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!


  1. Andrew, I couldn't follow 90% of that explanation, but I really do enjoy these P&A puzzles! This is the one style I have to help my wife, the true puzzler in the family.

    1. Apologies for not being clear enough, Rick - I do struggle with explaining these distinctions in a non-abstruse way. I hope to clarify further the next time I post one of these and I think using some examples would help. I appreciate the feedback and thanks for solving!