I have been playing lately with crossword puzzles, and I have been looking at what makes them hard.

As far as I can work out, there are multiple possibilities.

a) They can be hard, because of tricks in the architecture of the puzzle (words running into blank spaces, words running off the edge, puzzles with two or more letters in one or more boxes. Words with no letters in one or more boxes)

b) They can be hard because the vocabulary used is obscure. For example you might have temporarily forgotten that the Morin Khuur is a two stringed instrument which is the national instrument of Mongolia, or more likely you never knew that. Including obscure words is a easy way to make what could be a fun puzzle impossible. There are now some words, which because of their usefulness in constructing puzzles, have become "crosswordese", Words like ESNE (a laborer or man of the lower classes among the Anglo-Saxons, often a slave) gets used a lot. So much that the New York Times crossword once clued it as "Slave to Crosswords?" So do words like OLEO (margarine, or a mixture of butter and margarine), APSE (a semicircular church recess), ETUI (a small purse often used to hold sewing supplies), ASTA (film dog of the 1930's), ELSA (Princess in Disney's Frozen - could also be ANNA),. and many others show up a lot more often in crosswords than they do in English conversation.

c) They can have a lot of Punny clues. A question mark after a clue is often used to signal a pun. So if I had to clue the word FISH, for example, I could clue it as "Perch or sucker", "Aquatic animal", "Aquarium denizen", or I could make it a lot more obscure perhaps cluing it as "Bass, for one" which could refer to a musical instrument or an animal, or "Porgy and Bass" or "Net gain?" or even "Catch a few rays?"
Here a simple word, can turn into a difficult-to-solve clue because of the pun. Similarly ASH, could be clued as a shade tree, or as the residue of a fire, or as a cigarette remnant. Each of these definitions could be turned into a pun, for example for the cigarette definition I could clue it as "It could be dropped from a camel?" given that Camel is a brand of cigarettes. I should note that with the single exception of the puzzle Traveling Around (which turns on them), I have mostly tried to avoid using punny clues.

Anyhow, I thought I would play with different ways of producing crosswords. For a crossword to be considered classic, it should be symmetrical (often with rotational symmetry), it should have no words less than 3 letters, and every letter should appear in exactly 2 words. Most of my puzzles meet these rules, but not always.

Each of these crosswords have been written so that from the completed grid a single word or short phrase can be extracted, which means I can use them with ITSTOOHARD. Not all of the puzzles are original (though most are). Where I have used an unoriginal puzzle, I will of course provide full information about the source, and where you can get others of that creator's puzzles.

Everything ends May 26th at 11am (GMT). The contributor level for all games is set to 1. I am using SGTools with the rules that an entrant must not have been VAC banned and must have activated all gifts. If these rules cause a problem for you, please let me know.

Also, I don't really care if you do not play your wins, but I do care deeply if a game does not reach 5 entries, so if you are one of the first five to solve something, and you wouldn't mind seeing that game in your library, then please enter the giveaway. You can always choose to remove your entry later (once 5 people have entered it). This is particularly so with the hidden secret giveaways.

The puzzles are:

If you get through them all, you can always go to I solved them all - Is there a special prize for that? - Note you do not need any hidden or bonus puzzles.

Additionally, there are some secrets:

Each solve has at least one or two good games (18pts+) and some smaller games. The prizes for this event include:
Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power
The Surge
Submerged
GALAK-Z
Endless Legend
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Shadowrun Returns
Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition
Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut
Hard West
The Invisble Hours
Dandara
Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition
The Inner World
Planar Conquest
Winds of Trade
Syrian Warfare
Battlecore Arena
Figment
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Battlerush 2
Violett Remastered
Beholder
Super Trench Attack
ICARUS.1
Industry Giant 2
Knights and Merchants
Learn Japanese To Survive! Hiragana Battle
Fault Milestone one
Chime Sharp
Evilquest
Auditorium
Vzerthos: The Heir of Thunder
Merry Glade
Shooty Squad
Radar Warfare
After Rain: Phoenix Rise
Ink Plane
Thug's Law
Suits - A Business RPG
Indecision
Music Racer
Zombie Flick - Bloody Mary
Sparkle ZERO
Bad Rats
2V Hoverbike
Simple Story Alex

1 month ago*

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More like this?

View Results
Yes Potato
No Potato
Potato Potato

Reserved for Hints

Hints

Hints for Like the Earth

1) Once you have completed the grid: a number of the across answers share an unusual property.
2) Not All That Obvious

Hints for That Which is Concealed

Hints for Poetry

1) The clue at the top is actually literal. Roughly half the clues are legitimate clues. Half the clues are rhymes
2) Example, if the clue read "Massive" and you were looking for a 7-letter word, then the answer could be "Mammoth", or it could be "Passive"

Hints for Cross Wits

1) You should be looking at a 15 character clue that resolves to a one-word answer

Hints for Bullion

1) It's this or that

Hints for Why Are There So Many Songs About Rainbows?

1) Some squares have more than one letter in them

Hints for Switcheroo!

1) There is a cipher involved.

Hints for Traveling Around

1) Once you have finished the grid, and are thinking about the extraction: Think of how a bishop might approach this.

Hints for Hidden Giveaways

1) You can find all of the hidden giveaways without solving any of the crossword puzzles
2) Hidden Giveaways 1 and 2 are hidden on specific other puzzles (one on each of two of the other puzzles). Hidden Giveaway 3 is hidden on this page.
3) Hidden Giveaway 4 cannot be found until the very end of the event.
4) There are no hidden giveaways on either Like the Earth or on That Which is Concealed
5)All of the hidden giveaways occur on puzzles that I have created.

Hints for The Hidden Secret Bonus Crossword

1) You may have to put it all together

3 weeks ago*
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Reserved for Announcement, Errata, Solving Statistics and Eventually the Solution

Announcements

The long delayed Traveling Around puzzle has finally been posted on 5 May.
Congratulations to SeNs666, to dobeduck to Beridok, to SoulNibbler, and to Xartyx who have finished the entire event.

Errata

  • The {previous giveaway} and {next giveaway} links on Shadowrun returns were the wrong way around. Now fixed. - Thanks to givenchyjr for pointing that out.
  • There was a missing quotation mark in one clue in Switcheroo. Now fixed. - Thanks to SoulNibbler for pointing that out.
  • There is an extraneous letter B in clue 3 down for Cross Wits. Now fixed. - Thanks to Xartyx for pointing that out.
  • There was a missing clue (63A) in Why are There So Many Songs About Rainbows? Now fixed. - Thanks to SoulNibbler for pointing that out
  • For no obvious reason, the clue number 67A in Why are There So Many Songs About Rainbows was in a slightly different font. Now fixed - I spotted that one myself while fixing the previous error.

Solving Stats

As of 08:30 GMT on 14 May
Like the Earth has been solved 21 times
That Which is Concealed has been solved 18 times
Poetry has been solved 12 times
Cross Wits has been solved 9 times
Bullion has been solved 11 times
Why Are There So Many Songs About Rainbows? has been solved 13 times
Switcheroo! has been solved 10 times
Traveling Around has been solved 9 times
7 people have solved all of the above

6 people have found hidden giveaway one
7 people have found hidden giveaway two
12 people have found hidden giveaway three
5 people have found hidden giveaway four

5 people have solved the hidden secret crossword

Solutions

Not yet

3 weeks ago*
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I am bad at crosswords since I am not proficient in English. The event and crosswords does look interesting though. Best wishes on the event. ^_^

3 weeks ago
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Seems an interesting concept, however there is only one game on that list I would like so won't be giving this a go.

3 weeks ago
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I completed the Like the Earth crossword and Im not sure if im missing something but I have spent more time glossing over the crossword looking for something unusual than I did to complete it. Its probably very obvious too >.<

3 weeks ago
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I will post a hint.

3 weeks ago
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Thanks I don't know how I overlooked that haha!
The shadowrun: return's next and previous hyperlinks are the wrong way around also btw :-)

3 weeks ago
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Thanks for that, I have swapped the Previous and Next hyperlinks. Sorry about that.

3 weeks ago
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Solved Like the Earth. I love the jigsaws but this is fun too <3

3 weeks ago
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Honestly, not that big a fan of crosswords, which might be strange coming from someone that did 3 crossword events here. :P
Still going to check them out though. :)

3 weeks ago
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I don't think I have the time to solve them all as I would need to run to my friend to print these.

Can we at least have info what crossword = what games?

Oh nevermind. I see that this crosswords use english that I think is too advanced for me.

Good luck to everyone!

3 weeks ago*
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I love crosswords, I might give it a try when my exams are over, even though English isn't my first language.
Good Idea! :)

3 weeks ago
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Thank you-bump!
Solved the first two three for now, I'll give a try to the others in the next days.

In the fourth one I can't seem to get a "one-word" solution from what I've got; it's giving me headaches.
The fifth is giving me headaches too.
I've yet to try the others.

I realize my English knowledge is really limited when it comes to this kind of puzzles. Still, I'm gonna try to solve them, maybe after a few days break. ;)

3 weeks ago*
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If you have solved it correctly, you should be looking at a 15 character clue that resolves to a one-word answer.

2 weeks ago
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Got it, I had them, but I couldn't see the right order right away. ^^"

Edit: solved the others too, haven't found any hidden ga yet, still missing hidden GA 1 and 2, 4 and the hidden crossword

2 weeks ago*
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Bump for two done.

3 weeks ago
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Thanks for this, it's good fun so far. I've done four for now, and that's plenty. I'll be back tomorrow for the others!

3 weeks ago
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doing crosswords is hard, but doing crosswords in a foreign language... 🥺

3 weeks ago
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Great puzzles! thanks for this :)

2 weeks ago
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The clue for 15 Across in Switcheroo looks off.

Fun puzzles so far!

2 weeks ago
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How peculiar.

2 weeks ago
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It has Bad Rats, now i need to find some time to do the puzzles.

2 weeks ago
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No clue what to do for the poetry crossword, but it looks interesting

2 weeks ago
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If there aren't more solvers soon. I will provide hints for Poetry.

2 weeks ago
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I guess I'm stupid because even with the hint I can't figure out the "like the earth" puzzle. :(

2 weeks ago
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Second hint added

2 weeks ago
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2nd one solved.

2 weeks ago
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congrats

2 weeks ago
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Bump.

2 weeks ago
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Additional Hints have now been posted.

2 weeks ago
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Hey.. I just solved the Earth riddle and was greeted with an sgtools gate. That'll be the end of the trip for me on this event. I assume the other puzzles also have a gate, right?
EDIT: Although I've read (most of) the event post, I must've missed that part. Anyhow, cheers for the puzzle man..

2 weeks ago*
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Yes, I did say "Everything ends May 26th at 11am (GMT). The contributor level for all games is set to 1. I am using SGTools with the rules that an entrant must not have been VAC banned and must have activated all gifts. If these rules cause a problem for you, please let me know."

May I ask why you are not comfortable with SGTools? I have met a few people who (for example) won the same game twice in one day, and got stuck (which is one of the reasons that that is not a rule I enforce). But if you are struggling with one of these rules, then these things are usually resolvable.

2 weeks ago
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The introduction of an external site to log in just rubbed me the wrong way from the start. Yes I know about the "API Steam does the work" and all that about data etc but it just didn't sit well with me and I never logged in it. Your expectations/rules for the participants to follow are fine, I have no issue with them and I would pass and it would be ok if the site had such a system, but as it is, it makes me want to stay away. Some past experience with puzzles (that took quite a while to solve only to bump at the door) where people didn't mention that they used them and I wasted my time, doesn't help either, in getting over this.
I enjoyed your puzzles in the past but I guess I'll be sitting this one out (or maybe solve the crosswords for the fun, depending whether time permits).

2 weeks ago
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Bump for solved all except hidden secret bonus crossword and traveling around.

2 weeks ago
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Well done.
It has been a real pain workwise, and while I had hoping to post Travelling Around on Tuesday. It will not go up until tonight.
I hope you enjoyed it.

2 weeks ago
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solved all puzzles, the event is really deep and enjoyable, thanks!

2 weeks ago*
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2 weeks ago
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Wow either this is harder then I expect or am just dumb and blind lol Stuck at the first one for day now

It was fun thank for the puzzle~

2 weeks ago
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2 weeks ago
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