This is a connecting wall puzzle containing a gimmick that I am not aware of in PSE (or indeed anywhere else). If I learn otherwise then I would still be happy to claim “I did it better” 😊

  1. Divide the sixteen words or phrases into four groups of four, as per usual.

  2. What do these groups have in common? (i.e. find the connection within the connections)

  3. I consider this grid is NOT suitable for websites such as PuzzGrid (or indeed the actual quiz show Only Connect). Why is this?

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1 Answer 1


The four groups resolve as follows:

Group 1: NYT 'Games'
Digits, Connections, Spelling Bee, The Mini.

Group 2: Prefixed by a compass direction
(Western) Union, (Northern) Exposure, (Southern) Cross, (Eastern) Standard Time.

Group 3: Involves 'diagonals'
tr(A) - the trace of a matrix, i.e. the sum of the elements along its main diagonal;
Diagon Alley - for the pun...
Bishop - the chess piece that only moves diagonally;
Hypotenuse - the diagonal of a right-angled triangle.

Group 4: Recurring memes/catchphrases from the Cracking the Cryptic YouTube channel
Three (in the corner, note) - "That's 3 in the corner... That's 3 in the spotlight - losing its religion";
Bobbins - Simon's go-to expression of annoyance when things don't go right;
The Secret - "45 is the secret" (the fact that the 9 digits of a sudoku total this number);
Maverick - the nickname given to a guy who seems to fly his plane nearby whenever Simon is trying to record.

(Big thanks to @Jafe for helping me understand this fourth category in chat, and to this fan-made reaction board, which also helped me understand!)

The connection between these four categories is not a single word. Instead it is the 'gimmick' of the puzzle itself, in that...

...each group of words appears in the initial grid in a way that is connected to their connections!

Group 1: The NYT Games words appear in the pattern displayed by its 'Connections' logo:

Connections logo

Group 1 words in blue

Group 2: The words prefixed by cardinal directions appear at the edges corresponding to the relevant points of the compass: 'Exposure' to the North, 'Standard Time' to the East, 'Cross' to the South, and 'Union' to the West.

Group 2 words in yellow

Group 3: The words linked by 'diagonals' are on the main diagonal...

Group 3 words in green

Group 4: And the remaining words relating to Cracking the Cryptic 'fill the cracks' left over (with 'Three' in the corner...).

Group 4  words in reed

The reason this would not be suitable for Only Connect itself is that...

...as soon as groups are correctly identified, their members are removed from the grid and the remaining options rearrange themselves into a rectangular grid once more - meaning that the words would no longer be arranged according to their innate patterns!

  • $\begingroup$ That was quick – and almost correct! The link between all four categories is not a single word. You need to look for something else. Hint: rot13( Vs gur tevq jnf syvccrq ubevmbagnyyl be iregvpnyyl gura zl vagraqrq yvax jbhyq abg jbex sbe gur ALG Tnzrf (cyhf ng yrnfg bar bgure tebhc)). $\endgroup$
    – happystar
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ @happystar Perhaps this rewrite is more what you had in mind? $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 11:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Perfect, the checkmark is yours! :-) $\endgroup$
    – happystar
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW rot13(qvtvgf sebz alg vf orvat ergverq ba gur rvtugu bs nhthfg). Keeping up to date with other changes is left as an exercise for the reader! $\endgroup$
    – happystar
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 22:44

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