Thursday, October 29, 2020

PUZZLE #75: Themeless 19

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Some bullets:

Hope you enjoy the puzzle,
Paolo

Monday, October 26, 2020

VARIETY PUZZLE: Rows Garden #1

PDF (harder)
PDF (regular)
JPZ file (for solving on Crossword Nexus et al)
RGZ file (for solving on iPad)

Variety puzzle time!

In a Rows Garden, there are two ways to enter entries: in Rows (clued in order of appearance within each row) and in Blooms (which are entered in each of the hexagons, going clockwise or counterclockwise, starting at any point). In the regular version, clues for Blooms are given as they appear in the grid, left to right and top to bottom. In the harder version, clues for Blooms are given in alphabetical order by clue, so you'll have to figure out where to place the Blooms. Here's a link to a WSJ puzzle that explains it better than I'm doing right now.

If you like this puzzle, check out Andrew Ries and Joon Pahk, both masters of the form. And, if you're more down for normal crosswords, there's one coming soon! [ADDED NOTE: If you're an iPad solver, an .rgz file is available now, courtesy of Andrew Ries! Many thanks, Andrew!]

[ANOTHER UPDATE: Accidentally uploaded a version where one of the Bloom clues was for a previous version of this puzzle; the PDFs and JPZ are now updated!]

Hope you enjoy,
Paolo



Sunday, September 27, 2020

PUZZLE #74: Pentadecaphilia (by Chris Piuma!)

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Hello! Very excited to be running a puzzle from Chris Piuma, who you might know from his (very good) Twitch stream, and his (equally good) crossword site, both of which I highly recommend. Constructing-wise, I love what he's doing in terms of experimenting with the form of crosswords—no one's doing it like him. That sense is also very much on display in this puzzle, but I'll keep stop talking about it to avoid spoilers. All this is to say, I loved this puzzle, I hope you love it too, and here's some words from Chris!

This puzzle is a companion to my guest puzzle on Adam Nicolle's site. Both were inspired by a notorious channel in the Crosscord Server. I'm super excited that Paolo is willing to share it on his site, because — and I've written and rewritten the rest of this sentence a bunch of times, but it has something to do with the puzzle coming out of a particular community, and this site (and Paolo's other crosswording work) fostering a richer and more delightful community, and my excitement at stumbling into all this lovely communitarianism, and... oh, let's just say I'm excited and honoured that my puzzle is appearing here. I hope you enjoy it.

Many thanks to Chris for the kind words—now, onto the puzzle!


Thursday, September 17, 2020

CRYPTIC #1: Character Study



New puzzle format today! I've been getting into cryptic crosswords lately, largely due to solving (and loving!) the cryptics from Neville Fogarty, David Gold, Steve Mossberg, Andrew Ries et al, as well as the #crypticclueaday tweets from Stella Zawistowski. So, here's a variety cryptic for you, complete with weird gimmick and at least one Riverdale-themed clue. 

If you're new to cryptics, there are a few guides available online: Andrew Ries has a great guide to solving cryptics, and Stella Zawistowski has written an illuminating series of posts, one dedicated to a different facet of cryptic clues. In case you get stuck/don't understand how a clue works, I've attached a solution grid with full annotations.

Many thanks to David Gold for test solving—I'm a huge fan of his blog, especially his latest puzzle, which has a banger theme + some really impressive wordplay. Check it out!

Hope you enjoy the puzzle! I have a few other cryptics I might release as sporadic bonuses on the site, so let me know what you think about the whole "cryptic" "crossword" deal!

Best,
Paolo

P.S. Shoutout to Wyna Liu, the new associate puzzles editor for the New York Times! I've been lucky enough to work with her editorially at the AVCX, and she's as incredible an editor as she is a constructor/person. Looking forward to seeing what she does! (Edited to add: And Tracy Bennett!! Embarrassment of riches for the NYT)


Sunday, September 13, 2020

PUZZLE #73: "I Love It When You..." (by Brooke Husic!)

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Guest puzzle guest puzzle! Happy to be presenting a puzzle by Brooke Husic, whose work you might've seen at the USA Today, the New York Times, and any number of indie outlets. She does great stuff regularly, so many thanks to her for gracing this site with some of that greatness!

Notes from Brooke:

Thrilled to be here again with a puzzle that Had To Be Made after I noticed the relevant pattern. Many thanks to Paolo for hosting me; he's the best. His recent guest midi on Amanda's site is amazing (I for one support more (i) anniversary content and (ii) nonstandard symmetry, and this midi has both)!!! Also, I had the immense honor/pleasure of test solving Paolo's Expansion Pack and *highly* recommend it if you haven't checked it out already!!!

If you're a citizen, register to vote!! Deadlines here!!! Registration/absentee rules here!!! Online registration available in these 40 states!!!!

Follow her on her Twitters if you're not on that already—hope you enjoy the puzzle!


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

PUZZLE #72: Numbers Game

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Hello! A few notes:

-I haven't officially announced this on my blog, but Expansion Pack is officially out! Check it out at the link above—pay what you want for the main set of puzzles, and $10 can get you all that plus a bonus 21x21 themeless!
-I also haven't linked these yet, but I've had a few guest spots out! Namely this puzzle on Et Tu Etui, and this less-dumb themeless collab with Adam Nicolle. And, more coming (hopefully) soon
-I just rejoined the NPL (nom: picasso), so if you're down to clown with that, feel free to say hi and/or tell me what an "enigma" is
-Please tell Sid you want to see this happen, because I want this to happen so hard

Small puzzle today—hope you enjoy!

-Paolo




Friday, August 21, 2020

PUZZLE #71: Themeless 18

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Got another themeless today! I've always been partial to 14-letter entries and 5x5 corners, so I dropped both into today's grid. Hope you enjoy!

Quick plug for my Writing the Clues First project; feel free to drop a clue or two in there, and I might use it in a puzzle! Help me complicate the answer to the "Do you write the clues or the answers first?" question.

-Paolo

P.S. Check out the USA Today crossword this Monday (8/24)!


Sunday, August 9, 2020

PUZZLE #70: Themeless 17 (by Matthew Stock!)

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle (and the SOLUTION to the mini puzzle)

Very excited to be running today's puzzle! It's a guest puzzle by Matthew Stock, who's quickly established himself as a banger voice in the crossword scene. Apart from his indie site (linked below), you can also see his uniformly fun and excellent work at The Atlantic, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and more. I know I'm in for a good puzzle when I see Matthew's byline in general, but I was especially wowed when he sent the grid for today's puzzle (esp with the marquee 36-Across entry). I'm honored to be sharing his work today, and I hope you enjoy the puzzle as much as I did.

And, some words from Matthew!

I’ve been solving Paolo's incredible puzzles here since I first found out that indie puzzles existed, so I’m absolutely stoked to get to share one of my own here this weekend. I try to emulate Paolo often in my puzzlemaking, and this puzzle (especially its clues, which I had a ton of fun with) are very much a product of that. If you enjoy, hit me up on Twitter @1MatthewStock and/or check out my fledgling site, happylittlepuzzles.com. Happy solving!

The feelings are mutual—he's one of the cluing greats, (as you'll see below), and I find myself trying to bite his writing style way too often. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

PUZZLE #69: Nice

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Hello! Easy puzzle today. There's also an unrelated mini-puzzle (pdf, puz) that came from some of the brainstorming for this puzzle. Hope you enjoy at least one of these!

And, of course, any relationship between this puzzle's number and its title is a coincidence. 

(also! slight spoiler, so wait until after the solve, but if you haven't heard about the site referenced in 55-Across, check it out now it's so good)

-Paolo


Sunday, August 2, 2020

PUZZLE #68: Themeless 16 (Pasco Pinwheel)

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Shoutout to Sid Sivakumar of sidsgrids dot com, for being the first person to call the double-Utah clump of black squares a "Pasco" on this Chris Adams stream. Today's grid, with four Pascos in all, is my attempt to legitimize the term. Hope you enjoy!

-Paolo

Also, Adam Aaronson and I have yesterday's NYT! Check it out (and then hit up Adam's website)



Wednesday, July 29, 2020

PUZZLE #67: "I'm Spent"

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Midi-sized puzzle with a mini-sized theme today. Got the grid for this one going right after Boswords (a fun tournament with great puzzles, all of which you can buy now), and clued it up as a mid-week bonus—as always, hope you enjoy!

-Paolo

P.S. Ria and I had last Sunday's Atlantic puzzle, so check that out as well!



Saturday, July 25, 2020

PUZZLE #66: Something Different

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Hello!

I know my last post said "I promise the next puzzle will be more straight-down-the-middle," but... this puzzle is about as non-straight-down-the-middle as you can get. My bad! Normal puzzle next time, I promise.

This week's offering is a Something Different puzzle, which is a crossword where most of the entries are made-up. For example, the answer to the clue [Like Cole Sprouse's "Riverdale" character] would lead to JUGHEADESQUE, and the answer to [Havoc wreaked by the villain of "Cats" (2019)] would be MACAVITY CALAMITY. Two things that make this puzzle non-impossible to solve: the made-up answers are generally clued straight, so they can be inferred from the clues. And, most importantly, the short words in the grid are (mostly) normal, so they can act as good toeholds.

If you like this puzzle, check out some other good Something Different puzzles here, here, and here, as well as a whole folder of them here.

Hope you enjoy!

Expect the unexpected,
-Paolo

P.S. Boswords is coming up tomorrow! Will be there virtually—there's a stacked constructor lineup, so if you're not on that already, get on that train


Monday, July 13, 2020

PUZZLE #65: No Comparison

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

A few things:

Crossword Puzzles for Kids is finally out! 60+ puzzles that are kid-friendly, but based on the emails I've gotten, adults can enjoy it too. I'm graciously biting Chris King's style here with an offer: if you buy the book this week, let me know at pascopuzzles[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll donate $2 to The Bail Project, a bail-paying organization active in many cities, including my hometown.

Speaking of crosswords and making change, Grids for Good is out! It's 42 puzzles by an all-star lineup of constructors, just for a donation. Definitely hit it up, zero of the puzzles disappoint.

And, onto this puzzle! I know I said the last puzzle had a quirky theme, but this one has its fair share of quirks as well. I promise the next puzzle will be more straight-down-the-middle—three quirky puzzles, and I'll feel like Jughead from Riverdale.

Hope you enjoy!
Paolo

Sunday, June 28, 2020

PUZZLE #64: "Recess!"

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

A few bullets:

  • Don't miss this Rebecca Falcon thread about a very important topic in crosswords
  • Two days until the book drops! Buy one for the kid/kid-at-heart in your life.
  • The offer here still stands—one donation, five puzzles. Will also commit to making a midi for everyone who qualifies, no exceptions, so hop on that train if that suits you. Thank you to everyone who's donated so far—ran the numbers yesterday and it came to over $12,000 (!!) so far. Hats off to the puzzle community for chipping in for a good cause.
  • I would be remiss not mentioning some banger puzzle suites that have dropped recently: Ricky Cruz's "Crossing Words," Will Nediger's "Escape the Grid," and Eric Berlin's "The Social Distancing Puzzles." They don't miss, any of them.
Quirky theme in today's puzzle—thanks to Ria for help with some of the clues. Puzzle-wise, keep an eye out for more drops soon.


Hope you enjoy!
Paolo


Sunday, June 14, 2020

PUZZLE #63: Write-Offs (by Ria Dhull)

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Guest puzzle today! Very excited to run this one—Ria Dhull's an up-and-coming constructor, a fellow Harvard student, and also my girlfriend. She has the same voice/spirit/eye for quality as a constructor as she does as a person in general—a comparison that only makes sense if you know her I guess, but trust me when I say it means "very fun and good and I'm a huge fan." I'm very, very lucky in many senses, least of which is that I get to run this puzzle.

Some words from Ria!
let me just start off by saying that this is super exciting for me because paolo is one of the best crossword constructors out there. being on his blog is a really big honor and i still don’t think im worthy but hi! im sure you guys were expecting a pasco puzzle today and i can’t really make up for it but here is something! don’t know how i managed to convince paolo to post it, but he’s the nicest person ive ever met so maybe that’s why. like, for example, i made him edit this puzzle at least ten times, and he was really really sweet and helpful every one of those times. on that note, i genuinely think this puzzle would be nothing without him. as a very very new crossword constructor, i would also be nothing without him.

She's lying, this puzzle absolutely is 100% worthy and I'm the one who should be honored. Hope you enjoy!

(P.S. Follow Ria on Twitter @ria_dhull)

(P.P.S. The offer here is still on the table—if you haven't donated, it's never too late)



Monday, June 1, 2020

some words + a bonus puzzle

Different kind of post today.

Send me (at pascopuzzles [at] gmail [dot] com) a screenshot of your donation to the Black Lives Matter donation drive of your choice and I'll send you a brand new 17x themeless. If you donate more than $50, I'll make you a midi with clue/answer of your choice. Erik Agard is doing the same thing on his twitter, so please check that out as well.

Above all, please please keep doing the work. Do research, make phone calls, keep donating, anything you can.

Hope you're well,
Paolo

UPDATE: Sid Sivakumar of Sid's Grids has gracefully contributed a puzzle of his own. Now, if you donate, you get a 17x17 themeless and a 25x9 themed puzzle. It's a very good puzzle, so if the 17x17 themeless + the knowledge of contributing to a worthy cause still has you on the fence, let this be the factor to push you over the edge.

UPDATE #2: Matthew Stock of Happy Little Puzzles has also generously chipped in with a lovely 15x15 themeless, making for three puzzles (17x17 and 15x15 themeless, 25x9 themed) per donation.

UPDATE #3: Two new puzzles in the mix: one 15x15 themeless from Steve Mossberg of Square Pursuit, and an 11x11 themeless collab from USA Today extraordinaire Brooke Husic and rising crossword star Ria Dhull.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

PUZZLE #62: "I Don't Do Crosswords" (and Book Announcement!)

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Hello!

Coming to you with some exciting news: I've been working on a book, "Crossword Puzzles for Kids," which is coming out June 30! It's a full book of easy crosswords with kid-friendly themes, perfect for introducing kids to crosswords. I solved my first crossword at 13 and was hooked ever since, so this topic is close to my heart—if this helps even one person get into puzzles like I did, that makes it all worth it. The preorder link is up now, and it would mean a lot if you got a copy for the puzzle-hungry 9-12 year-olds (or really precocious 0-8 year-olds (or bored 13-99 year-olds)) in your life.

If you're a regular solver on this site, though, these puzzles are going to be easy in comparison. My suggestion? Try speedrunning the entire book—the puzzles are entry-level enough that experienced solvers can breeze through them no problem. Who knows, I might even give a prize to the fastest documented speedrun. Or, solve at your own pace! Lord knows we need diversions nowadays.

Anyway, 16x15 puzzle! Think I've used the same revealer type before, but I liked the theme too much to pass it up. Hope you enjoy it too!

-Paolo




Friday, May 8, 2020

PUZZLE #61: Pair Programming (with Brooke Husic)

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

lowercase post! feels right, since we got a chiller puzzle with a more freewheeling cluing vibe. very excited to run this puzzle, not in the least because this is a collab with brooke husic! you might know her from her excellent USA Today crosswords, or the equally-excellent work she's done on recent indie puzzle bangers. in either case, this puzzle came together within a twelve-hour period, from theme conception to clues. i'm honored to run it here—not only is brooke insanely talented at every stage of the crossword constructing process (if you like a clue, she wrote it), but she's dang fun to collaborate with too.

and, from brooke!
paolo asked me what time zone i was in, presumably to give me the benefit of the doubt because my messages were arriving at odd hours. turns out they're still odd hours even with the europe correction. this came together after PP found the circled words in 11-across following an appropriately topical exam. building this together felt like speed chess during filling and was the most fun i've had on a google doc, possibly ever, during cluing. stay tuned for more from this byline.

hope you enjoy!

p.s. follow brooke on twitter (@brookehus @xandraladee)



Saturday, March 21, 2020

PUZZLE #60: Chain Links

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

Hello again! Posted this puzzle to Twitter originally, but after a conversation with Chris Adams (who recently posted a very good puzzle on his website), I'm cross-posting Twitter puzzles to the blog for the benefit of .puz solvers.

Warning that the theme is very, very dumb, which is why I posted it to Twitter originally. And, if you solved the puzzle and still don't understand it, check this out.

Hope you're well,
Paolo

PUZZLE #59: Shameless Plugs

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle


Hello!

Hope you're well in these crazy times. Coming to you live between puzzles at the Crossword Tournament From Your Couch, a very good and very fun effort to keep the ACPT spirit alive in the age of social distancing. The puzzles should be out on .puz very soon (if not now), so check them out!

Remember to wash your hands,
Paolo

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

PUZZLE #58: Parasite

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PUZ
SOLUTION to the last puzzle

#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE
#BONGHIVE

Enjoy the puzzle!

-Paolo