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793.73: February double header

Douglas Davey is our cryptic crossword creator and puzzler extraordinaire. To kick off this exciting crossword feature, we present our readers with two puzzles: a “crossward” commemorating Black History Month and celebrating black authors, and a devilishly difficult and cold-themed “cryptic crossword” puzzle. Each will require its own explanation and both will be sure to challenge and delight even the most seasoned puzzler. 

Click on either puzzle to find a printable version complete with clues and look for the answer keys in a link below. Enjoy!

“If Beale Street could talk”

February is Black History Month and I thought it would be a great time to celebrate Black authors. I call this kind of puzzle a “crossward.” It’s kind of like a crossword, kind of like an acrostic, but separate from both. 

Below is a list of eight book titles and a grid with eight rows to match. The surname of each book’s author fits in a row, but it’s up to you to sort out which goes where. To help you out, I’ve given you one letter for each word. Can you identify all eight authors, and their locations in the grid? 

(For a bonus puzzle, the letters of the name of a ninth author are hidden in the shaded squares. You’ll have to unscramble the letters to find the answer!)

Between the World and Me
The Bluest Eye
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The Polished Hoe
The Souls of Black Folk
Washington Black
What I Know For Sure
What We All Long For

793.73, February 21

“If Beale Street Could Talk” answer key >>

“Cold as H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks”: Inside a cryptic crossword

Now it’s time for what is called a cryptic crossword. But what does that even mean? Well, at their core, cryptic crosswords are just like a regular crossword: there are clues, answers, and a grid on which to record those answers. But, in a cryptic crossword, there is an extra element of wordplay in each of the clues which you have to decipher in order to uncover the answer.

There are many different kinds of wordplay which can be used in cryptic crosswords, from anagrams to puns. There are also some general rules to remember when tackling a “cryptic:”

  1. The regular part of the clue (the kind of clue you might expect in a regular crossword puzzle), is found in a cryptic clue’s first or last words.
  2. Whatever isn’t part of that “regular clue,” will be wordplay.
  3. Punctuation is rarely meaningful, and can often be deceitful.
  4. The answer key will explain the meaning of the wordplay as well as giving the answer

Feel free to jump in now that you’ve got an idea of what a cryptic crossword is! If you’d like a primer on the kinds of wordplay you’ll find in a cryptic crossword, follow the link below for some examples.

Guide to Cryptic Crosswords >>


4. State of iciness unmoving within Farenheit City,
losing Celsius (9)
6. Jack Frost’s nipping target echoes senses (4)
7. Swapping length for height in huge sledding
competition (4)
10. Chilly bolero we unknitted around Zulu (5,4)

1. Folk favourite Guthrie Barlow, essentially (4)
2. Welcome within Alpha and Omega, say “Yes!” (5,2)
3. Brutality captures stage legend Hagen (3)
5. Chef’s technique for cleaning an icy windscreen? (7)
8. Republicans eat Republican Trail Mix (4)
9. Short and chilly time of year, for short, feverish but
no bother (3)

793.73 - February 2021

Cold as H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks answer key >>

Feature image: “Crosswords” by Jessica Whittle Photography and is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Douglas Davey has been a professional librarian for over 20 years and is currently the manager of Library Services at Whitchurch-Stouffville Hills Public Library. Currently, he is the vice president of the Ontario Public Library Association and the OPLA Children’s or Youth Librarian of the Year. He is also an author of fiction for teens, and a total nerd for horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. He lives in Guelph with his family.

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