Fiction Editor Michael Griffith has been pitting himself against “puzzles,” as he calls them, for years. One might say he started with a puzzle passion, spending entire weekends with pen perched over a creased newspaper page. His preoccupation only grew until, when asked a question, he found himself responding with a crossword clue (“Six letters, starts with a B. Another word for nonsense”). He moonlighted at the hardware store just so he could lay out ladders in varying configurations and stand over them, staring, while delicately adjusting his glasses. One day, when instead of making his next chess move, he began filling in the board with a Sharpie, realization struck: He could make his own puzzle. A puzzling one. That would . . . puzzle people. He sequestered himself in his “man turret” (third-floor office) and days later emerged with a hand-drawn diagram of interlacing black and white squares. We persuaded him to let us present it to our readership, so as to keep you all occupied this week while we’re stuffing our winter issue into envelope after envelope after envelope. To download and print Michael Griffith’s Crossword Challenge, click here. Bonus: The first person to send us a scan of the correctly completed puzzle will receive a free issue. And no worries if you can’t crack the code: At the end of the week, we’ll post the key.

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