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Distractions: LaTeX Wordplay — 3 crosswords; math font quiz answers

The Editors


Crossword puzzles
Math font quiz answers

LaTeX Wordplay — Three LaTeX theme crosswords

Cryptic grid


In order of difficulty, easiest first:

Joy & Dave Morris's puzzle
Arthur O'Dwyer's puzzle, with medium-difficulty clues
    ... the same puzzle with hard clues
Bob Newell's Cryptic crossword
(Solutions below)


A few months ago the movie Wordplay, about crossword puzzles and the people who solve them, was released. It's a great little film, even if you're not a puzzle fan. In the movie one of the great puzzle makers, Merl Reagle, showed how he compiles a puzzle with pencil and paper. (Crossword makers are called "compilers", "setters", or even "cruciverbalists".)

It would have been nice to have Merl Reagle compile a LaTeX theme puzzle for the PracTeX Journal, but since he probably thinks of LaTeX as a pliable plastic substance the result might have been different than expected ;-) Fortunately, several LaTeX users compiled some excellent puzzles for your enjoyment.

Joy and Dave Morris, both math professors at the University of Lethbridge, Canada, created a large puzzle full of LaTeX and math-related answers and clues. This puzzle is their first try at compiling a crossword, and they used the LaTeX crosswrd package to typeset it.

Arthur J. O'Dwyer of Carnegie-Mellon, who compiles puzzles for the student newspaper and has written some crossword-making software, used his software to make a challenging LaTeX-themed puzzle. His C program, xword-typeset, generates a crossword in the form of a LaTeX file which uses the cwpuzzle package. The puzzle Arthur originally sent had really tough clues, and he allowed them to be edited down provided he could make a second set of really tough clues. These two versions of his puzzle are available at the top of this page.

Bob Newell, a games person who has also written some crossword software and who once participated in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (featured in the movie Wordplay), made a cryptic or British-style crossword. (If you're not familiar with this type of puzzle, see this cryptic crossword explanation.) Bob is an avid cryptic solver, but since this was his first try at compiling a cryptic crossword he asked for suggestions to improve the clues. Several of us helped with this and it turned out to be a lot of fun. It seemed that each time someone came up with a pretty good clue, someone else would then improve it, then someone else would improve it a little more, ...

Peter Flom, a Scrabble® expert, helped with clues. Gerd Neugebauer, the author of the cwpuzzle package, made a heavily TeX and LaTeX-themed puzzle which will appear in a future Distractions column.

Hope you enjoy solving the puzzles.


Solution to Joy & Dave Morris's puzzle
Solution to Arthur O'Dwyer's puzzle, both versions
Solution to Bob Newell's Cryptic crossword


Math font quiz answers

In the 2006-1 "fonts" issue Michael Spivak supplied a challenging math font quiz. No one submitted an answer by the deadline so we extended the contest and offered a prize to the person who answered three or more questions correctly. Harri Haanpaa of the Helsinki University of Technology answered several of the questions correctly, and we will be sending him a copy of the MathTime Professional II Lite fonts.

Answers to the math font quiz from Issue 2006-1


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