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

SQP142 – Variety Cryptic #16 – “Take Your Time” with Nate Cardin

Hello, Cryptids!

Have I got a treat for you today! It’s a variety cryptic I made with the wonderful Nate Cardin!

Nate and I are both teachers and began making cryptics around the same time. We’re regular co-conspirators behind the scenes, test solving each other’s work, kicking around clues, making cool puzzle plans and the like. You can find our stuff in some of the same venues outside of this blog as well. Nate’s a tremendous force for representation and empowerment in our field — he’s always working to lift up others and dismantle inequitable structures in crossworld and beyond. The Queer Qrosswords packs he helped put together were hugely educational and enjoyable solving experiences for me back before we even connected (if you missed them then, please stop reading this and go try them now). In addition to being a great supporter of his fellow constructors (myself included), Nate’s a cryptic wiz, as you’ll see in today’s offering.

Here’s Nate:

How lucky am I to get to collaborate with Steve on a variety cryptic?  He has been such an invaluable sounding board as I’ve gotten into cryptics and I respect him so much, not only for his puzzling talent but also for his thoughtfulness in the types of clues and answers he does (and doesn’t) include in his puzzles.  I’ve enjoyed solving his puzzles throughout his cryptic evolution and will one day be brave enough to explore British cryptics like he has been.  🙂  Fun fact:  My path as a crossword constructor started with meta crosswords, then onto themed and themeless crosswords, and THEN onto cryptic crosswords.  Seeing how I started with metas, you’re right to wonder why it took me so long to write a variety cryptic (which essentially pairs meta aspects with a cryptic crossword), but here we finally are, thanks to Steve’s encouragement.  I sent him the idea for this puzzle and we were off to the races.  We hope you enjoy the puzzle!

Thanks so much to Mental Playground and Hayley Gold for test solving this one. I’ll be back in a week with a gentler quiptic. Take care and enjoy the puzzle!

solve online / pdf / solution & explanations

SQP131 – Alphabetical Jigsaw #1

Hello, cryptic folks!

Jigsaw puzzles are a New Year tradition in the Mossberg house, so this time I’d like to share one with you in cryptic form. Alphabetical Jigsaws have a long puzzling past overseas but are seldom seen stateside. The premise is that the clues are listed in alphabetical order with no numbers. The solver needs to use inference and solving power to figure out where to place them in the grid. I recommend beginning with the two pairs of clues that share the same starting letter, using the grid shape and enumerations to locate them. Thanks to K0rmad for the test solve. Good luck!

The first Square Chase variety cryptic goes out to subscribers in 3 days! I’m really excited to share this series of twice-monthly VCs with folks, and if you want to get in on the fun, I hope you’ll join us by signing up.

Take care, enjoy, and have a Happy New Year! I’ll be back in a week with your standard themed offering for January.

ipuz by Alex Boisvert (solve in squares.io) / solve online (make a copy of the google sheet) / pdf (recommended) / solution and explanations

SQP129 – Variety Cryptic #15 – “Present Day”

Welcome back, cryptic fans!

Today’s offering is another fairly gentle variety cryptic which I hope suits your December mood. Thanks to Hayley Gold and Nate Cardin for the test solve!

If you like the variety cryptics here at Square Pursuit, I invite you to subscribe to Square Chase, in which I will provide a fresh variety cryptic on the 1st and 15th of every month in 2022. Think of them as a continuation of what I’ve been posting already, with difficulties ranging from easy to moderate and even more interesting variety devices. I hope you’ll consider joining in on the fun!

If you’d prefer to keep coming here and solving for free, you totally should! There will still be a themed crossword and two quiptics every month, with a fourth puzzle which will likely be a themeless crossword, blocked cryptic, or yes, a whole other variety cryptic.

Take care and enjoy! I’ll be back next week with a quiptic and the following with a type of puzzle you might not have seen before if you’re American like me.

solve online / pdf / solution & explanations

SQP126 – Variety Cryptic #14 – “Blending In”

Welcome, Cryptickers!

It’s time for the November variety cryptic, and I’ve tried to make it the easiest yet, in order to give folks something relaxing to print and solve in the next few days. It doesn’t have helpers like my quiptics, but I think this might be a decent breaking-in point for newer solvers interested in trying something different. 2022 is shaping up to be a big variety cryptic year for me (more on that soon), and this one was quite fun to make.

Thanks to Hayley Gold and Nate Cardin helping me get this one up to snuff!

Take care and enjoy the puzzle! I’ll return with a themed crossword next week.

solve online / pdf / solution & explanations

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