Cryptic Puzzle

Triply Cryptic

Triply Cryptic

By Tom Toce

This month we’re treated to another puzzle constructed by my long-time test solvers Bob Fink and Jerry Miccolis.  It’s diagramless, it has special clues, and the final answer requires you to take some of the grid entries and make your own cryptic clue.  It’s triply cryptic! I leave you with Bob and Jerry’s introduction.

When the puzzle is finished, each cell in the diagramless grid will contain a letter. Bars (not black boxes) need to be added by the solver to separate words and unchecked letters. These bars will obey normal crossword (i.e., 180-degree rotational) symmetry. 

Besides the across and down clues, there are six “special” clues (given in random order) whose answers will need to be modified prior to entering them into the grid. The modifications will be normal cryptic logic operations (anagrams, homonyms, reversals, and/or hidden words within a word/phrase), but only one type of modification will need to be made to each of the six special clue answers before entry into the grid. It is up to the solver to determine the proper modification for each special clue answer before entry. (A hint is provided if needed.)

Once the grid is completed, the six newly formed entries need to be rearranged to form a final cryptic clue, the nine-letter answer to which essentially describes what this puzzle is. (A second hint is included for this step.)

There is one proper noun in the puzzle; all other clue answers and grid entries are playable in Scrabble. Beware of punctuation, as it may deceive.

Across Clues

 1. Villa of note reported on cape (6)

 6. Listening device heard rumblings on the inside (7)

13. Opposite-side rear injection? Change answer to “Yes” (5)

14. Hobo elusively hides orchestra tuner (4)

15. Bound and also disseminated via audio books (4)

16. [See special clues]

17. Hastened Standard & Poor’s brief education (4)

18. Lavish dominion, per oral history (4)

20. Moving spasmodically, Elaine’s bud sidles up to scary Stephen (7)

22. Cured coed embraces nurse (6)

23. Woman in the grip of amphetamines threw up (6)

26. Ran after South fell (6)

27. As a result, her goat’s content (4)

28. Grasp ends and middle of bent tree (5)

30. [See special clues]

31. Crazy skiers forsaking empty adventures (5)

33. Take California route (4)

34. Hounded, Winfrey lost her head and turned against editor (6)

37. Wasted latent skill (6)

38. Off-balance in the midst of fun event (6)

39. Oddly, our TiVo bleeps songbirds (7)

42. Stabilize porpoise returning without its backside (4)

44. Spot former German capital (4)

45. [See special clues]

46. Time Warner? Independent Network? Same thing (4)

47. Between opposing banks, creeks stink (4)

48. A fellow spy (5)

49. Bathe at rest center or art house (7)

50. Ride through the snow with noted icebox maker and soul singer Percy (6)

Down Clues

1. Cracked step is an annoyance (4)

2. Taxing debts not starting after Reno turnaround (7)

3. NJ port recently acquired boat (6)

4. Turn up my piercing New Hampshire anthem (4)

5. Hype disorganized rodeo featuring “Latin Five” (6)

6. One can be confused for a long time (3)

7. Apt allegory after the beginning (4)

8. Drunk adorer bellowed (6)

9. Finally, old feeble workers pack office necessity (4)

10. Repairs broken down blades (7)

11. Oust and suspend without Social Security (5)

12. [See special clues]

19. I sent redesigned map feature (5)

21. Raise a nincompoop (5)

23. [See special clues]

24. Rep returned a pop (3)

25. Initially made a complete halfwit of Spanish male (5)

27. Deer I shot down (5)

29. Publicity broadcast that is plain (7)

30. North American female returns buff (3)

32. Treasuring goofy geek pin (7)

34. Coconut shell that man left me on Tuesday? (6)

35. Uncle leaves; pursues bounties (6)

36. Acknowledged a victory overdue (6)

37. Refuse Trish after I turned into adult (5)

40. Oklahoma Republican — a vegetable (4)

41. Eternally head off divorce (4)

42. Ape stymied by low ringing of bells (4)

43. Declared Em to Dorothy, “Pay up!” (4)

44. [See special clues]

45. Spotted Atlantic swimmer leaving Florida behind for Maui music maker (3)

Special Clues

A. Carries sweet wines (5)

B. Cons confidants after Texas Instruments’ liquidation (7)

C. Last chunk of Dutch cheese block (3)

D. Sheep with fewest missing feet (4)

E. Trenendous meme’s in construction (7)

F. Boxer George’s unmanly cry following hook (4)


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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 July 31, 2020.

Previous Issue’s Puzzle—Taking Inventory


 1. ACCUSED—ACC + USED (“second-hand”)

 5. (S)TRESSES—Double definition

 9. MISHA(P)—Inside “Squeamish apparatchik”

10. (A)STRINGENT—Anagram of “integrants”

11. EDINBURGH—Anagram of “rug behind”

12. BADGE(R)—Anagram of “barged”

13. SHREDDERS—SHEDDERS (“Some cats”) over R (“rare”)

16. EUROS—Anagram of “Rouse”

18. (E)VINCE—Outside “evidence”

21. (P)REFERENCE—PENCE around REFER (“hint”)

26. BERTH(A)—Homophone of BIRTH (“deliver”) + A

27. (R)EMISSIONS—Pun on “substitute assignments”)

28. ANTONIONI—ONION “pungent vegetable” inside ANTI (“Hater”)

29. FORES(T)—Anagram of “Softer”

30. (S)TICKERS—Anagram of “Rick’s set”

31. SOLIDLY—SOL + IDLY (“like most slackers”)


 1. AIMLESS—Anagram of “Maisel’s”

 2. CASHIER—Anagram of “rice has”

 3. STABBED—DEBTS around BA (“degree”), reversed

 4. DESERVE—Outside “desecrate preserve”

 5. TORCHES—Anagram of “Hector’s”

 6. ENNOBLE—ELBO(W) (“clip joint”) + N (“new”) + NE (“born”), reversed

 7. SPENDER—Outside “suspenders”

 8. SITTERS—Anagram of “rest, it’s”

14. HOI—HO (“Laugh”) + I 

15. RYE—Homophone of WRY (“droll”)

17. ORC—OR + C (“Caligula’s head”)

18 . VIBRANT—VINT(NER) (“winemaker”) over BRA (“support”)

19. NERITIC—Anagram of “citrine”

20. ENHANCE—(PATI)ENCE over HAN (“Chinese dynasty”)

21. REEBOKS—BEER (“porter”) reversed + OKS (“witnesses”)

22. FAIRIES—FAIR (“Attractive”) + (P)IES 

23. RESTFUL—Anagram of “Fluster”

24. NEON RED—Anagram of “One nerd”

25. EASES BY—First letters of “employ a secret execution so Brigham Young”


Team AALO (Kristen Bischoff, Danny Clark, Kristen Detwiler, Alec Pirritano), Steve Alpert, Anthony Amodeo, Dean Apps, Jan Brown, Bob Campbell, Lois Cappellano, Todd Dashoff, Mick Diede, Bob Fink, Phil Gollance, Pete Hepokoski, Catharine Hornby, Ruth Johnson, Rod Keefer, Eric Klis, Paul Kolell, Mike Kosciuk, Ken Kudrak, Ben Lynch, Dave McGarry, Jerry Miccolis, Jim Muza, David and Corinne Promislow, Jay Ripps, Bill Scott, Karen Skoglund, Zig Swistunowicz, T. O. C. E. (Josh DenHartog and Sean Donohoe), Betsy and James Uzzell, Jim Wickwire 

Next article Haiku for You
Previous article The Free Throw Challenge

Related posts