Variety: Diagramless

A diagramless crossword with no clues--can you untangle it?

Variety: Diagramless

Click here to find the first square of this puzzle.

Start at the first box of the first row.

DIAGRAMLESS - I'd like to believe that the more puzzles I solve, the better I get at them. It may be true with cryptics but I believe I've reached a plateau on diagramless. I have been solving them for years with a graph-paper notebook. I go through about five drafts before I see any improvement. It's no problem! Alex Eaton-Salners creates intricate grids that are challenging and have themes in both the grid and the clues.

The puzzle of the day is a high-level one that uses negative space in an incredibly creative way. You can get some hints on some of the harder entries without spoiling it. They surprised me by their difficulty level:

Transgress as a legal term is INFRACT. This word has only appeared once in a crossword before, in 1955.

OVOIDAL is 'three-dimensionally roundish.

I had a hard time with the short answers in the middle of the puzzle. The acronym NTS is used in 27A for "Texter's Shorthand for a Personal Reminder". It can mean many different things! In many conversations, I would translate it to 'need sleep'. Tog is 30A - 'take on clothing, with the word 'up'. It's the type of clues and entries that are difficult to solve in a diagramless grid with no black squares. I guessed "suit" here, and I didn't know for a while I had a too-long word.

'Total care physicians' is HOLISTS in this crossword.

Once I got past the word 'runt,' I loved this answer: 'Tiniest piece of a pack' WOLFPUP is a WOLFPUP.

ENGRAFT is another rare puzzle that can be solved by 'Transplant surgery'.

Lose heart is 'Turn towards despondency.' ...

I originally put 'hope' in 19D instead of HEART and thought that 35D might be 'has no leads'. I initially put 'hope,' instead of HEART in 19D and thought 35D could be 'hasn't any leads.' The bottom grid was empty and I thought it better.

I didn't get it. The four alliterative entries are 16-,-17-, 30-, and 37-Down. None of them are particularly difficult (although I didn't know that 37D is an official "Trademark of the Ore Ida Food company"). You'll be amazed at how easy it is to find the alliterated letters. When you turn the grid upside down, you'll notice three instances of the letter in the blank squares. You will also see two additional examples when you rotate it 90 degrees.

You can check the answer key by clicking here if you get stuck.