As Tyler Hinman recently reported, Canadian puzzlemaker Les Foeldessy’s new puzzle type is a cool one. Last week, Les sent me a review copy of his new book, Gryptics: The Next Generation of the Crossword: One Hundred Challenging Word Puzzles. (That’s a link to the book on Amazon.) Gryptics puzzles are clueless crosswords with a dozen long words intersecting through an open 6×6 grid, with just a few letters provided in the midsection, as seen below. (You can print out a bigger copy of this and other sample puzzles in this PDF.)
Like Tyler, I found that the puzzles tended to be consumed quickly. The easier ones took, oh, 37 seconds to a minute for me to fill in; the handful of Gryptics that were tougher to unravel took me 3 or 4 minutes apiece. Mind you, I have a speed solver’s knack for pattern recognition, so your mileage may vary. When I hit the skids, it was because I filled in a word that fit the pattern—but it wouldn’t work with the crossings. For example, in the puzzle at right, the word beginning with INSIN could INSINCERITY or INSINUATING. If you commit to the wrong one early on, your progress in the grid won’t be smooth. If you’re lucky, the crossing word will make it obvious that a given letter is implausible; if you fill in INSINCERITY, the first crossing becomes M**S*CRIZER, which just looks crazy. INSINUATING’s U, however, makes it M**S*URIZER, which makes MOISTURIZER possible.
One of the reasons I enjoy variety crosswords like Patrick Berry’s “Rows Garden” puzzles is that they’re free of the short repeaters that fill standard crosswords. These Gryptics have only words of 7 letters or more, many of them cool words.
After solving 100 Gryptics in Les’s book, hey, you might well see an improvement in your ability to ferret out crossword answers based on letter patterns rather than the clues.
For more information about the book and other ways to order it, visit Les’s website.