Cryptic Puzzle

For Your Amusement

For Your Amusement

By Tom Toce

This issue, we have a puzzle that has nothing to do with Taylor Swift. Instead, I offer a new construction from the formidable team of Bob Fink and Jerry Miccolis, which I think you’ll enjoy. They write:

Welcome to the AAA Amusement Park! Step right up and try your hand at our games of skill!

One game of skill, of course, is working your way through the maze of a cryptic puzzle. But there’s another carnival game that you’ll need to play to complete this particular puzzle.

Only one of the Across answers will fit into the grid. The others require you to engage in that other game, which is described by the answer that does fit.

All answers—as well as the modified grid entries—are common single words playable in Scrabble. There are no proper nouns, hyphenated words, multi-word phrases, or variant spellings. Do be wary of punctuation, though, which has been known to deceive.

So, grab a corn dog and some cotton candy, and enjoy the games!

Thanks, as always, to Tom Toce for his expert editorial comments and suggestions.


1. Exercising? No fun, dude, without support

6. Ropes in the heads of Latin America’s secret society of English speakers

9. Making a bundle from moving ingots around the middle of April

10. Sunshine State sidekick takes in Naples’ earliest wader

11. Reorganized loyal brass, say

13. Easily run around a fortune teller?

15. Shooting star is awfully remote

17. Wrecked ocean vessel

18. Regarding a contest

20. Crooked old tie worked

23. Short Sumatran swinger takes on excellent color

24. Man’s alternative hair product loses satisfactory rating

25. Take pleasure in losing Jersey’s primary but claiming victory for representative

26. Justly taking out mob head, so it has been reported

29. Infatuate Abe’s other occupants

32. Call for some brandy with ice

35. Distributing all over school, attempting to debunk?

36. Raised a glass to a small-time editor

37. Frost, the German, is a packrat

38. Runny grits, son, is fair game


2. Indigenous DC NLer joins rival league

3. “Integrity is a key element of Shogun,” I typed

4. Finger jab Mitt in the gut

5. Suspend and put back in upside down

6. Shuffle, deal, and open

7. Share golfer’s concern

8. National symbol is a headless dog

12. Fifty-nine unmade bedsheets

14. Mr. Gore with worthless compilation

15. Partner, what comes after “check”?

16. Flush in red, buddy…no black

17. Doctor mongrel above emergency room

19. Oddly true: Sikhs supplying ivory

21. Alan airbrushed furnishings for veranda

22. The guy who couldn’t defeat Truman loses energy and gets steamy

27. Iowa supports exotic art in towering lobbies

28. Took it easy, we hear, and cut without a knife

30. After introduction, flying ace Chuck is raring to go

31. Giant bird with a nightingale’s head

32. See? Vi’s on it

33. Discussed ocean voyage with deckhands from several ships

34. Story: “Real Estate Investment Trust Goes Belly-Up”

TOM TOCE is an FCAS and a senior manager at EY. He is a member of the Jeopardy Hall of Fame. Solutions may be emailed to

In order to make the solver list, you should send him your solutions by August 1, 2024.

Solution to Previous Issue’s Puzzle—Begin Again

All the across answers pertain to 23A. Most are either her song titles or album titles (or both). One is the title of a movie she appeared in, and another is the first name of her current boyfriend.

Across clues

1. MIDNIGHTS—Anagram of “mind” and “”sight”

5. EXILE—Outside of “Extravagant infantile”

9. TRAVIS—Inside of “Spectravision’s”

10. ALL TOO WELL—Anagram of “Al, we’ll loot”

12. FOLKLORE—Mispronunciation of “oak floor”

13. ANTIHERO—Anagram of “another I”

16. OURS—Homophone of HOURS (“A long time”)

18. SHAKE IT OFF—Anagram of “hits of fake”


24. BLANK SPACE—B(L)ANK S (“banks assuming low”) + PACE (“rate”)

25. CATS—Anagram of “acts”

27. EVERMORE—Inside “clever mores”

30. TIMELESS—Homophonic pun on THYMELESS ( “Parsley, sage, rosemary . . . “ is missing “thyme” from the Simon and Garfunkel song title)

35. REPUTATION—REFUTATION (“defense”) with P (“pass”) substituted for F (“fail”)

37. THE MAN—Anagram of “anthem”

38. STYLE—Homophone of STILE (“steps”)

39. TIM MCGRAW—TI (first letters of “taking in”) + MMC (“twenty-one hundred”) + G (“another thousand”) + RAW (“Exposed”) with reference to Tim McGraw’s longstanding marriage to Faith Hill

Down clues

1. MOTIF—Anagram of “If Tom”

2. DRAWL—DRAW (“elicit”) + L (“a bit of lugubriousness”)

3. ILIAL—Letter bank clue. ILIAL reuses two of the letters in “Ali” (“Ali is all you need”)

4. SALE—Homophone of SAIL (“go easy”)

5. EGO—Pun on GO (“ancient game”), which becomes EGO if “played on line”

6. IRENE—IRE (“Anger”) + NE (“born”)

7. ELLIOTTELIOT (“The Waste Land’s author”) around L (“Pound”). Elliott the Moose is (apparently) a well-known character–in Canada

8. STAN—Double definition (“Big fan” and “many Arab countries’ eastern part” = -STAN)

11. TRESPASS—TRES (“Very French”) + PASS (“attempt”)

14. IQ TEST—I (“One”) + semi-homophone of CUTEST (“supremely ingenious”)

15. MAGICAL—MAGI (“Three wise guys”) + CAL (“California”)

16. OATH—(L)OATH (“Unwilling to start late”)

17. ROYAL—Homophone of ROIL (“upset”)

19. ESOTERIC—Anagram of “coteries”

20. FRIDA—FRIDA(Y) with reference to Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera’s wife

21. JOIN ‘EM—Scramble “Emoji” around N (“new”)

22. OTIS—First letters in “Of Thee I Sing” with reference to Elisha Otis, founder of Otis Elevator Company

26. HEARTS—Anagram of “Earth’s”

28. EMPTY—Homophone of MT (“two letters”)

29. RATE—Anagram of “Tear”

31. ETHIC—Reversal of CITE (“quote”) around H (“high”)

32. ELMER—Outside of “remarkable” and reversed, with reference to Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny’s enemy

33. SINEW—Anagram of “wines”

34. SOFT—Letter bank. SOFT has all the letters needed to make “toss offs”

36. TEE—Homophone of TEA (“Afternoon gathering”)


Steve Alpert, Dean Apps, John Boorack and Jim Lamenzo, Jack Brauner, Bob Campbell, Lois Cappellano, Quinn and Tim Connor, Laura Cremerius, Jared Dashoff, Todd Dashoff, Christopher Dickens, Mick Diede, Dave Dougherty, Deb Edwards, Bruce Fuller, David Handelman, Jason Helbraun (with thanks to his wife), Pete Hepokoski, Catharine Hornby and Bruce Harvey, Max Jackson, Joe Kilroy, Paul Kolell, Ken Kudrak, Ben Lynch, Mathew Marchione and Marika Brown, Jim Muza, Josh Parker, David and Corinne Promislow, Ram Raman, Jay Ripps, Bill Scott, Karen Skoglund, Zig Swistunowicz, T. O. C. E. (Josh DenHartog and Sean Donohoe), James and Betsy Uzzell

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