Crossword blog: try our American-style puzzle No 10: [untitled]

Alan Connor
The grid is American; the content is British. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

Good news! Another setter has joined our stable of ‘“American-style” crosswords: puzzles with clues that are neither definitions nor cryptic. You can download #10 [untitled] in digital and in printable form.

Ali Gascoigne, who sets as Gila, has constructed the first themeless puzzle in the series; unlike all the previous puzzles, there’s nothing that links the longest answers. This is the kind of crossword that appears in the New York Times on Fridays and Saturdays. Here’s Ali on how the puzzle came about:

Since getting a New York Times crossword subscription this year, I’ve become a big fan of – and admittedly a little bit obsessed with – American puzzles. As a solver, they offer a different challenge, but I’ve found them to be every bit as entertaining as UK cryptic and advanced thematic puzzles.

They often have interesting themes, provide a great mix of formality and informality, and are accessible to solvers of all abilities. I’d love to see this style of puzzle take off over here too. There’s definitely a place for them.

In nerdy setting terms, getting (what I hope is) a clean grid with minimal ‘glue’ was definitely a fun challenge, but one of the main appeals of American puzzles is that they don’t rely on answers having to be in the dictionary. Slang expressions, neologisms and pop culture are all fair game. So, yes: there are a few non-standard answers here.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to write a mix of straight-up definition, quiz-style and semi-cryptic clues. There is hopefully a decent mix of all three here and, although there is no explicit theme, some clues will probably need a bit of lateral thinking.

I hope you enjoy it. Any and all feedback is welcome.

And here’s a reminder of some of the characteristics of the American style:

  • Every square is part of an across as well as a down answer.

  • There are no “cryptic”-like conventions: the clues are straight, if at first ambiguous, and crossing letters are helpful (although there may be some funny business in the longer “theme entries”).

  • The entries contain fragments of phrases as well as “dictionary words”.

  • An abbreviation in a clue indicates that the solution is an abbreviation.

  • .puz files can be opened in Crossword Solver or Across Lite – solvers who don’t fancy that should use the print version.

Your feedback is welcome. Your own puzzles are very welcome. And the answers to this puzzle can be seen in the digital version or in this pdf.

Finally for now, the previous puzzles are:

  1. And We’re Off!

  2. Cheers!

  3. PO …

  4. Store’s in What?

  5. Cryptic Currencies

  6. (miscellaneous)

  7. Money Talks

  8. Shoot!

  9. Long Shots