Not for the seventeenth time, I find myself sitting before WordPress with other pressing things to get on with, and no idea what I’m going to write here. Still, the fact that the puzzle I’ve just put up is an Inquisitor from 2012 that was presented without a pseudonym gives an outline of a topic. (2012 means that there is a fifteensquared blog for the puzzle; just the usual note to solve first and consult blogs after.)
I have done a number of ‘anonymous’ puzzles over the years (and there’s another currently in a pipeline somewhere). When ideas are coming (and wouldn’t it be nice if they did that more often…) they come from all directions, and one’s own pseudonym isn’t immune. The letter Phi itself can be represented by bars in the grid (yes, there’s one like that), and it has relationships with other Greek letters and their symbolism. I’d also suggest my wn background in astronomy, though to be honest I doubt whether Phi Canis Majoris (to choose at random) would be visible without the assistance of a telescope.
Even the preceding Inquisitor I put up was anonymous, so I’m clearly on a roll with these at present. One potential difficulty is that using one’s own pseudonym as a theme requires the expectation that a solver will recognise it. That’s not really the case – ideally, one should always assume the puzzle appearing today is the first one a solver is tackling, requiring no previous knowledge. It’s not quite the same with books – you pick up Volume 6 of The Twilit Hunger Games at Hogwarts and there’s a strong chance that there is going to be some backstory you will need to assimilate. But each crossword should be a standalone experience.
I do have a concept of a sequence of puzzles, each of which is standalone. Collectively, over a period of weeks, the puzzles combine to form a meta-puzzle, for the people who come along for a ride. Like many such concepts, whenever it gets near the drawing-board it flutters gently back to the floor. But I shall keep at it – an idea I’ve been trying to grid for a couple of years now finally gelled this week, so one day, perhaps…
Only the Independent Friday puzzles coming up just at present, but there’ll be something extra to report when I reappear in a fortnight.