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Crosswords with a Twist...

edited 2013-11-15 10:11:31 in Puzzlers Chat

So for a while now, I've been taking part in a couple of free online puzzle contests. Basically, they're crosswords with an additional puzzle element to them...a meta, if you will (not necessarily the metas you might be used to, but that's the common term). The clues to solve this additional puzzle can be hidden in the grid, clues and occasionally somewhere else. They will usually solve to a word or phrase or something else as called out in the instructions. While these "metas" are far less complicated than a usual puzzlehunt meta, they're fun and might make some good practice for thinking outside the box. I'd like to call out two of them in particular:

1)Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest

Puzzles go up every Friday afternoon, and get harder throughout the month. They cover a wide variety of topics, and some may require a little Googling (though nothing too obscure). If you submit a correct answer by noon EST on the following Tuesday, you get entered into a prize drawing, which can occasionally include crossword books and other puzzle "extravaganzas" (hunt-style sets of puzzles). Solve all the puzzles in a month, and you can win a bonus prize. Quite a few of the high scorers are puzzlehunt veterans.

2)Muller Monthly Music Meta

A free monthly puzzle from Pete Muller, a fan of Matt's. These metas are music-related, and usually solve to a song or artist. It's a little late to get qualified for the grand prize (trip to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament), but you can still enter the remaining contests to get a free coffee mug. Unlike Matt's contest, there is also a "mega-meta", where you have to find clues in the previous months' puzzles to get one more "rock and roll hit from the last 40 years". If you can't get it now, Pete will release a puzzle with more explicit instructions on New Year's Eve. I also expect he will do this again next year, so you can start fresh come 2014. 


I highly recommend both of these contests if you're looking for some lighter puzzle fare. I don't think either of the authors has written MIT Mystery Hunt puzzles, but crosswords like these are guaranteed to pop up in some hunts down the line.

I do also have some puzzle suites that I've purchased from others in the past couple of years, like Patrick Blindauer and Trip Payne, both puzzlehunt authors. I'm a little torn on if sharing them is taking a bit of money out of the author's pockets though, like with Panda Magazine. On the other hand, they're very well done and would make nice practice. What do you guys think?  

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