Have you ever seen a word or phrase in a crossword puzzle including a numeral?

I think they’re changing the rules on us.

A few days ago I did the crossword from last Sunday’s L.A. Times. The theme was “Punjabbing”, so most of the “joke” answers were somewhat regrettable puns. So it asks for a six-letter word reading down to mean “relax”. Horizontally crossing this at the bottom was a “Indian major racing event”, which was turning out to be “The Hindi ___”. I wasn’t expecting this, so I’m not ashamed to confess that it took me quite a while before it dawned on me that the two answers were “Take 5” and “The Hindi 500”.

Years ago I saw a Kliban cartoon, “Solution to Last Week’s Puzzle”, of which the whole joke was that one square had a “3”.

Next thing you know they’ll start playing with spelling, or something.

I’ve seen this on occasion. The Thursday NY Times crossword is known for being where they stick the more “fun” or offbeat puzzles, often involving rebuses of some sort. I’ve seen ones where you actually had to fill in a symbol, such as a star, in certain squares of the puzzle. A numeral would not surprise me in the least.

Yes, the Times occasionally does trick puzzles like this, as does Games Magazine. I haven’t seen digits used that way, but since I have seen stars, circles, pound signs and various other characters used as entries, digits don’t surprise me at all.

I’ve certainly seen all of the above, including numerals, in my Sunday New York Times puzzles. I don’t mind them, but it’s a challenge to realize that a numeral or symbol really does belong in the puzzle.

I’ve seen it in the “theme” answers in themed puzzles, but never just thrown into an otherwise unrelated puzzle.


Aside from rebus puzzles where the trick is that some squares contain something other than a single letter, the gimmick of putting digits rather than letters in a few squares is uncommon but not particularly new. I’ve seen it in occasional puzzles (by, IIRC, Henry Hook) from longer ago than just recently.

They’ve already done that, too, in a recent Sunday NY Times crossword!

Oh, you don’t know what those people will do! They’re shameless, and they’ll stoop to any level! Attention whores, who’ve thrown all propriety out the window with their ever-expanding vanity.

And then they become message board moderators. :wink:

I love those gimmick puzzles, the more difficult the better. My husband hates them.

My vote for most diabolical NY Times Sunday puzzle was titled “Mirror Mirror” or something similar. I was proud that I got the trick, but it took me forever. On the trick clues, you had to realize that both the number and the clue were reversed. In the puzzle the clue for something like 37 across was “Oprah.” What that meant was that the clue to 73 across was really “Harpo.”

The USA Today online crossword puzzle allows digits as valid entries, but I haven’t yet seen a puzzle that used them. I did, however, once see a puzzle that had the “word” IOO in it, clued as being the number 100.

I did a puzzle once where the valid answer in some spaces was to leave them blank. I forget exactly what they were supposed to represent, but it was clued to you in the title of the puzzle somehow.

:o:o:o…Uh…oh…um…sorry twickster, I forgot you were here. But you’re different. You’re not one of them.:slight_smile:

A while ago (I think it may have been April Fool’s Day), the Chicago Tribune ran a puzzle that featured the number 8 in several spots, for words like PRIM8, L8ER, GR8, and so forth.

The unfortunate part was that they printed a note above the clues that said something like, “Note to readers: Today’s puzzle is a little different – several answers contain the number 8 in place of like-sounding letters! Isn’t that fun? Enjoy!”

So there was no twist left for the solver to figure out, and the puzzle was, as a result, rather easy (and lame).

Alas, if you look at the demographics, most newspaper readers are older people, and a VERY high percentage of daily crossword solvers are elderly folks (I just turned 50, so I’m not exactly a kid myself). If a newspaper runs a puzzle with an offbeat theme or unfamiliar twist, the editors will undoubtedly get thousands of angry letters from senior citizens who thought the twist was stupid or unfair.

I agree that the editors ruined the surprise for the people who might have appreciated it… but I understand why they chose to cover their backsides.

I remember once trying to do an NY Times crossword puzzle, and the theme, as it turned out, was the letters “IO”, which look like the number 10, substituting for the letters “TEN.” It drove me crazy - I knew that octopus’s limbs are tentacles, so what the hell was an “iotacle” (which is how the cross-clues came out)? - that I quit that puzzle and it wasn’t until months later that it dawned on me what the IO meant.