Puzzle #1 Solution and Puzzle #2, “I See …”

For our first crossword we had a puzzle titled “Crosswords” with an uncomplicated (but not easy!) meta that played around with the name of the genre itself:

Near the center of the grid is a 4×3 cross, with an empty square in the middle. The instructions asked for the letter that belongs in that square. The answer was U, like so: there’s a (visual) cross between 7-down JACKASS and 58-down MARE, and a (hybrid, aka) “cross” between those two things (in senses other than how they were clued) is a MULE. Similarly, a “cross” between 42-across WAGON and 43-across TRUCK is an SUV. Enter those two “crosses” in the squares of the grid’s cross, and the empty square (where our two crosses cross) will contain a U.

38 solvers entered the correct answer. I don’t have a baseline to compare that to, of course, but feedback suggested it was tough, and I was surprised by the number of incorrect answers. There weren’t a lot of duplicate wrong answers but a few solvers submitted Q because the grid had at least two of every other letter. Rest assured, folks – though I do like it when a grid achieves pangram status, I won’t hang a meta on that thin a hook. Anyhow – maybe I should have led off with an easier one; I went with this one because it plays around with the “crossword” format (and name) in a way I liked.

Without further ado, on to puzzle two. Your mileage may vary on whether you find it easier than this one, but I think it’s unlikely to leave many people at a complete loss for where to begin, which this one may have done for some. Like last week, you can either download the .pdf below, or click on the link for the .puz filed which is shared from Google Drive.

002_isee (.puz file link)

The answer to the metapuzzle is a person from Eastern Europe. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, March 25 at 11:00 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

If you want a reminder when future puzzles come out, follow me on Twitter @pgwcc1. If you’re not on Twitter, you can “follow” the blog itself and you’ll get email reminders instead.

Oh, and one last note – you may have noticed last week’s puzzle had “clues by Kate Washington.” That’s my sister, who sometimes helps me with writing clues since that’s not my favorite part of the process. In so doing, she also serves as a kind of test solver and collaborative editor, all of which I’m very grateful for. (I should note here that last week’s cluing snafu was my fault, not hers – she wrote a clue for 65-across that I decided to change, and it was my “improved” clue that was wrong!) Kate’s a writer whose work you can find all over the place, including in the restaurant reviews for the Sacramento Bee. She’s on Twitter at @washingtonkate.

Intro and Puzzle #1 – “Crosswords”

Welcome!

If you’ve found this site this early on, it’s likely you’re a solver of Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest – if not, you should immediately leave this poor man’s imitation and visit the real thing – and you may have noticed that this site is obviously named in homage. I’m PGW (my initials) on Matt’s leaderboard; PGWCC = PGW’s Crossword Challenge.

I’ve long been an avid crossword solver but when I discovered Matt’s metapuzzles many years ago, I was immediately hooked by the extra layer of challenge and the consistently creative ways in which he exploits the form. Eventually I started messing around with creating my own. Ultimately Matt published my first crossword (you can find writeups of the solution here and here) and he’s been nothing but encouraging as I thought about publishing more. (I’m not the only one – see e.g. Pete Muller’s excellent Muller Monthly Music Meta, whose creator also acknowledges having been inspired by Matt.)

At this stage, there’s no grand structure – no contest with prizes, no attempt to make puzzles get progressively and predictably more difficult as the month goes on as Matt does, and no year-long mega-meta like Pete’s. I’ll publish puzzles every week or two, and publish the solution a week or so after. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow @pgwcc1 so you’ll know when a new puzzle has dropped. (For a little while I’ll also keep spamming the Crossword Fiend comments section.) The puzzles will always be free.

But enough introduction – you are here to solve. The first puzzle, entitled “Crosswords,” is below, as a .pdf which you can download and print out. If you prefer a .puz file you can solve using Across Lite or some other app, here is a link to download it from Google Drive. (This platform won’t let me upload it.)

The answer to the metapuzzle is the letter that belongs in the empty square near the grid’s center. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, March 18 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

Good luck, thanks for visiting, and I hope you like the puzzles!

Update: an astute solver has pointed out that an earlier version of the puzzle was published with an erroneous clue for 65-across. It’s fixed in the version above; there’s no effect on the meta. Rookie mistake!