Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yesterday I used examples from a crossword puzzle I played on-line. You can try it out for yourself at

At the bottom of the page on the right hand side, there is a place to click that says "Solve On Line." It gives you a choice of Crosswords or Sudoku.

There are instruction under the help button that explain how to use the keyboard to play and how to check your answers.

Have fun!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Odd Letter Combos

I was doing a puzzle today and I came across an unfinished answer that looked like this -
_ _ _ _ _

I thought I must have made a mistake some place because V and N don't usually go together in words. But I checked the clue -

4 down Sweater feature (2 wds.)

So, the clue is 2 words. That means maybe the V and N are in 2 separate words.
I pictured a sweater in my mind and was able to come up with the correct answer. Do you know what it is? Highlight the area above the dashed line to check your answer.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Crosswordese - EEL

Some words appear in crossword puzzles often. Sometimes they are words you've never heard before but sometimes they are common words that appear in puzzles again and again. Learning these words and how they are clued can help you do crosswords faster and easier.

Today's word is EEL. An eel is a long skinny fish that looks similar to a snake. They like to hide in coral reefs. There are different types of eels such as moray eels and electric eels.

The most common way I have seen EEL or EELS clued is Slippery fish.

Other examples -

30 down "Electric" swimmers (ans: EELS)
Easy-to-do Crosswords Jumbo issue #133, puzzle #100

48 down Elongated fishes (ans: EELS)
Easy Crossword Express Vol. 117, puzzle #65

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Puzzle People

Today's puzzle person is ELLA Fitzgerald.

ELLA appears in lots of crossword puzzles.

Here are a few examples -
29 across Singer Fitzgerald
(Easy-to-do Crosswords Jumbo #133, puzzle #3)

39 across First name in Jazz
(Universal Crossword, Matter of Fact, by Kelsey Lanyer, edited by Timothy Parker)

44 down Jazzy Fitzgerald
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, #33)

Ella Fitzgerald was a Jazz singer popular in the 1940's and 50's. She won 13 Grammy Awards and sold over 40 million records. She was famous for a type of jazz singing known as scat. Scatting is when a singer uses made-up sounds instead of words to sing a song. They make it up as the go along and try to imitate the sounds and rhythms of musical instruments.

Here's a bonus clue. Use the information above to see if you can figure out the answer.

40 down Emulate Ella
(Dell Puzzle Lovers Easy Crosswords, June 2008, puzzle #46)
_ _ _ _

Highlight the area above the dashed line to check your answer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Share the Fun

Happy Memorial Day (a day late!)

Sorry I didn't post yesterday but I was busy, busy. I went to a parade and a picnic. But don't worry I brought along Penny Press Good Time Crossword Puzzles (Oct 2007) to fill in the slow times. We worked crossword puzzles while we waited for the parade to make it's way down to our location. It's fun to work crosswords together.

Our favorite clue of the day comes from a round flower power puzzle (#33). Instead of across and down, the clues run clockwise and counterclockwise.

7 clockwise Forehead hair
_ _ _ _ _

Highlight the area above the dashed line for the answer.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Easy Answers

Fill-in-the-blanks are usually the easiest clues to answer. They can really help you get started. Try a few and see for yourself.

23 down "_____ we there yet?" (Awesome Crosswords for Kids, Trip Payne, puzzle #5)
_ _ _

50 across Great horned ____ (Penny Press Good Time Crossword Puzzles, Oct 07)
_ _ _

10 across "We're off to see ____ Wizard..." (Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #45)
_ _ _

Highlight the area above the dashed line to check your answers.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Crossword Link

Here's a link to a website by Crossword Constructor Helene Hovanec. It's called It has a listing of Crossword and word puzzle books as well as a few puzzles to try.

Check it out!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Crossword Glossary

Here are some words I use a lot on this site.

Constructor - A person who creates crossword puzzles.

Grid - The puzzle structure made up of black and white squares.

American style Crossword - a crossword puzzle with overlapping answers that cross at every letter. The type seen in newspapers, magazines, and puzzle books.

Crisscross puzzles - A crossword puzzle where the words only cross in one or two places. The type typically used in schools.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Puzzle People

What do these 2 Puzzle People have in common?

23 across Quarterback Manning (Easy-to-do Crosswords Jumbo #133, puzzle #130)
29 down Inventor Whitney (Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #5)

They both share the first name ELI.

ELI Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793. The cotton gin was an important machine at the time used for picking seeds out of cotton.

ELI Manning won Super Bowl XLII in February 2008. He is the quarterback for the New York Giants.

Bonus question - What number is represented with the Roman numerals XLII?
4 2
_ _
Highlight the area above the dashed line for the answer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Clue for the day

Here's an interesting clue -

1 across Org. that advocates adoption
(Universal crossword, Light On, by Jules Mack, edited by Timothy Parker)

The first thing I realized is that the answer would be an abbreviation. How did I know that? Because organization is abbreviated (org.) in the clue. If there is an abbreviation in the clue, then you know the answer will be abbreviated as well.

The second thing I realized after some of the letters had been filled in. I assumed it was an organization that deals with human adoptions but I assumed wrong. People also adopt pets!

Put it all together and the answer to today's clue is ASPCA. Also known as The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In Other Words

Sometimes finding the answer to a clue is as easy as finding another way to say it.

For example -
4 across Stink (Penny Press, Nice and Easy Crosswords, Puzzle #2)
_ _ _ _

What is another way to say stink? Make a list of all the possible choices.
  • reek
  • odor
  • stench
  • scent
  • smell

Do any of them fit the answer blanks? Highlight the area above the dashed line to see the answer.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tricky Clues?

If a clue ends with a ? you know something funny is going on. It usually means some kind of wordplay in the clue itself. You can't take this clue at face value, you have to give it more thought. Put your thinking cap on and play around with the answer.

Here's an example -
21 across Moon rock pieces?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
(Universal Crossword, Adorable, by Henry Quarters, edited by Timothy Parker)

On first look, you might think the clue has something to do with space. Maybe it's referring to one of the Apollo missions to the moon?

But then you remember that ? at the end of the clue. You know the answer is not going to be so obvious. Maybe some of the words have other meanings. Yes, that's it. Rock can mean a chunk of ore but it also means a type of music.

Here's another tip for you - Constructors hide names in the first word of a clue. The first word of a clue is always capitalized so you don't know if it's a proper noun that should be capitalized or a common noun that is capitalized because it's the first word in the sentence. If you are a fan of classic rock, then you know this clue refers to drummer Keith Moon of The Who.

So, let's look at our clue again
21 across Moon rock pieces?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now we know it has something to do with Rocker Keith Moon. What sort of pieces would a drummer use? Have you figured it out? Highlight the area above the dashed line to see the answer.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Crossword Links

Today's crossword link is The New York Times Learning Network.

As you can tell by the name it is from the people at The New York Times. It is even edited by Will Shortz, who edits the daily NYT Crossword puzzles.

Twice a month there is a new puzzle to try. You can play it on-line or print it out and play it the old fashioned way. Each puzzle has a theme and links to more information about the theme.

The current theme is The Food Pyramid. Don't let the educational sounding title deceive you, these puzzles are just as fun as any you'll find.

Now excuse me but, I've got a puzzle to solve....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crosswordese - EPEE

The Word of the Day is EPEE.

An EPEE is a sword used for fencing. It has a long and skinny blade. It does not have sharp sides or a sharp point. And it's often found in crossword puzzles!

Here are some clues found from real puzzles -

15 across Blade for fencing
(Universal Crossword, Come Around, by Clyde Cranepool, edited by Timothy Parker)

15 down Fencing blades (ans: EPEES)
Penny Press Nice and Easy Crosswords, June 2008, puzzle #51

60 across Duel blades (ans: EPEES)
Penny Press Good Time Crossword Puzzles, October 2007, Puzzle # 76

The last clue is a little tricky. Duel and Dual sound alike but mean two different things. If you get them confused you might think of something with 2 (dual) blades instead of a battle (duel) between two people.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mister Who?

How did you do on yesterday's X words? I'm guessing that you didn't know who Mr. Peepers or Wally Cox were. To tell you the truth I didn't know who they were either.

A little research on Google and I found out that Mister Peepers was a sitcom on TV from 1952-55. Wally Cox is the name of the actor who played the main character. The show was about the misadventures of Mr. Peepers, a Jr high school science teacher.

What made this clue harder was the fact that it was by itself. In the real puzzle, I was able to fill in the correct letters without knowing who Mr. Peepers was because of the crossing clues.

It would be easy to just move on to the next puzzle and forget all about Wally Cox or Mr. Peepers or any other clue and answer that you couldn't figure out but don't. Take a few minutes to look over the puzzle and look up the clues you didn't know. It's easy to type them into Google or your favorite search engine and you will that much smarter.

Then the next time Wally Cox appears in a crossword puzzle, you'll speed through the clue like a Crossword Champion.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

X Words

Puzzle Constructors make their puzzles more interesting and challenging by adding words that have hard to use letters like X. Here are 4 X words from a recent crossword puzzle. See if you can figure them out. Be warned - these clues are hard!

Highlight the area to the right of each clue to see the correct answer.

14 across candle like
_ _ X _ WAXY

3 down leaf angle
_ X _ _ AXIL

46 across Wally of "Mister Peepers"
_ _ X COX

39 down Witch's spell
_ _ X HEX

All of today's clues are from Universal Crossword, Adorable, by Henry Quarters, edited by Timothy Parker

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crossword Words

Doing crossword puzzles is a great way to learn new words. One word I came across in a puzzle today that I didn't know is HEP. I was able to fill it in by answering the crossing clues.

Here's the clue -
12 across In the know answer - HEP
(Penny Press Nice and Easy crosswords, June 2008, puzzle #2)

I typed hep into and I found out that it was once a popular slang word. Hep means hip, fashionable, or up to date. In other words, "in the know."

And now you're in the know about HEP.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Puzzle People

Today's puzzle person is Muhammad Ali. His last name ALI, appears often in crossword puzzles.

Here's a few examples of clues with the answer ALI.

21 across Muhammad ___
(Awesome Crosswords for Kids, Trip Payne, puzzle #14)

50 down Frazier's rival
(Easy-to-do crosswords, Kappa Publications, Puzzle #81)

16 across Famous boxer
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #16)

Muhammad Ali was a world famous boxer in the 1960's and 70's. In 1960, he won the Olympic Gold Medal in Rome. Later, he went on to win the World Heavy Weight Title over and over again. His birth name is Cassius Clay but he changed it to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam. The middle clue refers to one of his competitors, Joe Frazier, whom Ali fought and beat 3 times. Today, Ali is retired from the world of boxing and spends a good deal of his time doing charity work.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Clued-in to Crosswords

Here is a clue for you -

54 down Sullivan and Bradley
(Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #36)

The answer is EDS.

Get clued-in -
Why is the answer EDS?
First, you had to know that the two people mentioned in the clue have the same first name - ED Sullivan and ED Bradley.

Second, the clue word AND indicates that the puzzle constructor is talking about both of them so the answer is going to be plural. If the clue had read Sullivan OR Bradley the answer would have been ED singular. (but two letter answers aren't allowed in most puzzles!)

Hope this helps.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Crossword Themes

Today's clues all have a theme. Can you guess what it is?

4 across Female parent
_ _ _ _

27 across Pop's spouse
_ _ _

4 across Mate for Papa
_ _ _ _

Highlight the area above the dashed line for the answers.

Clues come from Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008 puzzles #98, 67, 62

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I'd like to buy a vowel

Most countries in Europe use the Euro for currency. But it wasn't always that way. Before the Euro each individual country had their own money. Some crossword puzzle clues test your knowledge of this.

For example -

15 across One-time Italian currency
_ _ _ _

Do you know the answer? Highlight the area above the dashed line to check.

(clue from Universal Crossword, Meal Time, by Andre Clarkson, edited by Timothy Parker)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tricky clue

Here's a clue that made me laugh. See if you can figure it out.

63 across Tree house
_ _ _ _

Highlight the area above the dashed line to see the answer.

clue from Universal crossword, Gear Heads, by Hank Banks, edited by Timothy Parker

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Puzzle People

Some names appear in crossword puzzles regularly. I like to call them Puzzle People. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to solve the puzzle.

Today's puzzle person is Ira Gershwin. His first name IRA appears often in puzzle grids.

Here's an example of a clue from Dell Easy Crossword Collection, June 15, 2008, puzzle #5 -
6 down Lyricist Gershwin

Ira Gershwin was a song writer (lyricist) who worked with his brother George to write many successful Broadway shows.

Now you know about Ira Gershwin.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Foreign words

I found this foreign word clue in a recent puzzle.

60 across This, in Spain
_ _ _ _

I knew the answer would be in Spanish because that's the language they speak "in Spain." Duh!Luckily, I remembered a few words from when I took Spanish lessons. I could have looked it up in a Spanish to English dictionary also.

Highlight the area above the dashes to see the answer.

(clue from Universal Crosswords, Gear Heads, By Hank Banks, edited by Timothy Parker,
May 5, 2008)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Czar, Tsar or Bizarre?

I was wondering the other day, what is the difference between CZAR and TSAR?

I pulled out my handy pocket dictionary and found out that a TSAR is a Russian Emperor. (Of course, I knew that from watching Anastasia!) When I looked up CZAR, it said CZAR=TSAR.

Okay. So, they both mean exactly the same thing. How do you know which spelling to choose when you have a crossword puzzle clue such as "Peter the great was one?"

I did a little checking around the web and this is what I found. According to Chuck Schnebel of Chuck's Crossword Column and Amy Reynaldo, author of How to Conquer The New York Times Crossword Puzzle, TSAR is seen most often in crossword puzzles. CZAR and still another spelling, TZAR are seen much less often.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Here is a clue from a recent puzzle -
1 across Early Eurasian Leaders answer CZARS
(Universal Crosswords, Gear Heads, by Hank Banks, edited by Timothy Parker, May 5, 2008)

My advice is to pencil in the word TSAR and check the crossing clues for the T and the S. If the answers for those two clues work with the T and S, great you are done. If not, erase and try the C and Z. (That's why I recommend using a pencil!)

Hope this helps.

Crossword Links

Here are some on-line puzzles to try.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

For Example

Sometimes in a puzzle you will see the abbreviation e.g.

across 32 Sirloin, e.g.
_ _ _ _ _

(Good Time Crossword Puzzles, Penny Press, Oct 2007)

e.g. is short for the Latin phrase exempli gratia. It means, for example.

When you see it in a puzzle, think of the word as an example of something. In this case, the word is Sirloin. What is Sirloin an example of? It's a type of _____? If you had a big group of words and Sirloin was one of them, what would the title of the group be called? In other words, think of Sirloin as a specific word and the answer is looking for the common word.

Think you know the answer? Highlight the area under the clue to check.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Roman Numerals

Think you know your Roman Numerals? Try this crossword puzzle. It's filled entirely with Roman Numbers.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Word Play

Here are a couple crossword clues that made me laugh. The puzzle constructor used word play to trick me. See if you can figure them out. Remember words have more than one meaning.

Highlight the area over the Blanks to see the answer

35 across Fiddler on the reef
_ _ _ _

10 down It goes over the tongue
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The clues are from the May 2, 2008 Orange County Register on-line puzzle by Skip Daucette, edited by Timothey Parker.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Crosswordese - Asea

Some words appear often in crossword puzzles. You see them over and over again. These words are called crosswordese.

Learn these words and the common ways they are clued and you will have some easy answers for any puzzle.

Asea defines asea as 1. to or toward the sea and 2. at sea

A quick search of Easy-To-Do Crosswords Jumbo #133 published by Kappa find these clues for the answer asea.

- not ashore
- sailing on the briny
- on the Baltic