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This question is part of the best-puzzle award series.


What are your nominations for the best puzzles, here on Puzzling.SE, of the first quarter ( January / February / March ) 2020?


Suggested guidelines for nomination:

  • Nominate each individual puzzle in a separate answer, so they can be upvoted/downvoted separately.

  • No more than 3 nominations per person.

  • Don't nominate your own puzzles.

  • Before you nominate a puzzle, check to see if someone else has already nominated it. If they have, then add to that nomination as a comment (or edit it) instead of nominating the same puzzle again.

  • In your nomination, explain what it is that (in your opinion) makes the nominated puzzle such a good one.


Some lists to help jog your memory (your nomination doesn't have to be from these lists):

Algorithmically selected "best of":

Best by votes/views:


Meta-meta issues:

  • Is this kind of thing allowed on SE?

  • What's the point?

  • To highlight and encourage good practice in a way that goes beyond upvotes.

  • To work towards building a 'hall of fame' of some of the best puzzles on the site (perhaps to reside on a future puzzling.SE blog) - think of it as our 'greatest hits album'.

  • To prompt members to put forward their own reflections on what makes a high-quality puzzle.

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Up, down, left, right by jafe

Cryptic crosswords tend to be very divisive - many people don't understand them or see them as the preserve of faux-intellectuals, whilst there are others who like nothing better than having their brain twisted into knots by complex wordplay and abstract thought processes. You might think there aren't many ways that a cryptic crossword can be made even trickier and yet remain solvable - but that's what @jafe has been doing for the best part of a year, producing quality cryptic crosswords week-in-week-out, many of them with an additional twist on the genre. We've seen themed crosswords, printer's devilry, some very clever misdirection within individual clues... and then this puzzle went and took it up yet another notch...!

Here's a crossword...

With rotational symmetry...

And cryptic clues...

Where the answers are not in English...

...but in four different European languages...

(None of which are the OP's native tongue)...

And some of them are written backwards.

I could have picked any number of @jafe's cryptics to nominate for this series, but solving this one felt like a genuine achievement and I can only imagine how hard it was to create something that adhered to all of the restrictions I've listed above. Such an impressive piece of puzzle art.

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The calamitous Captain Clumsy by Stiv

I simply loved this puzzle. It had an enigmatic presentation, but not so enigmatic that you couldn't get started. There was grid deduction, there was encoding that required several layers of interpretation. And then a final cipher at the end? Brilliant! Just the amount of craft that went into this puzzle was astonishing.

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