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  • Writer's pictureLyle Broughton

It's Topple Time! - Themeless #4

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

I've had this puzzle completed and ready to go since September, waiting on the all-clear to reveal the big news. Finally, today is the day.

For those who aren't familiar, in my non-crossword life, I'm a professional chain reaction artist. I've been building machines for my YouTube channel, jackofallspades98, for over 8 years, and now that I'm out of college, I'm pivoting toward making it my job. Over my career, I've already done paid projects for Sylvania, Avis, Disney, and Gillette. But the announcement revealed in this puzzle is bigger than anything I've ever done...


As for the puzzle itself, I'm extremely proud of it. I had the idea to reveal this secret to the crossword community via a puzzle since very early on, but for such a special occasion, I knew the puzzle had to be something I was really proud of. And I think I accomplished that. This puzzle has not been playtested (for obvious reasons), so (as always but especially this time) let me know if there's anything in need of fixing! I hope you love solving this just as much as I loved making it!


Finally, as is customary in my puzzles apparently, I conclude this write-up by telling you to go check out some Thing I reference in one of the clues. This time, it's 35A; here's the origin story. (SPOILERS, obviously).

It's Topple Time!
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-SPOILERS-

The seed entry was (obviously) DOMINO MASTERS right through the center row, a convenient 13 letters. It was the perfect opportunity to try my very first center stair-stack, and, as it turns out, DOMINO MASTERS is a very friendly entry to work with, since it's mostly very common letters, and almost entirely consonant-vowel alternation. That flexibility allowed me to get away with JULYSIXTH PARK below it, an entry with entirely opposite properties: J, X, and K, plus the absolutely unhinged letter sequence of XTHP.


WE HAVE FUN HERE was a recent addition to my wordlist that I love, and sticking it on the top of the staircase seemed to play nicely and form workable letter sequences going down. ...FAH and VOX... were pretty limiting, so LOOFAH and VOXELS (eventually changed to VOX POP) were next to get fixed in place. Adding a block after ANI? also enabled TRACKMANIA, which was enough to completely win me over. It was at this point that I had confidence that the rest of the grid could be filled:

Of course, the exact arrangement of black squares in the NW / SE corners wasn't set in stone, and I did in fact play around with many different arrangements, but the layout in the above sketch just happened to actually provide the best results.


Interestingly, this puzzle actually came quite close to being a pangram, missing only the Q. Thanks in no small part to the central stack, which takes care of V, J, X, and K!

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