Word Salad heads into the sunset


When we first began writing this blog in 2012 as a regular supplement to the Nation crossword, we set ourselves a variety of assignments. We wanted to provide beginning or inexperienced solvers with a more detailed description of the different types of clues than we could fit into our puzzle-solving guidelines; to dive into some of the more complex and nuanced aesthetic issues that surround the making of cryptic crosswords; to report on various developments in the larger world of puzzling; and to spark conversation among solvers on these and other topics.

Two years later, we’ve covered all those bases and more. Scattered throughout the Word Salad archive, you can find considerations of just about major clue type in the cryptic arsenal, from anagrams and charades to reversals and letter banks (which hadn’t actually been part of the arsenal before we introduced them). We’ve discussed the construction of grids (both with black squares and bars), the role of trivia or general knowledge in crossword solving, the challenge of coming up with good definitions, and the twisty pleasures of self-referential clues. We made our case—again and again and again—for a freer, less rigidly codified approach to puzzling.

Along the way, we talked with some of the luminaries of the puzzle world (including Richard Maltby, Jr., Fraser Simpson and Amy Reynaldo) and paid tribute to others (Cox and Rathvon, Georges Perec and more). We responded to criticism from solvers and commented on some of the controversies in the world of crosswords. And we put in frequent plugs for the National Puzzlers’ League, where North America’s most avid puzzle aficionados meet online and in person.

In other words, our work here is pretty much done. So it’s time to pull the plug, regretfully but contentedly, on Word Salad.

Our puzzles, of course, will continue in The Nation, and will continue to appear in collected form as e-books through Puzzazz.com—the fourth volume has just been issued. For commentary, criticism and discussion we recommend Braze’s blog. We’ll be there as well.

So long, and thanks for reading.

This week’s cluing challenge: ADIOS. To comment (and see other readers’ comments), please click on this post’s title and scroll to the bottom of the resulting screen. And now, for one last time, four links:
• The current puzzle
• Our puzzle-solving guidelines | PDF
• Our e-books (solve past puzzles on your iOS device—many hints provided by the software!)
• A Nation puzzle solver’s blog where every one of our clues is explained in detail. This is also where you can post quibbles, questions, kudos or complaints about the current puzzle, as well as ask for hints.

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