Pathfinder Crossword

Pathfinder Crosswords, also called Pipe Dream Crosswords, are a type of Crossword variant, in which answers are given a particular starting point within a grid, but can travel along orthogonally connected paths throughout the grid.

Background[edit | edit source]

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Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]

Pathfinder crosswords are very distinct from regular crosswords in two primary ways. First, their numbering system: a Pathfinder crossword does not usually number all available locations for entries in the same way that a normal crossword does. Instead, it picks specific locations within the grid that words can start from. These may be at the beginning of a row or column, but they could very easily appear in the middle or at the end of one as well. The other primary difference is in how the puzzle's entries are entered. While normal crosswords are limited to Across and Down, Pathfinders can use any cardinal or ordinal direction, usually providing an initial direction for a clue to travel and then allowing for further direction changes afterwards.

As a result of the wider range of movement for entries, there needs to be a lot more careful planning in order to ensure that letters are cross-checked properly, regardless of how erratic particular paths may end up being.

A common element of pathfinder crosswords is a limit on how often and how drastically entries can change their movement once they've left their origin cell. For example, a puzzle may establish that entries will make exactly one 90-degree turn each before terminating.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

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Notable Examples[edit | edit source]

  • The Path of the Argo (MITMH 2002) (web) - A relatively straightforward Pathfinder, with no restrictions on the number of turns that can be made. However, due to the structure of the grid, there are only a few options for paths to take, since diagonals aren't available at all.
  • Pipe Dream (MITMH 2006) (web) - A twist on a Pathfinder puzzle, in that the puzzle provides options for paths that can be taken by way of red and black 'pipes' in the puzzle's background.
  • When All is Lost (MITMH 2021) (web) - A rare Pathfinder crossword taking place on a hexagonal grid, with the added challenge of being a variety cryptic at that.

See Also[edit | edit source]