Francis Heaney has put together a collection of word and variety puzzles titled Puzzles for Progress. The collection includes works made by many heavy-hitters in the industry the website credits: Erik Agard, Patrick Berry, Patrick Blindauer, Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon, Peter Gordon, Andy Kravis, Robert Leighton, Andrea Carla Michaels & Jonathan Gersch, Mark Halpin, Tony Orbach, Joon Pahk, Erin Rhode, Mike Selinker, and Ben Tausig.
The collection is intended to support organizations that work for advocacy and civil rights. To receive the collection, make a donation to one of the organizations listed on the project website and send the receipt to Francis. He will send the puzzle collection in PDF format, and additional materials for charitable donations of higher amounts.
For more information on the project and a list of organizations visit the Puzzles for Progress website.
Patrick Blindauer has launched a Kickstarter for a weekly series of easy crossword puzzles. Piece of Cake Crosswords will be delivered electronically and contain no obscure vocabulary, including crutch entries like APSE that make the cut in many early-week crosswords because of handy letter patterns. Subscription tiers include copies of Patrick’s Puzzlefest crossword suites and master classes with Patrick on crossword construction.
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Patrick Berry has released a sequel to his The Crypt cryptic crossword collection. Son of the Crypt is a set of 13 never-before-published cryptic crosswords including five block-style diagrams and eight are variety cryptics. The collection is available exclusively on Patrick’s A-Frame Games website.
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Registration has already closed but I want to make a late announcement for the DC Puzzle Hunt Race, or DCPHR (pronounced “decipher”), being held on October 15 in the DC area. Todd Etter of The Famine Games fame organized the event and I expect that puzzle hunt will have some excellent production values.
Lone Shark Games announced this week that it is releasing a collection of digital and print edition puzzle books with a special pay-what-you-want offer, and part of the payment can be allocated to charities such as It Gets Better and Worldbuilders. The Humble Puzzle Bundle includes titles from Patrick Blindauer, Pavel Curtis, Francis Heaney, Matt Jones, Brendan Emmett Quigley, Patrick Berry, Thomas Snyder, and more. As a stretch goal, Lone Shark is producing The Theseus Guide to the Final Maze, a companion to the Mike Selinker / Pete Venters puzzle tome The Maze of Games. Additional hints will be added to Theseus Guide based on the amount collected for the Humble Puzzle Bundles. The offer is available through August 3.
One of the puzzle works available in the Humble Puzzle Bundle is Patrick Berry’ The Crypt. A sequel to this collection of original cryptic crossword puzzles, titled Son of the Crypt, is due to be released soon. Check out Patrick’s website for updates.
Nathan Curtis of Tortoiseshell Studio fame has launched a Kickstarter campaign for an upcoming puzzle hunt. After being funded, the hunt titled What’s That Spell will debut as an installment in the BAPHL walkaround puzzle hunt series in the September-October and then distributed to at-home solvers in November. The Kickstarter features pledge tiers for the BAPHL version (for solvers who will be in the Boston area to participate) and for the at-home version (which includes postal delivery of physical props that are involved in the completion of puzzle metas). If you’re a fan of finely crafted puzzle hunts please visit the website to pledge and make this campaign a success.
A couple of items related to crossword puzzle databases were posted in social media recently.
Jim Horne’s XWord Info reference site now has a downloadable word list compiled and scored by Jeff Chen. The list contains 163,374 entries from published New York Times crossword puzzles, variety puzzles, and acrostics as well as many entries from Jeff’s private list. The entries are scored on a range from 5-60. Angel-level supporters of XWord Info can download the list for personal crossword use.
Peter Broda mentioned his website Cross Examination, a work-in-progress repository of entries and clues collected from independent crossword venues. The site features a wildcard-enabled search field that returns entries and clues with annotations of the constructors and sources. Entries are also ranked according to Peter’s scoring system. The site does not accommodate list downloads but visitors can contact Peter if they are interested in acquiring the data files.
The second annual Indie 500 Crossword Tournament will be held on Saturday, June 4 2016 on the campus of George Washington University in our nation’s capital. The tournament organizers, as they did last year, have issued a contest to find a constructor for one of the tournament puzzle slots. The deadline for entries is January 15. Details on the tournament can be found here and details on the constructor contest are here.
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Eric Berlin has launched a new Kickstarter campaign called Puzzle Your Kids. Eric is constructing kid-friendly pencil puzzles that will be distributed to the project’s supporters throughout 2016. High-level pledge rewards include Winston Breen novels, a “Trail and Error” jigsaw puzzle, and a game show in your own home! If you know some young ones who would enjoy fun and expertly crafted puzzles you should absolutely visit the Kickstarter page and make a pledge!
Foggy Brume, publisher of Panda Magazine, has announced October 10, 2015 as the launch date of Puzzle Boat 3. The puzzle adventure will feature “over 100 puzzles, multiple metas, and an overall metameta.” Foggy is currently accepting solving teams with an $80 team registration fee. Recommended team size is 6-8 people. The first two Puzzle Boat adventures were a blast and featured a rich variety of puzzle types. Put together a crew and check this out
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David Steinberg has announced that his Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project is done! All New York Times crossword puzzles from the inaugural 1942 puzzle through the editorial tenure of Will Shortz have been digitally re-created, edited, and deposited on the XWord Info website maintained by Jim Horne. Congratulations to David for envisioning the project and shepherding it for four years. I will always have a special memory of “litzing” (transcribing puzzles from PDF printouts to CCWIN files) during plane trips, often wedged in an economy section seat with the passenger ahead of me reclining into my laptop screen.