There are two types of people: those who like crosswords, and those who do not yet know that they like crosswords. This book is for those who already know that they like crosswords. My first book (The Everything® Easy Crosswords Book) is for those who do not yet know that they like crosswords, or have not yet put in the time to learn “the tricks of the trade.” By “tricks of the trade,” I mean curveballs that may be in clues, themes, fill styles (including rebus puzzles, where a multi-letter string can fill in a white square, listed on pages 94, 134, 152, 170, 173, 189, and 224), or vocabulary and trivia that come with practice when solving crosswords. The author must confess that for a lot of his life, he fell into the “do not yet know” category. I did not like the fact that a new vocabulary needed to be learned just to start solving the infernal creations known as crosswords. Not only that, but I'd studied Spanish instead of French in high school, seemingly putting me at a disadvantage. It was not until I started commuting into Boston by train that I decided to give crosswords a chance. After all, I was already a big fan of word puzzles, had been part of the National Puzzlers' League, and was particularly fond of anagrams (this was before I got into palindromes). I started playing around with crossword construction and started putting crosswords and other puzzles into the company newsletter that I was editing. I improved through trial and error, still lacking certain fine-tunings like “symmetry should be maintained in the grid.”
The “Challenge” in the title does NOT mean that the book is
chock-full of entries that will have you scratching your head, saying, “Gee, I'm missing a letter here, where some tiny river I've never heard of crosses this obscure foreign leader I've never heard of.” There may be some obscure entries, but hopefully not enough to make a puzzle impossible to break open or impossible to finish.
I have enlisted the aid of fellow constructors to increase the textures of the puzzles as you experience them. Like pizza toppings or ice cream flavors, I'm guessing that you'd like more variety than the clues and themes that I'd come up with purely on my own. Well, I'm letting you know the constructors so you can look for them in the future and identify your favorites.
The first two puzzles are warm-ups, a little smaller than the 15x15s that make up the rest of the book.
Have fun, and good luck!