Sympathy Tutorial

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3.1 Introduction

In the third tutorial module, we will compile a barred cryptic puzzle with a novel shape. This module builds on the general techniques learned in the first two modules and introduces some Sympathy features used primarily for thematic puzzles based on barred grids.

As in Module 1, the first stage in creating a thematic puzzle is to find a suitable idea. A diamond could make an interesting grid shape and looking up diamond in a dictionary of quotations reveals a well-known nursery rhyme that might make a good puzzle theme:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky!

We could implement this theme in a number of ways. One possibility is to reveal part of the verse to the solver using a cluing gimmick, such as Letters Latent; one or more answers in the grid could be left unclued, to be entered by the solver when they've understood the theme. The title could be chosen to give a misleading hint to the theme, for example Scintillating.

The size of the puzzle will be dictated by the length of the text used for the cluing gimmick. The last line of 20 letters might be suitable for a small tutorial example. If we made LITTLE STAR an unclued light that would necessitate a grid of 21 lights in all.

If the grid is to be symmetrical, an odd number of rows or columns will be required for that number of lights. Since a diamond is usually shown taller than it is wide, we will create the grid based on an overall size of 11 rows by 10 columns (allowing LITTLE STAR to appear as a full-width across light). The diamond outline can be achieved by leaving the corner squares unused and displaying them as "holes" rather than black blocks.

In the next step we will begin constructing the crossword by creating a new empty grid with the overall size we require.

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