SQP120 – Variety Cryptic #13 – Bustin’ Makes Me Feel Good!

Dear Cryptologists,

Good to see you! Thanks for coming by. It’s a Halloween variety cryptic and we have ghosts to take care of here, so I’m going to let you get to it. As usual, this is a gentle-ish puzzle of its type.

Thanks to Hayley Gold and Nate Cardin for test solving!

When you’re done bustin’, might you have a minute to take a quick, anonymous survey about Square Pursuit? I’m trying to figure out where to go with this next; what to trim, what to expand, where to tweak things to make it fun and rewarding for everyone involved. It shouldn’t take long, and it would mean a lot to me!

solve online / pdf / answers and explanations

SQP113 – Variety Cryptic #12: “Deal With It!”

Hello, cryptic fans!

It’s variety cryptic day! I’m really excited to share a new one with you, and hope you enjoy it. This is a touch harder than last month’s puzzle, but should still be pretty accessible, all things considered.

Thanks so much to Hayley Gold and Nate Cardin for the thoughtful test solving!

Thanks for stopping by! Take care and enjoy the puzzle. I’ll see you next week with a Quiptic!

solve online / pdf / solution & explanation

SQP108 – Variety Cryptic #11 “It’s Gone!”

Hello, fellow cryptids!

It’s my great pleasure, as always, to share another variety cryptic with you. This puzzle uses a different mechanism from the others I’ve done so far. I think it’s as straightforward as the others, if not more, though and I’m pretty happy with how fully the theme came through. I feel this is on the gentler side of variety cryptics, so I hope it’s fun for everybody!

Thanks to Hayley Gold and Nate Cardin, for what is always such thoughtful test solving.

Take care, enjoy the puzzle, and come back next week if you want to solve something totally non-cryptic.

solve online / pdf / solution and explanations

SQP101 – Variety Cryptic #10 – “Fun in the Sun”

Hello, cryptic fans!

I’ve got a summery one for you this week. It’s a variety cryptic on the lighter side of things. If you’ve been enjoying the quiptics and are considering trying a harder puzzle, this may be a reasonable step up for you. There’s enough in there to please experienced solvers too, I hope!

Thanks to Nate Cardin and Hayley Gold for the test solve!

Take care, enjoy, and see you this weekend with a surprise!

solve online / pdf / solution & explanations

SQP094 – Variety Cryptic #9 – I Think We’re Done Here

Hello, cryptic friends!

It’s always a joy when variety day rolls around, and I hope today’s offering doesn’t disappoint! It’s easy-moderate in difficulty. International solvers, you’ve probably got this on lock, but you may need to peek at a reference at a couple points. Americans, you have no excuse (I kid, I kid).

Thanks to Nate Cardin and Hayley Gold for the test solve this time around!

Take care and enjoy the puzzle! Next week is a fifth Wednesday, and I may be taking it off or might have something cool to share. If not, see you on the 7th of July with a themed crossword!

solve online / pdf / solution and explanation

SQP089 – Variety Cryptic #8 – “I Had No Idea”

Hello, puzzle buds!

It’s variety cryptic day! I’m always so happy to make and share these with you. It looks like this one may be a bit tougher than some of the others, but I still feel it’s on the easier side of what’s out there for this sort of puzzle. If it’s giving you too rough a ride, may I recommend one of my intro-level quiptics here on this site?

I want to give my gratitude to the cryptic setting and solving community on all continents! Special thanks to Hayley Gold, Nate Cardin, and k0rmad for the test solve — I can assure you this puzzle was way more wicked (and not as shiny) before they got their hands on it.

Up next week we’ve got a themed non-cryptic with some personal significance. I’m feeling a bit of a creative swell for the non-cryptics right this minute. We shall see what comes of it. The following week I’ll be back with a blocked cryptic that I hope stretches your brain and makes you laugh.

Thanks for stopping by. Take care and enjoy!

solve online / pdf / solution & explanations

SQP083 – Variety Cryptic #7: What’ll It Be?

Hello, Cryptic Friends!

It’s that special time of month again! I’m so excited to have this variety cryptic for you to solve and hope it’s full of laughs and ahas. Let’s call it a 1.5/5 difficulty compared to other variety cryptics in the North American style.

Many thanks to k0rmad and Hayley Gold for the awesome test solving, as usual. It was so fun talking to folks about cryptics and other puzzles at this year’s ACPT this past weekend! Feeling lots of love for the cryptic community and crossword community at large. Thanks for coming by today and thanks for the awesome hang!

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

solve online / pdf / solution and explanation

SQP076 – Variety Cryptic #6: “Takin’ Off!”

Hello, cryptic friends!

It’s my favorite time of month again! Today’s variety cryptic is relatively gentle, as usual. I hope you enjoy it!

The cryptic fun just keeps coming! I’ve been plugging away at several UK puzzles daily and I’m starting to experience much smoother solves, and with them, a lot of joy. I’ve been getting a lot of practice constructing as well, and I must say it’s pretty cool to have you folks along with me solving my puzzles.

I’m thankful for several test solvers this time. Hayley Gold, who has an interactive crossword graphic novel coming out that I’m really excited to see (Kickstarter here), Nate Cardin, who keeps crushing the cryptic game over at The Browser, and k0rmad, who has given an excellent eye to my cryptics for over half a year. Thanks, folks!

Back at you with a bit more variety next week, and a whole raft of themed, themeless, and cryptic crosswords in April! Take care and enjoy!

solve online / pdf / solution and explanations

Variety Cryptic #5: “Spring Cleaning”

Hello, cryptic people!

I’m seldom happier as a constructor than on the days I get to drop a variety cryptic! I hope it’s fun for you too. It’s been a pleasure to keep learning and setting these things. As usual, the difficulty is gentle-ish, which is to say it should be approachable to beginners without being a total gimme. Thanks so much to Hayley Gold, Nate Cardin, and k0rmad for the invaluable feedback during the editing process.

I’m finishing out a week off of work right now and have enjoyed a lovely virtual vacation to the U.K., during which I’ve solved every major daily cryptic to come out there for five days in a row. That’s 35 British puzzles from The Guardian, Independent, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph and Times! As you might imagine, this was pretty time consuming! I’m a second-tier speed solver of non-cryptic crosswords, and this sort of endeavor would have taken me about two hours had the puzzles been straightforward. Instead, this took me about fifteen hours! Good thing it was fun! Some piping hot takes, if you’ll indulge me:

  • U.K. puzzles are much harder than American/Canadian cryptics. Even the easiest ones are often about twice as hard as today’s blog puzzle, in my opinion!
  • Each venue has a really strong house style and even within those, the setters show an incredibly diverse array of voices. It was great to get to know and savor their styles.
  • I think our cryptic rules here are too strict by comparison. There was some really wild and innovative cluing going on that certainly wouldn’t be kosher in a cryptic in the states.
  • The heavy use of abbreviations makes for shorter, more elegant clues while without sacrificing the challenge or entertainment factor.
  • British general knowledge, vocab, and idioms do play a part in making these puzzles difficult for an American like me, but a little bit of Googling and learning makes it a super fun way to engage with someone else’s culture!
  • Themes aren’t required but they do show up a lot and are a really fun addition to standard blocked cryptics.
  • Every single puzzle I solved showed real virtuosity in its construction. The standard is incredibly high, and I have so much to learn and aspire to as a cryptic setter.

If you’d like to share U.K. cryptic solving experiences, please hit me up. I’d love to chat!

That’s that! Take care, enjoy the puzzle, and I’ll see you Wednesday with a themeless puzzle on the one-year anniversary of Square Pursuit!

Solve Online

PDF Solution with explanations

Variety Cryptic #4: “Sliding Scale”

Hello, cryptic lovers!

What a pleasure it’s been to make variety cryptics for you these past few months! This one’s definitely up to some tricks, but should have enough straightforward bits to help newer solvers slide right in. I hope it’s fun for everyone.

I’d like to give my thanks to Chris Evans, Quiara Vasquez, and ky for their generous help test solving. It’s been so fun to talk to make puzzles and talk clues and solve with these folks!

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a themed crossword! Enjoy the challenge and take care of yourselves.

Solve Online


PDF Solution/Explanations