The Puzzler


This puzzle diagram is a thing of Threads (across answers a-q) and Patches (areas numbered 1-20). Solvers must determine the starting point for entry of the Threads, which proceed in the given sequence (aemdash;q), left to right, moving down the diagram. Words exiting the diagram at the right-hand border continue from the left in the next row down. A word exiting the diagram at the bottom right-hand corner will continue in the top left-hand corner. Each Patch’s letters are to be entered in mixed order; these letters should help solvers determine where the sequential Threads belong. Answers include three proper nouns; alternate spellings of common words occur at b and p.

The answers to last month’s Puzzler appear on page 91.


a. Broken thread set apart (9)

b. Firmly fix digits to mounts (7)

c. People who can bend metal with gravity augmenting (13)

d. Western character brings safe back to stay (10)

e. Detective rejected second opportunities (7)

f. Forest maintained by German plant specialist (8)

g. Gatekeeper stocks one arsenal’s rear with gunpowder makings (9)

h. Patchwork item almost completely covered with herb drink (7)

i Ghapter two describing colonist’s wine (7)

j. Duplicates ring owned by Persian ruler (7)

k. In Versailles, the stableman has space to stretch out in (7)

l. Changeable routine adopted by piper (7)

m. Something to serve with bean soup: crackers (8)

n. Two-faced liar bet a lousy fifty (9)

o. Cryptic cross planted in my grave (10)

p. Dude’s beginning to get into goofy cowboy garb (8)

q. Furniture pedal wrapped with wire (11) (two words)


1. Jivers decipher patches (7)

2. Study store in Diner after the premiere (7)

3. Bovine held back by very idealistic knight (7)

4. Make passionate pleas for children’s stories? (7)

5. Operator holding first of telephone calls for swimmer (8)

6. From this, you can see Sox floundering in defeat! (7) (two words)

7. Cold cits’ turning dry on the outskirts—it’s the dev il’s work (7)

8. Asian put a lot of water in the ear (7)

9. Encourages forest mammal to eat (7) (two words)

10. Apprentices dated one contrivance from the rear (8)

11. Prepared to let tailor near belt (8)

12. Air transport to be carrying one blueprint (7)

13. Spy group heartlessly shows contempt for partnership (7)

14. New England university has brought in iron seats (7)

15. Patches of color just passing on fruit (7)

16. Approaching the summit, first of climbers taking five (8)

17. Catching fire, manuscript makes the rounds (7)

18. Mark has sent unlimited explosive (7)

19. Dress accommodations stir bad feelings in high school (7)

20. Dirty old man’s brother edges away from fane (7)

Note: The instructions above are for this month’s puzzle only. It is assumed that you know how to decipher clues. For a complete introduction to clue-solving, send an addressed, stamped envelope to The Atlantic Puzzler, 8 Arlington Street, Boston, Mass. 02116.

Answers to the December Puzzles


The extra letters spell The Joy of Sox.

Across. 1.ST(R-ANGEL)Y 8. TEN(nessee) 9. ANA (alternate letters) 10. A(U-TOMATO)N 11. MITOS-IS (sot I’m rev.) 12. P(RIM)ATE 16. REASONS (anag.) 17. CONQUER (homophone) 21. R(A-REB)ITS (stir rev.) 23. DRAGNET (anag. + t) 26. BANS(hees) 27. A-LFIE (a + anag.) 29. C(A-J)OLE 32.S(H)UN 33.O-V(ERR)AN 35. TRO(U)T 37. POST-BOX (stop anag.) 38. PATE-N(o)T 39. RUE (double def.) Down. 1. SAG (rev.) 2. TH(UMP)E-R 3. RETIRE (double def.) 4. NEMO (rev.) 5. ENTITY (anag.) 6. L(O)OSENS (o + anag.) 7. YANK (double def.) 13. MO(use)-SQUE(aking) 14. PAN(OR)AMA 15.B(OUR)-BONS (snob rev.) 17. CO-RDOBA (board anag.) 18. RE-TELL. 19. PARSECS (anag.) 20. PINE(A)-L 22. STILE (homophone) 24. INURE (anag.) 25. LI-B-RETTO (otter rev.) 28. ENROB-E (borne rev.) 30. O-N-Y-X 31. CA(PO)NE 33.O-O-P-S (rev.) 34. N(E)T 36. TAR (rev.)


“Mom . . . wore . . . a locket which she said was a talisman that warded off superstition. . . . provided a certain ritual was enacted. . . . she would swing it back and forth in front of your nose, intoning, ‘Abracadabra chicken gumbo, now you’re safe from mumbo jumbo.’ ” —Peter DeVries, The Prick of Noon