I sent six puzzles to the Times but received the following reply:

Dear Sir,
We are sorry to reject your sequential crossword submissions for the following reasons:

  • The squares must be 15x15 or 21x21
  • Words cannot be duplicated
  • Odd nonsense words are undesirable

Sincerely, The Editor

I was going to try the Sun instead, but misplaced them. All I have are the titles!

Can you reconstruct them? Also, please use the result to answer the following question:

What are you if you spend too much time on PSE? (7)

Helpful note: Series ascends to one result. So this is ultimately doable. But if your head is muddled, get some sleep and try again later.

Crossword Puzzle Titles:

  • Atop Nobelium

  • Duo attack rocks

  • 2.4 note mtg. change

  • Fortissississimo watcher and supreme duplicate currency

  • 5th-gen wireless block vendors & wasp colony, nimble overhead

  • 666666 foul Ganymede titans optimize web traffic - you've been caught, sweetie, _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Solve the first two easy ones. Then continue the 3 patterns: size, structure, and sequence.
What does the note actually mean?
What is 2.4 in relation to 3?

  • $\begingroup$ Hm, I've figured out the first four, but the last two aren't getting me anywhere. (The roadblock for me wasn't what was given in the hint, but the step before that.) $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Apr 22 at 7:15


"Atop Nobelium" appears to clue ON NO.
This can be arranged into a 2×2 square, with ON on the top row and NO on the bottom - can we make similar word squares out of the others?

"Duo attack rocks"... well, "Duo" is TWO, "rocks" is ORE, meaning "attack" is likely WAR.

Squares 1 and 2

Continuing might be a bit tricky, though:

What's up with "2.4 note mtg. change"? This one and the ones coming after it don't seem to break down as clearly as the first two.

But the second grid started with TWO... and the first almost started with ONE. Could the third start with THREE? There's only enough room for four fifths of THREE... and that's exactly what "2.4" is!

Similarly, fortissississimo would be notated "ffff", or FOURF - so it seems like the number on the top row repeats if it's too short.
And that means "5th-gen wireless" is FIVEFI, and 666666 is SIXSIXS, or "six six[e]s".

With this, we can break into the others:


A four-letter word for "change" is EDIT, and that means "note" could be HEED. "mtg.", an abbreviation for "mortgage", then becomes REFI.
a "currency" that starts with F is a FRANC. Then a "watcher" is an OGLER, "supreme" is ULTRA, and duplicate is RERUN:

grids 3 and 4

Now things get tougher:

I was trying to use EARWIG for "wasp", but it turns out VESPID was actually correct. "nimble" clues an obscure Scottish word, FEIRIE. And "overhead" appears to be IN DEEP, as in "to be in over your head".

enter image description here

And I'm not completely sure of the last one:

enter image description here
This was my best attempt, making the final answer SNAFUED. But this doesn't explain "optimize web traffic", and "you've been caught" is also a bit questionable.

After some help from Jafe, Stiv, and Jaap Scherphuis, a more likely grid is the following:
But SLSPAN_ doesn't seem to be a sensible phrase. It's possible that if the last letter is E, this could be anagrammed to NAPLESS, which would fit as a final answer?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Nice work! BTW, it's four fifths of three. $\endgroup$ – Jaap Scherphuis Apr 22 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ I actually think your answer to "you've been caught" is really good! $\endgroup$ – justhalf Apr 22 at 8:46
  • $\begingroup$ Rot13(V guvax sbhy vf VYYRTNY naq gur svany nafjre vf cebonoyl FYNPXRE!) $\endgroup$ – Jafe Apr 22 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ In addition to the comment by @Jafe above, here are a few other possibilities that might fit in your last one, though I haven't yet found a universally satisfied arrangement: rot13(VYYVPVG/VZCVBHF/VZZBENY, KY ZBBAF, ?, ?, KLYVGBY/KNAGUNA/KLYBFRF) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Apr 22 at 11:27
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Building on jafe's suggestion for foul and @stiv's for sweetie, I think got most but I still don't get the last word. ROT13(fvkfvkf / vyyrtny / kyzbbaf / frbuggc / vtbgpun / knaguna / fyfcna_) $\endgroup$ – Jaap Scherphuis Apr 22 at 12:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.