NOTE: For the sake of solvers who may have missed last week's contest, the solution is on a separate page (see the tabs above). The write-up below gives nothing away about the puzzle or meta answer.
Month of Metas Wrap-up
15 solvers out of 26 submitted the correct answer to the fourth meta, but only one can win. By random selection, this week's winner is Alex Jeffrey. Alex wins the chance to request a clue and/or answer for an upcoming Cross Nerd puzzle. Congrats, Alex!
Now, what you've all been waiting for...the grand prize winner of the Cross Nerd Month of Metas contest! Believe it or not, just two solvers submitted correct answers to all four puzzles. However, only one can win, and the coin fell in favour of Brandon Hensley (the solver who submitted the ingenious Befunge implementation of the second puzzle). Brandon will win an as-yet-undecided-upon puzzle book (we're in talks) and possibly some additional swag, Regina SK souvenirs, etc. Now, I would have been chuffed to bits to have anyone at all solve all four metas, and I was chuffed to smithereens to have two perform that feat, so I felt I would be remiss to not honour the other solver. Howard Barkin of ACPT solving fame was the other solver that went 4 for 4, and for his efforts he will receive an additional weekly prize (the clue/entry selection). Congratulations Brandon and Howard!
Many thanks to all the solvers who took time out of their undoubtedly busy schedules (especially if it's a busy schedule of other puzzles) to solve and submit answers! I received an unexpected amount of interest and positive feedback about these puzzles, so I'd say this was a success, despite the few hiccups along the way. I'd like to run a few more metas at some point, but it is a fair amount of extra work and we're heading into festival/camping season here so don't expect them for a month or two. In the meantime, I'll keep preparing themed and unthemed weekly puzzles for y'all. Hope you can join me.
This Week's Puzzle
Today I have for you a 13x13 themeless. Small puzzle, and only 48 words. Cluing was refreshingly breezy and quick, but the grid put up a bit of a fight. I actually set out to make an asymmetrical grid, or at least a grid that could be completely dictated by the entries that worked the best. Started with 18- and 19-Across stacked, threw them into their current position, and started building. The top came pretty easily, and I had a great grid-spanner in 8-Down. After a ton of promising but ultimately fruitless starts in the bottom, I discovered that the symmetrical grid worked best. I'm sure there's a great bottom half somewhere in a better wordlist, but the combinations of entries and black squares that I tried gave me nothing as clean as the final product (admittedly, there are still a few rough patches). The most difficult part of making this puzzle was deciding what to use as a seed or bridge entry into the next section, since there are so many long answers that depend on one another. Practice, practice, practice.
More words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday.
Puzzle: Themeless #14
Difficulty: Quite difficult