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Showing posts from April, 2021

BWS Puzzle 18: Midi Rhyme Time #3

  As promised last time , here's another smooth rhyme time puzzle! I gotta admit, I'm having fun coming up with these mini themes based on rhymes, and making the puzzles has also been especially helpful for learning how to design a grid and get decent fill. In particular, I'm allowing myself to experiment with grid sizes, but I'm still trying to keep these rhyme time puzzles roughly in the "midi" size category. As you can see, this one came out as a 10x10, and I even got the theme entries placed symmetrically around the outside of the grid. And I categorized this as "medium" but I was less confident about that choice than I have been for other recent puzzles, so let me know if this one plays too easy/hard for you. Enjoy the solve, and share if you do! Constructive feedback in the comments is always welcome. Download links:   [ puz ]   [ pdf ]   [ solution ]        Direct link: [ play online ]

BWS Puzzle 17: Midi Themeless #8 (extra hard)

  I started off wanting to make a nice, medium puzzle, or at least one for which I could write both easy and hard clues. But I was also feeling inspired by some recent themeless puzzles I've solved* that feature wide open grids with lots of white space, especially around the middle. I'm thinking of Ryan McCarty's "Chasm" McGrids , some of Brooke Husic's demi themeless grids , and Will Nediger's Freeform Freestyles , among others. * well, I admired the grids and filled in a few squares, but "solved" is generous This puzzle is my humble attempt at those kind of grids, but on a much more manageable (for this mere mortal) 10x10 scale. In the process of keeping the middle of this grid open, I ended up with some challenging but gettable fill. And then I kept coming up with pretty hard (I think) clues, so I gave up on the easy/medium possibilities and just tried to make this really tough but hopefully still fair. If it proves too tough, check back this

BWS Puzzle 16: Midi Rhyme Time #2

  I had fun making that "rhyme time" puzzle last week , so I kept my mind open to some rhymes this week. My daughter watches 31-Across every single day (truly cannot recommend it enough!), and a few other theme entry ideas came to mind from there. I had trouble fitting some of them together while maintaining a decent midi-sized grid and reasonable fill, but I think the clues in this final version will give you some entertainment value, at least 🙂 Enjoy the solve, and share if you do! Constructive feedback in the comments is always welcome. Download links:   [ puz ]   [ pdf ]   [ solution ]        Direct link: [ play online ]

BWS Puzzle 15: Grid 'n Play #2 - 68er

  This themeless puzzle is an ol' 68er , which is not as low as tons of amazing puzzles out there (including Paolo Pasco's recent ol' 62er ) but is the lowest I've managed to pull off decently enough that I'm willing to share here. I'm categorizing this in the Grid 'n Play  series because I took this grid from the xwordinfo database and modified it ever so slightly, then filled it in, as opposed to starting with some entries and building the grid from there. Specifically, the grid for this Caleb Madison puzzle in the NYT on Friday, April 19, 2019  really caught my eye! I find the 3-blocks jutting in from the side and situated in the center rather pleasing, especially when paired with the short diagonal segments and tetromino pieces in the four corners. If you look carefully, you'll see that my grid here is only different in where those 3-blocks are placed. Caleb's grid staggers them so they're not all along the central row, creating stacks of 6

BWS Puzzle 14: Midi Rhyme Time #1

  As promised in the previous post , here is a (hopefully) nice and easy puzzle for your weekend! I made some tweaks to the 10x10 themeless grids I've been using lately and ended up with this one: there's a ton of 3s and 6s and not much else. Some of the 6s form a theme, too, and I bet I'll be able to make more like this, which is why I've labeled this (ambitiously, perhaps) as #1 in a series. As usual, some inspiration came from my life, as my 3-year-old daughter has been all about rhyming lately. (Example: "Cucumber the bucumber the doocumber!") We've also read the book referenced in 6-Down a lot recently. Enjoy the solve, and share if you do! Constructive feedback in the comments is always welcome. (In particular, I'm wondering... is this too easy?  More like this one? More like this but harder? Let me know 😊) Download links:   [ puz ]   [ pdf ]   [ solution ]        Direct link: [ play online ]

BWS Puzzle 13: Midi Themeless #7 (no 3s!)

In my previous puzzle post ( BWS Puzzle #12: Network Programming ), I mentioned that the final grid there was "pretty heavy on the 3 letter entries". In fact, out of 54 total words in that puzzle, 22 of them were 3s; that's just over 40%. Yikes! Consequently, I set myself a challenge for this next puzzle:  no 3s whatsoever!   I thought that might be difficult in a big grid, so I'm starting small with a 10x10 themeless. You can see the histogram of word lengths in the image below. There's an abundance of 4s and 5s this time, along with a handful of 7s and 10s. You may also notice some pleasing symmetry in the grid: each corner is a 4x5 or 5x4, and the four central squares are each crossed by exactly two 7s. As usual with these midi themeless puzzles, I picked a few of the 10s based on stuff that's on my mind or happening recently. In particular, 4-Down and 14-Across come from a recent dinnertime conversation, and I was delighted to notice that they could cross

BWS Puzzle 12: Network Programming (demi, themed)

I've been sharing mostly themeless puzzles lately, so I've spent the last few days thinking about themes and other constructing experiments to try. A couple of related phrases popped into my head and I found some matching lengths and started to put them in a grid, but I'm hestitant to call this a truly themed  puzzle. In other words, don't expect really clever wordplay or a big revealer; I think this is just a grid full of fun answers and clues with a sprinkling of glue that holds some of them together. Speaking of the grid, I rather like how this one turned out, especially having never made one with such a strikingly non-square shape! I admit it's pretty heavy on the 3 letter entries, so I tried to make some of those clues pop for the sheer fun of it, and I hope this is all balanced out by a bunch of fun 7s, as well as the longer "theme" entries. So, let me know what you think! (I'm also labeling this post as a "spicy" puzzle, but just becau

BWS Puzzle 11: Midi Themeless #6

I've enjoyed making these 10x10 themeless puzzles, so I'm trying to share a new one each weekend just for fun. I hope the clues and entries give you a few laughs and a few (but not too many) head-scratching moments, and maybe even teach you some interesting things, I'm also still playing around with grid designs and word lengths and things like that. This one (image above) has regular ol' rotational symmetry but, in contrast with the previous midi themeless puzzle (which had word lengths of only 3, 5, 9, or 10), it has a whole range of word lengths (10 x 3s, 6 x 4s, 8 x 5s, 4 x 6s, 2 x 7s, and 4 x 10s). All of the 10s are inspired by recent events: 22-Across and 3-Down are things I'm teaching about in one of my classes right now, 6-Down is inspired by a clue in last week's puzzle (spoiler alert, but if you need a hint: check 14-Across there ), and the idea for 13-Across and its clue came to me while thinking about something happening this week. You might also n

BWS Puzzle 10: Midi Themeless #5 - harder clues

This post has the "harder clues" version of today's 10x10 themeless puzzle, both in the embedded applet and the download links below. If this proves too challenging, click this link here for the "easier clues" version of the very same puzzle. I want to briefly comment on this puzzle's grid, too, because I've been trying to experiment with and learn more about grid designs lately. I've seen a lot of really cool and innovative grid symmetries and designs (some of which I mentioned in a recent post ) and I've been trying to apply some of those ideas to my own puzzles. This particular grid (shown above, top-left) uses one basic shape: that wide L thing with 5 blocks along and then 1 block around the bend, so to speak. That basic shape recurs four times and, overall, the grid does have standard rotational symmetry, but it almost  doesn't look like it should. I'm particularly intrigued by how this grid turned out because of the word lengths it

BWS Puzzle 10: Midi Themeless #5 - easier clues

New themeless puzzle today! A few entries and clues were inspired by recent events and pop culture, and I'm also continuing to experiment with grid designs (which I'll say more about in the "harder clues" post ).  This post has the "easier clues" version of this puzzle. As with the last midi themeless puzzle , I had my parents in mind as a stereotypical solver for this version, so I'm hoping these clues are doable for them and enjoyable for anyone else out there reading. I specifically tried to make some of the shorter clues really easy so that you can make inroads on the longer entries and, hey, maybe you'll learn a few fun things, too! (If you're looking for more of a challenge, click this link here for the "harder clues" version of this very same puzzle.) Enjoy the solve, and share if you do! Constructive feedback in the comments is always welcome. Download links:   [ puz ]   [ pdf ]   [ solution ]

7xwords 04-03-2021 and my math-themed puzzles

Have you seen the awesome 7xwords website yet? Check it out! The index page shows you all 312 possible 7x7 crossword grids (subject to a few standard rules as described on the "why?" page ). That amounts to a new puzzle six days a week for all 52 weeks of the year and constructors could claim a grid for a certain day in advance. When I first heard about this project on Twitter toward the beginning of the year, I was really intrigued and hoped to take part. I looked for a date that was not imminent (so I could worry about making a puzzle later) but also not too far off in the future (so I wouldn't have to worry about forgetting until the last minute). I picked April 3 because it was soon-ish and also not within a day of a holiday. I didn't even think to look at what the grid would be, so I'm glad it ended up being something manageable (the image at the top of this post). A few weeks later, when I started working on the puzzle, I looked for interesting people bor