Some Assembly Required (Crossword Type)

Some Assembly Required crosswords or SARs are a crossword puzzle variant involving blank grids and a mix of 'row' and 'piece' clues. Instead of numbers within the grid to indicate where non-row entries go, solvers are either given a set of jigsaw pieces to write them into, or simply told to spot the answers in the grid after solving the row clues.

Background[edit | edit source]

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Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]

Some Assembly Required puzzles straddle the line between regular and diagramless crosswords, providing just enough structure (and not enough eventual black squares) to distance themselves from diagramlesses, but not enough structure to call themselves 'normal'. Depending on the difficulty intended for a puzzle, they may be presented in one of two different ways.

For an easier SAR puzzle, a writer may choose to provide row clues, piece clues, and a set of numbered pieces, allowing solvers to create a set of puzzle pieces that can be overlaid on the grid wherever the row clues make them appear. This method provides an amount of certainty and cross-checking right off of the bat, since solvers know that unless extra twists are involved every letter will be double-checked and piece entries will always be found in a specific arrangement. It also provides a secondary way to approach the puzzle, allowing solvers to focus entirely on the pieces and form the final grid by logic alone (assuming the pieces only have one way to form the given grid.

Alternatively, writers may choose to simply provide solvers with a list of piece clues with no numbers and no pieces at all. In these cases, solvers have to use logic and observation in order to spot where the piece clues are within the grid after filling in the row clues. These versions are much more popular in the MIT Mystery Hunt, as they require much more work from the solver in order to divide up the grid, something that is usually key in extracting a final answer.

Of course, there are middle grounds for these, such as providing unnumbered pieces/clues, so that they have to be placed by length and by spotting them in the grid, but these are much less common than the two extremes.

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Strategy[edit | edit source]

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Notable Examples[edit | edit source]

Played Straight[edit | edit source]

  • Picture Puzzle 2 (MITMH 2010) (web) - One of the more difficult versions of a SAR puzzle, Picture Puzzle 2 (like its predecessor Picture Puzzle) had no pre-cut jigsaw pieces to place into the grid. However, each 'piece' clue was still numbered, allowing solvers to assign numbers to each 'piece' they cut out of the grid themselves, something that would come in quite handy as part of the extraction process.
  • Voltaik Bio-Electric Cell (MITMH 2018) (web) - A rare case of a puzzle providing clues and pieces, but no numbers. This could be explained partially by the puzzle's status as a Metapuzzle, replacing row clues with feeder answers, but it was still a unique way to approach the puzzle type.

Notable Twists[edit | edit source]

  • Build Your Own Acrostic (MITMH 2011) (web) - As the name suggests, this was kind of a build-your-own-puzzle, but it was really more of a Some Assembly Required, but reskinned as an Acrostic rather than a crossword, making solvers arrange chunks of an acrostic into a viable grid. Sure, it was helped significantly by the clues still having the proper number order even though the pieces didn't, but it was still a unique take on a SAR puzzle.
  • Sage Advice (MITMH 2019) (web) - Most SAR puzzles use square grids, to make it easier to show the turns clues make within their pieces. This one instead used a circular arrangement of pentagonal white cells and trapezoidal black cells. Thankfully, solvers were also given a reference image so they didn't have to visualize what the final product would look like AND were given numbered clues and pieces.
  • Narnia Beeswax (MITMH 2022) (web) - Similar to Sage Advice, this puzzle messed with the standard look of a Some Assembly Required grid, this time turning it into hexagons. Notably, rather than giving the clues in a big list, solvers were given pieces that were fully numbered (1 for the first letter, 2 for the next, etc.) AND had their clues directly attached to them!

See Also[edit | edit source]