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  • Sid Sivakumar

Puzzle #38: Crossnerds Themeless (by Brooke Husic & Rebecca Neipris)

Downloads: pdf, puz, solution

A guest themeless for you today! Rebecca Neipris hosts the brilliant cruciverbal podcast Crossnerds, which has featured a whole cast of excellent guests including Chris King, Nate Cardin, Erik Agard, and Andy Kravis, to name just a few. Today’s episode of Crossnerds spotlights our friend and crossworder extraordinaire, Brooke Husic!

Brooke has recently set Crossworld abuzz with her exploration of diagonal symmetry. The central conceit of this grid, with its crossing 14-letter entries, is made topologically possible in a 15×15 grid because of the diagonal symmetry axis. I’m excited to see how Brooke continues to innovate with diagonal grids, especially in the themeless space, which has been historically dominated by rotational symmetry (and men). And of course, I’m thrilled to run Rebecca’s debut crossword puzzle! I laughed out loud at her clue for 38-A.

Be well and enjoy,

- Sid

P.S. A quick plug for Grids for Good, a collection of 42 puzzles authored by many constructors you know and love — the collection includes a Pangram Midi I wrote, and a 21×21 themeless by Brooke and me. It’s important to plug not because of the puzzles themselves (which, I should say, are outstanding) but because they were written to benefit COVID-19 charities and racial justice organizations. For anyone who likes puzzles, this is a no-brainer. Donate now and get the grids!


From Rebecca (@crossnerds, @neipryder):

Oops pow surprise, I made my first puzzle? I’d been resisting constructing since starting Crossnerds in 2017, but Brooke charmnadoed my excuse shack, so now here we are, not in Kansas anymore, and gosh, thank you, Sid, for having me/us!

We’re releasing this puzzle alongside an Epic Two-Part Episode of the podcast that Brooke and I recorded earlier this week. Check it out on, or download/subscribe via Apple, Spotify, Google Play pretty much anywhere podcasts aren’t sold.

We’re also very followable on Twitter (@Crossnerds). I promise not to bombard you with Stuff You Don’t Want To Hear from a crossword puzzle podcast.

Highlights for me in this puzzle!

  • Loved playing with doubling, which you’ll find in many of the clues

  • Thank you Cash Cab for informing me that Steve Jobs named the company “Apple” partly so it would come before his former employer in the phonebook

I hope this puzzle is as much fun to solve as it was to make. Infinitely grateful to Brooke, Sid, and to Crossworld in general for being so wonderful. Lots of love, and please everyone stay well! Also, wear a mask. Just do it. Xoxo.


From Brooke (@brookehus, @xandraladee):

Firstly and most importantly, it’s Rebecca’s DEBUUUUUTTTTTT!!!! I was so honored to have my own three-in-one debut this past week as the first Crossnerds guest who (1) identifies as female, (2) is based outside the US, and (3) co-authored a puzzle with the host. After I secured the middle of the grid, Rebecca and I filled the corners together and then she took the reins on cluing. Unsurprisingly, her constructing skills are top rate — she suggested tons of stellar fill without even looking at the software suggestions (!!) — and her clues are smart, fresh, and often hilarious. My favorites are 24-A, 41-A, 58-A, and 9-D. Recording the podcast and creating this puzzle together in the span of a few days (while Rebecca was also, I hope, editing all of my awkward laughs out of the recording) has been amazing and I’m honored to share both creations with you.

As always, I’m inexpressibly grateful for Sid’s friendship, the inspiration I get from him both in and beyond puzzles, and his willingness to run and edit some of my favorite work here. I would also like to take this space to say that Sid knows more about fonts than I realized there was to know about fonts. If you want to know more about the 47-D clue and/or entry, he’s your guy.


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