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Skeleton Crosswords And Symmetry

Skeleton crosswords are one of the hardest puzzles there are, and certainly one of the hardest crossword variants - probably alongside the cryptic crossword with the specialist solving skills that puzzle requires.

Like the cryptic crossword, one's ability to solve skeleton crosswords starts off fairly limited, but is built up over time as you learn the tips and techniques necessary to solve them.

One of the most crucial things to understand with skeleton crosswords is that the grids usually exhibit symmetry, and this symmetry can be used to help you solve the puzzle a lot more easily. This is because symmetries put in place certain restrictions as to how a grid must look in a way that an unsymmetrical grid does not. Using and understanding this is one of the keys to solving skeleton crosswords.

So, what type of symmetry do crossword grids exhibit? Well it does vary from grid to grid, but on Wordy Puzzle which is clearly what we're focused on here, they exhibit the most standard rotational symmetry that appears in nearly all crossword grids.

If you are unsure what this means, or find it hard to visualise the rotation in your head, then here is what it means mathematically:

Imagine we have a 10 x 10 puzzle to make the numbering very simple. If square 1 (row 1, col 1) is black, then so almost must be square 100 (row 10, col 10) in order to preserve the symmetry. Likewise if square 2 is white, then square 99 must be white to.

So when you are given information at the start of the grid about certain black squares and certain clue squares, you can use this elsewhere in the grid to make more deductions. In many cases, if you are given 6 pieces of information at the start of the grid, then there are 6 other squares you can mark as a result.

Your solving notation is useful too - clearly if you know where a black square is, then mark it: if you know a square must be white, or it contains an answer in other words, then you will want to mark this too. On paper many people put a dot in a square to mark it, and indeed you might wish to do the same with the online solver here at Wordy Puzzle too so you know that it must be an answer letter square, then fill it in accordingly when you know what it must be.
Date written: 01 Apr 2015

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