Hashtag! You’re Out!

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie, hashtag games on Twitter, or @midnight’s Hashtag Wars segment on Comedy Central.

For years now, we’ve been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was #PennyDellBaseballPuzzles, mashing up Penny Dell puzzles with players, teams, terminology, and all things regarding America’s pastime!

Examples include: Right of Wade Boggs, Mookie AlphaBetts Soup, and, of course, Triple Play.

So, without further ado, check out what the puzzlers at PuzzleNation and Penny Dell Puzzles came up with!

Puzzly Players!

Railroad Ty Cobb

Ty-in Cobb


Daisy Dean

Satchel Solution Paige

Warren Spanners

Denard Spanners

Dwight Gooden Deal

Jeff Mixed Bagwell

Crypto-Trivias Jackson

Willie Starspell

Seaver Words

Earl Weaver Words

Pine David Cone

Bo “knows the odds” Jackson

Goose Tile

Harry Caray-Overs

KenKen Griffey, Jr.

Rollie Fingers of the Dice

IchiRoll of the Dice

Roll of the Dice-K

Ichiro Sudoku

Phil Crypto-Zooto

Go Catfish Hunter

Willie Word Maze / Word Mays / Willie Maze

The Say That Again Hey Kid

Ron Cey That Again

Let’s close out this category with some player facts!

  • Hall of Famers: Al Draw the Ka-line, Bill Maze-roski, and Ozzie Smith aka “The Wizard Words of Oz”
  • Anagram Lloyd was an important reliever in the Yankees 1996 World Series run.
  • The Yankees and Mets in the 1970’s had Bill Sudoku who played catcher and first base.

Puzzly Teams!

Mudville 9 of Diamonds

Arizona Nine of Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamond Rings

Tampa Bay Sunrays



Puzzly Baseball Lingo!

Seventh Inning Stretch Letters

All-Starspell game / All-Star Codebreaker / All-Star Categories

Home Runs

Picker-Upper Decker Home Runs

Puzzle Home Run Derby

Three Strikes of a Kind


Dugout of Place / Pitchout of Place

Bullpen Spiral / Bullpen’s-Eye Spiral

Bull Pencil Pusher

Who’s Calling The Bullpen?

What’s Left? Field

Slide-Into-Home-O-Gram / Slider-O-Gram

Window Box score / Shadowbox score

Diamond Nine

Bad Hop, Skip, and Jump

In and Around the Horn

A Few Fielder’s Choice Words

In and Aroundfielder

Give and Take a Pitch

Pitcher This

Pitching Match-Up

Small Change-up / Changeupaword

Trade-Offspeed Pitch

All Mixed Up and Away

Down the Middle of the Road

At the Block Letters

12-to-6 Drop-Ins

High and Insiders

Split-Finger Personalities

Full Countdown

Fourbagger Fit

Grand Slam Tour

Ball Fore ’n’ Aft / Ball Four Corners

Letter Perfect Game / Perfect Game Fit

Perfect Hit

Hits & Pieces

Batter’s Boxes


Word Player to be named later

Letter Power hitter

Line Drive ‘Em Up

Draw the Line Drive

Crack of the Battleships


Bat Around the Bend


Bases, Please.

Base to Base

Grounds-Roulette Double / Grounds-Rule Double Trouble / Ground Rule Double Occupancy

Right of FenWay / Which FenWay Words

Heads & Tailgates

In the Middle Innings

Word Playoffs

Crossword Series

World Series Ringers


Three-DL Crossword


Quotefall Classic

Four Hot Corners / Can of Four Corners


Doubleheader Delight

The Nine of Baseball Diamonds



Old Timer’s Bowl Game

Take Me Out to the Ballgame From There

Take(me)outs to the Ballgame



Take-out Slide-O-Rama

Dash-It and Run

“Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjacks…”

If a pitcher has men on base, he may opt to pitch from the Stretch Letters.

Baseball: A Film by Kenken Burns

And, as always, there are those participants who go above and beyond in their masterful punnery!

A few offered up some puzzly calls:

  • And there goes Hank Aarrrooound the Block to Add One to his Homeruuuns!
  • Alfred got 3 books and he’s out….he should of ordered more puzzles…back to the bullpen

Naturally, we couldn’t have some fun with baseball without a certain Abbott and Costello routine getting referenced…

“GUESS WHO’s on first, WHAT’S MY NAME is on second, YOU KNOW THE ODDS is on third…”

[Note: someone else also offered “What’s Left on Second?”]

One intrepid puzzler offered this advertisement for players with, shall we say, chemistry:

Were you Suspended and Sentenced for Steroids? Did you hit too many Home Runs? Well just Dial-A-Gram 1-800 ALL-FRAMED because those are some Barry Common Bonds you have there!

We even got some pun-filled trivia!

In the old time parks like Wrigley Field and Fenway, you can see the SCOREBOARD in which they use PLACE CARDS to create a DIGITAL DISPLAY.

I’ll never forget my favorite Yogi Berra quote: When you’re coming and going to a fork in the middle of the road, take a letter.

Alas, there is simply no topping this all-time puzzly classic…

Take me out to the ALL FRAME,
Take me out with the CROSS PAIRS
I don’t care if I never get THROWBACKS
Let me root, root, root for the HOME RUNS,
If they don’t win it’s a FRAMEwork,
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re ROUNDABOUT
At the old BOWL GAME

Have you come up with any Penny Dell Baseball Puzzles entries of your own? Let us know! We’d love to see them!

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Delving into the 2017 ACPT puzzles!


One of the highlights of the puzzle year is the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and the impressive, challenging, and well-constructed puzzles awaiting solvers there rank among the craftiest you’ll ever see.

So let’s put them under the microscope and see how I did!

Puzzle 1: Mystery Initials by Bruce Haight

The opening puzzle in this year’s tournament was certainly an interesting way to kick off the event. Puzzle 1 usually eases solvers into the experience, but this time around, it was more challenging than I think anyone expected. The theme of MI phrases (MORE INFO, MENU ITEM, etc.) was accessible and clued in a straightforward manner.

Interesting grid entries included MWAHAHA, DASH CAM, UHURA, and HI MOM, and my favorite clues were “Option from a list” for MENU ITEM and “’All ears’ or ‘lay eyes on’” for IDIOM.

Puzzle 2: One Dozen by Patrick Berry

Berry’s contribution to the tournament was a very smooth puzzle with great fill and fun wordplay. The theme of sound-alike phrases, but where the T is dropped (AMBIEN NOISE instead of AMBIENT NOISE) was very clever. My only issue with the puzzle was that the two long down entries didn’t adhere to the theme, so I found them tougher to unravel than expected. Otherwise, this was a great hook executed nicely.

Interesting grid entries included LAB RAT, ONESIE, COOLIO, and FABIO, and my favorite clues were “Scientific subject” for LAB RAT and “Shipping order?” for AVAST.

Puzzle 3: On the Table by Brendan Emmett Quigley

Much like Puzzle 1, Puzzle 3 was more challenging than many solvers expected, but the theme — common items or phrases where the initials are swapped for the element on the Periodic Table using that abbreviation (like PLATINUM CRUISER for PT CRUISER) — was really tough, but pulled off with great style.

With elements like Erbium, Moscovium, and Praseodymium getting namechecked, your knowledge of high school chemistry was really put to the test here. That being said, one or two fill entries really flummoxed me, particularly DO TO A TEE, which I had a hard time parsing out even with the section filled in.

Interesting grid entries included ASTARTE, OY VEY, MR. ROARKE, and ABSENTIA, and my favorite clues were “Makes calls” for REFS, “Title that’s shortened by removing its middle letter” for MADAM, and “It takes the edge off” for EMERY.


Puzzle 4: Body Doubles by Julie Berube

This was a nice break after the challenge of Puzzle 3, and several tournament competitors suggested that this should have been Puzzle 1. A relatively smooth solve with body parts hidden in larger entries (revealed by black boxes in the grid), there was one crossing that gave me pause, as ALII crossing ERIE PA was much tougher than any other crossing in the puzzle.

I was also surprised at allowing two phrases starting with “I’m” both reading down in the same corner, with I’M GONE and I’M A LOSER together. But other than that, this was a quick solve with plenty of French offering an international flavor.

Interesting grid entries included ANTIMATTER, ASAHI, and EYE CHART, and my favorite clues were “Prepare to race” for GET SET and “Apple standard” for IOS.

Puzzle 5: Splice of Life by Mike Shenk

At last, the always daunting Puzzle 5 arrived, and this one did not disappoint. Once you’ve figured out that each themed entry has the letters DNA stuffed into a single box, you really start rolling on the puzzle.

But not long after that, you realize there’s something else at work here as well, since parts of the themed answers are jumbled with each other. Instead of BORIS AND NATASHA, you get BORIS AND NAMES, since NATASHA is paired with UNITED in another entry. (This is confirmed by the revealer RECOMBINANT in the lower left corner.)

The two-step hook makes for a challenging solve, but a very satisfying one, once you’ve sussed out Shenk’s tricks.

Interesting grid entries included ZAPPA, SUSPENSE FILM, OVIEDO, and SUN RA, and my favorite clues were “Hit close to home” for BUNT, “One might be responsible for a reduced sentence” for EDITOR, “Dressing for bowties, e.g.” for SAUCE, and “Give up possession of, in a way” for PUNT.

Puzzle 6: Field Trip by Lynn Lempel

The final puzzle on Saturday was a nice palate cleanser after Puzzle 5, employing a hook based more on cluing wordplay than any trickery in the grid. All of the clues played with baseball terminology: “One touting pain pills?” clued RELIEF PITCHER, for instance. This was a solid way to close out the day’s solving, with very little crosswordese and a balanced fill.

Interesting grid entries included SOIREE, IRON MAN, CORONET, and KANSAN, and my favorite clues were “Apple on a teacher’s desk” for IMAC and the themed clue “Two square dancing needs?” for SWING AND A MISS.


Puzzle 7: Rebranding by Joel Fagliano

Sunday morning’s puzzle was all about the cluing as the constructor peppered the grid with the names of famous companies and offered alternate sales pitches for them in the clues. (For example, “Now we sell chess pieces!” was new advertising for WHITE CASTLE.) The associative cluing style felt different from all of the other puzzles in the tournament, giving this one a fun energy and making for an enjoyable solving experience.

Interesting grid entries included I’LL PASS, CARNITAS, ROGER MOORE, NBA TEAMS, and SENESCED, and my favorite clue was “Woman’s name that sounds like two letters of the alphabet” for EVIE.

Puzzle 8: Last Words by Michael Shteyman

And then, we were down to one. The final puzzle of the tournament offered three sets of clue difficulties (A for the top performers, B for the solid performers, C for everyone else). And with no theme and plenty of long entries crossing in this grid, there were fewer giveaway words to get you started.

I attempted the A-level clues, but I struggled mightily with them. I did successfully solve the puzzle with the B-level clues, but honestly, that just gave me more respect for the B-level finalists who were mistakenly given the A-level clues at the tournament this year, because they all still managed to complete the puzzle! Wow.

With unusual entries like AQUAPLANE, INDOJAZZ, LEO VI, and FLESHPOT, Shyetman did an impressive job cramming all 26 letters of the alphabet into this pangram puzzle.

Interesting grid entries included PUZZLE MUG, MOON UNIT, and AL-JAZEERA, and my favorite clues were “50/50, e.g.” for ONE — very nice math cluing there — and “Knife handle?” for X-ACTO.

Overall, I think this year’s tournament puzzles were tougher than those in previous years. That being said, there was a lot of ingenuity and creativity involved in these eight puzzles, and I never cease to be amazed at how fast and how clever so many of my fellow puzzle solvers are, blasting through these crosswords at unbelievable speeds.

ACPT, I’ll see you next year.

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Clever Cluing & Playing With Expectations

Probably my favorite aspect of a truly great crossword puzzle is topnotch cluing. For me, the perfect field of clues covers a lot of subjects (history, pop culture, etc.), uses engaging wordplay to make me work for my solve, and surprises me a few times with some diabolically clever cluing.

That last one is particularly difficult, because a clever clue needs to work on multiple levels, misleading you in one direction but still allowing you to have that a-ha moment of realization when you finally get it. Clever clues play with a solver’s expectations, trusting us to make snap assumptions that turn out to be wrong.

[Trust me, Google Image searching “a-ha moment” is a delightful way to spend a few minutes. This woman seems WAY too excited, even for a eureka moment.]

For instance, “Second cousin?” is one of my all-time favorite clues. It uses an established phrase to push you in one direction (following what sounds like a standard synonym-style clue), but any crossword solver worth their salt knows that a question mark implies some wordplay is afoot.

Indeed, the common crossword clue construction “____ kin” or “____ cousin” — meaning something like or similar to whatever fills that blank — provides our next hint, pushing our attention back to the word “second.” And once it clicks that we’re not using “second” in terms of counting, but in terms of “increment of time,” the wordplay reveals the real answer: MOMENT.

It’s a great a-ha clue, seemingly simple but immensely clever.

There was a terrific story on FoxSports.com about another case of a solver’s expectations getting the best of him. Detroit Tigers player Max Scherzer was excited to see himself referenced in a USA Today crossword, under the clue “Max Scherzer’s pride.”

The answer was a three-letter word, and the constructor was expecting most solvers to come up with ARM as the answer. But Scherzer had something else in mind, posting on his Twitter account:

Check out 7 down in the USA TODAY… If They did their homework the answer should be DIC for eye color. #luvdablueye

DIC is the standard DMV abbreviation for dichromatic eyes, meaning eyes of two different colors.

Just goes to show you need to keep an open mind and stow your expectations at the door when you tackle crosswords these days.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out our library of PuzzleNation apps and games!