We consider different ways to count the number of clues in American-style crossword puzzle grids. One yields a basic parity result for symmetric square grids. Another works efficiently even for non-symmetric grids that are already numbered. We further discuss the upper limit on the number of clues in a crossword puzzle with no 2-letter answers, and open questions are given. As a bonus, a mathematically-themed crossword puzzle is included!

A commonly occurring task in intelligence tests or recreational riddles is to “find the odd one out”, that is, to determine a unique element of a set of objects that is somehow special. It is somewhat arbitrary what exactly the relevant feature is that makes one object different. But once that is settled, the answer becomes obvious. Not so with a puzzle popularized by Tanya Khovanova to express her dislike for this type of puzzle. Here, it is a more complicated relation between the objects and the features that determines the odd object, because there is only one object that does not have a unique feature expression. This puzzle inspired me to look for even more complicated relations between objects, features and feature expressions that appear to be even more symmetric, but actually still single out a “special object”. This paper provides useful definitions, a theoretical basis, solution algorithms, and several examples for this kind of puzzle.

A magic SET square is a 3 by 3 table of SET cards such that each row, column, diagonal, and anti-diagonal is a set. We allow the following transformations of the square: shuffling features, shuffling values within the features, rotations and reflections of the square. Under these transformations, there are 21 types of magic SET squares. We calculate the number of squares of each type. In addition, we discuss a game of SET tic-tac-toe.

We consider different ways to count the number of clues in American-style crossword puzzle grids. One yields a basic parity result for symmetric square grids. Another works efficiently even for non-symmetric grids that are already numbered. We further discuss the upper limit on the number of clues in a crossword puzzle with no 2-letter answers, and open questions are given. As a bonus, a mathematically-themed crossword puzzle is included!

A commonly occurring task in intelligence tests or recreational riddles is to “find the odd one out”, that is, to determine a unique element of a set of objects that is somehow special. It is somewhat arbitrary what exactly the relevant feature is that makes one object different. But once that is settled, the answer becomes obvious. Not so with a puzzle popularized by Tanya Khovanova to express her dislike for this type of puzzle. Here, it is a more complicated relation between the objects and the features that determines the odd object, because there is only one object that does not have a unique feature expression. This puzzle inspired me to look for even more complicated relations between objects, features and feature expressions that appear to be even more symmetric, but actually still single out a “special object”. This paper provides useful definitions, a theoretical basis, solution algorithms, and several examples for this kind of puzzle.

A magic SET square is a 3 by 3 table of SET cards such that each row, column, diagonal, and anti-diagonal is a set. We allow the following transformations of the square: shuffling features, shuffling values within the features, rotations and reflections of the square. Under these transformations, there are 21 types of magic SET squares. We calculate the number of squares of each type. In addition, we discuss a game of SET tic-tac-toe.