Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Snowflake #2

Snowflake #2 - PDF | Solution (PDF) 

Back with another Snowflake puzzle! This Hex-inspired variety puzzle is a good one to run this time of year. Instructions included in the PDF - no digital solving capabilities for this format, unfortunately. Happy solving!

Monthly bundles have been posted through December, and 2022 Second Half bundles have been added to the archive for both Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle. It was bittersweet to conclude the Aries Freestyle series this week; here's to five great years of freestyle crosswords! Aries Rows Garden is still going strong however, kicking off its TENTH year next week. Subscriptions are always open so get on it if you haven't already.

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Twists & Turns #7

Twists & Turns #7 - Standard (PDF) | Harder (PDF) | Standard (JPZ) | Solution (PDF)

Back with another Twists & Turns puzzle! Didn't realize the last freebie T&T on this site was *last* Thanksgiving, so I suppose we're making T&Ts a Turkey Day tradition, along with midday naps and watching that one Cheers episode with the food fight. You know the drill by now - the Harder version lists the Twists clues alphabetically, and a digital version is only available in the Standard version. To solve online, first download the file above, then head over to the Crossword Nexus solver and open the file there. 

If you're digging these T&Ts you should scoop up the T&T puzzle pack that was released this summer - in fact, I'm offering it at the discounted rate of $10 until the end of the year. Buy it now!

Still one more puzzle to go this month for Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle, so check back soon for the November monthly bundles. UPDATE: November bundles are now posted - apologies for the delay! 

Happy solving, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Acrostic #1

Aries Acrostic #1 - PDF | JPZ | Solution (PDF)

This month I'm excited to offer my first foray into acrostics! I've started to really enjoy solving acrostics over the last year or so, mainly from the ones that Mike Shenk writes for the Wall Street Journal. I remember hearing a while ago that Henry Rathvon and Emily Cox's method of constructing an acrostic involved first spelling out the quote in Scrabble tiles, and then creating the word list shuffling all those tiles around. It sounded like fun, so I tried that approach here as well, and, man ... I *really* enjoyed that challenge. It was one of the more pleasantly addicting word exercises I've done in a while, and I look forward to doing it again. 

There's a PDF to print and solve on paper and there's also a JPZ file for digital solving. To solve digitally, first download the JPZ and then head over to Crossword Nexus and upload the file. I admit I must be one of the few solvers who prefers solving acrostics on paper, but I definitely see the benefits of solving an acrostic on a computer, as the letter-transfer process is made much more convenient. Either way you solve, hope you enjoy!

October bundles have been posted for both Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle. And if you haven't gotten your copy of the Twists & Turns puzzle pack, do it now! 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Marching Bands #4

Aries Marching Bands #4 - PDF | JPZ | Solution (PDF)

Back with another Marching Bands puzzle! There's a PDF and a JPZ file available; to solve digitally, first download the JPZ file, then head over to Crossword Nexus, upload the file and solve away! As always, hope you enjoy!

The monthly bundles for Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle have been updated through September, so check those out if you're interested in a taste of what you'd get as a subscriber

Happy solving!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Labyrinth #1

Labyrinth #1 - PDF | JPZSolution PDF

For this month's variety puzzle I tried my hand at a Labyrinth puzzle. This is one of the many formats developed by the great Mike Shenk. These puzzles are featured every few months at the Wall Street Journal as a part of their Saturday variety puzzle offerings. Mike seems to clue these puzzles on the tougher side so I tried to do the same here. There's a PDF as well as a JPZ - for the JPZ file, download the file and then open it over at the Crossword Nexus solver. Hope you enjoy! 

Check back later in the month for the Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle monthly bundles, or go straight to the source with a weekly subscription. 8/31/22 UPDATE: Monthly bundles are now posted! I'm getting the variety puzzle out a little earlier than usual this month as I'll be vacationing next week in my old upper Midwest stomping grounds - my first trip up there in several years.

I've been hearing good things from solvers about the Twists & Turns puzzle pack - be sure to purchase yours if you haven't already!

Happy puzzling!

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Double or Nothing #3

Double or Nothing #3 - PDF | PDF (Grayscale) | Solution

Here's another Double or Nothing puzzle for your variety puzzle enjoyment! This Patrick Berry-developed format is a really fun one to write in my experience. While Patrick's Double or Nothing puzzles are built around a multi-part quip, I've preferred to seed one of these puzzles with an extra-long answer that wouldn't be possible to use in a standard crossword grid - in this puzzle, 36-Across. And I liked getting the opportunity to get things like 1-Across, 17-Across, and 42-Across in the grid as well. Hope you enjoy!

The July monthly bundles have been posted, so if you'd like a small taste of what you'd get as a subscriber, be sure to check out those monthly bundles. For bigger bites of subscription puzzles, the 2022 First Half bundles for Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle are also available. 

And there's still time to pre-order the upcoming Twists & Turns puzzle pack! The pre-order discount runs through this Sunday, July 31st. The official release is August 1st, and I'm very excited with how this pack has come together. Get in on the fun! 

Happy solving, 


Sunday, July 10, 2022

Now Available for Pre-Order: Twists & Turns Puzzle Pack

I'm very excited to announce the upcoming release of a new puzzle pack, titled Twists & Turns! This puzzle pack features a bunch of brand-new T&T puzzles written by yours truly. Twists & Turns will be officially released August 1st, 2022 - and there's a pre-order special now available through the end of July. Click here for more details and to pre-order! 

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Diagramless #3

Diagramless #3 - PUZ | PDF | PDF (Solution) 

Back with another diagramless puzzle! For paper solvers, there's a PDF - keep in mind that there are solving square and symmetry hints on pages 2 and 3, so be sure to print only page 1 if you're looking to save paper. For digital solvers you can download the PUZ file, then go to and upload the PUZ file and solve in their in-browser applet.  There are also the downloadable programs Diagnil and Xword that also allow for digital diagramless solving. Whatever way you solve, hope you enjoy!

The Monthly Bundles have been updated through June. In addition, the 2022 First Half bundles for both Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle are now available. If you're not a subscriber yet but want a taste of what you'd get as a subscriber, be sure to check out these bundles. 

Stay tuned in the next few weeks for an announcement about a new puzzle project!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Going Too Far #1

Going Too Far #1 - PDF | JPZSolution (PDF)

For this month's variety puzzle I took a stab at a Going Too Far puzzle. I believe this is a format developed by the great Frank Longo, and it's in the regular rotation for the New York Times variety puzzle. I found the format sneakily challenging to construct; I think it partly was due to the quote that I used being on the shorter side - no doubt if the quote was a few letters longer (and hence I had the benefit of using a few more blocks) the task wouldn't have been as difficult. But it was still a fun challenge to construct, and I hope it's a fun challenge to solve. PDF and JPZ files above - thanks to Paolo Pasco for creating the JPZ file! To solve online, first download the JPZ file, then head over to the Crossword Nexus Solver to open and solve. 

There's still a week left in May so check back next week for the May monthly bundles for Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle to be posted. UPDATE 6/1: May bundles have now been posted! And a final reminder that subscriptions for Rows Garden and Freestyle are always open.

Happy solving, 


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Spiral #2

 Spiral #2 - Harder (PDF) | Easier (PDF) | Easier (JPZ) | Solution (PDF) 

Back with a Spiral puzzle!. If you're used to solving Spirals in the New York Times, the Easier version here should look familiar, as it provides the starting and end points for each answer. If you're looking for an extra challenge, give the Harder version a shot - it still presents the answers in correct order, but starting and end points are withheld. There's also a JPZ file for digital solving (Easier version only) - just download the link above and then head over to Crossword Nexus to solve. Hope you enjoy!

Monthly bundles have been updated through April. And a reminder that subscriptions are always open as well. Sign up if you haven't already!

Happy solving!

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Cryptic #33 - "Let's Bowl!" Contest + ACPT Bundle Special

 Cryptic #33 - "Let's Bowl!" - PDF | Solution

Back with another variety cryptic! This one's called "Let's Bowl", and it's a contest. Two randomly-selected correct submissions will win a two-month Aries subscription/subscription extension. Happy solving! UPDATE 4/14: Congrats to Lisa Chambers and Jack Fidler who were the two randomly-selected solvers who won Aries subscriptions! Thanks to all 78 solvers who submitted a correct answer. The solution PDF is now posted above. 

Also, the Monthly Bundle archives have been updated through March, so scoop those up if you're interested in what you'd get as a subscriber

Finally, good luck to all competitors at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament this weekend! To celebrate the occasion, there's a special on a 6-Month Bundle for just $18. This 6-Month subscription gets you a weekly Rows Garden and a weekly Freestyle delivered straight to your inbox - 52 puzzles total. This special runs for a limited time, so if you're not already a subscriber, now is a perfect time!

ACPT Special - $18 6-Month Bundle

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Marching Bands #3

Aries Marching Bands #3 - PDF | JPZ | Solution (PDF)

Back with another Marching Bands puzzle! This format, developed by the legendary Mike Shenk, is always a fun one to construct. To solve the old-fashioned way, there's a PDF to print out. There's also a JPZ file for digital solving - to do so, first download the JPZ file, then visit the Crossword Nexus Solver, upload the file, and solve away! 

Monthly Bundles for both Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle have been updated through February. A reminder that subscriptions for both are always open, so if you don't want to wait a month between your fix of Aries puzzles, subscribe now for weekly puzzles straight to your inbox. 

Also for cryptic crossword fans, here's a periodic reminder to subscribe to The Browser newsletter, which features a weekly cryptic written by, among others, yours truly! You can get a discount on a subscription using the promo code CROSSWORD20 when signing up.

Happy solving!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Puns & Anagrams #4

Puns & Anagrams #4 - PUZ | PDF | PDF (Grayscale) | Solution (PDF)

Back with another Puns & Anagrams puzzle! Here's another recap of trademark P&A features to keep in mind while solving:

1) P&As feature a fully interlocking grid, and each answer is an acceptable entry in a standard crossword. 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.

Hope you enjoy! As always, any and all feedback is greatly encouraged - feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email. 

A reminder that subscriptions for Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle are always open! I've updated the monthly bundles through January 2022, so pick up a bundle or two to see the kind of puzzles you'd get as a subscriber. 

Happy solving!