During my MA I came across an interesting essay by the French novelist and crossword setter Georges Perec (he’s best known for his E-less novel La Disparition, translated into English as A Void). When discussing the process of constructing a crossword grid, which is much harder in French where there are fewer words, Perec rather off-handedly writes “it is not really difficult to construct a 1 x 1 crossword with no black squares”, then offers the following:
It made me laugh, and got me thinking: why not do a whole crossword where each answer was just a single letter? The solutions to the puzzle I came up with contain no actual “words” – just letters – and there’s no “crossing” either, but I ended up calling it a “crossletter puzzle”. It was published in issue 9 of Dog-Ear, a Norwich-based mini magazine that you can also use as a bookmark (somewhere along the way it was accidentally given the title “TIME”). Dog-Ear’s stocked in a few dozen bookshops, cafes and libraries across the UK, and in one or two places further afield. I once had an email from someone who’d picked up a copy in North Carolina and wanted to check their answers.
If you want to have a go, you can see a printer-friendly (and slightly tweaked) version of the puzzle here; click here for the solution.
About a year after doing the Crossletter Puzzle, I wondered whether I could do the same thing in Spanish, with an extra clue for the letter Ñ. Using my very partial Duolingo’d knowledge of the language, plus some Googling to see which words in Spanish might lend themselves to misleading surface readings, I eventually came up with a puzzle I was reasonably happy with. You can see my “Rompecabezas Alfabético” (Alphabetical Jigsaw) here – click here for the solution. I’d be grateful for any feedback/corrections from people who actually know what they’re doing in Spanish! And if you’re interested in Spanish cryptic crosswords, this website from “El Críptico” has more than 20 including some themed ones.