Cryptic Puzzle

Deepening Desuetude

Deepening Desuetude

By Tom Toce

A number of you failed to note my email address change. I collected as many of your submissions as I could before my former employer turned off the tap, but it’s possible that some of you, through your own negligence, won’t be included in the solver list below. It’s important to keep current.

I’ve been able to relax even more than expected because of a puzzle that was sent to me by my redoubtable test solvers Bob Fink and Jerry Miccolis. What a lucky antediluvian am I! I get another break. Between that and the quarantine, if I were any more relaxed, I’d be dead.

 I leave you with Bob and Jerry’s intro:

Contingencies’ Cunningly Convoluted Cryptic Concoction

The first part of this puzzle is a standard cryptic crossword. The answers include one two-word phrase and no proper nouns or obscure words. There is one alternate spelling. All words are playable in Scrabble. As always, be wary of punctuation, which has been known to deceive.

Once you’ve completely filled the grid, you’ll need to uncover the deeply encoded 26-letter phrase within it—a purposely and particularly permutated payoff phrase that self-referentially describes what you will have constructed. A set of blank cells is included on the next page for your convenience.

The decoding algorithm may not be immediately obvious, but you will find two helpful pointers in the successfully completed grid. One pair of symmetric entries identifies what you will need to extract from all the grid entries to populate the 26 blank cells. That will still leave you with myriad possibilities. A second pair of symmetric entries suggests a way to view the associated clues to narrow those possibilities down to one. More explicit hints can be found upside down in the box below if needed.

Delightful deciphering!

5Whirl within westward planetary galewinds (6)1Fished around forenoon, forlorn for food (8)
7Notable night before, with New Testament nearly unabridged (8)2Dynamic deflection endlessly disrupts disheartened director Reiner (6)
9Adherent’s afflicted arm is red (8)3Provide pallet before a puzzler’s pivotal pieces perplex (8)
10Vowed end to vodka voraciousness (6)4Loaded, Lewis tore dress lining (6)
11Kept in KLMN-order as kinky baptized heal (12)6Jay, Jo, Jed, Jane & Joel chill while Jennifer tails Jura warbler (8)
13Heath hit highest (7)7Replacement ringed by robbers at Zales (6)
15Quarterly, qualified entrants query proposed keepers of quarters (7)8Ganja gorger is sure gonzo (4)
18Concatenation of consistent consonants (commonly), complete with continued calculation (12)12Salacious surgeon scamming after skimming (8)
21Born-again bumbling broadcaster Burgundy broadcasted brainy bit (6)14Unguilty plea by Unger, uninitiated until now (2,6)
22One-track Orlando operation for oilman or oddball (8)16Educating Egyptian emperor on elastic element in Enterprise and Endeavour (8)
23Twirling, teen aced to timely take lead (8)17Muzzle manufactured from manipulating my ties (6)
24Zeke, Zac, or Zeppo, e.g., (not Zoe, Zelda, or ZsaZsa, e.g.) get on, get by (6)18Yeager, Yackey and Young remain yare (6)
19Xavier, examine xenon, xylopia, xylem & xylene; ultimately, dub Xe “X-factor” (6)
20Inadequate incline (4)

Previous Issue’s Puzzle—Phraseology

Previous Issue’s Puzzle—Phraseology


1.    CH(A)INS—Hidden in “research insects”

4.    (P)LATTER—Anagram of “rattle”

8.    (O)ZONE—Z (“unknown”) + ONE (“person”)

9.    TEEN(S)IEST—Anagram of “teen’s tie”

11.   (I)CONS—Double definition

12.   (T)EARDROPS—Anagram of “order pa’s”


16.   RELI(V)ES—Double definition and pun (“Whoppers twice”)

18.   (E)THAN—First letters in “those having antagonistic natures”

19.   FOR(A)GES—Outside of “formidable bacteriophages”

20.   POS(T)ERS—Anagram of “spores”

23.   (T)RAVELERS—Anagram of “reversal”

26.   (I)RATE—Double definition

28.   S(T)IMULATE—SIM (“Mis-adjusted”) + U (“you said”) + ET AL reversed (“and others”)

29.   G(U)IDE—Odd letters in “griddle” (referring to André Gide)

30.   (D)ANGLES—Anagram of “Angels”

31.   TRU(E)ST—Anagram of “Struts”


1.    COOKIES—Double definition

2.    A-GO-GO—A + GO (“square”) + GO (“energy”)

3.    NEEDS TO—Anagram of “denotes”

4.    PIETÀ—Outside of “Piedmont terracotta”

5.    ASSAD—AS SAD (“so much melancholy”)

6.    THE LOUVRE—LOU + V (“visited briefly”) inside THERE

7.    STATISTS—Anagram of “Stats sit”

10.   TUSKS—Outside of “Tuscaloosa’s razorbacks” & literally

14.   NARRATION—NATION (“Community”) surrounding ARR (“arrangement”)

15.   REE—(F)REE

16.   RAPESEED—Anagram of “a speeder”

17.   ENO—Reversal of ONE (“Ideal lover”)

19.   FATES—Anagram of “Feats”

21.   SWINGER—SINGER (“Recording artist”) around W (“a sip of whiskey”)

22.   SIEVERT—SIT outside of EVER (“constantly”)

24.   EQUAL—Inside “Elaine qualifies”

25.   EXAMS—Pun on EX-AMS (“none before noon”)

27.   ALICE—Anagram of “Celia”




Anthony Amodeo, Dean Apps, Jack Brauner, Bob Campbell, Lois Cappellano, Mick Diede, Dave Dougherty, Deb Edwards, Bob Fink, Mendy Friedman, Phil Gollance, Pete Hepokoski, Catharine Hornby, Max Jackson, Ruth Johnson, Joe Kilroy, Eric Klis, Mike Kosciuk, Ken Kudrak, Ben Lynch, Dave McGarry, Jon Michelson, Jim Muza, David and Corinne Promislow, Daniel Rhodes, Jay Ripps, Bill Scott, Andrew Shewan, Karen Skoglund, Zig Swistunowicz, Team KT (Katie Anderson & Megan Taylor), T. O. C. E. (Josh DenHartog and Sean Donohoe)

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