SQP082 – Themeless #29

Hello, puzzle folks!

For this week’s themeless puzzle, we’re going asymmetrical. The hunt for an appealing shape with fewer rules got me thinking about abstract art, and my favorite painter, Joan Mitchell. Her “Ladybug” from 1957 is shown above. In hindsight I wonder if I might have used the lack of restrictions to leverage some ungainly fill I’ve been dying to use or to do something I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. This time, however, I was just trying to come up with something pretty and here you have it.

In keeping with the desire for beauty over function, this isn’t the most challenging puzzle I’ve put up, but I hope the the jokes land and the aha moments entertain! It was very fun to make. Thanks to Brooke Husic for test solve!

Next week is variety cryptic week, and it’s going to be pretty gentle, so I hope you’ll drop by even if you’re on the fence about that style of puzzle. Take care and enjoy the 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

SQP080 – Quiptic #2

Hey there, cryptic lovers!

Since my regular cryptics have been getting more challenging and folks liked the last quiptic, here’s another! Once again I’m gearing this toward newer solvers by keeping devices very straightforward, but I’m still aiming for smooth surface readings that bury the definition as much as possible.

Many thanks to Will Eisenberg for test driving this one and catching some stuff I was glad to change! Don’t forget that there is a version for true beginners here that contains “helpers” that reveal the devices used in each clue. The solution document gives a brief explanation for each answer as well.

Good luck, have fun, and I’ll see you on Wednesday with the full-sized, more challenging cryptic.

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution and explanations

SQP079 – “Pure Imagination”

Hello, crossfolks!

It feels like ages since I’ve done a standard crossword here at Square Pursuit, and I hope the extra column of letters in this 16×15 makes up for it a bit! It was pretty wild to fill this grid after making so many cryptics and other kinds of puzzles as I have been lately. It was kind of like going back to the gym after a week or two on the couch. Gentle-ish difficulty, with some stuff in the grid that I’m pretty pumped to work in.

Thanks so much to ace constructors Brooke Husic and Quiara Vasquez for giving this one a test drive. I always look forward to the next Steely Dan reference in a Quiara puzzle and I’m excited/terrified about Brooke’s upcoming Boswords themeless challenger.

Next week is cryptic week, and it’s not the easiest puzzle I’ve ever made. I’ve heard reports of a lot of beginning solvers enjoying the Quiptic, so there’s going to be one of those this weekend too in case you’re not sure sure about tackling the big one next Wednesday.

Take care, enjoy, and see you soon!

solve online / puz / pdf / SOLUTION

SQP078 – Spiral #1

Hello, puzzle people!

Today is a fifth Wednesday, so it felt like a chance to push myself to make something new and different! I’ve always liked spiral puzzles. They’re a good deal more straightforward than crosswords of course, but they have a nice elegance about them. I definitely had to think in some fresh ways while making this one, and it hurt my head a little, but I had a great time. I hope you have as much fun solving as I did constructing.

A few quick shout outs for test solving: my wonderful wife Arielle, who tackled this in its roughest version, Will Eisenberg, whose puzzles need no introduction (go solve them), and Jacob Cohen, who is a seasoned constructor of spirals and other variety types. He provides weekly sheets of puzzles for charity on his site.

Thanks for stopping by! Take care and enjoy the spiral. I’ll be back in 7 days with a themed crossword and 14 days with a blocked cryptic.

pdf / pdf SOLUTION

SQP077 – Quiptic #1

Happy Sunday, cryptic fans!

I’m trying something new with today’s bonus offering! It’s a midi-sized cryptic aimed at beginning solvers. I’m hoping that folks who struggle to complete the typical cryptic may be able to finish it, and that more experienced folks will be able to enjoy a quick solve with some laughs and aha moments.

The term “Quiptic” is not mine — it comes from a weekly full-sized Guardian puzzle in the UK which is also aimed at newer solvers. The smaller size idea comes from The Times’s “Quick Cryptic,” which is a weekday offering with a slightly larger grid than mine. Both of these puzzles are excellent, and I highly recommend them with the caveat that their difficulty level is more in line with a typical US cryptic, perhaps edging slightly harder in the case of The Guardian, depending on who’s doing the setting.

I can’t believe the amount of joy I’m getting from solving UK cryptics daily. It’s made me a much better solver, thus enabling me to solve more puzzles in a shorter time and have more fun. I perceive there to be a good deal of solvers in the US who might like a gateway puzzle into the harder stuff. I realize that my blocked cryptics (but not my variety cryptics) have been skewing a little harder lately, so here we are! Thanks to Will Eisenberg and my wonderful wife Arielle for test solving.

There are two versions of the puzzle, the straight up version, which I hope is one of the easiest puzzles available in the States to prioritize a smooth and misleading surface reading. The second version contains “helpers,” which reveal the clue type for each entry, like “anagram,” “double definition,” etc. I recommend this version for those who would like an extra boost to get them there.

I hope it’s fun! Take care, enjoy, and I’ll see you on Wednesday with one more non-cryptic variety puzzle.

plain: solve online / puz / pdf

with helpers: solve online / puz / pdf

solution and explanations

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

SQP075 – Themeless #28

Greetings, Crossfolks!

I’ve just finished the process of cluing an extremely hard themeless, and I am thinking, why not do something a little gentler for the blog this week, so you’re getting one! If you’ve been finding the challenge extra steep lately, this one shouldn’t give you nearly as much trouble. That said, I’ve done a few devious things and there’s definitely some broad factual content in there as well.

Thanks to Brooke Husic and Will Eisenberg for test solving! May their suffering make this one smoother for you all. I’ll see you next week for a variety cryptic that I quite like! After that it’s a fifth Wednesday, and I didn’t make any plans for what to put out on fifth Wednesdays! Should I try something new?

Take care, enjoy, and let me know what you think!

solve online / puz / pdf / solution

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

Puzzle #54: “Creative Differences”

Hello, crossword people!

I’m so glad to be kicking March off with a 17x themed puzzle! I’ve been dishing out the tough puzzles lately, so we’re dialing it back on this one. There shouldn’t be much to scare folks away this week, but it does have a bit more mustard on it than a newspaper puzzle of a similar type.

Speaking of newspapers, keep your eyes open in the next couple of months — I’ve got some ones I’m proud of dropping soon. As for the blog I’m really looking forward to the open schedule for year two, and have a fun cryptic coming at you next week. Thanks so much to Brooke Husic and Jake Eakle for the test solve on this one, and a very special thanks also goes out to my wonderful and supportive wife Arielle, who took the plunge and dealt with this one rather handily as well!

Take care and enjoy the puzzle! One week until the March cryptic, and two until a nice hard themeless!

solve online / puz / pdf / solution