Saturday, August 18, 2012

Good morning, Irene (Sunday brunch: August 19, 2012)

[UPDATE:  Welcome NYT diagramless fans.  See the post above for a place to post comments and requests for hints.]

Are you OK working without blocks or bars to tell you where to place words?  This weekend's New York Times variety puzzle is a Fred Piscop diagramless.  If you've never tried a diagramless before, this is a good one to start with, since the top section is pretty easy.  Take the starting space hint below the fold (there's another useful piece of information there too), fill in 1 across, and continue from there.  Orange has some more diagramless tips over at Diary of a Crossword Fiend.  Just in time for this puzzle, a new version of Diagnil has been released.  Diagnil is a software tool for working diagramless crosswords.  I found the interface somewhat confusing, but it might help you get through your first puzzle or three by doing the symmetric black squares for you, keeping track of numbers and quickly turning the diagramless into a diagrammed crossword.

Elsewhere on the unguided front, the "Boxing Rings" puzzle by Patrick Berry may scare you at first, but it's not too difficult.  Once you solve a clue, you can enter its first letter at the numbered space, and its second and last letters in the spaces denoted by the shaded box for each clue that tells you where in its respective ring it starts.  If you get a few of these close together, then you can probably rule out at least one configuration for one of those answers, or maybe get something that looks like an obvious fit. Pencil it in (and do use pencil, since you may have to relocate that answer) and see if that steers the direction of another nearby answer.  Need more help?  Stop by the WSJ puzzle blog forum.

Once you're "warmed up," you can take on the National Post cryptic by Hex.  Falcon will have solution and analysis for you over at his forum.

By the way, Craig Kloeden's Crossword Helper (over in the toolbox at your right) is down.  I've checked with Craig to see if it can be fixed.

1a/1d in this week's NYT diagramless starts in the third space of the first row.
The puzzle follows normal crossword symmetry.

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