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At first glance, a fitword seems identical to a kriss kross and indeed, this is close to the truth. In both cases the objective is to place listed words in a grid. From a compiler's perspective, each puzzle requires a diametrically opposite approach.
For a fitword, the grid comes first. The grid used for a fitword takes a regular form and so, like a crossword grid, it usually has a symmetrical design. (The printed grid is still more likely to resemble a kriss kross grid than a crossword grid; ie, blank cells are left empty rather than filled with black.) This means the number of words and the letter-lengths of words is predetermined. It also means that a fitword is unlikely to have a themed word list, because the chance of gathering a complete set of words (of particular lengths, that will intersect) on a certain theme is slight.
The use of a regular grid can mean the puzzle is particularly challenging, as there may be a large number of words at each letter-length. For example, the Jig-A-Link fitword in 'Puzzler' has twelve 3-letter words, thirty-six 7-letter words, four 8-letter words and eight 9-letter words. This means that in every position on the grid, the solver is faced with a lot of options.
The start-point for a kriss kross, on the other hand, is the list of words. The list is usually connected with a theme. The final shape of the freeform grid is dictated by the word list. The level of intersection of words in a kriss kross is likely to be less than in a fitword.
Recent times have brought one useful innovation: the addition of a small number at the start of each item in the grid, to indicate the letter-length required to fill it. Where it is used, this feature saves time for the solver.
There are several common fitword variants, including the dilemma fitword (two grids, but only one list of words) and trilemma (three grids and one word list).
The best way to tackle a fitword and a kriss kross is to try to place those words with the least number of options, first; in other words, look for the letter lengths that contain the shortest lists of words. In a kriss kross, happily, these often prove to be the longer words.
There is only one way to place the listed words in the grid. Can you do it?
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