Thursday, July 29, 2021

Aries Cryptic #32 - "Left Behind" (Contest)

Aries Cryptic #32 - "Left Behind" - PDF | Intro to Cryptics (PDF) 

Back with another variety cryptic, and it's a contest! There are full instructions on the PDF, and be sure to email your final answer by Thursday, August 12th for a chance to win a two-month Aries subscription. I'll pick both a current subscriber and a non-subscriber as winners, and I'll post the solution once the contest period is over. Special thanks to Neville Fogarty for suggesting this puzzle's title.

I've updated the monthly bundles through July so be sure to scoop those up if you're not already a subscriber. Speaking of which, subscriptions are always open! The summer subscription special ($18 for a 6-Month Bundle) is still ongoing, which makes a perfect introduction to an Aries subscription. Here's the Paypal link for the summer special:


Happy solving!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Summer Subscription Special

Summer's here and there's a special subscription offer running: a 6-Month Bundle for $18! That includes 52 puzzles - 26 Rows Gardens and 26 Freestyles -  delivered straight to your inbox. If you've waited to become a subscriber now is a great time to sign up! Limited time offer. Subscribe through Paypal here:


The June bundles have also been posted, along with the 2021 First Half bundles for Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle

And finally I have a puzzle in the Indie 500 charity puzzle pack! These puzzles were originally slated for the 2020 tournament which of course did not occur, but the puzzles are now available with a $10 charity donation. Be sure to pick those up if you haven't already!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Diagramless #2

Diagramless #2 - PDF | PUZ | Solution PDF

Back with another Diagramless puzzle! I've got a PDF (with hints included on pages 2 and 3, so be sure not to print those pages if you're looking to save paper), and there's also a PUZ file for digital solvers. Across Lite is no good for diagramlesses, but both the Diagnil or Xword solving programs allow for digital diagramless solving. After downloading the PUZ file you can open the file in either of those programs and solve away. UPDATE: You can also upload the PUZ file and play in the solving interface if you'd rather not download an extra program. Thanks for the tip Alex B.! 

I have had this puzzle idea on ice for a while; my thought for the longest time was to make a variety cryptic out of it, but I felt the elements didn't quite come together well enough for a cryptic. I think the diagramless format works well for this concept, particularly for the visual element - as always, I'm happy to hear your thoughts!

There's still one week to go in June so I don't have June Rows Garden/Freestyle bundles yet, but check back once July rolls around for those June bundles as well as the 2021 First Half  bundles. A reminder that subscriptions are always open!

This year I've also enjoyed writing cryptics for The Browser newsletter. They're block cryptics but I've been channeling Hex's National Post cryptics and featuring themes in these puzzles over the last few months. And I'm just one member of the crack team of cryptic constructors shepherded by editor Dan Feyer. There's a special 20% off subscription offer for puzzlers available - be sure to subscribe if you aren't already!

Happy solving!   

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Puns & Anagrams #3

Puns & Anagrams #3 - PUZ | PDF | PDF (Grayscale) | Solution 

Back with another Puns & Anagrams puzzle! I've mentioned before that P&As are a tough format to categorize. They were inspired by cryptics but are a wholly different format that does its own thing. No clue in this puzzle is an acceptable clue in a cryptic. Here's another recap of the major distinguishing features of a Puns & Anagrams puzzle: 

1) Fully interlocking grid. Unlike standard block cryptics, where roughly 50% of the squares are checked by crossing entries, P&A grids qualify as standard themeless crossword grids, with a max of 72 entries in the grid. Every square is a part of an across and down entry. This affords solvers many more opportunities to solve an entry than a cryptic does, which helps explain some of the looseness of P&A clues.

2) Anagram clues (which comprise about half of the clues in a P&A) do not include anagram indicators, which are required for cryptics. In addition, homophones of letters (or groups of letters) included in the anagram are fair game. So, the word "sea" could signal a C to be included in the anagram; the word "seize" could signal multiple Cs to be included in the anagram; and "seedy" could signal the letters CD to be included in the anagram. The best anagram clues incorporate an anagram into a natural-reading definitional hint for the entry.

3) While anagram clues will include a definitional hint to the entry, non-anagram clues do not require a definitional hint. Non-anagram clues will include cryptic tropes such as hidden words, containers, and homophones, as well as more P&A-typical conventions as visual rebuses, puns, and fill-in-the-blanks.

It's also important to note that the clue syntax is structured as clues are structured in a standard crossword - that is, there is an imperative function of the clues that many cryptic clues lack. Cryptic clues are often structured like a random sentence, and its surface sense doesn't "ask" the solver any inherent question in the clue. P&A clues do contain this imperative function, and this is another reason that I find the format closer to a parody of a standard crossword than a cryptic. 

I'm running long now, but I do think it's important to codify the rules of P&As more clearly and explain the philosophy that I employ when writing these offbeat puzzles. This puzzle started with the long entries at 25- and 54-Across, which are my favorites of this puzzle. As always, any and all comments are much appreciated!

Also, I've updated the archive to include May bundles for Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle. And a reminder that Aries subscriptions are always open for the truly dedicated solver.

Happy solving!