Here’s my attempt at finding a new format for crossword puzzles. Imagine you are looking at a normal, everyday crossword through a pair of binoculars. The lenses are fixed, as is the crossword page itself, so that you cannot scan around. You are stuck with exactly this view of the clues and this view of the grid.

I’ve constructed this crossword specifically for this puzzle, although I started with a square area. The idea is that with limited visibility and a limited section of each clue and entry area, you can still piece together all the answers. In some cases, there is an ending for a word that is guessable, in other cases it’s the beginning of the word.

After a certain point, a theme should emerge which will give you further insight as to what all the other clues are about. With a bit of guesswork at the start, a complete puzzle solution will finally emerge.

This particular one was a test. As it is my very first Binocuword, it has a few rough answers. I don’t really expect you to know what the original name of one small part of the ISS was, but perhaps you’ll forgive me in the spirit of this being a “prototype”. On the other hand, if you love it, let me know and I’ll make more!

PatGame Archive: Chopstick Mazes

Digging back into the PatGame archives to 2006 for this pencil-and-paper maze game based on using pencils like chopsticks to solve a double-path maze!

Here is the original post from October 3rd, 2006:

Equipment: printout of Chopstick Maze #1
Players: 1

Are normal mazes too easy for you? Looking for something to increase your potsticker-picking-up skills? Why not kill two birds with one pair of chopsticks!?

Chopstick Mazes look like a regular maze, but here’s the part where I mess with you – Noodle Planet-style:

You have to solve TWO intertwined mazes at the same time using two pencils AND you have to do it while holding your pencils like chopsticks.

Start at the lower right corner of Maze #1 with your pencils in hand. Enter the side-by-side starting gates and try to make your way all the way to the twin exit gates on the left side.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. Both pencils have to stay in the same color at the same time. So, starting from the green section, neither pencil can enter the blue section until they BOTH do. Same goes for the pink section, and finally the purple section.

Think your gyoza-fu is up to it?


This is a preview of a new puzzle I am working on based on intricate wooden puzzle boxes. If you’ve ever spent hours working on a simple wooden box that your grandpa left lying on a table, after saying “there’s a treat inside”… then you know what it’s like to drive yourself nuts only to discover that it was a tiny, simple panel on the back left corner that was the key to opening the whole thing.

So without any explanation (for now), here are the prototypes for some letter-based puzzles I am presenting at an upcoming L.A. Puzzle Party.

For now, I know it’s a bit of a tease… when I have the completed puzzles — and after the Puzzle Party has happened — I will post them here.


Below is a puzzle I presented at the January 2018 L.A. Puzzle Party. Looking back I would say it is Difficulty Level: HARD.

Situquations sample

Some say the worst thing about sitcoms is that they are too formulaic. Let’s test that! Take a moment to print out the two PDFs linked below.

You will see that I have written out a bunch of EQUATIONS that represent either the Title or Plot (or else the major plot point of famous Episode) of two dozen of the most famous sitcoms. Just like in math, these equations feature several variables. Wherever you see a LETTER in an equation, it refers to the name of a major character in the show (either their first or last name, whichever is more recognizable). Likewise wherever you see a box  in an equation it refers to one of the ICONS you see on the page (ie. the icon will go in the box). Both LETTERS and ICONS are constant and wherever you see them they have the same numerical value. Note: the character name MAY BE DIFFERENT from show to show, but it will have the same value no matter which equation it is in.

Here is an example:

In the example above, “E” refers both to “Earl” (in the first equation) and to “Enough” (in the second) but in both cases it has a value of 8. Solving for E, you will find that the “Hello” icon is likewise 8! Where possible, I have given artistic hints for the tougher equations. Once you have all the ICON and LETTER values, move on to page 2 for the hilarous conclusion to this week’s laugh-filled episode.

Instructions for Page 2 are included in the printout.

Once you have the final answer, contact me to see if you have it right!

Situquations Page 1

Situquations Page 2

Bigramical Rhymbles

Blank puzzle grid

If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, here’s a puzzle which I presented a couple years back at the local National Puzzlers League gathering. It involves a fair amount of arcane Scrabble knowledge in that you need to know all the Scrabble-legal two-letter words. It requires a decent amount of Dr. Seuss familiarity (including some rarer titles). And it relies heavily on Cryptic Crossword clues tropes.

If all of those sound at least familiar, you should try it.

If combining those three elements sounds intriguing, you will love it.

If they actually sound fun to do at the same time, you are probably me.

Below are two PDF documents that you must print out in order to play.