Crosswords and Diagramlesses from "Tough Puzzles"

Three months ago I released a collection of "Something Different" puzzles from the original indie crossword publication, Stanley Newman's Crossworder's OWN Newsletter (later renamed Tough Puzzles). I've finally got another tranche of classic crosswords from the same source, originally published between 1984 and 1994, ready to share with Stan's blessing.

Both links lead to the same .zip file containing three folders: Themed (15 puzzles), Unthemed (23 puzzles), and Diagramless (21 puzzles). All files are in .puz format, which can be opened in Across Lite and other solving programs.

Please see the previous post for a little background on the Newsletter, and some caveats about the style and difficulty of the puzzles. They're not too different from the crosswords of today, aside from some bygone cluing tropes. It's the old-school vocabulary and now-outdated cultural references that make these especially challenging. Also, I took care this time (I hope) not to republish any material that could cause offense.

Some additional notes:
  • This is just a small sample of what was published in the Newsletter. Each issue included at least a dozen crosswords, cryptics, and variety grids, but I only transcribed the ones of particular interest. I prioritized themeless puzzles (as those tend to be more fun and challenging), favorite constructors, and historical oddities, like the first published puzzle by a 14-year-old Matthew C. Gaffney.
  • I decided to separate the Themed and Unthemed puzzles so the solver would know what to expect. For a few puzzles that don't fit neatly into either, I chose the folder that's less likely to "spoil" the solving experience.
  • Several of the Themed puzzles are more properly considered Variety crosswords; those have a note in the puzzle's title (in addition to the Notepad) so you won't miss the relevant instructions.
  • All of the Diagramless puzzles include the "starting square" hint in the Notepad. None of them include a symmetry hint, because with [I won't say how many] exceptions, they all use standard crossword symmetry. Beware the first Diagramless (from 1984); it's one of the few that's themed, and especially difficult!
  • I've been using the open-source, extremely customizable XWord solving program to test-solve all the diagramlesses digitally, and can't recommend it highly enough. I started using the program when its latest update was released a few weeks ago, and I'm never going back to Across Lite.
Enjoy, and please let me know if you have questions or spot any errors! I've got one more large collection of Tournament crosswords to vet and share. (Hit me up if you're interested in helping test/proofread those puzzles, so it doesn't take me three more months to distribute them...)


John Beck said...

Thanks, Dan. I'm glad you passed these along, but it reminds me just how TERRIBLE a lot of puzzles were back then.

I won't spoil it for every else, but I will admit that one of the crossings between UMBONE ("Projection of a bivalve's shell") and something about an Egyptian ankh ("Crux ____") gave me trouble.

Puzzle-wise, we have an embarrassment of riches these days. Sure, the blogs may squawk about a shopworn theme or some uninspired fill, but I can't remember the last time I saw a theme like "Where is this ZIP Code??" or putting PEBAS ("Texas armadillos") into a grid.

Dan said...

True. And these were the pinnacle of puzzledom 30 years ago! I actually left out a few grids that were too rough for me to finish solving. (For anyone who hasn't downloaded yet, there are some puzzles here that are merely a bit musty, not totally filled with obscurity...)