Valentine’s Day Puzzle Fun!

It’s Valentine’s Day.

I know, I know, you’ve been bombarded with Valentine’s-themed content for days or weeks now.

I get that. Sure, I could spend today’s post talking about examples of puzzly romance like romantic cryptic crossword clues. I could regale you with tales of marriage proposals cloaked in puzzly trappings. I could offer up some last-minute gift ideas. I could discuss romantic puzzle moments from television.

But maybe you want a break. Maybe… you just want to read about puzzles.

And whether you’re single or in a relationship, a fan of today or a detractor of Valentine’s Day trapping, there’s one thing we can all agree on.

We love a good puzzle.

So I cooked one up for you.

Of course, I couldn’t ignore the holiday, so with Valentine’s Day in mind, it seemed appropriate to whip up a Partners puzzle for you to solve. Enjoy!

Can you unscramble and match these pairs from film, television, and literature?

Why nineteen? Well, it’s 2019, and I couldn’t resist flouting the convention of nice round numbers by not coming up with a 20th entry. Heck, maybe I’ll make this a thing, avoid round numbers for a while longer, do a top 12 tead of a top 10. Just to keep this gag going.

Oh, and I couldn’t include some of my favorite couples for logistical reasons (too many 3-letter anagrams would be blah) or obscurity, so shout-out to Han & Leia, Gemma & Leopold (FitzSimmons!), Vastra & Jenny, and of course, both Jim & Pam and Tim & Dawn from The Office.

Anyway, enjoy putting your anagram and matching skills to work! Let us know how you did in the comments below!


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Puzzly Ideas in Time for Valentine’s Day!

Every year, we offer up some puzzly ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day. Usually, we post it the same week of the holiday, but you know what? Even if they’re designed to be last-minute ideas, we thought we’d switch things up and offer a bit more lead time.

Yes, Valentine’s Day looms large, and sometimes it’s hard to find that perfect way to express your love for that certain someone… particularly if that certain someone is the puzzly type.

But we’ve got a few suggestions…

puzzle-pin-valentines-day-craft-photo-420-ff0299vala16

Jigsaw puzzles are the perfect metaphor for relationships, as they require separate pieces working together to complete the picture.

There are necklaces and other pieces of jigsaw-themed jewelry, as well as do-it-yourself jigsaw patterns you can utilize. You could depict anything from a favorite photo to a specific Valentine’s message in the completed image.

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Now, you can always start with something simple, like a subscription to a puzzle service like The Crosswords ClubThe American Values Club Crossword, or Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest. New puzzles every week or every month are a great gift. (Especially the Valentine’s Deluxe Sets for the Penny Dell Crosswords app! *wink*)

If they’re more into mechanical puzzles, our friends at Tavern Puzzles offer several brain teasers that incorporate a heart shape.

heartpuzzle

But if you’re looking for something more personalized, why not make a crossword for them yourself?

(Yes, you can also commission a top puzzler to do one for you, but you’d usually want to get the ball rolling on something like that well before Valentine’s Day.)

Now, to be fair, crosswords can be tough and time-intensive to make, so if that feels a little daunting, why not try a Framework puzzle instead? It involves the same crossing style, but doesn’t require you to use every letter.

valentine-s-day-love-wedding-criss-cross-word-game-romance-themed-puzzle-also-known-as-fill-blanks-crossword-puzzle-36632791

[This grid is presented fill-in style, in case you
don’t want to use crossword-style numbering.
Check out the original here.]

It allows you to maintain a terrific word list all about you and your significant other without all the effort of filling in every square crossword-style.

Or you could write the object of your affection a coded love letter! All throughout history, people have employed different tricks and techniques to keep their private messages away from prying eyes, and you could do the same! Whether it’s a simple letter-shifting cipher or something more complex, make sure your message is worth reading. =)

[Image courtesy of YouTube.]

Have you considered a puzzle bouquet? You could grab some newspaper crosswords and origami them into flower shapes for a fun puzzle-fueled spin on a holiday classic.

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Or you could hide jigsaw pieces around the house that, when put together, spell out a Valentine’s message or a picture of the two of you.

Put your own spin on the idea. A little bit of effort can go a long way, plus it doesn’t cost anything.

With a little more effort, you could whip up a scavenger hunt! You could leave clues around leading to a gift, or a romantic dinner, or some other grand finale. Maybe offer a rose with each clue.

Show off how much you know about him or her. You could make each clue or destination about your relationship or about your partner, allowing you to show off how well you know them… where you first met, favorite meals, favorite movie…

If you don’t want to leave things around where anyone could nab them, keep a few small tokens on you, giving one for each destination reached or clue solved. Heck, you could enlist a friend to text clues to your special someone once they’ve reached a particular destination!

Or for something less formal, you could make a game of your romantic wanderings and play Valentine’s Day Bingo.

valentines-bingo-stripes-blank-blog

[I found this blank template on Makoodle.com.]

Maybe go for a walk or take your loved one out to dinner, and see if they can get bingo by observing different things. A couple holding hands as they walk, a Valentine’s Day proposal, outrageously priced flowers…

The possibilities are endless when you put your mind to it.


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The Art of Metal Brain Teasers

[Disentanglement puzzles, courtesy of Mr. Puzzle Australia.]

When we talk about people creating puzzles, certain standard materials come to mind.

Pen and paper. A computer program like Crossword Compiler. For brain teasers and puzzle boxes, wood is common. Recently, 3-D printers have made it possible to create plastic puzzles the likes of which no one has seen before.

But we rarely talk about metal.

When it comes to disentanglement puzzles, metal is where it’s at. Wood and plastic pieces can flex under pressure, making them more susceptible to a forced solution where one wasn’t intended. But with metal puzzles, you’ve pretty much only got one option: solve it as intended.

Metal brain teasers like those pictured above started out simply, made from twisted nails and used as puzzles in pubs for bar bets. (Some brain teasers made today still mimic the appearance of nails in honor of this rustic style of puzzling.)

They can be basic or complex, depending on how many pieces are involved, but the goal is usually to separate each puzzle into its component pieces.

Of course, these puzzles might look slight when compared to the heavy-duty ones produced by companies like our friends at Tucker-Jones House, whose Tavern Puzzles line combine complexity with artful craftsmanship to create some impressive and daunting puzzles.

Instead of completely dismantling the puzzle, Tavern Puzzles usually have a single element — a ring, a heart shape, a triangle — that you must free from the rest of the metal pieces.

[They have Valentine’s Day-themed puzzles too!]

But when it comes to metal puzzles, it’s hard to top this recent masterpiece by metalsmith Seth Gould.

This is Coffer.

Yes, it looks like a simple chest and key, but as you’ve no doubt figured out, there’s far more to Coffer than meets the eye.

This puzzle took over two years to design and create, and it’s made from iron, steel, and brass.

Every piece was crafted by Gould himself, inspired by designs from between the 17th and 19th centuries, and the puzzle mechanism itself is his own design:

I received a BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing Design, and during the end of my time in school I became interested in forging. In fine metals I found that I worked well with the precision needed to create quality work, and in forging I was drawn to the malleability of the material and the scale in which I could work.

It was not until I visited Musée Le Secq Des Tournelles in Rouen, France shortly after graduation that I realized how those two interests could intersect. The locks and utilitarian objects I saw there were unlike anything I had ever seen, and still influence me today.

Now that is the ultimate in DIY puzzling.

Filmmaker Jesse Beecher chronicled the construction process and has posted a wonderful video on Vimeo that shows how much love and labor went into this marvelous metal puzzle:

Constructors and puzzle designers are continuing to push the envelope when it comes to mind-blowing, beautiful brain-teasing creations, and whether we’re talking paper, wood, metal, or 3D printing, there seems to be no limit to what puzzly minds can bring to life.


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Answers to our National Puzzle Day Starspell!

For National Puzzle Day (aka International Puzzle Day), we laid down the gauntlet for you, fellow puzzlers.

We challenged you to put your vocabulary skills and your word-forming knowhow to the test with a Starspell puzzle specially constructed for the holiday (as it featured all the letters in the phrase INTERNATIONAL PUZZLE DAY)..

The goal was to form common six-letter words by moving from letter to connected letter in the Starspell diagram. You were allowed to repeat letters, but only so long as you left the letter first and then came back to it.

We found 28 six-letter words. Did you find more than that?

Here’s our list: ALATED, ATONED, DEALER, DELETE, DENIED, DENOTE, DEPEND, EATERY, ELATED, EYELET, LAUREL, LENDED, LENDER, NEATEN, NEATER, NOTATE, PEALED, PENDED, REDEAL, RED-EYE, REINED, RELATE, RENDED, RENDER, REPEAL, REPEAT, TENDED, TENDER.

Did you find any that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you!


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It’s National Puzzle Day!

Hello hello, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers! It’s National Puzzle Day (aka International Puzzle Day), and we hope you’re having a fabulous time!

As you might expect, we’re overjoyed to be celebrating this puzzliest of days with you, and we’ve got a few things going on today in honor of the holiday!

You can log into either the Penny Dell Crosswords App or the Daily POP Crosswords App for terrific deals, so be sure to check them out!

And that’s not all! We’ve got a marvelous little puzzle for you as well!


Today we’re testing your vocabulary skills and your Boggle mastery with a Starspell puzzle!

The goal is to form common six-letter words by moving from letter to connected letter in the Starspell diagram. A letter may be repeated in a word, but only after leaving it and coming back.

The letters in today’s puzzle, appropriately enough, all come from the phrase INTERNATIONAL PUZZLE DAY!

We found 28 six-letter words. How many can you find?

Good luck!

How are you celebrating National Puzzle Day, fellow puzzlers? Let us know in the comments below!


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

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Happy One Year Anniversary, Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory!

It’s funny how crosswords can seem like a solitary pursuit — and are often depicted as such in pop culture — and yet, there’s such a sense of camaraderie that comes with being a solver.

I talk a lot about the PuzzleNation community and my fellow PuzzleNationers, or about the puzzle community in general, because it’s one of my favorite aspects of being a puzzle guy.

Whether it’s engaging in a puzzly activity with friends (like an escape room or a D&D adventure), hanging out with fellow puzzlers at events like the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (registration is open now!), or just teaming up with a pal to crack a particularly devious puzzle or brain teaser, those moments of shared experience are as encouraging as they are welcome.

So it’s very cool to see one of the newer parts of the puzzle community celebrating its one-year anniversary: The Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory.

This Facebook group is part gathering place for established and aspiring constructors and part resource for constructors of all skill levels.

Over the last year, people have posted and shared information about everything from grid construction, editing programs, and cluing advice to networking, test-solving, and encouraging feedback.

[Some constructors even offer visual aids when answering questions!]

Inexperienced and aspiring constructors meet and collaborate with established names. Obstacles, problems, and questions are handled with equal care and support. Heck, some constructors have even posted rejection notices they’ve received in order to share the valuable feedback it contains.

And some members of the group have greater ambitions for the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory, hoping to encourage more constructors from underrepresented groups to construct and submit their puzzles, bringing a genuine level of equality and equal representation in the world of puzzles.

It’s a place to learn, to network, to grow, to celebrate one’s successes, and learn from one’s setbacks. One of the regular visitors of the group even managed to cross off one of her New Year’s resolutions last year by submitting a crossword to The New York Times, thanks in part to the resources and support provided by this marvelous group of people.

And that’s definitely something worth celebrating.


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