March 19, 2020 - Cryptic #3 - by Stella Zawistowski

Difficulty ● ● ● ● ○

Puzzle Notes

Our dear friends,

What a time. At the Inkubator, we're just trying to get by, like many of you: working remotely, caring for family and loved ones close and far, finding ways to occupy ourselves and our newly remote-learning children. And we're finding time to make, edit, and publish puzzles -- because that's something we can do to help you get by.

Announcement! With the postponement of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament formerly scheduled for this coming weekend, a bunch of constructors are getting together to produce the Crossword Tournament from Your Couch! Solve on the web or in .puz format, starting at 1pm EDT/10am PDT. The tournament is free, but solvers are encouraged to donate to COVID-19 relief efforts.

Tonight we're delighted to be publishing this cryptic from our friend Stella Zawistowski. We think you'll find it challenging! An answer grid is included with this mailing, but check back with us next week for a full set of clue decryptions.

A competitive solver for nearly two decades, Stella is an eight-time top-ten solver at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Constructing was a natural offshoot of so much solving, and she published her first puzzle in the Los Angeles Times in 2002. Between 2002 and 2010, she published more than 300 puzzles with co-constructor Bruce Venzke, and eventually quit constructing to pursue other interests. Over the past few years, Stella has paid intense attention to the underrepresentation of women in the crossworld, and in 2019 she decided to be the change she wanted to see in the world. She now constructs as a solo artist so that she can make puzzles with her own, female, voice. Because she loves solving the hardest puzzles, hard puzzles are also her favorite area of construction, whether it's a themeless or cryptic. Though making and solving crosswords consumes much of Stella's free time, she would also like you to know how much she enjoys moving heavy objects, whether it's bench-pressing a barbell or throwing a 100-pound sandbag over her shoulder. Visit for a biweekly themeless puzzle from Stella, and follow her on Twitter at @stellaphone for a #crypticclueaday.

Coming up next as we continue with the Crossword Women's March: on March 26, Martina Waluk gets garrulous.

All best,
Laura and Tracy