# Puzzle 353: Before-and-Aftergrams. A twisted product of a twisted mind.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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!

How about a variety puzzle for some… well, variety? I promise, though it’s Friday the 13th, the nothing freaky will happen to you when you do this puzzle. Before you decide which version to open up — because opening the easier version could give away some things that you wouldn’t want given away if you wanted the moderate or harder version — I’ll explain the difference between the versions. (That’s why the links are below the explanation in this post today, unlike other posts.) Like quite a few of my previous variety puzzles on this site, they involve anagrams, but this one doesn’t involve straight-up anagrams. Here’s how I developed the premise for this puzzle. I discovered that there are some words whose letters both end some words and start some other words even though they aren’t really etymologically related to them (ok, not exactly a groundbreaking discovery, but work with me here). For example, the word ADO ends the unrelated word AVOCADO and starts the unrelated word ADORABLE. So I blended the two words together to make AVOC(ADO)RABLE. I took all the remaining letters outside those parentheses, AVOCRABLE, and anagrammed them into a two word phrase, VOCAL BEAR. Now, here’s the difference between the versions.

In the easiest  version, you would get the three-word set VOCAL BEAR ADO. (The “common” word could be the first, second, or third word.) You would then need to figure out that ADO is the word that ends one word and starts another, and rearrange VOCALBEAR, combined with ADO, into the words AVOCADO/ADORABLE.

In the moderate version, you would get the two words VOCAL BEAR with the notation (7,8) (indicating the first solution word to be 7 letters and the second solution word to be 8 letters) in the left column, and you would need to figure out which word in the right-hand column (whose words are arranged randomly) goes with the phrase to be able to be anagrammed in this fashion. In this case, you would find that right-hand column word to be ADO, and the first word (which is always the word that ends with the “common” word) would be AVOCADO and the second word (always the word that starts with the “common” word) ADORABLE.

The hardest version is the same as the moderate version, but there is no notation giving the lengths of the solution words.

I think, no matter which version you choose, that there are some tips and tricks that you’ll figure out as you go along to untangle this puzzle. I’m willing to give you some if you really get stuck (just email me), but I have faith in you!

Get the easier version PDF here!

Get the moderate version PDF here!

Get the hardest version PDF here!

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.

# Puzzle 95: Schrödinger’s Words. A crossword with superfluous letters… sort of.

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!

Hey, look! A variety puzzle! Ironically enough, actually, I came up with this idea as I was writing clues for a freestyle crossword that you’ll see soon. I was typing in a word pretty fast on my tablet and must’ve made a typo, because autocorrect kicked in. It wasn’t a groundbreaking discovery, for sure, but I noticed that the word to which the typo was autocorrected had the same spelling as the original word I wanted, but minus its first two letters. So, just like that, I had my idea!

If you’re familiar with Schrödinger’s cat, you’ll understand the title for this puzzle. I’ve given you a grid of interlocking with the only clues inside the grid itself: a bunch of letter pairs. The puzzle is to fill in the grid such that each word is a word whether it’s spelled with or without the given letter pairs. The example I gave inside is this: if you’re given __ __ __ __ (IT) __ within the grid, you could fill in GRAVITY, since it’s also a real English word without the IT (GRAVY). There are multiple ways to fill in some of the words, but the interlock is such that there is only one unique correct solution.

I would call this puzzle on the tough side, but I’ve been wrong before. I think it’s a good challenge for all of you wordsmiths out there.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better?

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 66 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

# Puzzle 69: Word and Variations. Your chance to play “word detective”.

Last Friday’s Freestyle 42 solution

Get the “easier version” PDF here!

Get the “harder version” 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!

Did you ever have one of those “déjà vu” moments where you come up with an idea, but you swear you’ve seen something like that before and yet you just can’t place it or even find it on Google? Anyway… whatever it is, wherever the idea came from, I’ve got what I think is an interesting puzzle for you. The crux of the puzzle is this: I’ve thought of 25 “mystery words”, each one of which has an anagram, a synonym, and a rhyme. I’ve given the anagram, synonym, and rhyme of each of the 25 individual words (not in sequence, of course) and your goal is to figure out each of the 25 mystery words.

There are two versions, an “easier” and a “harder” version. In the “easier” version, 75 words are split off into three columns, with each column arranged in alphabetical order. Using your linguistic logic, pick the one word from each column — one of them is the anagram, one the rhyme, and one the synonym, whose order is for you to determine — that leads to each “mystery word”. In the “harder” version, the same 75 words are all arranged in alphabetical order, not with any particular columnar arrangement. That is, instead of picking one word from each column as in the easier version, you’ll have to find the three words for each “mystery word” somewhere in the list, in no particular order. In both cases, each word listed will be used exactly once. The directions for each will explain in more detail… I just want you to know what you’re getting into before you choose “easier” or “harder”.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 43 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

# Puzzle 61: Letter Banks: Movie Edition. Grab your popcorn, folks.

Last week’s Split Decisions Two Ways 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!

If you’re a movie fan (I know you’re already a fan of wordplay), this one is definitely for you. If you’ll remember my Letter Banks puzzle from a while back, it’s a concept introduced by Will Shortz a while back in which shorter words or phrases hold all of the letters needed to spell a longer word or phrase. It’s not really an anagram… if you’re not familiar, click through and it’ll all be explained to you. Instead of single words, the letter banks in this puzzle are for a movie title and one of its stars. This is the first time I’ve really forayed into the movie realm, so this is right up the alley for all you movie buffs out there.

For something a little extra, some of the letter banks are appropriate to the movies and stars to which they correspond. (The others don’t really mean anything at all apropos to their titles.) See if you can figure out which ones they are. I didn’t try to do this for all of the examples, but there were some I stumbled upon that I couldn’t resist.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 37 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

# Puzzle 59: Split Decisions Two Ways 3. Look both ways before you cross the words.

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!

If you missed the first two SD2W puzzles, you can find the first one here and the second one here.

I love constructing these puzzles. I have almost as much fun building them as much as building regular crosswords. I could genuinely write a book of these. It’s fascinating to start at one central entry and see just where it goes before it’s hit the edge of the grid. (I have to set borders to these grids beforehand, because the grid “skeleton” would go on and on if I didn’t.) The process to make sure it’s a unique solution is a little slow, but very important — I don’t want to leave the solver with any doubt that they have the one and only right answer.

If you’ve never seen Split Decisions puzzles, check out the link I provided in my first SD2W puzzle (link above) for an example — these are like the original Split Decisions but, as the name indicates, each of the “splits” works across and down instead of just along one direction. The directions are all included in the PDF.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 35 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

# Puzzle 23: Split Decisions Two Ways 2. The most fun you’ll have with four-way intersections all week.

Last Friday’s Two For One solution

Get the PDF here!

If you missed my first Split Decisions Two Ways puzzle, you can get it here.

Most every crossword has at least one seed entry, and this is no exception. My starting point was the square formed by the four words intersecting end-to-end somewhat in the middle of the grid. It was on purpose; I wanted a four-word square in the middle for no other reason than that I thought it would look cool. I guess it does, if I say so myself.

In this puzzle versus the first Split Decisions Two Ways, I wanted to make a conscious effort to have more interlock and less “cephalopod arms”, as I described it in the post on the first one. I think I achieved that goal here.

I included in my title to this post my original intention for the name of this puzzle — “Four-Way Intersections” — but I decided that I wanted to keep Split Decisions as a part of the title as homage to the creator of the original Split Decisions puzzle, George Bredehorn.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 14 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! Let me know how you did! What did you like? What could I do better? How do you measure a year in the life… how about love? Is lip balm addiction a communicable disease? Does Jack Frost keep his money in a snow bank?

# Puzzle 21: Two For One. Can you arrange this for me?

Last Friday’s Vowelless Word Search solution

Get the PDF here!

This is an anagram puzzle where the answers are right in front of you… sorta. I’ve composed 25 sentences with two consecutive words missing. Those two consecutive words are, together, an anagram of one of the other words somewhere else in the sentence. I’ve provided an example in the PDF, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

If you like this puzzle, something tells me you’ll like these puzzles from Todd McClary’s website.  Check out all the puzzles, but the ones I’m referring to are called “Rice Milk”. They’re in the form of a limerick (hence the title); you have to find the two missing words/phrases, which are anagrams of each other.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answers to Freestyle Puzzle 12 and Freestyle Puzzle 13 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! Let me know how you did! What did you like? What could I do better? Who do you need, who do you love, when you come undone? If you’re a nudist, is there any place where the sun don’t shine? When you’re writing an essay about craft beer, does it start with the first draft?

# Puzzle 18: Vowelless Word Search. Solve the puzzle, but you can’t buy a vowel.

Last Friday’s Freestyle 16 solution

Get the PDF here!

To switch it up here, I did a simple word search here. Wait… simple? No, not really. I can’t just do a straightforward word search, can I? Of course not. Behind this link is a word search, but my change-up is that I’ve taken out all of the vowels! I hid 65 world capitals in this word search, but I took out all the vowels beforehand and confined it to only those with four or more consonants and those that didn’t contain a Y. Also, including a word list would have defeated the point; the puzzle is not only to find the disemvoweled capitals, but also to figure out which ones are in the puzzle in the first place.

I know I’ve succeeded in creating a challenging puzzle when I showed it to Christine on the computer screen, and she just sighed one of those “you’re a mad scientist” sighs and shook her head. Yes, I think this ranges on the difficult side. But I hope you find it challenging but fair.  After all, my satisfaction in creating puzzles is not to stump people, but to only provide enough of a resistance so that there is a sense of satisfaction in solving the puzzle when that resistance is overcome.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to Freestyle Puzzle 11 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! Let me know how you did! What did you like? What could I do better? Does it ever drive you crazy just how fast the night changes? Why do we drive on a highway, but get high on a driveway? If you eat at an expensive Mexican restaurant, will that make you expel premium gas?

# Puzzle 12: Split Decisions Two Ways. There ARE two ways about it… four, actually.

Last Friday’s Split Ends solution

Get the PDF here!

You may be familiar with the Split Decisions puzzles that have appeared in the New York Times and elsewhere. A fine example can be found on Evan Birnholz’ site here. I’ve done a similar thing here but with a little twist… the letters where the “split decisions” happen are to be read two different ways across and down. You’ll see in the instructions if you aren’t quite familiar with this type of puzzle.

It’s easy, with a little help from the Interwebs, to find pairs of words that follow this constraint of differing only by one pair. It’s even not that hard to find two pairs of words that differ by the same four letters in two different ways as in this puzzle, thanks to the magic of the Interwebs. I even figured out a neat formatting trick to draw the grid and the “split” squares conveniently. The painstaking part was to make sure that this grid had a unique solution. That’s why you’ll see some parts of this grid that branch out like cephalopod arms — some of those “arms” were necessary to make a unique solution.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to Freestyle Puzzle 7  will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! Let me know how you did! What did you like? What could I do better? Do you think that pro football players have fantasy office worker leagues? How can SpongeBob SquarePants own his own home on a fry cook’s salary? Woke up this morning with a wine glass in my hand… whose wine? What wine? Where did I dine?

# Puzzle 10: Split Ends. It’s not necessarily where you start *OR* where you finish.

Last Friday’s “bonus” freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

Happy point in the Earth’s orbit arbitrarily selected due to its coinciding with a change in the Julian calendar date! I hope you celebrated this occasion with gusto and with people whose company you enjoy or at least tolerate.

To usher you into the new year, here is a puzzle that has to do with beginnings and ends… and lack thereof. I’ve given you a buncha sentences with two consecutive words missing; the second word is the first word with its first and last letters removed. What’s for you to do is to figure out the pairs of words that complete the sentences using the context of the sentence. I’ve phrased these sentences the best I could in order to produce unique solutions; however, if you come up with more than one answer for any of them (that makes sense in context), let me know!

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to Freestyle Puzzle 6 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! Let me know how you did! What did you like? What could I do better? Is it possible to catch the flu from a viral video? Do you think we should have the right to arm bears? Why are there so many songs about rainbows?