A Photo Finish and an April Fool’s Surprise

A Photo Finish and an April Fool's Surprise.
Amuse Labs logo
PuzzleBuzz Unit

Issue 13, April 2023

Dear Reader,

We’re still on a high from last weekend’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT), but we’re not taking a break because neither are puzzle lovers. In this month’s newsletter, we bring you some updates from ACPT, a new Schrödinger grid, a visual twist to the classic Sudoku and new features on PuzzleMe™ for you to explore.

Happy puzzling!

The 45th ACPT

A collage of pictures from the 45th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Pictures by Don Christensen.

Copyright © American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Pictures by Don Christensen

Whew! The 45th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament ended in a photo-finish. Dan Feyer edged out Paolo Pasco by milliseconds to become the only person to win the ACPT 9 times. The participants’ age this year ranged from 17 to 97, and there were 255 first-timers. Everyone enjoyed the eight fabulous puzzles that had been edited by Will Shortz for the tournament. If you missed the action, you can still watch it on ACPT’s YouTube channel.

The ACPT virtual tournament, which has been running for three years now and is powered by PuzzleMe, was won by Andy Kravis (who is also part of the editorial team for the New Yorker’s puzzles).

The tournament kicked off with a special April fool’s day puzzle written by the (ahem) inimitable Filip Starr. (Get it? If not, scroll below to the Did You Know section.)

View Don Christensen's Pictures of the 2023 ACPT Tournament here.

A topical Schrödinger puzzle

The Atlantic's logo.
Screenshot of the Schrödinger crossword puzzle grid published on The Atlantic by Paolo Pasco.

Schrödinger puzzles are special crossword puzzles that can have 2 solutions at once. They are carefully constructed to have a word that can be filled with either of two options with the same number of letters – the intersecting clues are craftily clued so that either option would work. For example, the clue “Black Halloween animal” would fit both answers BAT and RAT.

One such puzzle, playing on the name of the recent Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All at Once, was written by Paolo Pasco (yes, the same one as above) for the Atlantic on March 17. Can you guess which words might make up the Schrödinger? If not, click here to try the puzzle yourself.

Perhaps the best-known example of this type of puzzle is the one that ran in the New York Times on U.S. election day in 1996. Both the answers CLINTON and BOBDOLE fit all the intersecting clues.

Picdoku

Morning Brew's Logo
Three different Picdoku grids as seen on Morning Brew.

Morning Brew is a delightful newsletter that engages readers with fun and quirky games. One of the games that is popular with their users is called Picdoku. It is a variant of Sudoku and follows the same rules as sudoku (no number can repeat in a row, column or sub-grid), but it uses images instead of numbers. For example, the images could be of food emojis, wildflowers or the solar system.

Picdoku can make a puzzle visually appealing and memorable. It can also be used to engage with an audience on a focused topic.

Which images would you choose for your Picdoku? To get your creative juices flowing, start with some examples from our demo page.

What’s new in PuzzleMe?

Here are a couple of cool new features in PuzzleMe.

Sudoku Undo/Redo

Screenshot showing the "undo" and "redo" features available to Sudoku players of PuzzleMe. Clicking on "Assist" returns a drop-down list from which players can select these options.

PuzzleMe now has an undo and redo feature in its sudoku player. The feature is useful for users to recover from typos and to explore different paths to the solution. Go ahead and try everything everywhere, just not all at once.

Undo is not enabled in contest mode for Sudoku because it makes solving the puzzle somewhat easier by letting people speculate about the number in a cell and then recover by backtracking easily. Without the undo feature, solving a difficult sudoku puzzle is harder because you have to do all the backtracking in your head. Try it here and look under “Assist” for the options.

Magic Fill and AI

PuzzleMe's Magic Fill recommendations with the must-have word "Music" and related suggestions by AI including "Piano", "Album", and "Opera."

PuzzleMe’s Magic Fill feature uses AI technology to suggest words that are related to your theme (highlighted in orange in the image above). For example, you can tell it to create a crossword puzzle which must have the word MUSIC.

Did you know?

The recently concluded 45th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament surprised its participants with a crossword puzzle which had the word BLANK for the entire grid with the last clue being “You could literally solve that in no time at all.” The grid was set by a fictitious constructor named “Filip Starr” whose name is an anagram for “April First”.

About us

Amuse Labs is the creator of PuzzleMe™, the leading digital platform for Smart Games. It is a B2B SaaS company trusted globally by brands and publishers and specializes in digital games, powering Crosswords, Sudokus, Jigsaws, Quizzes, Word Searches and more. Explore opportunities to partner by sending a note. Who knows, we might even be able to help you organize a tournament like the ACPT.