Cryptic Puzzle

Five and Two

Five and Two

By Tom Toce

I promised I would try the other ways to get a roll of seven, so I present here the next-easier way, two-five. I’m sure one-six will be very difficult to construct, but keep your fingers crossed.

The clues are arranged by rows and columns, but the diagram for each clue is left for the solver to determine. The hints provide the correspondence. Numbers appear in the grids as they ordinarily would, but you don’t need them. There are one or maybe two unusual words, one common phrase, and two proper nouns. The unusual words are playable in Scrabble. Ignore punctuation, because I do.

Thanks to Eric Klis, Bob Fink, and Jerry Miccolis for test-solving and editorial suggestions.


First row

  • Our country is in the midst of bedlam, Eric: adapt
  • Relax, Dude, Pat filled in

Second row

  • Embargo delineated by the one in charge
  • Connoisseur found with the fifth of Glenmorangie and unopened Port
  • Third row:
  • Cut short at the outset, am I folding?
  • Labor’s investing time in crazy offers

Fourth row:

  • Be prone to prevaricate
  • Sat around with letters from Saudi Arabia
  • Derelict facing miserable durance

Fifth row

  • I’d say closely characteristic of saltpeter, maybe
  • Shut renovated deluxe housing center

Sixth row

  • Seaman Sully
  • Weed wacker trimming wizened geraniums

Seventh row

  • Have an inkling of abnormal upsets around Cuba’s leader
  • We brought back casual dress on soap operas


First column

  • Numbers of first-class steeds?
  • Counterproductive to cut back

Second column

  • Resolve dilemma
  • Nixon who sang, “I am RN,” off-key

Third column

  • Renounces shortcomings
  • Sent on-line party invitations: over a hundred turned out

Fourth column

  • Socialists embracing contemptible issue coming back as spies
  • A fling in the past
  • Run rings around revolutionary comrade

Fifth column

  • Pain inflicted by so-called arsonist?
  • Vexed by possible rain date

Sixth column

  • Poetry is a field of work I dropped
  • Little Lincoln!

Seventh column

  • They put up with nonsense in impromptu sidebar
  • Fail resoundingly one’s final course


TOM TOCE is a senior manager for actuarial services with Ernst & Young in New York and is a member of the Jeopardy Hall of Fame.

Solutions may be emailed to him at

In order to make the solver list, your solutions must be received by May 31, 2019.


Previous Issue’s Puzzle—Rolling a Seven


First row:

  • ASHAMED—HAM (“Lousy actor”) inside “as Ed”
  • BUSHIDO—BUSH (“A couple of presidents”) + I DO (“it’s said, to wed”)

Second row:

  • THERE—Anagram of “Ether”
  • MUM—Double definition

Third row:

  • LICENSE—L (“Left”) + ICENSE (anagram of “niece’s”)
  • SHARPLY—SLY (“Insidious”) outside of HARP (“harmonica”)

Fourth row:

  • BOTTLES—Outside “both shuttles”
  • ANT—Sometime homophone of AUNT (“Old Queen”)
  • DID—First letters of “do I dare”

Fifth row:

  • OPTIONS—Anagram of “Acquires weird potions”
  • NEARING—NEA (“Group of teachers”) + RING (“tinkle”)

Sixth row:

  • RANGE—(ST)RANGE (“unusual from third base”)
  • END—(T)END (“Have an inclination to start late”)

Seventh row:

  • SURGERY—SWELL + RY (“respectability at the borders”)
  • AVENGED—AVE (“Hey”) + NG (“No-Good”) + ED


First column

  • ATLANTA—AT L.A. (“in the vicinity of sprawling metropolis”) + first letters of “nettle tenants assoc.”
  • BUSBOYS—SB (from Soprano and Bass as “Outer voices”) inside BUOYS (“sustains”)

Second column

  • HOP—(S)HOP
  • SHINE—Anagram of “Hines”

Third column

  • SMATTER—Double definition
  • HECTARE—Anagram of “the care”

Fourth column

  • RAN—Double definition
  • HURTING—Inside “Arthur tingles”
  • ARE—reversal of “era”

Fifth column

  • MENDING—MEN (“most #MeToo offenders”) + DING (“Nick”)
  • IMPLODE—IMP (“Rogue”) + LODE (“strike”)

Sixth column

  • LEN—Pun on former college basketball great Len Bias and the fictitious singular of LENS (“one part of the eye”)

Seventh column

  • DREDGED—DR (Doctor or “The medic”) + EDGED (“cut”)
  • ODYSSEY—Every other letter in “Monday is a seedy”


Very few solvers used the hints, so I’m not showing the breakdown. A return to the grids made things easier, and the number of solvers is greater than last time.

Steve Alpert, Anthony Amodeo, Dean Apps, Jack Brauner, Bob Campbell, Lois Cappellano, Chris Carlson, Laura Cremerius, Todd Dashoff, Mick Diede, Dave Dougherty, Deb Edwards, Bob Fink, Mendy Friedman, Bruce Fuller, Phil Gollance, Ruth Johnson, Pete Hepokoski, Paul Ivanovskis, Eric Klis, Paul Kolell, Mike Kosciuk, Ken Kudrak, Ben Lynch, Michael Manos and friends (Priscilla Cho, Preet Dhillon, Jing Feng, Larizze Ocampo, Sam Shah), Dave McGarry, Jerry Miccolis, Jon Michelson, Becky Moody, Jim Muza, David and Corinne Promislow, Daniel Rhodes, Dan Schwallie, Bill Scott, Zig Swistunowicz, Doug Szper, Team AALO (Kristen Bischoff, Danny Clark, Kristen Detwiler, Alec Pirritano), T. O. C. E. (Josh DenHartog and Sean Donohoe), Betsy and James Uzzell, Michael Zurhellen

Next article InsurTech, etc.
Previous article Four Points

Related posts