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*

Comment has been collapsed.

More like this?

View Results
Yes Potato
No Potato
Potato Potato

Bump.
Finished all but Hidden 1 & 2 (obviously 4 and Traveling Around are not made, too).
'
Cross Wits was probably hardest...

2 weeks ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Well done Beridok,
Traveling around is now posted. Sorry for the delay.

2 weeks ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

All done now =)
Very nice event.
I didn't enjoy puzzles from SG that much, in some time.

1 week ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Can't understand what's the problem in the first one, but take a bump anyways

2 weeks ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Bump!

2 weeks ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

I've solved Travelling around but am stuck on extracting the word for itstoohard

2 weeks ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Hmmmm....OK I will add a hint.

2 weeks ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

I filled out the entire puzzle for Switcheroo, and I see what 's going on, I just don't know what to put as the ITH solution. The obvious thing didn't work. Also, what exactly does the clue "15 With “and and 50-Across, a clue to this puzzle’s answer" mean? Is this a typo?
I mean I know about the two across lines and what's in them, but how do I get from this to the ITH answer?

2 weeks ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

OUCH, you found an error. It should have read:
With “and” and 50-Across, a clue to this puzzle’s answer

I will fix it to add the missing quotation marks.

2 weeks ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

If you have the rest of the text in those two lines, you need to figure out how the switcheroo works.

2 weeks ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Additional hints posted.

1 week ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Deleted

This comment was deleted 1 week ago.

1 week ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

In Why Are There So Many Songs About Rainbows? the clue for 63 across is missing. Also, can you give a hint? I completed it and don'T know what to do with the collected words. Do they represent something certain?

1 week ago*
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Ouch, that is an error. I have fixed it. Look at the line at the top of the page, above the puzzle

1 week ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Thanks! I don't know how I've missed that >.<

1 week ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

I have solved the secret bonus crossword, but despite the hint I can't extract the word. I have an idea of how to go about it but I think I must be missing something as I can't work out the correct combination

1 week ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Solved the main 8 puzzles, only found one secret GA though. Would love to solve the hidden puzzle, but I'm really bad at finding these things ^^°

1 week ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

I will add another hint.

1 week ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Found everything except the first 2 hidden GA's. I've looked through everything, so I have no idea where else to look.
Anyway, this was great fun, and thank you for all the puzzles and GA's :D

1 week ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

I tried to send you a clue in Steamchat, but Steam shows you as last online 3 months ago.

6 days ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Additional hints have now been posted.

If there is anywhere where you would like a hint, please do let me know.

6 days ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

bumpino!

2 days ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Happy cake day!

1 day ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Thank you very much.

6 hours ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Happy cake day! Thanks again for this fun set of puzzles

1 day ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Thank you very much.

6 hours ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Happy cakeday!

View attached image.
21 hours ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Thank you very much. Superb image.

6 hours ago
Permalink

Comment has been collapsed.

Sign in through Steam to add a comment.