Today I have some personally exciting news, which may also be of interest to the word puzzle aficionados who visit this site. Yesterday was published my first contest crossword (sometimes called “meta crosswords”) — a somewhat new and extremely popular development in the cruciverbalist world, appearing in a few independent outlets (notably that of Matt Gaffney, who has been running a meta crossword subscription for several years, and Fireball Crosswords, where mine was published) and now also appearing in the Wall Street Journal each Friday. With a contest crossword, a specific question is asked (e.g. “What musician does this puzzle hint at?” or “What film title could have been an additional theme answer in this puzzle?” or, as in mine, “Two answers in this puzzle can have their letters anagrammed into a word that can precede a third answer in this puzzle to make a ninth theme answer. What is that theme answer?”) which requires the solver, having completed the puzzle, to act as a detective, looking for some pattern, key, or process to unlock a secret layer of the puzzle and unearth the solution. Solvers send in their solutions to the publication, and from the correct responses, one or more randomly selected winners are chosen to receive prizes, which tend to be stationary items and subscriptions to/books by independent crossword outlets and constructors. They can vary in difficulty but are always a treat.
Fireball Crosswords is a once-a-week crossword that runs a contest puzzle every couple of months or so. For those that enjoy inventive wordplay, tough but rewarding cluing, and dazzling thematic constructions, I cannot recommend Fireball highly enough — nor can most everyone who does crosswords on a regular basis and is looking for ever more original and envelope-pushing puzzles. To give a small indication of how Fireball operates, editor Peter Gordon requires that every entry be given a fresh clue never seen before — even for those words that appear in crosswords on an almost daily basis — forcing constructors to be creative in ways that can surprise solver and constructor alike.
So if you would like to do my contest crossword and also receive forty-four other top-notch puzzles in 2018 (if you subscribe, you’ll receive all of the puzzles already sent out this year), do head over to the subscription page and pay the reasonable fee of $27 for the entire year.
Okay, on to today’s four-amphora puzzle. Drink up!