Thursday, June 17, 2021

Diag № 1 (Themeless)

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Happy June! This month's puzzle is the first in a new series of puzzles with diagonal symmetry called "Diag".  There's a lot of untapped potential in diagonally symmetric grids, as they have only recently begun to get representation in mainstream outlets thanks to advocates such as Brooke Husic.  I had a diagonal themeless puzzle in the NY Times last year which spurred my own interest to explore further!

In this puzzle I like the intersecting stacks of 11s in the NE - a pattern you couldn't do in a 15x15 rotationally symmetric grid (at least without blacking out a couple of chunky corners).  I also like how the black squares in the middle kind of look like a Minecraft pickaxe.

Thanks to Will Nediger for test solving. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Chasm № 3 (Themeless)

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Happy May! I've been loving the spring weather recently in D.C. With the new CDC guidelines it has been wonderful to be able to get back to singing in person, which I've sorely missed over the past year.  I have my first in-person concert in early June (!!!), and we're incidentally performing one of my pieces "An Fear Róin" (The Seal Man) which is very exciting.

I had both the NYT and LAT Saturday puzzles on May 1 in a fortuitous turn of events. Check those out if you haven't already!

Anyway, this puzzle started with the open center, where I again expanded the grid - this time left and right - to add in some longer entries. Each of the corners has a set of black square ・゚*✧・゚*sparkles*・゚✧*・゚ to throw in some extra pizzazz.

Thanks to Will Nediger for test solving! Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Chasm № 2 (Themeless)

PDF PUZ Solution

Happy April!

It's been an eventful month. I constructed the Week 5 puzzle in the Boswords Spring Themeless League, which featured a wide open middle. I also made the Saturday 4/3 LA Times puzzle, which had one of my new favorite grid designs with open quad stacks.

Today's puzzle is a sort of "Variation on a Themeless" inspired by my Boswords grid design, but flipped! The cluing is challenging, though probably not as hard as my Boswords Stormy division clues...

If you haven't already, I highly recommend donating to the Baltimore Abortion Fund for a pack of 14 original puzzles from a superstar lineup edited by the incomparable Rachel Fabi. I've been doing a puzzle a day to stretch out the fun, and I've loved them so far :-)

Thanks to Will Nediger for test solving! Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Chasm № 1 (Themeless)

PDF PUZ Solution

Hello Crossworld! 🍀

This puzzle marks the first in the Chasm series of puzzles, all of which will feature wide open middles. If you've done my puzzles before you'll know that I love these types of puzzles with imposing, gaping maws in the middle. Part of the solving challenge in these grid designs is trying to find toeholds without much assistance from shorter entries. These types of puzzles are also how I got into constructing in the first place!

For this grid I originally tried getting this middle to work in a 15x15, but I wasn't happy with the fill in the corners, so I just...extended it. By bumping out the top and bottom and making it a 15x19 I was able to fit in some more long entries, including quad stacks in the NW and SE! Why not?

Thanks to Will Nediger for helping test solve. Ádh mór!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Monday, March 1, 2021

Vowelless Mini № 1

PDF PUZ Solution

Happy March!

This is the first of a series of vowelless mini puzzles. I've been inspired since working through Frank Longo's pioneering Vowelless Crosswords book to give these types of puzzles a try. I also thought they would work well in a mini format, allowing for some more colorful phrases with fewer boxes.

For those of you who haven't tried vowelless crosswords before, the concept is pretty simple: all vowels are removed from the answers in the grid. For example, the entry MIND-BLOWING would become MNDBLWNG, and AVERAGE JOE would become VRGJ. To avoid complications, no entries will contain the letter "Y".

These puzzles can be pretty tough because of all of the missing letters and difficulties with pattern matching. As a result, the cluing will be more straightforward for the most part. Though this first one is fairly challenging, I'll also try to make some easier ones in the future.

I'm pretty new to working with vowelless grids, so let me know if you have any feedback, and if you'd be interested in seeing these more regularly!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Asym № 1 (Themeless)

PDF PUZ Solution

Hello Crossworld!

I'm super excited to be debuting my indie crossword blog McGrids!  I've been making crosswords for a few years now, with several dozen published across various publications.  My specialty has been themeless puzzles, particularly those with wide-open grids and low word counts.

For this blog I'm looking to continue exploring crossword construction beyond standard formats and expectations.  I'll be grouping these puzzles into several parallel series—some will be more familiar, some more experimental.  This puzzle is the first of the Asym series of themeless puzzles with deliberately asymmetrical grids. 

As of now, I'm planning to post a new puzzle monthly on the 17th plus whatever else I feel like/have time for in between.

Special thanks to Brooke Husic and Adam Nicolle for their help and advice with putting this together.  Please check out their puzzles if you haven't already!

Hope you enjoy!