Category Archives: Variety Puzzles

Puzzle 595: Move Over One, Will Ya? Pulling a double shift.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


Oh ho ho, another variety puzzle curveball! In this one, I started with common two-word phrases. I took two letters in each word and shifted them either both back one position or both forward one position in the alphabet, then anagrammed the results into two new words. For example, given LEAKY EARNED, you’d shift two letters forward one position in LEAKY to get LEBLY, anagramming it to get BELLY, and you’d shift two letters backward one position in EARNED to get DARNEC, anagramming that to get DANCER. Thus, the common phrase is BELLY DANCER. I contemplated creating an “easier” version, in which I’d tell you whether the pair of letters go backward or forward, but I figured that might give away too much. The one thing I did to keep it from getting too challenging is that, in each word, both letters either go back one or go forward one. Never does one letter shift backward and one letter shift forward in a single word.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!

Puzzle 585: Double Shifts. Shift into another gear.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

Get the Easier PDF here!

Get the Harder PDF here!


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


Happy Fourth to all my American solvers, and Happy Friday to everyone else! You can do lots of interesting stuff with anagrams, as you know, and as you know that I know. The reason this is called “Double Shifts” is because the principle of this puzzle is manipulating words twice. In this case, I’m taking common two-word phrases, anagramming each one of them, and replacing the anagrams with synonyms. The example I gave inside is DIVINITY SPUD: I took “dog treat”, anagrammed the words to “god” and “tater”, and changed them to their respective synonyms “divinity” and “spud”. It was harder than you think to find two-word phrases in which (a) both of the words have anagrams, and (b) the anagrams themselves each have rock-solid synonyms. The difference between the Easier and Harder versions is simple: the Easier version contains the lengths of each word in the object phrases, and the Harder version does not.

I never underestimate my solvers, and I don’t usually arrange by difficulty, but be forewarned: the last few of these are tough as nails. I will be very duly impressed with anyone who gets all of these, but I know you all are up for the challenge.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!

Puzzle 579: Wordominoes 9. Give it a whirl!


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


I’ve said it more than once before, and I’ll say it again. These are really fun to construct. They organically develop from a seed entry (cage #2 in this case) more naturally than a regular crossword because there’s nowhere for answers to hide — there are no black squares and each letter, in each square, is a part of three answers. It’s a veritable tapestry made of letters.

If you’re relatively new here, and you like what you solve, you can follow this link here to get all my previous Wordominoes grids.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!

Puzzle 573: Split Decisions Two Ways 6. Just try and cross me.


Last week’s Two Minus Three solution

Get the PDF here!


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


I’ve been asked about when I was going to put up another one of these Split Decisions Two Ways grids. So, lucky for those who asked, I like constructing these… so here’s another one! (If you’re not familiar with these, or, by some chance, the original Split Decisions format, go through my post history of these at this link.) It’s just a pencil, paper, and a lot of erasures and write-overs to construct these things. The main impetus for how these grids get expanded, pair by pair, from the central answer is twofold: one, to make certain that it’s a unique overall solution, and two, to add more letters to certain word pairs to give the solvers a little nudge. (I bet you’re not used to my giving you a nudge in any puzzle I write!)


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!

Puzzle 571: Two Minus Three. Just drop it, okay?


Last week’s freestyle solution

Get the Easier PDF here!

Get the Harder PDF here!


I realized that quite a few common two-word phrases in English share some letters in common. I know, not exactly a groundbreaking discovery in the world of wordplay. But it was the starting point to this variety puzzle. The premise of this puzzle is that you take a common two-word phrase whose two words have at least three letters in common. Then, remove those three common letters from each word in the phrase… and that’s it. Your goal is to restore the phrases. The difference between the Easier and Harder versions is that the easier version still maintains the space between the word and the harder version doesn’t. For example, the two words in CARAMEL LATTE each have an A, E, and L. In the easier version, you would see CARM TT, and in the harder version, you’d see CARMTT.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!

Puzzle 501: Vowelization. Old MacDonald had a farm…


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

Get the Easier PDF here!

Get the Harder PDF here!


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


Anagram fans, which I know many of you are, you’ve come to the right place. Well, sort of… these aren’t really anagrams. They’re more like… addagrams? I don’t know.

You’re given clusters of consonants, and your goal is to find all of the words that have those consonants and only those consonants, without repetition. That is, if four consonants are given, the words you find can only contain exactly four consonants and only those four consonants given. For example, given BCMN, you would find CABMAN, COMBINE, AMBIANCE, etc. The only difference between the easier and harder versions is that the easier version gives the range of lengths of words that can be found for each combination and the harder version does not.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!

Puzzle 481: Anagram Crossword 8. Make arrangements to solve this.


Last Friday’s Star Shifts solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


With the amount of time I’ve spent curating a word list for this kind of grid, I don’t think you can blame me if I come back to this format from time to time. Not that you would anyway. Not that I make the clues too hard, but I have a rule that I try to follow. The more anagrams an answer entry has, the easier I make the clue. Take that as you will.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!

Puzzle 479: Star Shifts. I’ve got your number.


Last Friday’s Wordominoes solution

Before deciding which version to solve, read below.

Get the Easier PDF here!

Get the Harder PDF here!

Get the Expert PDF here!


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


So today’s offering is not crossword-esque, and it’s not anagram-ific, so what is it? Basically, I found movies whose titles have the same number of letters as one of their stars, like BRUCE WILLIS/PULP FICTION. I matched up the first letter of the title with the first letter of the star’s name, then the second letters, third, etc. and calculated the difference of their positions in the alphabet (i.e. B vs. P, R vs. U, U vs. L, C vs. P, etc.). What is given is that numeric difference of each corresponding letter, and your object is to provide the movie title and star.

So what’s the difference between the versions?

All versions give the year each movie was released. C’mon, I’m not that sadistic.

The Easier version delineates the divisions between words/names and the distance between the letter pairs, and it indicates whether one letter is before or after the other in each letter pair; that is, the numbers are shown as positive or negative.

The Harder version delineates the divisions between words/names, but it only shows the distance between the letter pairs, not whether one is before or after the other. There are only positive numbers shown.

The Expert version is the same as the Harder version, with one key difference: it does not delineate any divisions between words/names.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!

Puzzle 477: Wordominoes 8. Don’t box me in.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


I know I’ve said something to this effect before, but I’ll go a bit further this time and say that I have more fun constructing these than I do regular crosswords because of the third dimension. Maybe someday I’ll think of a clever way, and try to construct, something in which each letter is used four times, but that’s blowing my little mind right now.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!

Puzzle 473: Shift Changes. Toss around a few ideas.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


Good to mix it up every now and then, as I say, right? You know that I like anagrams, and a lot of the variety stuff I post on here has to do with anagrams in some form. You know I never play it straight up here, though… you have to do something to the words and phrases before anagramming them. What it is, I’ll leave up to you to click the link!


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!