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Out of Left Field

Cryptic Crosswords
by Joshua Kosman and Henri Picciotto

Welcome to the home of Kosman and Picciotto's weekly cryptic crossword

Our puzzles, formerly in The Nation, are now available by subscription on the Patreon site. The first puzzle of this weekly series dropped on April 2, 2020.


Subscribers receive

  • a new cryptic crossword every Thursday in PDF and (usually) PUZ format, along with solutions and a running commentary on cryptic conventions and controversies
  • a postmortem about the previous week's puzzle every Monday, responding to solvers' questions and quibbles
  • the option to participate in a clue-writing challenge and to comment on the day's posts on our host's website

What the experts say

Veteran cryptic constructors Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon: "Even if the country boasted a hundred different weekly cryptic crosswords, Kosman and Picciotto's puzzle would stand out. It flies its own flag and pipes its own tune. It makes the world less dreary and more cheery."

Crossword constructor Brendan Emmett Quigley: "When you’ve got maestros like Kosman and Picciotto on your home team, you’re in good hands. You want humor? You got it. Themes? Naturally! New standards in cryptic forms? Damn right. Put it this way: I know these guys, they’re okay."

Eight times finalist in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Al Sanders: "I’ve done hundreds of the Kosman and Picciotto cryptics in The Nation and in their Out of Left Field series. I find theirs to be the most inventive and creative standard American cryptics out there. They are hands down my favorite."

See below for sample puzzles, including our last Nation puzzle and its solution.


Cryptics: How To

An introduction to this style of puzzle, excerpted from Word Salad:
Solving Cryptic Crosswords

An animated slide show, with examples.

Cryptic Crossword Constructors' Glossary


An e-book:

Word Salad is the most comprehensive guide to cryptic crosswords ever published in the United States. The main part of the e-book consists of dozens of chapters on cryptic clueing, and includes hundreds of examples. Those chapters are preceded by a big-picture introduction, and followed by a tour of the cryptic scene in North America and the debates that liven it up. The intended audience ranges from the cryptic newbie to the seasoned constructor.

Check out the table of contents.

Will Shortz, crossword editor for the New York Times and public radio’s puzzlemaster: “Solving cryptic crosswords is one of the joys of my life, and I don’t know of any better or more entertaining introduction to the puzzle than this book.”

Word Salad is available in an e-book format (epub) which you can read on just about any computer, tablet, or phone.

You can purchase it here.


Our Puzzle Books

(The puzzles we created after leaving The Nation are not available in book form. They are available to our subscribers.)

Our Nation cryptic crosswords are collected in six books: Out of Left Field 1-6. These puzzles preceded our subscription service, and they are not available on Patreon. You can purchase the books from Cryptic All-Stars.

front-cover-1 front-cover-2 front-cover-3
front-cover-4 front-cover-5

Three-time winner of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and virtuoso crossword constructor Trip Payne: "I thoroughly enjoyed Out of Left Field #2; not only were there many new discoveries and clever clues, but I was impressed at the number of ways the puzzles innovated within the cryptic structure. One of my favorite puzzle books in years."

Humorist Ellis Weiner: "Gents, I've almost finished Book 3. 'Pace yourself.' I AM. Still. They're so great, I can't stop. Therefore kindly have Book 4 available by end of business one week from today. Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Yrs., etc.,"

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can get Out of Left Field 1-5, e-books consisting of 20 puzzles each (via the Puzzazz app, which is available free on the App Store. The app is great for beginners, as it provides excellent hints. These are the same crosswords as in the first two hard-copy books above.)

ebook 1 ebook 2 ebook-3
ebook 4 ebook 5


jk hp

About Us

Joshua Kosman is the classical music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Henri Picciotto is a math educator. Visit his Math Education Page, and his Puzzle Page, where he shares many variety cryptic crosswords.

Together, we edited hundreds of cryptic crosswords for the National Puzzlers League's monthly magazine The Enigma, from 1996 to 2011. Some of the best among those puzzles are in the book National Puzzlers' League Cryptic Crosswords (edited by Joshua Kosman and Henri Picciotto; Random House, November 2005 — now available for free on the NPL Web site.)

cryptics book

From June 2011 to March 2020, we co-constructed the cryptic crossword in The Nation magazine. (All of those puzzles are collected in our books — see above.)


Sample Puzzles

From The Nation (PDF):
A puzzle from Book 1
A puzzle from Book 2
A puzzle from Book 3
A puzzle from Book 4
A puzzle from Book 5
Our last Nation puzzle and its solution

From our Out of Left Field subscription service:
#19: .pdf | .puz
#41: .pdf | .puz

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