Kosman and Picciotto on their Nation puzzle, cryptic crosswords, wordplay and puzzles in general.
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In the most recent issue, you will find our 100th puzzle for this magazine. We’re celebrating this milestone with a slightly different format, starring C, the Roman numeral for 100. In the diagram, words are separated not by black squares but by bars. One thing that makes bar diagram cryptics easier is that there are more intersections, so your across answers will provide more help with the downs, and vice versa. But one thing that makes this particular puzzle more challenging is that we do not tell you where the answers go, other than by anchoring them with the Cs. We have written about bar diagrams before. If you are attached to the standard black-square puzzle, worry not: we venture away from them only once or twice a year.
Also in honor of our 100th puzzle, we have updated our solvers’ guidelines. The original version did not mention our recurring themed puzzles, and did not explain some of the newer clue types we have been using, in particular the rebus clue and the letter bank clue. We’ve also added links to Word Salad posts where various clue types are explained in more detail. As we write posts about the remaining clue types, we’ll make sure to insert links to those in the guidelines document, so it can serve as a permanent reference.
Another way you can learn how our puzzles work is to solve them on an iOS device, using the Puzzazz app. The first forty puzzles have been published on that platform: Volume 1 had 20 of them, and Volume, 2 which appeared recently, had the next 20. Each volume goes for $4.95. They are titled Out of Left Field, which we hope is appropriate in more ways than one. The beauty of solving on Puzzazz is that all sorts of hints and explanations are available. For example, you can ask where the break is between definition and wordplay, or what type of clue it is. Read more about Puzzazz here.
We have quite enjoyed creating our first 100 puzzles, and we look forward to the next hundred!
Would you like to wish us a happy 100th anniversary? Please do it here, along with any quibbles, questions, kudos or complaints about the current puzzle or any previous puzzle. To comment (and see other readers’ comments), please click on this post’s title and scroll to the bottom of the resulting screen.
And here are three links:
• The current puzzle
• Our puzzle-solving guidelines
• A Nation puzzle solver’s blog where you can ask for and offer hints, and where every one of our clues is explained in detail.