SQP123 – A Portrait In Jazz (cryptic)

Welcome, Cryptids!

As promised, here is your monthly blocked cryptic, with a theme no less. For those who are new to the site, my puzzles of this sort follow the conventions of the stricter UK newspaper cryptics, but with American spellings and vernacular. They’re harder than most US cryptics, and this one should be similar to an early week puzzle from such a venue overseas. Thanks to k0rmad for the test solve. I hope you enjoy!

I’ll leave the Square Pursuit survey open for the rest of the week, and will have some announcements about my future plans at the beginning of December. Thanks so much to everyone who has responded, and if you haven’t had a chance yet, I’d appreciate knowing your opinions!

Take care and enjoy the puzzle. I’ll be back next week with a themeless crossword and the following week with a variety cryptic.

solve online / puz / pdf / solution & explanations

SQP117 – Cryptic #15

Hello, cryptic solvers!

Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad to be here with October’s blocked cryptic puzzle. No theme here, just some challenging clues and plenty of laughs (or so I hope). If you find yourself totally stuck and not enjoying things, may I recommend revealing an answer or two? It’s something that I did a lot when learning to solve the British puzzles I love so much. It would be great to normalize that sort of thing as it opened the door to a lot of joy for me.

Many thanks to k0rmad for test solving, and to Ali for lending me his letter Y.

See you next week with the October themeless, which is not at all cryptic, but should be fun (or so I also hope).

Take care and enjoy the puzzle!

solve online / puz / pdf / answers & explanations

SQP110 – Cryptic #5782

Happy New Year, cryptic fans!

Thanks for stopping by one day early this week. I’ve got a holiday challenger for you in the cryptic spot for September. There’s a wide range of difficulty in the clues to this puzzle, but if the toughest ones leave you scratching your head, I’ve got a gentler quiptic coming in two days, as well as this fun cryptic 7xwords puzzle that dropped over the weekend. Thanks again to Malaika for having me as part of such a cool puzzle project!

Thanks so much to David Gold and k0rmad for test solving!

Take care, enjoy, and see you on Thursday with that quiptic!

solve online / puz / pdf / solution & explanations

SQP098 – Uninspired Cryptic

Hello, cryptic fans!

I’ve got a themed puzzle for you on this fine summer day. It should be a decent challenge. I hope it’s lots of fun!

Thanks to k0rmad for the excellent test solving, as always!

We’re getting pretty close to 100 puzzles on Square Pursuit! Number 99, a non-cryptic themeless, will drop next Wednesday.

Take care, enjoy the puzzle, and see you in a week!

solve online / puz / pdf / solution & explantions

SQP092 – Cryptic #11

Hello again, cryptic lovers!

Well, it’s been one day, and we’re back with a stiffer challenge. No theme or funny business here, just pure cryptic goodness (I hope you agree)!

Speaking of which, one of the beautiful parts of cryptic land is that folks don’t always agree on what’s fun! At this point in my cryptic journey I’d say I’ve become a mostly Ximenean setter, but my feeling is that if I don’t try to push things a bit, then I’m missing out on a creative opportunity.

Some things that folks have loved and hated in my puzzles (mild spoilers here) include that tiny hidden indicator, the trick with the chemical symbol, the reverse clues, the double letter homophone that time, and the general use of vernacular terms in my wordplay. I promise that when you see a clue that works in an unfamiliar way, it’s been crafted with care and consideration!

I’m so lucky to have had Will Nediger, Paolo Pasco, and k0rmad test solve this one. Thanks all!

Take care, enjoy, and see you next week with a non-cryptic themeless!

solve online / puz / pdf / solution & explanation

SQP086 – Cryptic #10

Hello, cryptic people!

Thanks for stopping by. Today’s puzzle has no title, no theme, just a bunch of ahas and laughs (or so I hope). Since the last bunch of puzzles have been on the easier side, I’ve taken the opportunity to throw you some harder stuff here, though I’d left plenty of footholds around the grid as well. It will probably play a touch harder than most North American puzzles, but I’ve been known to be strikingly wrong about difficulty level before.

As always, thanks for stopping by! Thanks also to k0rmad and Nate Cardin for the test solve. If this one’s too opaque to be fun, I recommend one of the variety cryptics on the site, or if you’d rather start off more gently, perhaps one of the quiptics (which have been so fun to make). If you’re looking for a non-cryptic offering, there’s a fun themeless collaboration coming next week!

Take care, enjoy, and see you in 7 with that themeless!

solve online / puz / pdf / solution

SQP081 – Cryptic #9: “Sprung!”

Hello puzzle people,

I’m thrilled to be sharing this month’s blocked cryptic with you! So glad you stopped by to give it a try. Since I’m practicing writing puzzles of varied difficulty, I’ll be gauging the puzzles at these levels for the time being:

Quiptics – .5-1/5 (relative to blocked standard cryptics worldwide)

Blocked Cryptics – 2-2.5/5 (relative to blocked standard cryptics worldwide)

Variety Cryptics 1-2/5 (relative to North American variety cryptics)

Let’s cautiously call this one a (2/5). If it gives you too rough a ride I recommend the Quiptics on my site! Special thanks to Nate Cardin and k0rmad for test solving. I’m very grateful for my cryptic community!

Take care, enjoy, and see you on Wednesday with a non-cryptic themeless!

solve online / puz / pdf / solution & explanations

Cryptic #8 – Deli Days

Hello, cryptic folks!

It’s the first cryptic Wednesday at Square Pursuit, and I’m super excited to share this one with you. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been to the deli, and reader, I miss it. If you find yourself dreaming of Ashkenazi soul food like me, this may just be the puzzle for you. Even if it’s not your thing, this should be a typically approachable blocked cryptic with maybe a tiny bit more of a challenge than usual.

I’m super grateful for all my friends in the cryptic scene on both sides of the Atlantic, and today my special test-solving thanks go to Nate Cardin and k0rmad. If you’re hungry for a non-cryptic crossword, I’ve got one coming in another venue this weekend as well as the themeless next Wednesday here on the site.

solve online / puz / pdf / solution & explanations

Bonus Cryptic #2: “The Book or the Movie?”

Hey cryptic people!

I’m so happy to have teamed up on another cryptic with Chris Evans (MentalPlayground)! Chris makes lovely puzzles at an astounding rate and I highly recommend you solve them twice a week over on his site. He’s one of the first people I began talking about cryptics with and we’ve had a lot of laughs solving British puzzles together.

We made today’s offering with a tight theme and some British conventions, and I’d say it’s about twice as difficult as the ones I typically put up on Square Pursuit. I think it’s a really fun puzzle and you should totally give it a try! Here’s some stuff to watch out for, if you don’t solve British newspaper crosswords regularly:

  • We are using British words and more abbreviations than US solvers typically face.
  • We are using UK spellings in this puzzle. You’d surely realise this on your own, but I’m giving fair warning.
  • This puzzle contains cryptic definitions, which are not used typically used in American cryptics. There is no literal half of the clue! Think of a misleading and cute “?” clue from a NYT puzzle or something like that, and you’re pretty much there.

Take care and enjoy the puzzle! 4 days until a themed crossword, 7 days until the February variety cryptic, and 11 days until the one year anniversary of Square Pursuit! See you soon.

Solve Online @ MentalPlayground’s Cryptics

PDF Solution