PUZZLING Square in the Middle

When the diagram is compiele, its squares will spell out a five-word sentence. You may judge your solving expertise by the level of anger this statement engenders. If you remain calm after reading the message, you are competent and/or have a twisted mind. If, on the other hand, you feel blind fury, you might consider taking up gardening or perhaps Librium. In any case do not leave a pistol in the same drawer as the sharpened pencils.


Each clue defines a nine-letter word or phrase. The answer is always indicated in more than one way. In addition to straightforward definitions, clues may also contain puns, plays on words, anagrams (“The ability to lead people in confusion is a charm” – CHARISMA), or embedded spellings (“How it zeroes in distinguishes a cannon”). Another common type of clue is word construction, where the answer is built of component parts. Example: “American leader required identification in gift” (PRESIDENT = I.D. inside PRESENT). All abbreviations are acceptable as long as they are in current usage (e.g., TV, p.d.q., etc.). Isolated letters may be indicated in a variety of ways – as compass points, Roman numerals, grades or scores (A, F, “zero” = O, “love” as in tennis = O), musical notations (P, F for soft or loud respectively). Parts of words may be used (IVE or just V might be indicated by “MidwIVEs”). The one paramount rule is that the clue sentence, with a little repunctuation, will tell exactly how to get the answer.

The diagram contains eighteen heavy black squares which correspond (left to right, top to bottom) with the clues. Each clue answer is entered into the diagram in the box made up of the heavy black center square and eight squares around it. The first letter goes in the appropriately numbered square. The answer then proceeds either clockwise or counterclockwise around the black center square (the solver must deduce which direction from evidence given by the overlapping answers adjoining it) until it reaches the tail attached to the center square. The next letter is extracted and entered into the center square. Thereafter the answer continues from the other side of the tail around the rest of the squares. When the center square is numbered, it holds the first letter and the rest of the answer then begins on one side or the other of the tail and proceeds in a direction away from the tail (which side and direction to be deduced as before from overlapping answers).

As an added help: Some squares apply to one answer only. Letters from these squares (the four non-overlapping outside squares of numbers 1,4, 15 and 18 and the three outer squares of numbers 8 and II) will make up an anagram of ALAS, POOR STARS EAT IN RAIN. (Well, nobody said it had to make much sense.) Also, one clue answer is a proper name.

Send the completed puzzle (or reasonable facsimile) to Puzzling, D Magazine, 2902 Carlisle, Dallas, Texas 75204. All correct solutions will be held for one week after receipt of the first entry, at which time a drawing will take place to determine the winners. First winner will receive a $25 cash prize. Runner-up will receive a free one-year subscription to D. Winners and completed puzzle will appear in the October issue.


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