Pent Words

Fellow puzzler Grant Fikes recently held a Pent Word construction contest over on his Cleverly Titled Logic Puzzle Blog. My entry was selected as the winning puzzle, and now I’m passing the fun on to you! Click here for Grant’s contest debriefing (including some honorable mentions), or just click here to jump straight to the puzzle I wrote. And then go solve some of Grant’s puzzles.

I think it’s neat that Grant put this contest on and is encouraging folks to take up puzzle construction. To aid that, here are three tips for writing Pent Words:

  1. Pick answer words that are not only familiar to your audience, but also allow you to write very precise clues. Across entries can be any length from 3-7 letters, and Pentominoes can go anywhere! The solver definitely needs some help getting started. I try to make a few of the Across entries complete gimmes; those give solvers the lengths of other Across entries and an opportunity to find footholds for Pentominoes.
  2. Use the Pentominoes to let the solver move all around the grid. Try to have a Pentomino include letters from both words in a row. When possible, keep rows connected to each other with Pentominoes. Try to avoid separating the grid into unconnected chunks.
  3. Write a lot of Pent Words puzzles! I had the advantage of having written some puzzles of this type in the past, for publication at this site and elsewhere. Still, I’m no expert, and the puzzle I submitted for this contest was not my first draft. Don’t be complacent with a grid with obscure answers. Keep at it!

Grant’s already got another construction contest up! I’ve never made a Word Sandwiches puzzle before, so this time we’re on equal footing going into it.

In other news, The Indie 500 crossword tournament is this Saturday! I hope to see some of you there in Washington, D.C. While registration for the in-person tournament has closed, you can pre-order the at-home version today. And whether you’re there in person or not (especially if you’re not!), check back here Saturday morning for a little bonus.

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