With Joshua Kosman, I am co-constructor of the cryptic crossword
in The Nation magazine.

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The story of how we got the job
Our predecessor's obituary

The puzzle that did it
Our first weekly puzzle
Our Trump inauguration puzzle


To get more of our puzzles, you have four choices:

- Download the current puzzle from TheNation.com. (Click on Current Issue, then scroll down.)


- Subscribe to The Nation. This gives you access to all our puzzles as downloadable PDFs, and new ones will keep coming in the magazine, via US Mail (two issues every three weeks, on average.)

- Our first puzzles are collected in four books: Out of Left Field, 1-4, available from Cryptic All-Stars. Each book includes 60 puzzles for $19.95 (which includes free shipping within the USA.)

front-cover-1 front-cover-2 front-cover-3 front-cover-4

- If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can get Out of Left Field 1-5, e-books consisting of 20 puzzles each. ($5.99 per e-book, via the Puzzazz app, which is available free on the App Store. The app is great for beginners, as it provides excellent hints. Same puzzles as in the first two hard-copy books above.)

ebook 1 ebook 2 ebook-3
(#3197-3215) - - - - - (#3216-3235) - - - - - (#3236-3255)

ebook 4 ebook 5
(#3256-3275) - - - - - (#3276-3295)

Cryptics: How To

A detailed introduction to this style of puzzle, with links:
Solving The Nation's Cryptic Crosswords | PDF

An animated slide show, illustrating some examples. (Keynote version)

(Scroll down for more about cryptic crosswords.)

With Arthur Schulman, I translated Georges Perec's article on crossword construction. The translation was deemed "a triumph" by Harry Mathews, and was published in The Believer in September 2006.

The Ambidextrous Puzzle, a cryptic crossword I contributed to the 13th Gathering for Gardner.
The puzzle was later published in The Enigma, and earned a Golden Sphinx award.

Hot's Puzzle Page

Sphinx, courtesy of Manx

As Hot, I'm a member of the National Puzzlers' League.
It's more than a hobby: it's something to do!

Cryptics of The Enigma

With Trazom, I edited hundreds of cryptic crosswords for the NPL's monthly magazine The Enigma. Some of the best among those puzzles are in the book National Puzzlers' League Cryptic Crosswords (edited by Joshua Kosman and Henri Picciotto; Random House, November 2005 -- now available for free on the NPL Web site.)

cryptics book

NPL members who would like to construct cryptics for The Enigma should heed these guidelines.

I challenged US cryptic conventions in this article I wrote for The Enigma (January 2016).

From the Guide to the Enigma, read:
Trazom on solving cryptic crosswords
Sibyl on constructing cryptic crosswords for The Enigma
me on Sharing the Fun
The best part of my (now somewhat dated) 1992 thoughts on cryptic crosswords was excerpted here.


Between 1988 to 2014, I constructed dozens of cryptic crosswords with the late Arachne (aka Rebecca Kornbluh. Not to be confused with the British setter with the same nom.) We were both fans of Ursula K. LeGuin's science fiction. Our combinom, Harth, was the name of a genderless character from the novel The Left Hand of Darkness, who lived on the planet Winter, in the Milky Way.


Variety cryptics by Harth (and solutions, in most cases)
Advice to Solvers (sol) | Alf-Normal (sol) | Base Fiddles (sol) | Big Sky (sol)
Conventional Wisdom (sol) | Drawn and Quartered (sol) | Election | Gone with the Wind (sol)
Hell! (sol) | Items We Found (sol) | Just the Opposite! (sol) | Laconic Sections (sol) |
Musical Recreation (sol) | Pangram (sol) | Party! (sol) | Perfectly K. Lear (sol) | Police Raid (sol)
Roman VIII (sol) | San Diego! | Slightly Damaged (sol) | Team Effort (sol) | The Big Apple (sol)
This and That (sol) | Universal Product Code (sol) | User-Friendly (sol)
What Am I? (sol) | Word, Chain, Letter, Change (sol) | You Must Re-Member This (sol)

As Harth, we were the first US constructors to create cryptics where the clues were tampered with, the first to have city-themed cryptics at NPL conventions, and the first to submit variety cryptics in large numbers to The Enigma. Since then, constructors of enormous ingenuity have burst onto the NPL scene, and no US cryptic fan should be without a subscription to The Enigma.

Picture Puzzles

In 1999, I made a presentation on cryptic crosswords to the joint meeting of the 58th National Congress of Classical Puzzling and the 20th Convention of the Italian Rebus Association, in Verona, Italy:
I cruciverba enigmistici
(English translation by Serendipity ← a good introduction to cryptics for beginners)
Soon afterwards, I made a presentation to the NPL convention on Italian puzzling. This helped bring picture puzzles to The Enigma. Here is a picture rebus illustrated by Crax (enumeration: 6 6)


Mouse over here for the answer.for E, strange R → forest ranger

In 2008, I started a "nom photo" page on the NPL Web site.

(How to upload nom photos.)