Not here – it’s not so long that I did something along those lines. But I was looking at the Wall Street Journal site. If you like US-style puzzles it’s among the best, under the editorship of Mike Shenk. It also runs an extra ‘variety’ puzzle on Saturdays. Every four weeks this is a cryptic by Cox and Rathvon, every four weeks it is an acrostic by Michael Ashley, both prime examples of their type. In between, a lot of the variety puzzles are by Patrick Berry (who is also a fine cryptic setter) – I try these from time to time but the reliance on obscure popular Americana makes them unduly taxing (curiously that’s much less of a problem with Berry’s standard US-style grids).
Shenk contributes a puzzle from time to time – usually one of three particular types he favours. This week it’s a Spell Weaving puzzle, for instance, and very nice too. But it’s the relaunch of the puzzle page itself that really caught my eye. Last week, there was a special with a video (which I didn’t manage to see, alas) and this week there’s a new layout with icons for each puzzle rather than just a list.
It’s the icons that are interesting. The smaller ones, which are clearly meant to be representing smartphone app versions, are not US style grids (they’re not even Cox/Rathvon cryptic style grids), but effectively UK cryptic style. Not only that, they’re not actually symmetrical (though I think I’ve noted before that asymmetry is a tendency among non-crossword solvers redesigning crossword-related material). Look up to the main puzzle-of-the-day icon and that is more of a US style grid, though there’s an unchecked cell (in fact, it looks like there’s a double unch), and, yep, it’s not symmetrical.
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t worth a row of beans, except that it teaches you to wonder about the design contribution to items you aren’t familiar with.
The new puzzle this time round is a Beelzebub from 2012 – I see it is consecutive to another Beelzebub already on the site, which is a good indication to me to get another box out of the archive. There’s also a new addition to the cat page, and later in the week, a blog on Codenames, my recent IQ, will go live. In terms of forthcoming puzzles, there will be a Times Jumbo on 26 September (I really must finish the one currently on the production line…) and a Times Quick Cryptic on 30 September. All alongside the usual Friday Independent slots.