A Tale of Two Pauls (mini)

Flashback! This was the first mini crossword that I ever constructed and was also the first crossword in any form that I made public. I’m still pretty happy with it and think it’s a fun solve.

I’m a big fan of the Crosshare Daily Mini, which along with each day’s 7xwords puzzle are the only minis that I solve consistently. Pleasantly, this was the featured daily on 12 April.

Enjoy A Tale of Two Pauls!

Suspicious, Suspicious (mini)

A quick 5×5 mini I threw together earlier in the week after notcing the harmony between the mini-theme entries 1-Across and 3-Down.

I love the history of 3-Down and will very likely do some sort of full-sized puzzle on their hits and misses over the years. Full of great trivia!

I decided against using something related to that mini-theme as the title for this puzzle, opting istead for Suspicious, Suspicious to further the red herring in two other entries.

Justice League-ish

Up until March this year, I hadn’t watched any of the DC films, so I rectified that and watched them all one quiet week.

In homage, this mini (5×5).

I only discovered after putting this puzzle ‘live’ that 8A is almostly exclusively British English. I don’t think it presents any major problems, but if I’d known beforehand I likely would have tried a different construction. Regardless… enjoy Justice League-ish.

Flip it and reverse it, or: Crosswordese

This full-sized 15x puzzle is a clue/answer switch theme on some common “crosswordese”.

Likely too ‘inside baseball’ for publication, I had some fun coming up with the theme entries and putting the grid together.

This is certainly not the first puzzle to use this theme. Another nice example is crosswordESE by Lyle Broughton, published by Ria on gecxwords.

Fun fact: this is the first 15×15 puzzle I’ve published online! I first constructed it in the heady pre-Coronavirus days of late-2019 and completed it in March 2020! It has languished in my drafts folder ever since. You can solve on pdf if you like.

Crossword difficulty matrix

Heat map showing the comparative difficulty of various mainstream crossword puzzles

Looking to expand your crossword-solving horizons into new areas or just curious how the various mainstream puzzle venues stack-up against each other in terms of difficulty?

I made the above crossword difficulty matrix / heatmap to help.

Created primarily from personal experience and with a dash of inspiration from various other sources (e.g. Steve Weyer’s CommuniCrossings and Matt Gritzmacher’s Daily Crossword Links), this naturally presents a skewed and subjective view of the crossword landscape.

A few important notes:

  • This covers only the largest mainstream venues (i.e. those known to most non-crossword-solving Millennials).
  • I’m focussing exclusively on regular puzzles (so no cryptics here, such as The New Yorker’s Sunday offering).
  • I’m also focussing on “full-sized” grids (generally 15x or 21x, hence the absence of Vox’s Monday to Friday 9x midis).
  • It’s wrong! I’m sure you’ll disagree with some of these rankings. Hell, I do, too! It’s an impossible challenge, but a good first step. Give me a break.

I’d like to do something similar for the many fantastic indie venues. That’s a challenge for another day.

Have a suggestion? Leave a comment (or say something over on the relevant Reddit thread)! Thanks. 👍🏻