Outsider

Also known as:

Filling Station

It is rare to come across a good new word puzzle, but Outsider is just that.

At first sight, it looks like a Dropout in Skeleton Crossword format, and there are similarities to both of these puzzles, but the solving process engages the reader in a slightly different way.

The inventor, Kevin Royal, explains:

My first thought was that Outsider should be a logic puzzle; ie, the solver would use logic to cross-reference the horizontal and vertical letters and the puzzle could be reassembled, that way. My excitement dissipated when I discovered how difficult that turned out to be. Fortunately, a short while later, I hit on the idea of a clue list, and everything fell into place.

There are different ways to tackle the puzzle, but the clues are the obvious starting point. Look for a line of letters that contains all of the letters of an answer. Solutions with long letter-lengths are most useful for the solver, because they are easier to fix to a particular line. Once the line in which an answer falls has been identified, the number and position of black squares in the line needs to be considered. As solving progresses, the shape of the grid gradually falls into place, because the symmetry of the black squares is given. Finally, it is possible to identify the answers to further clues by unscrambling anagrams from the remaining letters in the lines, and matching these answers with unsolved clues.

Kevin's approach to the clues and to the design of the grid make solving particularly enjoyable:

What I try to do with each new puzzle I compile is make sure that, if a line contains two words, the clue to one of those words is quite specific (eg, Capital of Japan) and the other, quite general (eg, Breed of dog), so the solver will need to work out what the word might be from the letters left in the row.

A sawn-off version of the puzzle, called Filling Station, is less interesting.

Related puzzles:

Crossword, Dropout, Skeleton Crossword
The illustration of the puzzle Download example puzzle

Instructions:

Complete the crossword using the letters outside the grid. The letters are listed alphabetically beside the relevant rows and columns, and the number of black squares in each row and column is also given. Clues are provided, but are not in order. The finished puzzle has central symmetry.