Blindauer’s free May puzzle

Blindauer untimed 

If you’re still working on this puzzle and don’t want its secrets shown to you, STOP! Do not pass go (i.e., the “more” link). All will be revealed in Matt Gaffney’s review below.

Patrick Blindauer’s monthly website crossword, “Dirty Double Crossword”—Matt Gaffney’s review

If Patrick Blindauer’s rope-a-dope punch of an April Fools’s crossword wasn’t enough for you, then here’s round 2: a devious prank puzzle that took me quite a while to unravel.

In April, half the crossword entries were to be filled in backwards; here, Patrick has filled the same grid twice, then sliced off the Across clues of one and the Down clues of the other. I knew something was up when obvious answers just weren’t fitting: 22-a has to be STAN [Marsh of "South Park"], but then 12-d has to be EDGE [On ___ (nervous)]. They can’t both be right, though, since the cross doesn’t work.

The nice “aha” moment came when I noticed that if I just entered the across entries, the down answers looked like real words (even though they didn’t agree with the given clues). Sensing my prey’s presence—and with adrenaline kicking in—I erased what I had and started over using just the acrosses, and everything fell into place. Well, except for a little trouble in the bottom right, where I had to Google BIG BROTHER [Reality series with eviction nights] to finish it off.

So then: what to do with the downs? Oh yeah, duh—erase the grid and start over again, using just the downs. Actually, I lucked out since I’d accidentally printed out two copies of the puzzle, which made that part easy.

The irony of this “Dirty Double Crossword” is that there are speed-solvers (or masochists) who solve crosswords by only using the across entries, and this one would have been a snap for them! Such a speedster wouldn’t have noticed the down clues at all (assuming no stumbles, as half the entries in each puzzle are left completely unclued—this explains why Patrick put so many very easy clues in the puzzle/s).

Nice touch: The four theme entries feature antonyms on the two grids. We have BLACKSMITH and WHITE HOUSE at 17-a, BIG BROTHER and SMALL TOWNS at 62-a, SOFT PRETZEL and HARD AS A ROCK at 11-d, and UP FOR DEBATE and DOWNTRODDEN at 24-d.

Sneaky guy, this Blindauer, eh? I think I’ll “buy him a beer” at Lollapuzzoola but fill the glass with vinegar instead while he’s not looking. Taste of his own medicine. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the mental workout like I did, and see you here on June 1st to discover what he’s got in store for us next.

(Addendum from Amy: I worked the puzzle for a while with the same “Wait, no, that doesn’t work for the crossword” thoughts and lots of erasing. Eventually I started writing the acrosses in the lower right corner of each square, and the downs in the top left. Which was dumb, because upper right and lower left would work better in squares with numbers in the top left—but in general, two letters in different corners works here. Finding the BLACK/WHITE opposites helped me fill in the opposites for the other three pairs. Loved the challenge of this lowdown dirty double-cross!)

Blindauer May acrosses

Blindauer May downs

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17 Responses to Blindauer’s free May puzzle

  1. Steve W. says:

    But, Matt, there’s one last layer of the puzzle! I don’t want to spoil it for you. Compare the grids.

  2. Tony O. says:

    Despite my expressions of woe in the main comments, I did thoroughly enjoy this! As is my wont – and especially when working on a tricky Blindauer piece – I might find the trick and keep expecting more. I’ve asked Patrick numerous times when he’s going to have an answer grid that gets holes punched it then gets spun like a top to create a zoetrope image – I’m waiting!!

    In this case, one of the many things that threw me off was exemplified by 4-Down’s answers – I had RETIRE for [Become a pensioner] and sorted out PACKIN, which was close to PACK(IT)IN, which could also be an answer to that same clue. That line of thinking gave me 3 letters in square #17, where along with B and W I wanted H to create DUH and HOW, as if those, too, were synonyms of some kind – and HOUR could have been DOUR. I eventually gave that up, but it was tough for me – working with a single grid – to not let my mind wander on some possible association between the two words: was Rita MORENO the top BANANA in “West Side Story?” Was there a snake genus ELAINE out there? Is one said to OZARKS another by letting them out on a PAROLE? To paraphrase Will Ferrell in “Zoolander,” “Have I taken crazy pills here?!” Quite a workout! Now, on to Joon’s FB!

  3. Jeff H. says:

    Per Steve W.’s comment above, this is a SPOILER for those who’ve solved the puzzle but didn’t yet find the final element.

    I did what Amy did, putting the two letters from the different grids in corners of each square. The other benefit of that method (vs. filling in two separate grids) is that it allows you to discover Patrick’s final reveal. Once I got the gimmick, I began noticing that a few squares had the same letters for both grids. At first, I thought this was a minor glitch, just a necessary consequence of such an ambitious puzzle. But no — if you go through the overlapped grids and write down (in order from top to bottom) all of the letters that appear twice in the same square, you discover a HIDDEN MESSAGE. Wow!

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    I missed the hidden message! I always miss a layer of Patrick’s puzzles.

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I meant to circle the “two of the same letter” squares but didn’t–and now I can’t find my copy of the puzzle! Will go the easy route and wait for someone to tell me the hidden message.

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Okay, got it from Matt’s two grids. I feel enlighted philosophically thanks to the wisdom in Patrick’s hidden message.

  7. Tony O. says:

    I KNEW there was something else! You rascal, P! Still, I’m getting the hole punch, tape, string, and flashlight out just in case …

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I guess it is impressive, but I also guess I don’t have the patience for this sort of thing. I did *sort of* get the idea, because I also tried to fill in two letters in every square, trying to remember to put the across letter in the upper right and the down letter in the lower left, but got bollixed up and abandoned it. (Never having heard of “Big Brother” didn’t help.) I guess if I’m understanding correctly, it ends up as a bit of a letdown. The across and down clues have literally no connection with each other–is that right? I figured that the down clues must be scrambled, or something, and you had to look through them to put them in the right order, or some such. So it ended up with unproductive time wasting. It’s just two distinct puzzles each with only one set of clues–right? I won’t be a party pooper and enter a star rating, but how brilliant is it really? Just create two, rather straightforward grids with fairly short words, and create only one set of easy clues for each. Or am I still missing something? (Other than the hidden message I read about above, and didn’t bother finding.)


  9. Neville says:

    Would not have been able to finish this if I hadn’t noticed the opposite theme entries – some tricky stuff! Great fun, though. Figured out what was going on quickly, as STAN was also a gimme for me, so I just completed both in one grid – A in the upper left of squares, D in the lower right. (I’ve learned this from attempts at the MGWCC, of course.)

  10. pauer says:

    Thanks, gang. Glad you liked it, though not everybody has voted yet. One solver described it as “VERY annoying” so I know it wasn’t for everyone. I debated whether or not to give two clues or add some instructions, but in the end I made it as innocent-looking as possible and hoped that the aha would be worth it.

    BTW, this was inspired by Matt’s contest puzzle a few weeks ago. Ah, here it is: “Range Rover” I sort of did the opposite, which is probably why I picked opposites to tie the two grids together, now that I think about it. The hidden message wasn’t too tough to plant; avoiding matching letters everywhere *else* was the tricky part.

  11. Andrew Greene says:

    I feel lucky — I anticipated that there would be a hidden message and used it to backsolve part of one of the grids that was giving me trouble. But I completely missed the antonyms.

  12. Howard B says:

    Very cool idea!
    I had too many ‘unchecked’ answers between puzzles that I could not solve for me to fully appreciate it (BIG BROTHER, ONEIL, STAN, etc.). I never solve a puzzle with only Across/Downs, personally, so this was quite the challenge.
    So I solved just enough to realize that there was likely a double-puzzle with different across/downs, but could not solve enough of the answers (without lookups) to resolve the opposite themes and crack the entire puzzle(s) and hidden message.

    As long as constructors invent new ways to trick us and twist our minds, I don’t mind if I don’t always solve it all, or need an extra boost to grasp all of the levels. Innovation and trickery just make me want to solve (or try to solve) more of these :). It keeps those brain cells alive.

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I think I *am* missing some dimensions. I’ll go back and restudy it.


  14. Doug P says:

    I wonder how Dr. Fill would do with this puzzle. I bet it’d melt his circuit boards.

  15. joon says:

    patrick, i loved it. after i solved all the acrosses, i literally laughed when i realize there was a whole new puzzle waiting for me in the downs. i managed to get both without noticing either the antonyms or the hidden message. do i win anything for that?

  16. Jbeck says:

    What’s really wild is if you translate every third entry into Albanian, it only makes jibberish.

    Sheesh. I would’ve thought that Patrick could’ve found a way around that. (More constraints next time!)

  17. Dave C says:

    I got it by writing 2 letters in EVERY square, mentally exhausting and extremely fun and satisfying. Took hours over the last couple of days. Also did so without notcing the antonyms. Man, I thought it was enough of an accomplishment to do 2 xwords in one, but to have a theme and a hidden message too?? WOW. Keep bringing them on, Patrick, it is a true destination moment to reach the 1st of the month and know that something clever and thorny awaits….

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