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General Discussion / Re: New constructor's question
« Last post by mmcbs on January 03, 2018, 09:02:39 PM »
Sorry, I'm not familiar with Crossfire, but I'm told it's pretty feature rich, so perhaps that is built in. In Crossword Compiler, the system immediately figures out which individual space has the fewest possibilities and starts there. But it may be a combination of entries in a particular sector that cause the problem. You can eyeball this by considering the number of entries that have multiple letters already forced by theme entries or others - this increases the odds of problems. Another factor is the nature of the letters - that is if there are a lot of high score scrabble letters in a section, it's likely to be tough to fill.

Another consideration is the word list itself, because if it isn't robust enough, many more sections will be tough to fill. There are good word lists on this site for members, and perhaps an even better one on for a fee.

And, finally, if you have a sector that you just can't seem to conquer, it may be time to add a "cheater" blank square, re-arrange the theme entries (if possible), or even redesign the grid. We all have to do some of all of those things once in a while.
General Discussion / New constructor's question
« Last post by Toast on January 03, 2018, 04:46:03 PM »
Hi, all. I'm just getting into puzzle constructing and I'm working through my first 15x15 grid, using Crossfire. My experience so far has been similar to what is described in the "Sage Advice" articles: I put in what I think are interesting answers and then get stumped putting in respectable fill around them. After flailing around a bit, I rip out some of the answers I wanted to keep and start fresh, with interesting words and phrases I've encountered along the way.

What I have a question about is a point that Nancy Salomon made in "Some thoughts on word lists" -- she wrote:

"Coming up with a good fill [...] involves identifying the most constrained sector(s) of the fill and starting there to make sure one has acceptable alternatives."

This is surely sound advice, but I'm having a difficult time picturing what this means in a practical sense. How do I identify constrained sectors in order to start there? Are there clues that you look for in the grid design or is it letter combinations that might originate from some of the longer or themed entries?
General Discussion / Re: Answer too brief?
« Last post by cranberry44 on January 03, 2018, 09:38:45 AM »
Clever idea. I'm going to play around with that. Thanks a bunch!
General Discussion / Re: Answer too brief?
« Last post by Toast on January 02, 2018, 09:06:28 PM »
I have seen shortening like this before, but usually when the person clued is well known by their initials. I haven't heard of Patsy Cline being referred to as P. Cline, so I could see this answer raising some eyebrows. However, the song used to clue the name is a gimme, so most solvers could probably figure out your intent.

Another option for cluing, along the lines of pc line (i.e., personal computer line) might be to interpret pc as "politically correct". Maybe take a line of poetry or a line of dialogue and replace male pronouns with gender neutral ones? As in this line from John Donne: "No man (or woman!) is an island, entire of itself." It's a little crass, but maybe a germ of an idea.
General Discussion / Answer too brief?
« Last post by cranberry44 on January 01, 2018, 03:06:23 PM »
I'm almost finished with a 15 X 15. But I have an entry for "pcline" (for Patsy Cline). Clue is "Walkin' After Midnight" singer, briefly. Have you seen this kind of brevity before? Is this acceptable? If not, perhaps clue should be written for "pc line"; but I'm not computer-savy enough to form a definition. It has something to do with hooking up speakers, I think. Can you help?
Software / Technical / Re: across lite app for Kindle or Chromebook
« Last post by XWordHobbyist on December 21, 2017, 10:18:47 AM »
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be an option officially through the NYT crossword at this time.

With a Chromebook, would you be able to solve it in browser? It's not ideal, but may hold you over until Across lite comes out for those operating systems.

Update: after a little more searching, there does seem to be an app through Amazon. The reviews are mixed, but perhaps it will suit your needs!
Software / Technical / Re: Recommendations for crossword software on Mac
« Last post by XWordHobbyist on December 21, 2017, 10:10:25 AM »
If you'd like a program you don't have to download at all, check out Crossword Hobbyist! Not only can you save as you go and access your puzzles from any computer, you can easily print or share your puzzle online. Let us know if you have any questions!
General Discussion / Re: Themeless Submissions... ?
« Last post by XWordHobbyist on December 21, 2017, 10:03:14 AM »
I don't know if this is still helpful to you, but there's a couple on this list that also accept themeless puzzles:
Today's Puzzles / The introspective December 18 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on December 18, 2017, 05:22:57 PM »
Brock Wilson has been creating crosswords since 2015. Most of his puzzles have been published on Mondays. Garfield may not like Mondays but Brock Wilson certainly does. Today's puzzle includes these answers:

Even-steven: ALLSQUARE
Is totally in the dark: HASNOCLUE
Shunning public utilities and such: GOINGOFFTHEGRID
Respond to cries of "Encore!": DOANOTHERNUMBER

"Where to find the last words" of those answers is CROSSWORDPUZZLE. Indeed -- not only today but every day.

Three formerly-taboo-in-crosswords brand names appear today: EGGO, ("Toaster waffle choice"), SAAB ("Classic 900 automaker") and JEEPS ("Cherokee and Wrangler"). "'Say what?' responses" is HUHS. Many people say "Huh?" when they don't hear something clearly but turning the word into a noun and making it plural in order to fit a crossword grid? Awkward. "Twelfths of yrs." is MOS, which is also awkward -- but not as awkward as HUHS. "Like used fireplaces" is ASHY, another awkward word.

"Word before toast or after peach" is MELBA. Melba toast is a dry, crisp, thinly-sliced toast often served with soup or salad. Peach melba is a dessert made with vanilla ice cream, peaches and raspberry purée. Both were created for -- and named for -- Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931). She was born Helen Porter Mitchell in Victoria and took the stage name Nellie Melba as a tribute to Melbourne, where she lived as a teenager. She performed at Covent Garden in London for 37 years. Here is a detailed biography:

Christmas is just one week away. The Puzzles To Print website has a selection of printable Christmas-themed crosswords, sudokus and word-search puzzles:

And how do we know Santa Claus is good at karate? He has a black belt.

Etc. / What's your favorite day of the week for crosswords?
« Last post by ryanspuzzles on December 16, 2017, 12:53:20 PM »
Posted this on Reddit a moment ago. I love my themeless puzzles so I'm always looking forward to Saturday.
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