Monday, December 26, 2022

Puzzle #196: Rock Pile

It's been a while since I've posted a puzzle with stacked theme entries, so it feels like a good time for this 67-word, horizontally symmetrical grid (pdf, puz, pdf solution). Happy solving!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Puzzle #195: Split Screen

Puzzle time (pdf, puz, pdf solution)! I've also got the Universal crossword today (with Nancy Stark), and on Saturday I had a crossword in the Puzzle Society's new feature. Happy solving!

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Puzzle #194: Viral Contest

Yeah, I know it's Tuesday and I just dropped a puzzle yesterday, but I just whipped this one (pdf, puz, pdf solution) up and it's gonna have a short shelf life, so I'm posting it right now. If you don't know that 46-Across refers to, this link will (sort of) make everything clear.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Puzzle #193: That's Weird, I Ended Up Back Where I Started

I took a couple weeks off, but I'm back with a new puz (pdf, puz, pdf solution)! Should have another one next Monday too, if all goes well.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Indie puzzle highlights: November 2022

It's a hectic time for me, so a short post this month!

November 2: The Anti Puzzle (Malaika Handa, Vulture)

November 15: Freestyle 763 (Tim Croce, club72)

November 17: Strip Poker (Quiara Vasquez, QVXwordz)

November 28: Untitled (Kate Chin Park and Chandi Deitmer, Boswords)









The Anti Puzzle (Malaika Handa)

As always, I love the ability of Vulture puzzles to stuff in tons of pop culture references while still remaining largely accessible: [Focal points of that one Kumail Nanjiani photo] for ABS, [Press Ctrl while playing "Fortnite"] for CROUCH, ["___, Please" (video game where the player is an immigration officer)] for PAPERS, etc. But of course, the star of this puzzle is the clue-of-the-year contender [Get a load of this guy?] for SPERM DONOR.

Freestyle 763 (Tim Croce)

The 763rd(!!) themeless on club72 is a classic Croce grid: three fresh in-the-language phrases stacked in the center (A LIFETIME AGO, WORD TRAVELS FAST, WHAT'S ONE MORE). I'm amazed at Tim's seemingly endless ability to pick up on these phrases; it's a constant reminder of how much of our everyday language is still relatively untapped by crosswords and wordlists. Elsewhere, he always manages to squeeze in creative stuff into the short fill, too - like WWJD and BIEBS.

Strip Poker (Quiara Vasquez)

Entries with the letters BAR in them have the BAR raised vertically above them - e.g. WEREWOLF BAR MITZVAH is written as WEREWOLF MITZVAH, with BARFING crossing the F in the center. The other themers are BAROQUE POP, BARBIECORE, and BARITE squeezed in the corner. The grid design is really smart here: Quiara's split the revealer, RAISING THE BAR, across three entries in the same row to avoid having to deal with an awkward 13-length revealer. And there's a remarkable quartet of long downs that span most of the grid: BICULTURAL, KEEBLER ELVES, RACHEL ZEGLER, and HAVANA CUBA. The kind of construction I've come to expect from Quiara, where the theme is cool but the grid is also laid out to maximize the non-theme coolness.

Untitled (Kate Chin Park and Chandi Deitmer)

The Boswords fall themeless leagues are always top-notch, but they were really firing on all cylinders this time, as evidenced by the fact that this is the third puzzle from the league to feature in my roundups. The grid is a stunner, with fabulous long entries like BERGY BITS, WOWIE ZOWIE, DID I DO THAT, EXSQUEEZE ME, UP AND COMER, DATE SPOTS, and OVER TO YOU. And, as befits the championship puzzle, there are a ton of devious misdirects in the cluing: [Hike the interest rate of?] for SEX UP, [Wrestling with a lack of humanity] for ROBOT SUMO, [Small gas giant] for QATAR, and [Image problem?] for REBUS.