Some of you may know that strong chess players can play blindfold…that is, without looking at the board. In fact, the strongest players can play several blindfold games at once. And yet, few if any practice this skill, it's just a by-product of how their brains are wired in the process of getting that good.
I've been wondering if something similar was possible with crossword puzzles: could the best solvers complete a puzzle without looking at (let alone filling in) a grid? How about constructors, could they create a puzzle totally in their head? Well, I'm no great constructor (and probably even less of a solver), but after about 2 years of serious study and a bit of practice, I created the following puzzle completely in my head. And I'm curious to see if anyone could likewise solve it in their head. So here goes:
The grid is a 5x5, with the four corners black, and the remaining 21 squares white/empty.
Here are the clues:
1. King of the blogs?
4. Flat hat
6. On your own
7. Dangerous gas
8. Asian bread
1. Send, as a message
2. Wear away
3. Noble element
4. Pitchers' place
5. Nero's X
Yes, I even did the numbering in my head.
Clearly, pretty simple as crosswords go…but it's pretty neat how I can see the grid in my head and make changes to improve the grid. Originally, the 1-box had a D and the 3-box had a T, but I could see that changing the letters made a better puzzle.
I'm pretty sure that if I'd tried to create a puzzle like this in my head before joining CRUCIVERB-L I would've failed miserably. All this time thinking about words and grids rewired my brain to allow me to do this.
Now I'm just wondering if there are others out there that are similarly wired…and probably (hopefully) more impressive than me.