This blog's road map--how to get around

Welcome! It may be a bit bewildering to catch on to what’s happening here, as you scroll down a page or two of this blog and see a variety of different sizes and kinds of word Sudoku puzzles. But there is order to this chaos! You’ve come to the right place to get a road map of the daily, weekly and annual thematic threads that tie this blog together.

What is this?

Welcome to word Sudoku. Virtually everywhere you find Sudoku puzzles, you find them in their classic Vanilla flavor: size 9x9, with 3x3 internal squares, using the numerical digits 1-9 to fulfill the one logic rule at the base of all Sudoku puzzles: Each row, column and internal shape—in the Vanilla case, 3x3 square—contains these symbols exactly once.

This blog, and the puzzle books I’ve published, celebrate the freedom and the surprise that comes from replacing those digits with letters that form words.

Note that I didn’t say “letters” alone. I said “letters that form words.” That’s an important distinction that makes these puzzles fun, and fulfills that promise of a surprise.

Because many times I don’t actually give you the word. I give you an anagram of the word, and you discover the word as you solve the Sudoku puzzle.

Since words come in all lengths, I present you puzzles of many sizes. Some sizes are easy; some aren’t. And a few are fiendish.

I don’t always use just words; sometimes I use phrases. And then I’ll use entire quotes or sayings—or, on each Saturday post in the past few years, really, really bad adverbial puns. Groaners may be a polite description.

The weekly layout, having evolved as my understanding of puzzle construction has grown, generally begins with the easiest puzzles Monday and gets harder each day until Friday, when the fiendish puzzles appear. Saturdays aren’t harder; they just have their own theme using quotes. And Sundays, being a day when you might have a bit more time, are a combination of quote using fiendish puzzles, and large-but-not-difficult (12x12) Word Sudoku puzzles.

When are the easy (or hard) ones?
  • Monday: Size 4x4 (easiest) and 6x6 (easier)
  • Tuesday: 9x9 (par; you’re already used to these)
  • Wednesday: 8x8 (harder only because you’re not used to them. Actually, once you figure them out, they’re easier than 9x9s)
  • Thursday: 10x10 (harder, because they’re bigger)
  • Friday: 5x5 and 7x7 (fiendish. The internal shapes are not rectangular, so keeping track of what symbol could be in what cell is much harder. But there are tricks! I document them in another post.)
  • Saturday: A quotable Sudoku puzzle I call a Swifty, after the wonderful children’s books following the adventures of young and brilliant Tom Swift, where the many different authors never missed the opportunity to play puns with the verb said—and created a sarcastic reaction or meme of bad adverbial puns that lighten the mood to this day, 100 years later. I give you one to four 6x6 word Sudoku puzzles; the solved puzzles provide letters to fill out a separate quote grid, which uncovers the intentionally very bad adverbial pun. Two examples of a Tom Swifty adverbial pun are “ ‘Parsley, sage, rosemary,’ said Tom timelessly” and “ ‘Let’s go for another gallop,’ Tom recanted.” OUCH.
  • Sunday: A quotable Sudoku puzzle I call Punnish Sudoku—a pun on BOTH pun and punish, of course. But this one uses some combination of fiendish-size puzzles, 5x5 or 7x7 or both, which are, in a word, hard. For the past few years, the puns have been “Never die” puns, as in “Old lumberjacks never die, they just split.” (Did I just hear a groan? Good!)
  • Alternate Sundays also include a 12x12 word Sudoku puzzle, to mirror what the newspapers often offer Sunday—a 16x16 puzzle (using the hexadecimal alphabet), which I find too hard and boring. The 12x12 word puzzle provides you an anagram of the phrase you’ll discover—much more interesting!
Annual themes

The Monday through Friday daily puzzles are also tied together for the entire year. In 2016, most of the word solutions in the larger-size puzzles used all 5 common vowels; in 2017, almost every word contained the three letters in the abbreviation of the month in which it was published (JAN, FEB, etc.). In 2018, most daily words use a minimum of vowels—often just one, not counting y.

Are puzzle collections available?

Yes, indeed! Please visit my amazon author page to see my puzzle books: The puzzles in the books have not appeared in the blog.

Can I copy and distribute these puzzles?

Print for your own purely personal use, sure. Solve away! Redistribute, resell, repost? Now you’re talking copyright infringement. Please don’t! All puzzles and text in this blog are copyright © 2008—2018, David H. Thompson; all rights are reserved.

How are these puzzles constructed?

A note to those curious about how I construct these puzzles...I use a combination of Crossword Compiler, MaaTec Sudoku and a number of my own programs to construct, double-check and adorn these puzzles.

I highly recommend Crossword Compiler for anyone who wants to construct crosswords or Sudoku puzzles of many different sizes—and that's just scratching the surface of what Crossword Compiler can do. I can't live without an accompanying (separate) program WordWeb Pro. And did I mention the extensive word lists that come with the grid filler? Anyone serious about constructing virtually any kind of word puzzle should be using Crossword Compiler.

MaaTec constructs prime grid sizes (5x5 and 7x7) and constructs standard size puzzles with nonstandard internal shapes. I use it to double-check that the initial grids of my 5x5 and 7x7 Sudoku puzzles have unique solutions. It's quite simple to use and can provide beginners with simple, small Sudoku puzzles to learn how to tackle bigger puzzles—and ones using words!

Wait a minute—is that puzzle solution even a word?

Well, most of the time I can justify it! Word or phrase, I use a couple marvelous online dictionaries such as WordWeb, OneLook, Merriam-Webster, Collins and Webster’s as my general judge: If it's in one of them, I use it. If it's not, I sometimes choose to use it anyway, if I can find it in Wikipedia. And I use people’s names, city names, geographic places and landmarks regularly, just as crosswords do.

Why the blog's strange name?

A Sudoku puzzle using numbers is related to a mathematical object known as a magic square—where all the numbers in the rows, columns and diagonals of an nxn matrix add up to the same number. (Using the digits 1-9, normal 9x9 Sudoku puzzles obey the magic square summation requirement for rows and columns, but not necessarily for diagonals.) Since I use letters in words, not numbers, I added the word Word.

Why do I do this?

I started Magic Word Square in mid-2008 to explore the fun of mixing words, letters and logic. I am continually surprised at the words hidden inside other words. Anagrams provide me endless hours of surprise and fun.

I hope you enjoy solving these puzzles at least as much as I do creating them. As always, I invite your comments—please let me know what you think!


(updated 1/1/2018)

All puzzles and text contained in this blog are copyright © 2008-2018, David H. Thompson. All rights reserved. Please tell your puzzle-loving friends to follow this blog. Thank you!

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