SQP161 – Quiptic 39/39

Hello, cryptic fans!

This final quiptic marks the end of an era. When I made the first of these, the cryptic crossword landscape in North America looked fairly different than it does today. I started the series to give folks a chance to sharpen up their skills so they could begin tackling the British puzzles I like so much. We now have a much stronger solver base here than we did before, and more in the way of quality cryptic options as well.

In truth, my taste still leans towards the British crossword, and I think that’s what makes this bunch of 39 puzzles unique. Always straightforward, never a pushover, and constructed in the spirit of the clue writers I admire most. 39 quiptics on the site should be a good amount for anybody looking to run the gauntlet on their way to whichever puzzling destination they’d like.

I’d like to give my appreciation to Will Eisenberg, who somehow managed to test solve every single one of these things. He’s a thoughtful constructor and crossword theorist, and the sort of person I’d trust 100% with one of my puzzles in his hands.

With this last quiptic, Square Pursuit is going to become a “puzzles will appear whenever I’ve got something cool to share” project. Thanks to the folks who have come by on the regular in the past. Though the schedule won’t be static, I’d love to use this space for some cryptic collaborations and variety puzzles next year, and am especially excited to be bringing you “Eight Cryptic Nights,” a midi variety cryptic meta suite with an installment dropping each night of Chanukah in December.

Aside from Square Pursuit, I invite you to give my Patreon variety cryptic service Square Chase a try. I’m bowled over by how big it’s become in its first year and am endeavoring to make each puzzle as good as I can. The volume of solvers engaged with these puzzles is not lost on me, so I’m really pushing. And yes, it will continue through 2023 as well.

You’ll also be able to see me in the Browser, where I continue to offer tough 15x non-variety cryptics. You can find my non-cryptics in the Newsday Saturday Stumper once a month. More of both kinds of puzzles should be popping up in other places too. I’m looking forward to stretching out next year — maybe I’ll even have a crack at the UK papers someday!

Take care and enjoy the puzzle, stay tuned for “Eight Cryptic Nights,” and look out for me in the wild tomorrow. Big cryptic day.

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution and explanations

SQP160 – Quiptic #38

Hello, Quipsters!

I hope you’re doing well wherever you are. I’m always excited to post a quiptic, and this one’s no exception. It’s got one device per clue, which you can see ahead of time in the “helpers” version, if you’re into that sort of thing. My guess is this one is on the harder side for what it is, but you never know! Thanks to Will for test solving.

Take care and enjoy the puzzle! Larger, harder cryptics coming soon.

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution & explanations

SQP159 – Quiptic #37

Hello, Quipsters!

Thanks for stopping by. As usual, this quiptic contains only one wordplay device per clue and comes with a “helpers” version revealing the type of device ahead of time. I hope it’s fun for new and seasoned solvers alike.

Thanks to Will for the test solve!

Take care and enjoy the puzzle. See you in October with quiptics here and all sorts of other cryptic fun in other venues!

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution & explanations

SQP158 – Quiptic #36

Greetings, Quipsters!

Thanks for coming by. Here’s your first quiptic of the fourth quarter, and I do so hope you enjoy it. As usual, it’s a one-device-per-clue puzzle, with a helpers version which reveals said device up front. I’ve got an unusual one in there that should be fun if you spot it. Thanks to Will for test-solving.

I’ve got some fun cryptics popping up in a few different places over the next two months, and I’m looking forward to sharing those with you as well. Stay tuned!

Take care and enjoy the puzzle! Back in two weeks with another quiptic.

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution and explanations

SQP157 – Quiptic #35

Hello, Quipsters!

Thanks for stopping by. Today’s quiptic, as usual, contains only one device per clue, which can be revealed to you ahead of time should you choose the version with “helpers.” I hope it’s fun for solvers old and new alike.

Thanks to Will for test-solving!

Take care and enjoy the puzzle, people! I’ll seeeee yooooouuu, in Septemmmmmberrr…..

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution & explanations

SQP156 – Quiptic #34

Hello, Quipsters! I hope the dog days have treated you well. I’ve got a fun one for you with some longer stuff in it this time around. As usual, it’s one device per clue, revealed freely in the “helpers” version. Thanks, as always, to Will for test solving.

It’s my turn again at The Browser this weekend. If you haven’t gotten to check these cryptics out yet, I highly recommend a reasonably-priced subscription. I’m on a roster with some of North America’s most excellent setters, and there’s a really wide range of styles represented. I’ll be chasing it on Monday with a very silly Square Chase variety cryptic.

Speaking of awesome fellow Browser setters, I’ll be a guest on Will Nediger’s Twitch stream at 9PM on August 18th, joining him and ace solver/cryptic experts Hayley Gold and Al Sanders to learn about Stephen Sondheim’s cryptics and tackle one of his classic puzzles. I hope you can join me then!

That’s all from me! Take care and enjoy the puzzle.

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution & explanations

SQP155 Quiptic #33

Hello Quipsters!

Happy midsummer! You know the drill — one device per clue, which the helpers version will let you know about up front. This should be on the harder end of my quiptics, so hopefully it’s more of a savor than a suffer for you! Thanks to Will for the test solving.

Take care, enjoy the puzzle, and I’ll see you next month with more quiptics, Square Chases, and a Browser cryptic to boot!

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution & explanations

SQP154 – Quiptic #32

Hello, Quipsters!

I hope you folks are enjoying the summer. I’ve been taking it easy on puzzle construction these past couple weeks but am happy to share this quiptic with you today. It has one device per clue, which is revealed early in parentheses in the “helpers” version. I hope newcomers and seasoned solvers enjoy it alike. Thanks to Will for the test solve.

I’ll be back in two weeks with another quiptic and a Square Chase in the meantime. Take care and enjoy the puzzle!

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution & explanations

SQP153 – Alphabetical Jigsaw #2

Hello, Cryptids!

The last time I did one of these puzzles, it was the beginning of winter, and people really seemed to love it. Now it’s the beginning of summer and I think I’m going to make it a twice-yearly tradition.

For those who haven’t done an alphabetical jigsaw, it’s a cryptic crossword in which the clues are listed alphabetically and at least one answer begins with each letter, A-Z. The catch is that you don’t know where to put them, and need to do some inferring along the way using the clue order, length of entries, crossing letters, and trial and error.

Commonly this kind of grid has 26 entries, one for each letter, but I’m choosing to go with a 28 entry variety in which two pairs of entries share the same square in the grid (and first letter to go with it). I first encountered this sort of layout in the Financial Times, where alphabetical jigsaws are in the very capable hands of Julius (Knut). That extra little break-in point helped me out a lot, particularly as a new solver at the time. I’ve also followed his lead in making many of the first letters of entries checked, as opposed to unchecked, as you often see in jigsaws.

That said, this is still not an easy puzzle as mine go, and it’s definitely a stiffer challenge than last December’s offering. I’ve come to enjoy doing some harder clues than we typically see in the States when posting full-sized grids here. I hope it’s tricky in a fun way and that you enjoy solving it!

Thanks to Mental Playground and the fellas at The Rackenfracker for test solving.

Take care and enjoy! I’ll be back in July with quiptics and more.

pdf / ipuz (squares.io or Puzzazz on mobile) / solution & explanations

SQP152 – Quiptic #31

Hello Quipsters,

Happy summer! Thanks for stopping by. I’m kicking off a pretty dense 10 days of crosswords with the easiest of the bunch. It’s got one device per clue, and the helpers version tells you which device to look for each time. I hope it’s fun for both the beginners and the daredevils who time themselves and race each other alike! Thanks, as always, to Will for being a great quiptic test solve guy.

In seven days there will be the twice-yearly alphabetical jigsaw cryptic, which should be one of the hardest things to date this site but also one of the most rewarding. Then, on the first of July I’m dropping a really unusual Square Chase variety cryptic that I’m also pretty excited about. Add a Saturday Stumper somewhere in that mix and it’s going to be good times.

Take care and enjoy the puzzle! See you with that challenge next week.

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

Solution and Explanations