Thursday, February 27, 2020

February FREE RG

February FREE RG - PDF: Hardest | Harder | Easier | Easiest | Solution

February FREE RG - RGZ (for solving in the Rows Garden app for iPad/iPhoneAndroid, and Kindle Fire)

Back with this month's Rows Garden! This puzzle started with the entry at C2; while it's an entry that isn't making its debut, it lends a nice letter pattern for its intersecting blooms. For me the fun in constructing a Rows Garden isn't so much the seed entry but uncovering the best fill that emerges from the seed. Here entries like E2, F1, and G2 were pleasant surprises that resulted from the trial-and-error process of constructing the grid. Hope you enjoy!

A few days remaining to send in your answer for the Meta Cryptic contest! I've already received over 50 correct entries so far. The contest runs through 7 PM PST on Monday, March 2nd, so be sure to give it a shot!

Happy solving,


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Aries Cryptic #23 - "Treasure Hunt"

This month's Cryptic is another meta contest! It's titled "Treasure Hunt," and the meta answer is a seven-letter proper noun. There's a slightly shorter window to enter the meta contest this time - email your answer by 7 PM PST on Monday, March 2nd. As was the case with the January meta crossword, one randomly-selected entrant with a correct answer will receive a two-month Aries subscription of their choice.

The meta answer isn't super challenging to get in this case, however, cryptics are a different beast altogether than standard crosswords, so finishing the puzzle itself may be more of a challenge depending on your cryptic skills. But I expect cryptic experts will have no problem with the meta here. Whatever your solving level, I hope you enjoy this one!

Aries Cryptic #23 - "Treasure Hunt" - PUZ | PDF | PDF (Grayscale) | Intro to Cryptics Guide (PDF)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Aries Throwback - "Communication Breakdown"

Thanks for all those who submitted an answer to the "First-Class" meta contest from last month! There were 26 correct entries along with 3 incorrect entries. The randomly-selected winner among the correct entries is Brian Hattenbach, who will receive a two-month Aries subscription of his choice! Here's the solution PDF, which includes the explanation of the meta answer:

Aries Meta "First-Class" - Solution

And here is this month's Throwback puzzle, an easyish puzzle originally published in 2015 titled "Communication Breakdown." This one has a basic theme that makes use of some fun theme answers. Hope you enjoy!

Communication Breakdown - PUZ | PDF | PDF (Grayscale) | Solution

Thursday, February 6, 2020

February FREEstyle

Here's the February FREEstyle, which is a 68-word, 34-block puzzle. This puzzle features the classic staggered 11s in the middle, which I don't do too often anymore. Always good to revisit a successful format like this. Hope you enjoy!

The January 2020 monthly bundles are now available! Special attention to the January Freestyle bundle, which includes a 21x21 freestyle that I sent to subscribers last week, if you're interested in a supersized challenge.

Also, still time to send in your answer to the "First-Class" meta crossword that was posted last week. Deadline for entries is next Wednesday, February 12th, at 7 PM PST.

Happy solving!

February FREEstyle - PUZ | PDF | PDF (Grayscale) | Solution

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Aries Meta - "First-Class"

For the fifth Thursday this month, I've got a meta crossword! Puzzle lovers undoubtedly are familiar with meta crosswords, whose rise to mainstream popularity over the last decade must be primarily attributed to Matt Gaffney, who writes metas for his Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest as well as the Wall Street Journal.

This meta, titled "First-Class," is a toughie - let's figure a solid Week 4 on the Gaffney scale. Consider yourself forewarned! The meta answer is a five-letter article of clothing that's missing from the grid. Submit your answer via email by 7 PM on Wednesday, February 12th. One randomly-chosen correct entry will receive a free 2-month Aries Puzzles subscription of their choice! If the winner already is a subscriber, they would receive a 2-month extension to their subscription.

I'm considering adding meta puzzles as a regular feature of the site, so if you enjoyed this puzzle, let me know in the comments or your submission email! I've got ideas for metas involving non-standard crossword formats such as cryptics and Rows Gardens as well, so if this sounds like something you'd like to see more of around here, do let me know!

Happy solving!

Aries Meta "First Class" - PUZ | PDF | Grayscale PDF

Thursday, January 23, 2020

January FREE RG

Back with the first FREE RG of 2020 - as always, hope you enjoy!

January FREE RG - PDF: Hardest | Harder | Easier | Easiest | Solution

January FREE RG - RGZ (for solving in the Rows Garden app for iPad/iPhoneAndroid, and Kindle Fire)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Aries Cryptic #22

Here's the first cryptic of 2020! This puzzle started with 22-Down, which also happened to be the test solvers' favorite clue. I also enjoy the 12-Across and 28-Across clues, as they feature wordplay techniques that aren't so common in cryptics. Hope you enjoy!

Aries Cryptic #22 - PUZ | PDF | PDF - Grayscale | Solution

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Aries Throwback - "Imperial Exit"

Back with this month's Throwback puzzle, titled "Imperial Exit," which is a 78-word, 38-block puzzle. This puzzle originally appeared in 2018 in The Growler magazine, whose puzzle I write along with Victor Barocas. The Growler is a food and drink magazine and specifically a craft beer magazine, and this puzzle is very much at home in a beer-themed publication. Cheers!

Imperial Exit - PUZ | PDF | PDF (Grayscale) | Solution

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

January FREEstyle

Here's the January FREEstyle, which is a 70-word, 30-block puzzle. This puzzle started with the squarish 6x5 chunks in the top left and bottom right. As a keep-it-simple grid challenge, it was a worthwhile exercise. Hope you enjoy!

January FREEstyle - PUZ | PDF | PDF - Grayscale | Solution