My Enigma Puzzles

Since I joined the National Puzzlers' League in the spring of 1999, I have had a number of puzzles published. This page is a collection those puzzles.

August 2000, CF-12. (convention flat; theme was tricky rhymes)
CHARADE (*6) (not MW; *ONE = not MW; phrase usage)

Third quarter: WHOLE THING fakes, then throws the pigskin.
Inside his head, he does the TWO to calculate his pass.)
Sha *ONE *ONE rest, exhausted--halftime gigs can
Leave you feeling down and out, and like you're out of gas.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

Namath; Na, math

In September GotS, Treesong said this one had "one of the more ingenious rhymes."

November 2000, 50. FIFTH-TO-FOURTH CHANGEOVER (*7, 7) (WORST = not MW)

When first I came to Boston, telephones
Were run by NYNEX. Soon, though, James Earl Jones
Announced they'd merged with Bell Atlantic. First
Of August, GTE joins, making WORST.
It just won't stop! It never stays the same!
But what will be the next WORDS of their name?
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

Verizon, version

This one may have been easier for those on the east coast (though Verizon is now a nationally known name, they were not at the time), but the striking GTE workers who wanted to save their union during the merger with non-union Bell Atlantic made national news. Tahnan called it, in December GotS, "a great base."

November 2000, 68. FIRST SOUND CHANGE (8, 8)

I owe! I owe! It's off to work I go!
I have an anxious START and I don't know
If I can pay him off before he sends
Collectors to attack, like hungry ENDs.
=KING/joe, Alexanthrop VA

This was a combiflat with King Frivolity, who supplied the base.

creditor, predator

This flat got one kudos, from Tyger.

November 2000, 79. REVERSED CONSONANTCY (9, 7)

I say, this man's a double agent. I will shout it!
I ONE, I know that he's a TWO! No doubt about it!
=KING/joe, Alexanthrop VA

This was a combiflat with King Frivolity, who supplied the base.

reiterate, traitor

Feb/Mar/Apr 2001, C-1. (cryptogram) Unequal and opposite. /dev/joe, Winthrop MA

*Z E M I E O    M Y T H E L    S T O R M    M E A ' C U M I U L

F L E X T R U M    F E E L    F L E I U G I T E O    S L E D

O E L ' U Y M I U L    E S    I C E    I B E A M Y O R    E O U.

Boston sailor finds sou'wester provides poor protection from nor'easter of two thousand one.

In April GotS, Wampahoofus wrote: "Now, why didn't I think of that?"

Notes: A sou'wester is a raincoat. This crypt was written during a northeaster (familiarly, nor'easter, though this spelling is not found in dictionaries) which struck the New England coast in January 2001, which shut down most of the area for two days. It dropped a foot of thick, mushy snow at my place on the coast, and around two feet of drier snow inland.

July 2001, 58. TERMINAL DELETION (*6) (ONE = not MW)
TERMINAL DELETION (*6) (TWO = not MW) (can be rapped, maybe?)

Ms. ONE TWO has left the Pips;
She's quitting music, jumping ships.
She's turned to acting, that's a fact.
Shakespeare wrote her favorite act.
She's now Titania. "Never harm,"
Her fairies sing, "nor spell nor charm
Come our lovely N W."
May those ills never trouble you
Or get anywhere close to you, ONE TWO.
This is the end of the flat--it's through.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

Gladys, lady.
Knight, nigh.

This flat got 6 kudos, from ARBUTUS, BACTAM, CACHE, CLIO, CRAX, and KRAY.

Notes: The quotation is an actual quotation (with the answer words inserted) from A Midsummer Night's Dream. When I came up with this base, the two shorter words seemed at home in something Shakespearean, and when I found this quote, I knew I wanted to use it. It wasn't intended to come out as a rap, but when my muse started me going with the verse one night, it came out that way.

Tahnan wrote in August GotS: "How wonderful! The base by itself is mildly clever, but finding it in a quote like that is very nice!"

August 2001, 4. FALSE FEMININE (*5, *6)

For figuring the strengths of struts or complex exponentials
You might use the works of HIM (a man of fine credentials).
And if you live in HER, then you might do this computation
Near Fort Worth in a state, friends, that was once a separate nation.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

Euler, Euless

This flat got 1 kudos, from 415 lb of snake.

Notes: This base was inspired by a bad spell-check in Microsoft Word. I was checking a document at work (where I'm a technical writer working on documentation for the Aspen Engineering Suite). In a discussion of calculation methods, Word found the name of the great mathematician Euler, and told me it thought it should be Euless, a suburb of Fort Worth. Most people not from the area probably don't know about Euless, but I grew up and went to college in Texas and met a student from Euless while I was there.

A number of people working on this puzzle got sidetracked on Dallas, an obvious first guess for HER, but it doesn't work, though people who misspelled it Dalass got as far as using the pair lad, lass to back-form the masculine Dalad before giving up.

September 2001, 84. DELETION (6, *5)

Oh, how my children did CRY
While watching that ogre in CY.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

shriek, Shrek

This was a leftover con flat, one of three I submitted. (The con flat which was actually used was reprinted in the October Enigma.)

September 2001, C-4. (cryptogram) Physics study? /dev/joe, Winthrop MA

L A N C E R,    Z N A N D E N A C    D N P R E    N A    R N W R,    U T N R D,

Y N D L N A C    N A S T Y X,    O T R    S N A P    W N V N R D    E N D    W T Q L

O X    N A E N O N R N A C    L N A C D E N K.

Knight, finishing sixth in tilt, quits, risking injury, but jinx limits his luck by inhibiting kingship.

This was an intentional attempt to make a harder but still solvable and (in my opinion) enjoyable crypt. This crypt features a highly skewed letter distribution, including the complete absence of the vowels a, e, and o. Despite this, it still manages to use 19 different letters, including 2 js, 2 xs, and 4 ks. The resulting crypt has 21 is, which stick out as an obvious vowel, though hopefully it's not immediately obvious which one.

Complete letter distribution: 21: i, 10: n, 8: t, 7: s, 6: h, 5: g, 4: k u, 3: b l, 2: j r x y, 1: c f m p q.

This crypt got 1 kudo from Rick.

October 2001, CF-14. (convention flat -- theme is brand names)
ONE (6-5, 7, *6-*7, ^5) (ONE = not MW usage; THREE = NI3)

When FOUR arrives, I'll often do
Another of those THREEs (or two).
I fill the blanks by solving clues,
Then transfer letters, which I use
To form quotations. (One July quote
Told how TWO bonding forms a zygote.)
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

double-cross, gametic, Double-Crostic, Games

Interestingly, Double-Crostic is listed in the main body of NI3 as a trademark for the type of puzzle which appears in Games. Since Games was not published back when NI3 first appeared in 1961, it presumably was used by some other publication and later was picked up by Games.

October 2001, C-3. (cryptogram) Mixed tweets. /dev/joe, Winthrop MA

*T O U T S    *K A I I    O G Y X    E T S T Z O    Z I    W L I    W T E Z A Y T    B T

P T C X    X Z A J X L J N    C A R R O T S    Z W G A X    E Z J I M    W Z S.

"Y L O O M    *D Z W W L X,    *X D L H    Z S T    K G S    P L I Y!"

Elmer Fudd lost cereal ad bid because he kept taunting puzzler about candy bar. "Silly Wabbit, Twix are for kids!"

December 2001, 8. PICTURE REBUS [7 6]

=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

pinking shears

The reading is "pin kings hear S"

This flat got 3 kudos, from Crax, Hot, and Rosebud.

Notes: This base was inspired by a Password Plus game in the NPL chat some months before, when I was cluing, and figured out that the final answer was going to be pinking shears, and even used pinking as a 3rd clue for zigzag, but failed to communicate the idea to either my partner or opponent, and I ended up guessing after the fifth word and two wrong guesses from the others.

December 2001, 57. SECOND-LETTER CHANGE (*7, 7) (SPORT = *7)

For farm and field
The Greeks appealed
To SPORT, my dearies
(Not to Ceres).

Six lines of SHORT
I wrote of SPORT.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

Demeter, dimeter

Notes: Dimeter is verse with two feet or two stressed syllables per line. This flat received 2 kudos, from Dee Sweet and Wampahoofus.

January 2002, 34. REVERSED CHARADE (*6) (not MW)

My friends tell LA about the L they spend in Rome;
They eat at ristorantes, and have themselves a ball.
But all I ever do is sit right here at home
And watch this crazy chef; "Bam!" he says, on "ALL."
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

Emeril; lire, me

At the time this flat was published, Emeril Lagasse (the chef famous for "Bam!" and other attempts to liven up a cooking show) had a weekly NBC sitcom called Emeril. This is a flat that probably won't hold up well through the ages, as it is unlikely that the show will do so.

April 2002, 22. FREEWHEELING WORD DELETION (8 3) (WHOLE = very not MW; *OUT = non-MW phrase)

I did not grow my WHOLE
In an actual WHOLE.
I bought the tub at *OUT.
Of that there is no doubt.
And when I went to jail
I called my IN for bail.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

homemade pot, ma, Home Depot

Note that pot is used in two distinct senses, the plant that produces the drug, and the container it grows in.

This flat received 3 kudos, from Crax, Spelvin, and Tyger.

May/June 2002, 50. WELDED PROGRESSIVE BEHEADMENT (*7, 3) (*7 = not MW)

Garofalo's getting married! ...
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA
(a flat we never finished reading)

Janeane, nee

I couldn't resist the opportunity to do a four-part welded flat and a beheadment down to a single letter at the same time. While the combination of words is entirely plausible, I found it difficult to actually construct a verse around it, so I submitted it as a Flat We Never Finished Reading.

This flat received 5 kudos, from Codex, Cramerica, D. Ness, Treesong, and Ziggy.

October 2002, CF-1. FIFTH-TO-SIXTH SOUND CHANGEOVER (*1**4; 4 4) (ONE = not MW)
(Convention flat; theme was the Beatles)

ONE, he lives his whole life in a video game.
(He's not the guy who lived with Ernie--no!)
Hopping box to box to box, across the screen,
And in diagonal directions he must go.

ONE jumps round the pile of crates--so good, so far--
But he always must be wary of that snake!
One day, he wonders just what size the boxes are.
Oh, if he knew the volume, he could simply take...

Take the TWO, take the TWO, and he'd find the length!
Oh, it's just the one-third power.
Take the TWO, take the TWO, and he'd find the height!
Oh, it's just the one-third power.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

Q*Bert, cube root

The verse is to the tune of "Ob la di, ob la da."
This flat was originally published as a fourth-to-fifth sound changeover, both at the convention and in the Enigma. Only after its Enigma appearance did somebody notice that this was incorrect. I, and apparently many others, missed that the y sound in "Q" is a separate sound.

The weird enumeration on this one comes from the fact that Q*Bert has a * in his name. These odd words show up occasionally in the Enigma, the classic example being the TV show M*A*S*H which is enumerated *1**1**1**1.

This flat received two individual kudos, from Kray and Satyr Eyes, plus two more kudos in the form of "all Con flats" from Crax and Xelint.

November/December 2002, 124. CHARADE (9)

If you don't want to ONE that TWO
With stains upon your dress of blue,
Use ALL to clean it, nice and new.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

detergent; deter, gent

Note the tricky double-use of ALL as a standard charade cue-word and a clue for the word that goes in that slot.

May 2003, C-3. (cryptogram) Space oddity. (*TEZKZU = not MW) /dev/joe, Winthrop MA

T E L U X Q    K U W    *T E Z K Z U    K U W L C J    T E L C R    A Z U    A U K Y

*J K P,    W R Q K O B    *S P E C K.    Z J C U K O K Y R U J    B R W Z C R

L C J    S P Z O R C Z U Q    J C Z C E J.

Quirky orb Quaoar orbits quite far from Sol, beyond Pluto. Astronomers debate its planetary status.

A couple months before this crypt was published, the largest Kuiper Belt object known was discovered, about half the size of Pluto. Some people argued that this should be accorded the status of a planet, but this isn't really taken seriously. Regardless, it has been given this odd name with four consecutive vowels, the name of a native American deity. There is, however, debate whether Pluto should be considered a planet. Now that we know about the Kuiper belt, it seems that Pluto is nothing more than a large object of this type. (At the time, I thought Pluto would be grandfathered as a planet, but a few years later its planetary status was revoked along with a new definition requiring that a planet has swept its orbit clear of other large objects.)

June 2003, 17. TRANSPOSAL (3 5, 8)

I asked, "Why is the image of Betelgeuse blurred?"
They said, "Lenses aren't good. They've deformed over time."
"Since this telescope won't show that ONE (I've inferred)
very clearly, I'm TWO it." (Wrong spec? It's a crime!)
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

red giant, derating

June 2003, 31. TRANSPOSAL (6)

Out of all the META colors,
Anna chose the very TAME one.
(TEAM all round her skirt would show this
Hue so very nearly white.)
For the top, she picked a print with
Flowers everywhere (with red MEAT).
Anna's tailor MATEd a des-
Cription of the outfit ordered
To her measurements to keep the
Two together. (What a smart plan!)
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

pastel, palest, pleats, petals, staple

Hart King kudized this flat.

August 2003, 11. REBUS (3, 6 5 4)

Did you know that there are competitions for lumberjacks?

In one event, each competitor, armed with a sharp axe, faces a row of ten logs, each a meter in diameter. They stand on end with one end firmly planted into the ground to simulate trees, each with a line painted around it where they are to be cut in half. Several loggers compete on similar rows, and whoever finishes hewing his wood first wins.

Young Johnny enters the competition only due to the encouragement of his father, an experienced lumberman. But he has practiced his skills so he would do a good job in the tournament. When his turn is up, he jumps out to an early lead, and, like a REBUS trunk before any of the other axemen finish. Johnny wins, making his father proud.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

It is not so evident on this web page, but this flat was printed in the Enigma across both columns at the top of one page.

pro, severs every wide

Reading: prose verse, very wide.

August 2003, 29. ENIGMATIC SUBER (9) (firing back at June 45)

Built much like a catapult, the WEAPON was fun
If you got your kicks (but you had no big gun)
From hurling huge objects to make your foe run.
=/dev/joe, Winthrop MA

Reading: te, h, cube, rt.

This is a response flat, a reiteration of a previous flat with minor changes. This was inspired by what I thought the answer to the other flat mentioned in the puzzle heading should have been. At one point I tried to put Q-Bert in this rubric, making it partially phonetic, but since it was possible to do it without being partially phonetic, I did so. I also considered "cube root", to be represented by a radical with a 3, but "rt." is not an 10-C abbreviation for root. I-70 is an interstate highway or "route," and one which passed near the site of the convention which occurred the month before this issue came out.

November 2005, 14. LETTER BANK (*4, 6, ^4 *3) (FOUR-THREE = inferable)

"Soylent Green is made of SIX!"
Screamed the pontiff, John Paul VI.
"But out of all the SIX, they roast
The holders of my office most!
They already used that FOUR,
The second with my name, before.
FOUR-THREE XIII was eaten, true,
And when I'm dead, they'll eat me too."
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

Pole, people, Pope Leo

Clio gave kudos to this flat.

June 2006, 37. FOURTH-LETTER CHANGE (7)

Every day on board the train,
Sunny sky or sleet or rain,
FOLKers crave seats, where they use
FOLDers and e-mail peruse.
=/dev/joe, Salem, MA

commute, compute

September 2006, 34. HOMONYM (*4 *4 ^2, *4 *7) (* words = not MW or not MW usage) (can be sung)

Baby, I got banned for life from baseball.
Gambling, it was the end of me.
But now my train glides over Cincinnati:
Cincinnati's *DOUBLE *YOUKAY ^ARPEE.

My namesake made his name with football,
Made the NFL what it is today.
After nearly thirty years the Commish retired
The same year my Hall of Fame dreams went away.

*WK *RP was from California.
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

Pete Rose El, Pete Rozelle

Clio gave kudos to this flat.

April 2007, F-8. CUBOCTAHEDRON

Grendel wrote this three-dimensional form after I suggested this as an interesting shape for a three-dimensional form, gradually progressing from diamond through octagon to square, and back again.

August 2007, CF-9. PHONETIC CHARADE (*5 *4)

In ALL did Thomas Edison
Design a lot of neato stuff.
He also hire many ONE
To help develop from his rough
Ideas great and wondrous plans.
His inspirations came from life
Around him – shapes of frying pans,
The TWO of a horse, the blade of a knife,
The THREE a pendulum makes as it swings.
And soon this made him very rich.
And some now say his ghost still sings
When not reciting a slick sales pitch.
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

The bold italic words form a mutation, a non-apt transposal. The con flat theme required one of these involving the name of a famous person appear in the verse, separate from whatever base is involved in the flat, so ignore them while solving.

Menlo Park; men, lope, arc

December 2007, 23. LETTER BANK

This letter bank (not reproduced here) was written one line at a time by six composers: 530nm330Hz, T McAy, Ucaoimhu, Southwest, /dev/joe, and Treesong. It received kudos from Badir and G Natural.

April 2008, R-18. FALSE SCORE (6, 5)

All the fans were TWENTY as the Pats and Giants met.
Would New England finish perfect? Could the Giants yet
Cause the Pats' ALONE? The 6 to 5 result did set
Records as the falsest score we've ever seen, I bet.

This is a Ralf, one of the non-scored rule-breaking April Fools that appears in each April issue. This one is less rule-breaking than some, but you'll have to figure out what a "false score" is (aside from the distracting example in the verse).

demise, tense (based on demi = 1/2, ten = 10, and a score = 20)

This flat got kudos from Jigsaw.


This puzzle is not reproduced here. It was a cryptic double-crostic written in conjunction with Groucho. I did most of the cryptic cluing while Groucho selected the quote and did most of the anagramming into words.

This puzzle got kudos from Askew, Bactam, Cramerica, Dragonfly, GrandBairn, Hart King, Libra, Lyric, Quicks?lver, Serendipity, and top kudos from Dee Sweet.

=GROUJO, Cliffsalem Park NA

July 2008 Notes: This was the 125th anniversary issue, and to assist with the editor's request to try to get 125 contributors, I offered to combiflat with anybody for this issue. The end result was 5 combiflats and one solo flat from me in this issue and a couple in the following issue.

July 2008, 11. LAST-LETTER CHANGE (4)

The SURF caresses coastal sand.
When low, it leaves the beaches WINE
And SURE across a stretch of land,
Each grain in order smooth and fine.
The WIND's the same when it falls back.
Although its sweep is less, not more.
An artifact of our moon's track,
Twice monthly does it wash the shore.
=G.I. JOE, N. Hollem CA

(Base by Jigsaw, verse by me)

tide, tidy; neat, neap

(Note that 11C defines neap as a noun meaning the same as neap tide.)

This flat got kudos from Cramerica.

July 2008, 27. PHONETIC FALSE FEMININE (7, 7)

Do not drum up trouble CONCLUDE man and wife,
Especially not king and queen.
You could get yourself the BEGIN of your life.
Royal scars are among the worst seen.

(My base, verse by Jeffurry with a fair bit of coaching from me)

beating, between (based on the model of king and queen)

This flat got kudos from Aleph and Cramerica.


Dear Abby, I've a problem date these days.
From you I need some ONE.
My Charlie cringes when the music plays.
How do I make my DONE?
=ERJOE, Scarlem NA

(Base by Ergo, verse a joint effort more Ergo's work than mine)

guidance, guy dance

This flat got kudos from Bactam.

July 2008, 60. INTERLOCK (5-5)

Oh, summer is here and the weather is hot!
With ONEs on my feet I go walk on the beach.
Removing them shows the skin neath them is not
A uniform color or TWO. I beseech:
Come visit the store on the shore where I buy
The ONEs that I wear on the dunes and the pier.
It's totally ALL. There's no power line nigh.
No gas and no plumbing extends out to here,
And no other structure for almost a mile.
The shop uses solar cells; no other source
Of power's available out on the isle.
Their batteries help through the nighttime, of course.
=DUNEBUG, Saltham MA

(Base by Junebug, uncharacteristically long verse mostly by me. And yes, I wrote two "on the beach" flats for this issue. Both bases suggested it and it was for the July issue, so in season.)

stand-alone; sandal, tone

July 2008, 74. DELETION (9) (continuing the tradition of Dec. 48 and Feb. 60)

My dad, the chemist, said to me,
"You spend all day beneath that tree,
Just planting flowers in your yard.
Go get a job, it's not that hard!"
"And what of you?" I answered back.
"You're just a nerdy science hack.
You're gaga for an element!
Now there's a truly worthless bent.
So I enjoy cranesbill and oak.
But your obsession, what a joke!
You go for ONE, what useless stuff!
Of TWOs, I'll never plant enough."
=GENEJOE, Crosslem TA

(Base by Geneac, verse by me, both parts inspired by the previous flats by Ully Bird and Lirath mentioned in the tagging, which featured this father-son pair, with the father always "gaga for an element".)

germanium, geranium

July 2008, 89. BEHEADMENT (5) (thanks to Nov. 49, 2003)

Space probes have searched for signs of life on Mars.
So far, they've found no STARS of Martian TARS.
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

(While searching through past Enigmata for base ideas jotted in margins, I found this alternate answer to the flat five years earlier by Amalgam. The entire puzzle is the same except for swapping the cuewords, and of course the different answer.)

trace, race

August 2008, 9. SPOONERGRAM (*6 ^4, 2 3 4) (*6 = NI2 phrase usage)

Way up on FIRST, the lobbyist must try
To influence the laws of Boston so
That SECOND corporations at his high
But standard hourly rate, to earn his dough.
=ERJOE, Scarlem NA

(Base by Ergo, verse by me.)

Beacon Hill, he can bill

This flat got kudos from Mercury.

August 2008, 39. LETTER BANK (9, 11, *6 *7) (WEE, BIG, TEXAN) (BIG = NI3; can be sung)

She's a yellow rose from TEXAN, and her Texan heart's pure gold;
I am gray and mine is silver, like a BIG (a coin of old).
Since the two are in alloyance, we conduct a spark-filled WEE,
For our wooing is electric (as electrum ought to be).
=DEJA MHU, Saville MA

(Base by me, verse by Ucaoimhu but see the answer section below for additional notes about this flat which was in development for eight years.)

courtship, cistophorus, Corpus Christi

The combinom DEJA MHU (which is naturally pronounced the same as déjà vu) was suggested by somebody at a party Ucaoimhu and I both attended in 2000 (when Uc did not live in the Boston area but happened to be visiting). It may have been Eric's birthday party that August.

Within the next month or so I sent just "courtship, Corpus Christi" as a letter bank base for Uc to versify so we could use this combinom. (A few members know that I was born and grew up in Corpus Christi. The flat could possibly describe my parents, though the hair colors do not really match.)

That October Uc came back with a flat (also a pastiche on "The Yellow Rose of Texas") using these words and tricophorous, which I objected to on the basis of its obscurity. This word is listed in NI2 as a form as trichophore which has an extra H and thus is somewhat separated from where its derivative form would appear in the dictionary. It appears on the web mainly in word lists. I offered cistophorus as an alternative (since it is in NI3, and is the name of an ancient silver coin of some interest to collectors and historians, there are research paths to find this word other than just searching word lists for letter banks of "courtship").

Then the flat sat idle for years. I believe I brought it up again once or twice in intervening years without a response. Then after the anniversary issue project was announced, I brought it up again and Uc wrote the beautiful verse that got published.

This flat got kudos from Endgame, Hart King, and Libra, which I only deserve partial credit for due to my long memory.

August 2008, 53. PHONIGMATIC REBUS

The Democrats will soon convene to SOL Barack Obama,
And should he win, he'll have to end this long war with Osama.
=            , Salem MA

nominate (nom in eight)

This flat got kudos from Alice, Dragonfly, and Tyger.

August 2008, 57. PHONETIC FALSE MULTIPLES (6, *5, 6)

My occupation is naming the perfumes
That come from the chemistry lab at our plant.
It's not as easy as you might conjecture —
The ideas are many, but good ones are scant.
For an aroma we recently tested,
The team floated "^ALPHA" ("He'll marvel at you!").
It seemed just perfect, but then some bread company
Got a bit huffy and threatened to sue.
Next we tried "BETA" ("The scent of a monarch!"), Which felt pretty good, but it just wasn't right.
Seven more names ended up in the trash bin.
I thought that we'd be in the office all night.
Finally, someone said "^KAPPA," evoking
An image of softness and gentle caress.
This was the answer — we knew that we had it.
Our factory reeked with the smell of success.
Sometimes we triumph, and sometimes we stumble,
And sometimes the chemists bring scents that appall.
One time we even came up wuth "Absentia,"
A perfume whose odor was nothing at all.
=/dev/scarab, Salem St. MN

(Base by me, verse by Scarab)

wonder, Tudor, tender

Scarab came up with a very different idea than I had for this verse, based on a take-off of "odor" being the zero-multiple of the same form (as is clued at the end of the verse).

This flat received kudos from Aleph, Badir, Earl E. Byrd, Ergo, Tril, and WebCatt, and top kudos from Newrow.

September 2008, 25. WORD DELETION (8) (ALL AND OUTSIDE = overloaded)

In Manhattan I recently purchased an ALL AND OUTSIDE
From my favorite Krispy Kreme store. One bite . . . IN! And I sighed.
The new ban on trans fats means things just don't taste right. I 'bout died.
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

doughnut; ugh, donut

This flat received kudos from Aleph and Lyric.

September 2008, X-3. ANAQUOTE (9 3'2 3 *10 *7. 9 3'2 3 4. *4 *7)

=/dev/joe, Salem MA

Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger. Sometimes you're the ball. Dire Straits

The lyric is from their song "The Bug."

October 2008, 21. BIGRAM DELETION (7) (ONE = NI3 usage; inspired by July 119)

Sir Ballyhoo fights dragons
With his knightly sword and spear,
For those two arms are what he chose to wield.

He dons his leather ONE to give
Protection to his chest.
I TWO he's safe enough without a shield.
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

doublet, doubt

The flat this one was in response to features the same knight wearing a different leather garment which can be bigram-deleted, and this was a wrong answer I considered while solving that one.

This flat got kudos from Tyger.

October 2008, 59. PHONETIC REBUS (*5 *7) (not MW; phonetics are a bit loose)

THE SOL is seen in Narnia, Constantine,
And Vanilla Sky, all on the silver screen.
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

Tilda Swinton (tildes win tin)

Crax was generous in running this one with the "loose phonetics" tag; it's really just wrong (the "s" sound in Swinton does not match the "z" sound in tildes). But the whole concept was very cute, so it ran anyway.

Readers agreed that the cuteness overcame the phonetic inaccuracy. This flat got kudos from Earl E. Byrd and Lyric and top kudos from millirem.

February 2009, 49. ENIGMATIC REBUS (*3 *3) (not MW)

until 2009

Silent movie star,
He died in nineteen forty.
Rest in peace, COWBOY.
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

Tom Mix (to MMIX)

I meant to submit this for the January 2009 issue, but forgot about it. When, to my surprise, nobody used the base in January, I wrote it up for February.

This flat got kudos from Askew, Dragonfly, and Mercury.

WARNING, it's another one of those Ralfs. This one is not that hard, but it seriously strains the concept of a false flat.

April 2009, R-8. FALSE ONLINE VIRGIN BIRTH (7, *7)

Higgledy piggledy,
Stopped writing essays and
Went out to sea.

He saw MADONNAs there.
Women with fishy tails?
How could it be?

mermaid, Emerson (E- prefix indicating the online nature, and the switch from maid (i.e. supposedly a virgin) to son indicating a virgin birth)

This flat got kudos from CipherStomp and Wampahoofus.

April 2009, 48. REBUS (7) (can be sung)

Grey Lab'rinth is the place to be.
Puzzle solving is the life for me.
Code cracking makes me feel so bright.
Keep those Kenkens, just give me that great website.

Those crosswords I can barely do.
At Grey Labyrinth, I've no clue.
Paragraph puzzles confound me too.
I'm stuck on this stumper, give me a SOL or two.
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

inkling (ink L in G)

This is a pastiche of the "Green Acres" theme song (though I left out the last little bit), revising it to be a sort of an ad for Grey Labyrinth. And it's a response flat, too! It was inspired by March 20, another rebus with a big G in the rubric. In this case, the answer is somewhat related but the verse is completely different from the verse of the flat that was my inspiration.

This flat got kudos from CipherStomp and Lirath.

August 2009, 66. FREEWHEELING DELETION (5 4, 8) (in response to May 41)

Raised in a bowl, now under the stars,
Aquarium fish swim free from jars.
Upon the shore, a stone lion peers.
From its mouth, a stream appears.
Lily pads float; upon them frogs hop.
My PAINT, you see, has PINTs on top.
=/dev/joe, Salem, MA

tetra pond, tetrapod

The flat this was based on had the solution "water lily, waterily"

This flat got kudos from Munro and Serendipity.

August 2009, X-3. CRYPTIC DOUBLE-CROSTIC by GROUJO, Cliffsalem Park NA.

As it says, this was a cryptic double-crostic I co-wrote with Groucho. (Sorry, it's not included on this page.) It got kudos from Askew, Bactam, Dada, Dee Sweet, Dragonfly, (e)met, and Marcus Asparagus.

September 2009, CF-25. THIRD-LETTER CHANGE (6)

Even if you're
The LIKE of space
And time, and more,
You still must face
The facts of LIFE,
'Cause everything
Is made of LIFE.
It's the real thing!
=/dev/joe, Salem, MA

The theme for this year's con flat competition was slogans. Every verse had to end with one.

master, matter

October 2009, 51. ENIGMATIC REBUS (8)

=/dev/joe, Salem, MA

stalking (reading: S talking)

March 2010, 49. TRIANAGRAM & ANTIGRAM (3 [*3 *7] *6)

=/dev/joe, Salem, MA

Each line is an anagram of the answer (the last one untrue).

The New Orleans Saints

There is a bit of a tradition of submitting anagrams of the names of championship teams. The Saints had just won the Super Bowl when this was submitted.

This flat received kudos from andma-Gray/turk.

March 2011, 6. QUANTUM PHONETIC BEHEADMENT (<7>, 8; <7>, 7) (stress shifts for EIGHT; SEVEN = inferable)

Morris, 22, has trained for nine years.
Many different EIGHT have helped him master
Leaping every hurdle as it appears,
Running 'tween them faster, ever faster.

Competition day is here; the venue's
Decked out very QUANTUM. Waiting for his
Heat, he fidgets SEVEN, watching men use
Skills they must have practiced just like Morris.
=VRA/JOE, Millem NA

This was a combiflat with Vraal, who supplied part of the base.

fancily, ancillae; fancily, antsily

When Vraal told me he had a phonetic beheadment base on fancily, I thought the other half was going to be antsily, but he had the less common word ancillae that he'd just seen used somewhere. When I found that both were 11C-valid phonetic beheadments, but based on different pronunciations, I realized I had found a quantum flat base. Per 11C, fancily is pronounced \'fan(t) sə' lē\ where the (t) indicates an optional t sound. Antsily has the t sound; ancillae doesn't.

June 2011. Hidden contest results

This is not a puzzle, but my entry to a hidden contest in the April 2011 issue. The examples of a mosaicquote and shuffled quote which appeared in the puzzle notes claimed to have the same solutions as the ones usually printed there, but they were actually different puzzles and their solutions revealed a hidden contest which required writing a haiku to enter. The rather factual one I wrote was:

In the puzzle notes
in April's issue I found
the hidden contest.

Convention 2011 cryptic.

This cryptic was written for a special cryptic-constructing and solving event. The solving took place at the 2011 NPL convention. These mini-cryptics were not reprinted in the Enigma, but you can see my puzzle (as it appeared at the convention) here.



  1. T(IRE)OUT
  2. GRAD/GRAND [extra N]
  3. A(NO)A
  4. O + EATER [extra E]
  5. HEIR/THEIR [extra T]
  6. SKEW (R)
  7. [M->F]ELON
  8. TOGA*
  9. AN(A)T
  10. T(OR)RENT


  1. IRAN*
  2. EDEN (H)
  3. [T]HUNDER [extra H]
  4. TONI*
  5. PA(Y) RENT
  7. LET GO* [extra A]
  8. "KNOT" [naught]
  9. BEAR* [extra C]
  10. MOAN* [extra K]

The extra letters spell NETHACK, a roguelike game where everything is represented by ASCII characters. Your character is usually an at sign, which is the shape formed in the grid by the shaded squares.

It is not necessary for solving, but there are a number of Nethack-themed words in the clues (lava, ring, kobold, gold, rolling boulder, rope, ghost), answers (bear), and wordplay (ant).


"Hey, Charlie, look! We found a map!
A map to CANDY Mountain. Now
Let's take a trip to CANDY Moun-
Tain. Come on, Charlie, you old cow!"
"All right, I'll go." "Yippee! Hooray!"
And so this troupe set out to find
A mountain made of CANDY. First
They had to cross a bridge. Behind
The other unicorns' backs, Char-
Lie said, "I know there's really not
A CANDY Mountain. It would melt.
The sun would melt it. It's too hot!
And all that would be left would be
A pond of milk. And where would so
Much milk be, anyway?" "I heard
That! There's a mile still left to go."
And soon the group arrived. "It's real!
There really is a mountain made
Of CANDY!" Charlie cried. Around
The mountain's base they found was laid
A lot of AND, big piles of rocks:
All sizes, pebbles, stones, and boul-
Ders, "Yum! The AND is made of CAN-
DY!" Now they all enjoyed their goal.
=/dev/joe, Salem, MA

The theme for this year's con flat competition was simply food.

ice cream, scree

This flat was based on the video Charlie the Unicorn Goes to Candy Mountain. I am not a huge fan of the video, but when I put this base together, thinking about scree made of ice cream was only a small leap from a candy mountain, and so there it was. This verse is longer then most of my verses, but I was having fun giving a synopsis of the entire video (except its ending) in my verse, while still fitting in the clues.

This flat got kudos from Tyger.

August 2014, CF-21. FIRST-LETTER CHANGE (*5, *5) (neither MW)

There was once a man from Nantucket.
A cabinet member, John BUCKET
Was recently senator, loser
To Bush in '04. On a cruiser
He served in the sixties. And TUCKET
Was also a man from Nantucket.
A Stiller, and father to Ben, he
Portrayed Frank Costanza. And when he
Was done with that role he appeared (Oh!)
On King of Queens as a real weirdo.
=/dev/joe, Salem MA

The theme for this year's con flat competition was to make a pastiche on any well-known poem. (More on this in the answer section.)

Kerry, Jerry

This had to be a pastiche on any well-known poem. I chose the Nantucket limerick, which exists in several forms but usually ends with the f-word in the final line, and wrote a clean poem actually about men from Nantucket. Unbeknownst to me, Neendy also submitted a flat which was a completely different pastiche of the Nantucket limerick.

September 2014, 61. ANAGRAM

=/dev/joe, Salem MA

This flat received kudos from Tyger.

October 2014, 61. REVERSED DELETION (6)

Oh, what to eat for breakfast? Go try YUM!
That fruity grainy cereal's good for your
Digestive tract from your duodenum
to your MY. Hang on a sec, I want some more!
=/dev/joe, Salem MA
muesli, ileum

This flat received kudos from NJ Ninja and R/EDS.

Ralf alert! You really need to know how flats work and the types of flats that exist in order to have a chance at this one. Explanation accompanies the answer.

April 2015, R-4. : ) (8) (8, D)
     8 (5) (:-), )-:) ()-: = not MW)
     :-) (10) ())

partial B, P, or R, plus MNT

     )-: (10 (:)


A lot of D
Is in the sea.
=RPO, Jove DE

This flat was inspired by the addition of emoticons as words in the Oxford English Dictionary.

All the cue words in this flat are emoticons or parts of emoticons. In addition, all the flat types have been replaced by cue words. In each line at the top, except for the centered lines containing rubrics, there is a flat type replaced by a cue word, an enumeration in parentheses, and a tag indicating which cue word(s) replace the answer(s) to this flat, with an additional tag indicating the non-MW status of one of the answers in the second line. The answers are:

8 = reversal

D = sal (defined in 11C as salt)

:-) = rebus

:-( = suber

) = beheadment

: = palindrome

So the four flats are:
a palindrome beheadment (reversal, sal)
a reversal (rebus, suber)
a rebus (beheadment, read as "be head, M, en, T" where be head is the top half of a letter B)
a suber (palindrome, read as "em or D, nil, a P"; note that / is "used to mean or" per 11C's signs and symbols section and the fourth character of the rubric is a zero)

In addition to all this, note that the cuewords for the reversal are actually reversals.

This flat received kudos from Alice, Hot, and Treesong, and top kudos from Wordsmix.

August 2015, FB-12. FIFTH-TO-FOURTH CHANGEOVER (6, /3/3) (NOM = /3/3 = not MW)

At Con you meet your follow Krewe
At last. That's when you find
That no one ends up looking like
The picture in your mind.
Take me: before we met I bet
You never would have guessed
That I coould WORD such effort that
My nom could fit a base the best.
=NOM, Recouvery BC

This flat was part of the First Base event at this year's convention in which the first six lines of the verse (except for the last word of the 6th) were supplied, and attendees were challenged to write a flat using their nom and any other word(s) as bases, with the clue words for these other words to appear in the remainder of the verse they wrote.

devote, /dev/joe

November 2015, CF-5.


The marvels of positive and negative space!
What's this? Do I see an ACE?
Or is there a BASE?
Or are there two?
Both things can
be seen, it's true.
What shall I do?
Is this verse
part of the
neck of a fine
ACE or is it
only the space
between two
noses and two
pairs of lips? Between both it
flips. Staring at this, how my brain trips.

=/dev/joe, Salem MA

This convention flat was written for an event based on concrete poetry (where the words are arranged in a shape which is thematic).

vase, face

This flat received kudos from DelphiRune.

August 2016, 26. DOUBLE-CROSS (6, 9, 9, 6)

Oh, too much chocolate ONE is bad for you.
It's not that you might get some in your THREE.
A life of rich desserts will send (boo hoo!)
You early to the FOUR. But docs agree
That you can eat like that sometimes, so do
Not get TWO from having none. Live free!
=/dev/joe, Salem MA
mousse, heartache, moustache, hearse

Kudos pending.

June 2008 X-6 and August 2009 X-3 (cryptic double crostics with Groucho) to be added

2016 con flat submission, Kudos for my August 2016 double cross, and October 2016 miniganza puzzle to be added.

Many thanks to the editors: Xemu, Saxifrage, Crax, and Teki for flats, Fuldu for crypts, Hot and Trazom for cryptics, Vroo for extras. Uncanny and Saxifrage handled submissions for con flats, and t mcay for the con cryptic. All the editors have made minor changes to my puzzles to help in cluing, meter, etc. and it is appreciated. Fuldu wrote the titles for my crypts. Also thanks to my combiflatters for writing bases, verses, or whatever it is that you wrote. And thanks also to the other editors who didn't happen to be editing when I submitted stuff, and to all the Krewe for making the NPL what it is.