At long last, I'm back from my, um, vacation. I the past couple months, I've been involved with putting on the 2013 Dimensions Puzzle Hunt at MoMath, which was a success, and participating in the 2014 MIT Mystery Hunt, which was great fun as always. And now I'm part of a group that's planning to put on BAPHL 10 this summer, so I'm not lacking for puzzle projects.
Speaking of puzzle projects, for much of the past year I have been contributing puzzles for the magazine Will Shortz Presents WordPlay, published by Penny Press. I am thrilled to report that the first issue, with over fifty variety puzzles, is now available. Some of the biggest names in puzzle construction are featured in this issue, including Patrick Berry, Trip Payne, and Brendan Emmett Quigley, and it is an honor to be included with them in this collection. The magazine is slated to come out six times a year, and it can be purchased through their website (under "Subcriptions," or "Puzzle Books" for individual issues) or at your local newsstand/bookstore/wherever you buy your puzzle books. Tell your puzzle-loving friends! Tell your puzzle-loving enemies! Tell your friends and enemies who secretly love puzzles, but just don't know it yet!
Now, where was I? Oh, right, this week's puzzle. I tend to consider Snake Charmers to be more lightweight from both the constructor's and the solver's perspectives, but I rather like some of the wordplay I fit into this one. I managed to include several long answers with a lot of overlap between them, without resorting to a ton of short answers to fill the cracks. And after a couple years of working with a hand-me-down grid in PNG format, I finally made my own vector act for the grid. Laying out the curvy bits was a pain, but it should be worth it in the long run -- the art should remain crisp at any resolution, I should have an easier time editing new grids in the future, and I can even alter the grid to fit a different number of letters should the need arise. There are a couple of kinks I need to work out, including an apparent glitch with the PDF rendering, but I think it's an improvement. What do you think? Please let me know if you think the grid needs further tweaking.
Well, the puzzle editing project continues to eat up my constructing time, but that should only be for another couple weeks or so. This puzzle, like the Tessellation Nurikabe a few weeks ago, was directly inspired by learning how to make fancy grids in Inkscape. I was expecting to have some difficulty working with a hexagonal grid, but instead I found it quite smooth to fill. I have no idea if the solving experience is quite as smooth, however. Enjoy!
After posting on Tuesday last week, and missing the week before entirely, I am finally posting a puzzle on Saturday. I rather like today's Pathfinder, if I do say so myself. I felt like I was finding new ways of having words fit together, and I managed to get a little scrabbly with some of the fill. What do you think?
I tried posting this on Monday, but it didn't take. Apologies for the lateness of this week's puzzle, and for missing last week's puzzle. I've been involved in a puzzle editing project that has been eating up a lot of my time lately, so I haven't been able to finish my own puzzles in time. I hope to get back on track, but I make no promises.
This week's puzzle is based on a Patrick Berry creation that appeared in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago. His version used a 14x14 grid, but I was worried about biting off more than I could chew, and stuck with a 12x12 grid. He also used the "extra" letters to spell a quote, but I decided to spell out four words that would clue a final answer. Think of it as a Mystery Hunt-style puzzle, with instructions.
Yet another departure from my normal fare, yet again featuring something I wrote for last week's puzzle potluck. This one is a pair of logic puzzles, which is significantly outside my comfort zone as a constructor. Nurikabe is an established puzzle type invented by the folks at Nikoli, which uses a square grid, but I tweaked one of the rules to allow me to used other tessellations. In fact, I also wrote a pair of polyhedral Nurikabe, which take place on the surface of a rhombicosidodecahedron, using the same rules, but that required the assistance of a 3-D printer, so it would be tough to share them in this forum. Once again, I haven't put together a solution file yet, but with the long weekend ahead of me I should be able to get that (and last week's solution) done fairly soon.
If you're itching for word puzzles, I recommend checking out Kevin Wald's contribution to the puzzle potluck, "A Well-Lined Grid". Kevin writes consistently entertaining cryptics, and this one is no exception.
A bit of a departure from my usual fare. I wrote this for a puzzle potluck that I hosted today, and since I had it in hand I thought I'd share it with you. It's deliberately somewhat pop-culturey, and the significance of the final answer may be somewhat obscure if you're not involved in a particular subculture. But I had fun writing it, which surprised me since I normally don't consider myself good at writing "normal" crosswords. I forgot to make a solution file, and my primary computer is in the shop, so I'm unlikely to fix that for the next week or so. Sorry.
Edited to add (10/5): The clue for 37-down is missing a word. The figure should be "$220 million" instead of just "$220".
Argh! Two late posts in a row! This is partly due to being busy, partly due to computer troubles, and partly due to flakiness. At least I know I have something lined up for next week. Also, I'm a little frustrated that I had to do two easier puzzles in a row (a Snake Charmer and a Spiral); I prefer to alternate these with harder puzzles.
Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry for the delay in posting this puzzle. Although I had sketched it out a couple weeks ago using the "outtakes" from Snake Charmer #19, I got swamped with other projects and didn't manage to format it until tonight; as it is I didn't even have time to format the solution grid. I hope this is a one-time occurrence.
Whoops, I got so caught up in solving the latest issue of P&A Magazine that I nearly forgot to post! I started this puzzle a couple weeks ago, when I first heard about the death of 10N. That was the seed for the puzzle, and I was pleased to get a few more long entries to fit in around it, but there are a lot of 5- and 6-letter words to counterbalance the long ones.
Edited to add (9/15): Two of the clues in the puzzle were lacking enumerations. I have fixed the error and uploaded a new file. Thanks to Joe for pointing this out to me.