders In case the crossed-out text is hard to read, here's the list below the clues. (Dec 14)
  6. The Tarot Bang Inn (Dec 15)
  7. Bonus: PUNctuation Mark (Dec 16: error found 9:30pm, had a wrong letter, fixed in file now!)
  8. Meta: We Demand to be Taken Seriously! (Dec 17)

New as of December 15: Fancy answer checker! If you wanna make sure you have the right answers, hop over here and follow the instructions. Also, if you have feedback or want hints, there's an option for that too!

As a final note, if you enjoy the puzzles, please consider donating to one of these charities to make the world a better place. Hopefully eight free puzzles warrant at least a tiny donation to a good cause, especially during the Holiday season. Specifically, I'll hop on this train of fantastic people: if this GoFundMe reaches 400 backers, I'll put out one more cryptic before the new year. Every dollar counts, and it'd be great to put some good into the world right about now to make up for the long year we've all had.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Barred Cryptic #6: Themes and Variations (plus Variety-ish Cryptic-ish #1!)

Hello all! Two thematically related puzzles today - one of a genre I've been meaning to try out for a while, and one that's less of a crossword and more of a "here's a list of clues, have fun!" type puzzle. Thanks for kormad and Ra for test-solving. I'd recommend solving the Themes and Variations first, just because the second puzzle (name witheld) might spoil the nature of the thematic entries. I absolutely adore Themes and Variations-type puzzles, but they can be tricky, so I've included an example set as well as three hints for the actual puzzle, so hopefully it's decently accessible. Onto the explanation!

In the puzzle, there will be 3 "Themes" that have something in common. Each of these will also have 3 variations (only two in this example), that are derived from/related to/have something in common with the theme in some way. For example, were the 3 theme words SNAP, CRACKLE, and POP, the variations may be:

  1. PANS: STOP and REMIT (reversals of kitchen tools)
  2. CRACKLE: CACKLER and RECLACK (anagrams)
  3. POP: SIS and MOM (palindromic family members)

In general, it might help to think of the different forms of cryptic wordplay you use in general when solving. If you get stuck, there’s three levels of hints (all ROT-13’ed) below the interactive solver that might give you the push you need. Find the pdf here and the PuzzleMe client below. Once you've finished, enjoy a smaller variety puzzle with pdf here or a copy-able Google Sheets here. Hope you all are staying safe and enjoying the puzzles!

Hint 1: Bar tebhc vf pbaarpgrq ubzbcubavpnyyl, bar jvgu “cersvkrf," naq bar jvgu qryrgvbaf.

Hint 2: Gur ubzbcubar tebhc vf “zvffvat” sbhe jbeqf. Gur qryrgvba tebhc qryrgrf gur yrggref C, B, L, naq L. Gur cersvk tebhc sbezf n purzvpny grez, n yvathvfgvp grez, naq n gurbybtvpny grez.

Hint 3 (essentially the explanation of each theme group): Gur inevngvbaf bs gurzr jbeq N pna nyy cerprqr gur gurzr jbeq gb sbez arj jbeqf. Gurzr tebhc O vf znqr hc bs snzbhf qbtf zvffvat gurve ynfg yrggre ynfg yrggre qryrgvbaf (n yn FABBCL > FABBC). Gurzr jbeq P naq vgf frg bs inevngvbaf vf znqr hc bs jbeqf gung ubzbcubavpnyyl znxr hc 2/3 bs fbzr bgure snzbhf gevbf, jvgu zvffvat jbeqf crnpr, ynetr, ba, naq cnepry.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Blocked Cryptic #7: Odd Ones Out

Hello all! Sorry for the long wait between puzzles, it's been a rocky few weeks recently. Trying out my hand with a themeless puzzle today, with some fun 15s in the mix. A couple of odd clues (ba dum ksh), especially 19A and 8D, but I hope they're fun - would love to hear any feedback or thoughts, as always. Hope that you all are staying healthy, both mentally and physically, and enjoying the puzzles!

Grab the puz file here, the pdf here, and the interactive solver below. For anyone tired of blocked grids, don't worry: some fun barred ones to follow in the coming weeks!

Blocked Cryptic #9: Kangaroo Court

Not much to say today, just a fun little bonus puzzle as promised! We helped to hit 400 donors here , but if you've yet to donate and if...