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a weblog of wordplay by Eric Harshbarger

Alphabet Soup

For Christmas a friend gave me an old copy of Crossword Puzzles, Their history and their cult. A fascinating read for any logologist.

It got me thinking about how difficult it is to cook up a new type of word puzzle. People have been doing word squares, acrostics, wordsearches, crossword puzzles, anagrams, and so many other types of word puzzles for so long, to think of a mechanism for a new type of word puzzle is truly a daunting task. I've always told friends that I actually enjoy creating puzzles more than solving puzzles so it only seemed appropriate that I might rise to this task. In essence, I am tackling the puzzle of trying to create a new type of puzzle.

My first candidate for this challenge is a type of puzzle I'm calling an "Alphabet Soup". It is certainly crossword-based, but I've not ever seen a puzzle presented in this way:

Alphabet Soup

Below is a grid with the 26 letters of the alphabet scattered therein. Below the grid (in random order) are 26 clues. Each clue leads to a single word answer that will be placed in the grid either vertically or horizontally (no reversed or diagonal words). The following stipulations apply:
  • In the final arrangement all of the words will form a single network of crossed words that fits within the boundaries of the grid.
  • Any letters from words that lie in adjacent squares will help form one of the 26 answers (i.e. there are no invalid or extraneous words formed).
  • Each of the pre-placed 26 letters will belong to exactly one of the answers (i.e. no answer will have more than one of the letters, and none of the letters will be used in more than one of the answers).
Which answers use which letters and where those letters fall in the answers are left to the puzzler to solve. Also, in this case, I have made the clues themselves rather cryptic, but the title of this Alphabet Soup gives a bit of a hint:

Inaugural Puzzle: "Coming To Terms With Their Names"
26 CLUES: 2nd of 16th; 3rd or 27th; 3rd of 24th; 1st of 5th; 1st of 28th; 2nd of 2nd; 1st of 12th; 3rd of 41st; 2nd of 11th; 2nd of 7th; 1st of 35th; 2nd of 13th; 2nd of 10th; 1st of 18th; 3rd of 30th; 1st of 34th; 3rd of 42nd; 3rd of 38th; 1st of 22nd; 2nd of 29th; 3rd of 37th; 1st of 23rd; 2nd of 6th; 3rd of 33rd; 2nd of 37th; 3rd of 19th

(A more easily printed copy)

I don't expect the Alphabet Soup puzzles to become a national craze like crosswords in the past (or Sudoku puzzles of today), but I hope this one might entertain the reader. I will create more occasionally.

Suggestions or improvements to this puzzle specifically, and the idea of Alphabet Soups in general, are welcome.

-- Eric

[25 December 2005]

 Box Office Pa...
 Palindromic S...
 Dos Equis
 Box Office Pa...
 My Initial Su...
 Rock & Roll1
 Aye, Qs!
 This & That
 It's All Abou...1
 Non-Crashing ...
 Box Office Cu...
 All In A Row1
 Chemical Symb...1
 Over 636 Pali...2
 Omino Font
 Front Hook: S1
 History of Bo...1
 Front Hook: R
 Well, Moviego...6
 Front Hook: Q
 Front Hook: P
 Front Hook: O
 Front Hook: N1
 Front Hook: M
 Front Hook: L
 Front Hook: K
 Front Hook: J1
 Front Hook: I2
 Front Hook: H4
 Front Hook: G3
 Front Hook: F
 Front Hook: E
 Front Hook: D
 Front Hook: C
 Front Hook: B1
 Front Hook: A
 Multiple Solu...1
 And The Nomin...
 I want a cut ...2
 Scrabble Play...
 The answer is...2
 Pangrams and ...
 Pangrams and ...
 Secret Weapon...
 Colorful Citi...2
 Song, Song, S...2
 Favorite Numb...3
 Periodic Tabl...1
 Body Of Music...
 Filmed In Tec...3
 Cryptic Femal...1
 Colorful Film...1
 Elemental Bod...5
 Ambigrams Rev...1
 Calculated Wo...2
 Teacher Torto...2
 True Story
 Sending My Re...
 Word Dice3
 That Does It!3
 Lexomino Puzz...
 Morse Code Pa...5
 Bringing Ingo...7
 Dot, Dot, Das...2
 Repeated lett...3
 Palindromic P...7
 Palindromic P...
 Sick Pun4
 Typesetting 2...2
 What is a "wo...
 Hollywood Nam...
 Front Hooks
 Half Price
 Through The 7...
 Bourne To Run4
 V for Very Di...
 Scrabble: Ash...
 Scrabble, red...1
 A=1, B=2, C=32
 4 Sides To Ev...4
 Periodic Tabl...2
 String of Mov...3
 Where's Winsl...4
 Standardized ...2
 Unintended Am...1
 Web Too Dah T...1
 Too clever by...4
 Another wordy...
 Beyond BOOKKE...7
 Not Positive ...11
 Scrabble Tabl...2
 Another Pan-v...1
 Not So Frugal
 Not So Funny ...1
 Memory of GAM...5
 Musical Wordp...
 Chemical Abbr...1
 Movie Rebuses7
 Television Sh...1
 Even More Het...
 More Heterogr...3
 Those crazy H...2
 Alli says, "A...
 A Puzzling St...3
 Synonymous Co...1
 Rubik Font3
 Under A Spell
 State The Rea...2
 7x7 Scrabble ...
 7x7 Scrabble ...
 Scrabble Squa...4
 Tube Maps2
 GAMES Magazin...
 Superbowl: ST...
 Letter Shifti...1
 Projects of L...
 Slices of PI,...
 Slices of PI,...
 QWERTY vs. Dv...2
 Word Chemistr...
 Pangrammic Cr...1
 Comments for ...1
 Alphabet Soup4
 Book List
 Scrabble Tile...
 Letter Shifti...
 Pangrammic Cr...
 Word Searchin...1

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Comments about this article:
On the 3rd of 42nd, should we use the original or the adopted?

Posted by: Aaron Sneary

On the 3rd of 42nd, should we use the original or the adopted?

Posted by: Aaron Sneary

I've got most of it worked out. But I'm stuck on the left-hand P and the H just south-east of it.


Posted by: Aaron Sneary

There's an extra P in the second column seventh row in the easily printed version. Other than that, nice puzzle.

Posted by: Eric S.

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