Saturday, April 18, 2020

PUZZLE 20 - KERO KERO (themeless)

Solving Music: KNOWER - Time Traveler

This puzzle was entirely gridded on-stream on my Twitch. I don't know if I'll stream again anytime soon, but I'll share over on my Twitter if I do. Live-constructing is very interesting, because it very much shapes the end result to have people in chat commenting on it. I don't think this puzzle had as much chat influence as Sid Sivakumar's live-constructed puzzles, but there are definitely some entries here that wouldn't be here otherwise. 53-Across, for example, is dear to me, as I became familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh in college, but I wouldn't expect anyone else to be familiar with it. But someone in chat was familiar with it, so I decided to keep it in. It was definitely a fun experience; it isn't anything I'll start doing regularly, but I might be inclined to do it more often.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

PUZZLE 19 - MIGHTY MORPHIN (themeless)

Solving Music: Moe Shop - Highlight

This grid pattern.
If you haven't noticed, I'm really really really really fond of stair-stacking in themelesses. It was only a matter of time before I had two crossing 11-stairs, and I finally managed it. Construction-wise, this flowed super smoothly; if you can get the stacks to cooperate, all the corners turn out to be smooth sailing. Sure enough, this exact pattern and its reflection have been used about 5 times in the New York Times alone (I imagine several times more in other outlets and indie blogs).

This puzzle in particular, if my own test solve is any indication, is going to be quite a difficult solve. I had a super rough corner in this puzzle that was unevenly combined with less-mindbreaking sections, and in that one I should've eased up the cluing there to make it nice and even. This puzzle has that all around, so I decided to not ease up here. Oh, I did ease up in one clue: 24-Down was originally [Jaguar, e.g.]. I had to fight the urge to leave that one in. Hope you enjoy.

EDIT [4/15 1:01 AM]: The clue for 28-Down was originally [Partner of agape and eros]; turns out this is incorrect! The image above and the puzzle links have been updated with a new Skullgirls-related clue.


Friday, April 10, 2020

PUZZLE 18 - NINJA HUNTING (themeless)

Solving Music: dark cat - Maple Adventure

It's a return to stair-stacks; I love doing these 11 stair-stacks a lot. This puzzle in particular was fun to construct because of all of the nice long answers throughout the grid. Only one of them (54-Across) seems mediocre to me. I usually constrain the answers crossing the stack, but this time I tried leaving things more open, and I feel it paid off. Hope you guys agree.

Also, update on the move to CrossFire: it's not as great as I'd hoped, but it's got some significant advantages. The NE of this puzzle was mostly done with the auto-fill, which is way more flexible in CrossFire than in Crossword Compiler. The downside is that it seems to block off possibilities that I was able to find by hand (21-Across, for example, was an adjustment I had to make to compensate for the computer not registering the 9D/24A crossing as valid for some reason). Also, it's way more of a pain to remove words from wordlists in CF than in CC. My guess is that I'll be switching completely over to CrossFire purely because the advanced autofill and displaying of forced squares speed things up so much, which kinda trumps all the downsides.

Enjoy the puzzle, y'all.


Saturday, April 4, 2020


Solving Music: Ronald Jenkees - Rhodes Deep

I meant to post this one like a week ago, but kept putting it off. Real sorry about that. You'll probably be getting another puzzle in the next couple days; I've got a themeless I'm really happy about in the works, and I now have CrossFire at my disposal to help me finish it. Crossword Compiler has done some real good for me, but after seeing so many cool features in CrossFire that CC doesn't have, I finally bit the bullet and bought it. I'll be spending the next month or so weighing the pros and cons and seeing what appeals to me more.

This was a fun puzzle to grid; the theme came after the revealer came up in a conversation, and after finding a crown jewel themer *and* having it mirror the revealer, it was a dream come true. I hope y'all enjoy it as well. Stay safe.