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Introduction To Every Letter Counts Puzzles

Every letter counts is a version of the crossword puzzle created here at Wordy Puzzle, so you won't have come across it before (unless someone else has come up with the same idea elsewhere).

The aim of the every letter counts puzzle is to solve a crossword with a twist. It is a much smaller crossword than normal, for a very good reason: every letter given underneath the puzzle only appears in the grid a single time. Clearly this means that the largest possible crossword puzzle of the every letter counts type would contain 26 letters, and with the various crossovers needed to make a valid grid, there would be many less white squares than that.

Our every letter counts puzzles take place on either a 4x4 or 5x5 grid. They list the letters that appear in each puzzle underneath the grid for your reference whilst solving them.

This is a novelty variant of the crossword, and should be easier to solve than a standard puzzle, as you will often have very few letters to choose from, particularly after solving a couple of clues, and of course the grid being so small makes them a lot quicker to solve too.

Interestingly it can therefore play quite differently to a normal crossword. For instance, the final clue can always be solved as a simple anagram of the remaining letters. Also, due to the restrictions of the letters each occurring just once, answers need only share one letter with other answers in many cases whilst still leading to a unique solution (this is not always the case, but usually is). This again is because the restriction of using each letter just once means that placing the wrong word for one answer will impact every other answer in the grid. In contrast this only occurs with answers that share letters in a standard crossword, but in every letter counts, each answer has an impact on possible words for every other answer in the grid, due to the removal of possible letters for each other answer.

It would be interesting to find out how many letters could fit into a valid every letter counts puzzle - at a guess the limit would be something like 22 unique letters but it would surely be impossible to fit every single letter of the alphabet into a valid every letter counts grid!

What do you think of every letter counts puzzles: do you find them interesting to solve, or too easy / quick because of the restriction imposed on only being able to use each letter once? Are there variants on this puzzle type you would be interested in seeing, perhaps, such as each letter occurring twice, or would that be too confusing - please do share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Date written: 22 Mar 2015

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