We conceived of Word▶️ as a single volume that went from easy to hard, but when we moved to a monthly series, our editor Bill MacDonald sagely pointed out that we should vary the difficulty along the way, and so we publish in three-puzzle waves of easier, medium, harder. (For the record, this is a harder.)
But back in the linear days when we were trying to sequence the end of the book, the hardest puzzles gained reputations. Word▶️ #6, Man in the Mirror, had the hardest instructions. The forthcoming Word▶️ #11 had the hardest vocabulary, and Word▶️ #12 was the "are you serious?" gobsmacker.
This one was called the jewel box.
Twenty clues, eleven unclued entries, a dainty grid of all (4)s and (5)s that resists you as much as it can, and almost exactly as many words in the instructions as in the clues.
"It all works out in the end, but it did take a certain amount of patience and faith," Bill said. "I should think you’d want to present this one somewhat late in the game, once solvers have learned to trust you."
(Did we say "welcome new solvers!" already? Welcome!)
As we often counsel: Not every puzzle is a 30-minute affair. Solve in leisure. Leave the puzzle and come back to it. Get with your friends.