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Tips On Solving A-Z Puzzles

Every A-Z puzzle starts the same: with a completed crossword grid, save for the small matter of 26 squares being blank, and you as the solver must decide which letter from A-Z fits in each empty square, with the important caveat that each letter appears exactly once in the grid.

The best thing to do in order to solve an A-Z puzzle is to scan the grid, and look for the easy pickings: there will always be some placements, and at times a significant number, where there is only one option for a valid word to be formed, and so those letters can be placed in by you the solver. Remember that each letter can only appear once, so where you have a word with multiple blanks and there is a word that fits that perhaps has an E in TWO of the blanks, note that word cannot be placed here as it would break the key rule.

As you start picking off the low hanging fruit, the player tool will automatically cross off the letters that you have used, to save you keeping track of it in your head. Knowing which letters you have placed and haven't placed is the key to solving A-Z puzzles, as there will be several words that have multiple options initially. By narrowing down the options you whittle down what can be placed in each of those, until you may be left with only one option.

Scan all runs of the grid if you are still unsure and try not to guess, in most A-Z puzzles there will be a run somewhere with only one option.

As you come towards the end of the solve, you are often left with just the less frequent letters, so if the word doesn't pop out to you and you have, say, four letters left, it is viable to go through each option in your head and see if any of them are words: if there is just one word, then that's what your answer.

And how about the last word in? If it has just one letter, then congratulations, place the final letter left and you've solved the puzzle! But quite often, you'll find the final word is the one you had least information about to start with, and so it might have two or three letters that are blank. In this instance you are left with essentially an anagram, and so should solve it like any other anagram in order to find what the final word is and complete the A-Z puzzle successfully.
Date written: 02 Apr 2015



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