Now We Are Six (Times Five)

Hi there! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Today I turn thirty. That’s a bit of a milestone. I was prompted by a note from my friend Anne this morning to think back on my time spent writing puzzles. I hope you’ll indulge me in some reminiscing. (If you do, there’s a new puzzle in it for you at the very end.) It was ten years ago this summer that I sold my first crossword puzzle. It ran in the Los Angeles Times on October 21, 2008.

Since then, I’ve written a few more puzzles. For two years, my puzzles appeared in my college newspaper. You might recall that on this very site, I posted around 100 puzzles. (Not that they’re all worth solving!) That helped me get the practice to put together a crossword meta suite all about board games. And now I’ve managed to sell about thirty or so to newspapers and the like. (My most recent newspaper puzzle also ran in the Los Angeles Times on Monday.) Here in this modern age of smartphones and digital distribution, I’ve also written close to fifty crosswords for the Daily POP crossword app. Crossword puzzle tournaments are also a thing: I wrote a puzzle for an early Lollapuzzoola, and I helped create the Indie 500, where I’ve had a part in writing multiple puzzles each year. And of course I’ve written the odd puzzle for a wedding, an anniversary, and a coffee mug.

All told, that’s over 200 puzzles. Some of them were solved by just one person, others by people all around the world. I think that’s pretty neat. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

To mark the occasion, I’ve written a small vowelless crossword. My goal was to make a vowelless crossword with thirty squares in it, but because I am not the best, there are two additional unchecked squares. This is an indie site, so I can do what I want, right? (I’m just giving you the letters in those squares for free to start you off.) Thus there are still thirty squares for you to fill in.

In a vowelless crossword, instead of writing out the complete answers for the clues, you only write the consonants in the grid. For example, if the clue reads [Cry inspired by an 1836 battle], you’d fill in the squares with RMMBRTHLM instead of REMEMBER THE ALAMO. And just to simplify things, none of the original answers to clues in this grid contain the letter Y, so you needn’t worry about deciding whether to omit it or not.

If you’re up for a challenge, try this harder version of the puzzle. PUZ | PDF

If you’re new to vowelless crosswords, you may prefer this easier version, which features enumerations. E.g., you’d see [Cry inspired by an 1836 battle (8,3,5)] to indicate the number of letters in each word. PUZ | PDF

If you get stumped, check out this solution file, which gives all of the expanded answers.

One last note: If you enjoyed this vowelless puzzle, go check out Peter Broda’s new vowelless collection, Made Without AEIOU. You’ll love it.

Posted in Challenging, Vowelless | 2 Comments

A Puzzle & Video from the Indie 500

Your hosts for the Indie 500! Photo by Penelope Harper.

Hey there! I just wanted to share a bit about a crossword tournament I helped run over the weekend. The Indie 500 took place on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at the Marvin Center, on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

It’s not too late for you to get your own solve-at-home copy of the puzzles! Just click that Indie 500 link and navigate over to “register.” But for your solving enjoyment, I’ve included the warm-up puzzle called “Capital Letters” from the tournament as part of this post. Scroll back up and download it!

In the photo above (by competitor Penelope Harper), you’ll see all five tournament organizers. From left to right, they are: Peter Broda, Evan Birnholz, Andy Kravis, Vanna White, and Erik Agard. (Links are to the respective constructors’ websites.) I don’t want to spoil any of the puzzles for you, in case you’ve not already seen them. What I do want to show off is a video (taken by competitor Ian Livengood) of what we called “a dairy-related Indie 500 tradition.” Competitor Joe Cabrera was randomly chosen to have the opportunity to pie any of the above puzzle constructors in the face. And despite my own certainty that I’d written the most difficult puzzle of the tournament (aside from the final), I didn’t get pied. Instead, Peter Broda did. Take a look:

Congratulations go to the Outside Track finalists: Josh Himmelsbach, Christine Quinones, and Andrew Miller for their awesome performances. Congratulations also go to the Inside Track finalists: Joon Pahk, Amy Reynaldo, and Eric Maddy. And one more set of congratulations to everyone else who competed or helped out with the tournament in some way. The fact that you aren’t listed here by name by no means diminishes your performance or contribution!

Postscript: On Sunday, a team of 8 of us (three tournament organizers, two volunteers, and three competitors) managed to come in second place at the Post Hunt, also in Washington, D.C.! What a weekend!

Posted in Straightforward | 2 Comments

Off the Grid

Thanks for sticking with me over the past two years. 104 (and a few bonus) puzzles later, it’s time for me to bring this site to a close. I’m primarily leaving to spend more time focusing on my studies.

I will continue to write puzzles, just not as regularly. I’m hoping that will help me improve the quality of my crosswords. You’ll start seeing some new puzzles (of many shapes and sizes) from me in the next issue of WordPlay, which should be out later this month. I may post the occasional puzzle here in the future for special events; you can follow me on the Facebook if you want to be alerted about such things.

I appreciate the support I’ve gotten from so many puzzlers over the years, and I’d like to pay it forward. Please visit the folks you see listed on the right if you’re looking to get your puzzle fix. A special nod goes to newcomer Chris King, who only just launched his site. It’s a lot of hard work putting out a new, well-written, interesting puzzle on a regular basis. If you enjoy solving these crosswords, do let the constructors know. It means a lot to them, just like your support has meant a lot to me. Thank you!

Peace, love & crosswords,

Posted in Announcements | 23 Comments