Bonus Puzzle: “Camber Cryptic”

Greetings, puzzle buffs!

About a week ago, U.K.-based cryptic bud Chris Evans (who sets puzzles twice a week on the excellent Mental Playground site) showed me a peculiar grid idea he had come up with. We ended up talking a lot about how it might work and decided we were up for a cryptic collaboration. This was a really fun process in which we each wrote dueling clues for much of the puzzle and refined the ones we liked most together. In addition to being a fun guy to work with, Chris taught me all kinds of things in the process, like what a camber actually is.

Here’s Chris:

Spending time with folks from across the Pond has shown me that there are plenty of ways to add depth to a seemingly traditional puzzle. I’ve been solving cryptics for years and the idea of one with themed entries is fairly common – so I decided to make you look a bit harder to find those themes! I sent the idea over to Steve Mossberg, who liked it, and we set upon cluing the grid together – I think we’ve managed to get the best of both of our styles. I hope you enjoy the solve!

Have fun, people! Explanations are in the solution document. See you on Wednesday with a tricky themeless!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Puzzle #26: “All About Ed”

Hello again, puzzlers!

I had a blast last weekend at Lollapuzzoola, and if you were there, I hope you did as well! Lots of gorgeous tournament puzzles, some nice challenges, that unforgiving clock, and plenty of great hanging out. Fingers crossed we can all get back out in person next year.

This week’s puzzle isn’t about crossword competitions, though. This one’s all about Ed. I hope it’s a gentle challenge with a theme that puts a smile on your face. There’s more to come as well — I did a little intercontinental collaboration this week, and the result (not a standard crossword) is going to be up on Saturday as a bonus for those of you who prefer their wordplay more cranium-splitting than today’s variety.

Take care of yourselves and enjoy! Back on Saturday with that bonus I mentioned and then next Wednesday with a fun themeless offering.

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Puzzle #25: “Themeless #13”

Well met, puzzlers!

We’re just cruising along through the summer crossword tournament season. The only good thing about remote competition is that I get to “go to” pretty much anything I want. This week I’m excited about Lollapuzzoola, which is happening on Saturday, and I’m glad to be able to count friends among the puzzle constructors and fellow solvers!

I solve crosswords for fun, and do so pretty quickly. I am earnest about trying to improve my skills, and will push myself on Saturday to go as quickly as I can. That said, I’m absolutely nowhere near the superhuman solvers that can fly through these puzzles a full minute or two faster than me. I’d like to give a special welcome today to the extra-brave souls that are tackling their puzzles this week downs-only. My sincerest wishes that today’s themeless offering won’t be too rough on you. I also just so happen to have a gentler puzzle running today in the Universal, a great venue that’s of my favorite daily solves!

Take care, folks. Enjoy, see you at the big game on Saturday, and I’ll be back next week with a themed puzzle!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Puzzle #24: “Grocery Run”

Hello, puzzle buds!

I realize that I’m treading extremely close to having to rename Square Pursuit “The Blog with the Food Puzzles,” but I thought that this one was timely, playful, and ridiculously true to life. I hope you can relate!

Thanks to everybody who tried the Cryptic puzzle I made last weekend. I got such a warm and wonderful response, and am feeling happy to be able to do it every month.

Hang in there, people. Stay safe and enjoy the errand! Back with a themeless offering in one week!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Cryptic #1

Hello, puzzle people!

I’ve been solving American-style crosswords for over twenty years, but I’ve recently become enamored of the cryptic, and I’m here to tell you, I’ve got it bad for these puzzles. Naturally, I had to have a try at making them and I’ve been working hard, putting out some early efforts, and refining the process to point where I felt I could share one with you.

Every first Saturday of a month from here on in, I’m going to post a cryptic puzzle on the site for you folks. Everything else you’ve come to expect from Square Pursuit is staying the same. If you’re not familiar with the cryptic style, it’s probably going to seem impenetrable at first as it did to me, but it absolutely can be solved, and at least in my experience is tremendously fun and rewarding once you get the hang of it. Constructor/Puzzle Editor Stella Zawistowski has written an excellent series of essays called “Decrypting the Cryptic” on how to crack into these puzzles, and was so kind as to allow me to link to it here to help new solvers get started.

In addition to my gratitude to Stella for letting me use her writings, thanks go out to folks on the crossword Discord who test-solved some of my earlier attempts: romkd, UnwiseOwl, edderiofer, and Lebronswanson (are these their real names?), and to Eccles for helping me smooth out that clue!

Whew! There it is. Hope you all enjoy Cryptic #1. It’s only going to get better from here on in! Back on Wednesday with your regularly-scheduled themed offering!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION and explanations

Puzzle #23: Themeless #12

Hello, puzzle fans!

What a great time last weekend! I really enjoyed competing in the online version of Boswords, where I got to solve puzzles from some of my favorite constructors, and “hang out” with all kinds of cool crossword people. If you’ve never done a tournament online, I highly recommend it. Even the really great solvers are super-friendly and everybody takes the day in stride.

I’m glad to be giving you a tricky themeless offering today, having just tackled the brutal championship puzzle (no, I was not even close to qualifying). It’s fun to get inspired by the deviousness of other constructors when sitting down to write clues.

A few folks have asked for some more wordplay-heavy puzzles, and I’ve got good news! On Saturday I’ll be launching a new monthly feature that’s a bit different and huge on wordplay. If it’s not your bag, I promise some puns in next weeks standard grid.

Take care and enjoy! Back on Saturday with the new thing, and next Wednesday with your regularly-scheduled themed offering!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Puzzle #22: “I’m Stuffed. Let’s Eat!”

Greetings, hungry puzzlers! I’ve got a culinary treat for you this week.

You may know I like a tricky puzzle, but it’s important to me that it be fair. I made this grid a while back and sat on it because I wasn’t sure it would be approachable enough. A quick shout out to constructor extraordinaire Sid Sivakumar, who has opened some big culinary doors in puzzling, for the inspiration and advice on this one! If you haven’t already, this grid of his is particularly mouthwatering.

Good luck cracking this puzzle open. I hope you’ll find it gastronomically inspiring!

Back with a themeless crossword in only one week!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Puzzle #21: Themeless #11

Welcome back, puzzle fans!

I’ve been finding the themeless game extremely strong lately in both indie and mainstream outlets. I’m inspired to push and improve and make better ones myself each time I go at it. Let’s just say the learning curve around these parts is STEEP! It’s great to be among these particular peers.

One place to get a bunch of killer themelesses (and themed puzzles as well) is the Grids For Good package. I’m about halfway through solving them myself, and each one is so good that everyone should go pick them up regardless of the charitable aspect. Luckily we also get to put money toward good causes in doing so!

Here’s the puzzle. Enjoy, be safe, and I’ll see you in seven days with a fun themed offering!

Solve online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Guest Puzzle #1: “Smashing!” by Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Happy Saturday, puzzle heads!

It’s my distinct pleasure to introduce the very first guest puzzle on Square Pursuit, by my esteemed constructing colleague Enrique Henestroza Anguiano!

I’ve been enjoying Enrique’s puzzles for quite a while! I solve them regularly on his blog Datalexic, which I discovered after doing his excellent A.V. Club debut puzzle earlier this year. One personal favorite of mine is this midi, which I appreciate in particular for its appealing theme and oblique cluing which make it a pleasure to figure out. We recently got to collaborate on a grid which I sincerely hope you all get to enjoy somewhere down the road! It was a blast.

From Enrique:

“I’m excited to have this tricky, but uplifting, puzzle featured on Square Pursuit. Steve and I have a simpatico perspective on crosswords and cultural references, I think, which has made his puzzles a joy to solve and has also led to some fruitful collaboration. I’ll say that this puzzle has something in common with one of my favorite puzzles this year, which coincidentally you can solve on this here site! Hope you enjoy!”

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Puzzle #20: “Capture the Flag”

Greetings, puzzle campers!

This summer, it’s no secret that there’s not a whole lot of summer camp going on, and that’s why I decided to make this themed puzzle for you folks. The grid, which is a bit bigger than usual, was inspired by this wonderful crossword by Paolo Pasco and Ria Dhull over at Grids These Days. You should go give it a try if you haven’t had a chance yet!

In other news, there’s a fantastic set of puzzles called Grids For Good that’s available to those who donate to a COVID-19 or racial justice-related charity. It was put together by some of the top people in the business, and while I’m not involved personally, I’ve been enjoying blowing through them as a solver. Really prime stuff!

Don’t forget your bug spray! Enjoy the grid, and I’ll return with a themeless offering next Wednesday, in addition to a bonus surprise dropping soon!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION