Cross the Streams (Audiobook) by Grant Fikes

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Editor’s Note: It seems a lot of people aren’t taking us seriously this week, as if our April 1st announcement of a puzzle app combining TomTom with 2048 and Threes! was just a joke. Today’s puzzle actually grew out of a past April 1st announcement that led to a real audiobook deal for our Grandmaster titles. This puzzle is a sample from Grant Fikes’ upcoming Cross the Streams audiobook. Listen carefully or you won’t be able to solve the puzzle.

or Click here to download the audio file.

The following grid may be helpful to keep in mind (or actually on paper in front of you):

Cross The Streams by Grant Fikes

PDF

Theme: Asterisk, Asterisk, Asterisk, ***

Rules: Standard Cross the Streams rules. Also, (as transcribed from the audio file): “You will hear the clues read to you, first the across clues (starting with the topmost row and moving towards the bottom) and then the down clues (starting with the leftmost column and moving towards the right). In this beautiful 10×10 puzzle, called “Asterisk, Asterisk, Asterisk”, grandmaster Grant Fikes has challenged the normal conventions of Cross the Streams, sometimes having two or more consecutive asterisks in a single row or column.”

Answer String: Enter the length in cells of each of the black segments from top to bottom for the marked columns, going in order from A to B to C to D and separating each entry with a comma.

Time Standards (highlight to view): Grandmaster = 7:00, Master = 12:00, Expert = 24:00

  • Jack Bross says:

    Sort of felt like doing a diagramless crossword.
    A fun end to a memorable perverse week of puzzles.

    (Now I have to go watch the Patreon video walkthrough by Grant, mostly for entertainment value)

    • drsudoku drsudoku says:

      The only parameter I gave Grant was to keep the video at about 5 minutes. He failed at that, but included some fun moments and easter eggs nonetheless.

      • Grant Fikes Grant Fikes says:

        Nobody regrets not making 5 minutes more than I do. I mean, my appropriate music only lasted 5 minutes! 🙁

        I guess I was working on ensuring that there were as few moments of “how did he make that deduction?” as possible, so I took time explaining things!

      • Scott Handelman says:

        Honestly, I feel like your videos go too quickly sometimes. If the goal is educational, then there needs to be some time to digest what is being said that isn’t purely reliant on the viewer pausing every few seconds. That’s my opinion as a teacher who has made instructional videos for his students in the past.

        There’s probably a happy medium somewhere in walkthrough video length.

        • drsudoku drsudoku says:

          It may work better if we choose a section of a puzzle to spend time on, as opposed to having the whole goal be to go from start to end of the puzzle. Definitely something to keep in mind as we keep producing these, so thanks for the comment.

  • chaotic_iak says:

    11:22, not including listening and transcription time, and also not including a series of expletives uttered upon finding an audio file and listening to it. Including 2-3 minutes where I broke the puzzle at the end and had to retrace my steps though.

    This is an absolutely astounding idea. Except for the audio being purely fluff (can be replaced by the string of clues instead, although that reduces the amount of profanity a solver will shout upon first encountering this puzzle), the puzzle is flawless in terms of concept. I should try figuring out an even more insane idea, I suppose.

    Solution-wise, the path is pretty clean; like Grant, there’s always a relatively easy path, but only if you know where to look. A nice puzzle in terms of its solution.

    Congratulations, this is one of my favorite puzzles for best twist ever encountered.

    • Aaron Chan says:

      @chaotic_iak: Support Patreon?

      I have completely misinterpreted the direction of the puzzle. I thought by horizontal it goes above the puzzle, then row by row. Naturally, that ended up with something that is impossible, and I wasted 5 minutes on it. Once that was out of the way, the puzzle itself is not overly difficult.

      • Grant Fikes Grant Fikes says:

        Aaron Chan, your mistake might be based on the first version of the audio file which test-solvers and patrons got; I recorded a whole new audio file to explain the rules better since then.

        • drsudoku drsudoku says:

          Grant: All patrons received the same final audio file as posted here and nothing from the earlier testing period (what kind of reward would it be to get a puzzle before we finish test-solving and editing?). But I guess it is still possible in the absence of a visual example to misinterpret what to do. We’ll have to rethink how to make audiobook examples for our upcoming titles.

          @chaotic_iak: Aaron is possibly referring to the fact I gave a “bonus transcript” of the puzzle written out to our patrons, so they wouldn’t have to listen to the whole audio. Similarly, there was an “audio solution” and a written solution.

  • Giovanni P. says:

    Very novel idea, and even once you get past the audio twist, there’s still some meat to this one. Good work Grant.

  • Scott Handelman says:

    Something like this would make a great Mystery Hunt puzzle. I enjoyed this one very much.

  • Andrew Brecher says:

    Curious whether the time standards included the time it took to listen and transcribe all the clues.

    • drsudoku drsudoku says:

      I didn’t tell the testers to clock themselves one particular way here, but it turned out most separated out the two times for making notes and then solving the puzzle.

      The top time represents ~2 minutes to listen and ~5 minutes to solve for two solvers. Since one of those people was me, I can say I did do some solving during the transcription time, at least in determining that the start of the across clues and end of the down clues were obviously important places to start.

  • hagriddler says:

    That was fun at so many levels, LOL !

  • Francis says:

    Favorite puzzle of the year so far. Just great.

  • s i l e n c e says:

    I can’t listen to this (or any) audio file. Is there anywhere I can find a transcription?

    • mathgrant says:

      You are listening to a sample of the Cross the Streams audiobook. For solvers who are on the go and don’t have time to look at paper, you will hear the clues read to you, first the across clues (starting with the topmost row and moving towards the bottom) and then the down clues (starting with the leftmost column and moving towards the right). In this beautiful 10×10 puzzle, called “Asterisk, Asterisk, Asterisk”, grandmaster Grant Fikes has challenged the normal conventions of Cross the Streams, sometimes having two or more consecutive asterisks in a single row or column.

      Across: 10 ? 2 ? 5 1 1 ? ? 3 3 ? 1 * ? 2 ? ? ? ? 3 * * * * * *
      Down: 5 ? ? 2 ? 3 ? 1 * * * * * * 1 ? ? ? 2 * 2 * 6 ?

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