I've designed a new type of puzzle called Four-Letter Blocks that mixes crossword puzzles with jigsaw puzzles. You are given a crossword puzzle that's been filled in and then cut up into blocks of four letters, as well as the usual set of crossword clues. Use the clues to assemble the grid. The bad news is that the clues aren't numbered in the normal way - 1 Across might not be in the top left. The good news is that every word has at least the first letter given.

At 9x9, today's challenge is at the easy level. You can either print out this page or the PDF version, or download the image and solve it in a paint program. Gluing onto cardboard or felt will make the pieces easier to work with.

Pieces of a crossword puzzle

1. Modern light source
5. Timeworn
6. Whose rib was 17 Down made from?
7. Common instrument in alphabet books
9. Hairy ox
12. Erase
16. Winnie the Pooh, for example
18. To All the Boys ___ Loved Before
19. Fun gun
22. Sharp-eyed bird
26. East of the Urals
28. Pea package
29. Cabbage salad
30. Type of salamander

2. In the birch family
3. Hitched
4. Stain
8. Leia's husband
10. Ahab's obsession
11. Lucy's hair
12. Madame Tussaud's inventory
13. Rustic poem
14. Charged atom
15. Skilled
17. First woman in the bible
20. Sheep's complaint
21. Easter bunny's gift
23. Buddy
24. Punk more angsty than angry
25. What you do with your little eye
27. Holds a wheel together
29. Smooth sheets

  • $\begingroup$ Cool puzzle! I like the Tetris shapes $\endgroup$ Aug 25 at 9:23

An obvious place to start is with

7 across: the first O in XYLOPHONE has to come from the OPH, because the only other usable O (in ASPO) would have to be followed by the P in NEPT, causing an overlap. This means ASPO has to be the second O in that answer. Some forced letter choices for 14 and 16 give us this:
enter image description here

From there,

ASIA needs an I, and ETIN would break 28, so two of our large pieces are fixed together. 17 needs a V, 24 needs an O, and 23 needs an L, filling in more space. Getting 3 its D and 22 its letters leaves us with two major chunks and one small unconnected piece:
enter image description here

All that remains is to

give 30 the W it needs, and fit the last piece the only place it can go!
enter image description here

Some remarks:

As you can see, the main giveaways were forced letter placements - as the puzzles get larger and shape get more varied, I expect the deductions to get more varied in nature and the geometric considerations of the puzzle to become more important. Overall, a nice proof-of-concept puzzle that, while not terribly difficult, gets the job done in a clean fashion.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the thoughtful remarks. I'll think about those kinds of deductions as I split up the larger puzzles to come. $\endgroup$
    – Don Kirkby
    Aug 21 at 17:48

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