Monday 16 March 2009

Barred Grid Crosswords

I have not dipped my toes into barred grid puzzles so far, but reading Peter's detailed write-up on the Azed puzzle aimed at beginners, I'm motivated to try. The post explains the clues of Azed 1919, describes barred grid puzzle conventions and gives useful tips for engaging with this advanced cryptic puzzle.

A little background for those unfamiliar with crossword grid terminology.

blocked-grid-guardian-24828 Daily newspaper crosswords like The Hindu have grids with black-and-white squares. A square that contains a letter is white, one that does not is black. Such a grid is a blocked grid.

Letters in the grid that interlock with more than one word are called checked letters. These help the solver by providing letters for crossing clues. Letters of a word that are sandwiched between black squares and do not link with other words are called unchecked letters or unches. e.g. In clue 1A in this blocked grid, every even letter is checked and odd letter unchecked.


barred-grid-azed-1919 A barred grid has white squares only; each square contains a letter. Word divisions are indicated by thick lines.

There are more checked letters in a barred grid than in a blocked grid. A consequence of this high level of checking is that it is potentially easier to work out unusual/obscure words in the solution. Advanced cryptics with complex wordplay and tough vocabulary, such as Azed and Mephisto, use the barred grid.

Azed 1919

If you have never tried Azed before, 1919 may be a good start point: it is supposed to be easier than a regular Azed, and you have Peter’s post as reference for how the clues work. You can download and print the PDF, or solve it interactively if your computer is Java-enabled.

azed-1919-pdf azed-1919-interactive

  Azed 1919: PDF Version

 Azed 1919: Interactive Version

I've taken the print and will attempt it tonight, with the Chambers dictionary by my side.

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1 comment

LuckyHomme said...

Before looking it up, the idea of what I now know is a barred crossword puzzle occurred to me the other evening. I put one together, a grid of 17-by-25 squares. Not knowing these already existed, I filled in every square both vertically and horizontally with letters that are all part of actual words, instead of lots of dead letters as in the example shown. I can't seem to find other examples of this 'full use' grid style. Is this an unusual formation for a barred crossword puzzle?