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Puzzle #1: Blackheads

Since we’re starting on Halloween, it seemed appropriate to riff on BLACK. This type of puzzle, one whose theme type is “words-that-precede-___” or “words-that-follow-___,” has a long and rich history in puzzling. No, really! Steinberg, back me up here.

It used to be that BLACK would just be in the grid multiple times, back when a repeated word theme was acceptable. Alas, the theme is easy to do so its been done to death and is often snubbed by the gridderati. I think it’s merely one of the many tools at our disposal; if it uses colorful phrases and isn’t done too often, it seems solid to me.

Nowadays, the usual thing to do would be to put your keyword in the SE corner as a revealer, BLACK in this case. Here I tried to give the theme a new twist by putting the keyword in the title (which all puzzles should have, let’s be honest). This also freed up the grid a bit to include the bonus central shorties. That whole central area started as all black squares, then it had BLACK running through it, then it became what you see now.

(BLACK) PEPPER
(BLACK) HOLE
(BLACK) SWAN
(BLACK) CHERRY
(BLACK) TOP
(BLACK) BOX

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