What: The variety cryptic crossword, a modification of the British style of crossword. Here’s the grid by two of the greatest constructors of these, Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon of The Atlantic Monthly. For the full puzzle, go here.

Why: At the National Puzzlers’ League convention this weekend, there was near unanimity among the cognoscenti that this was the Holy Grail. There are three words in its name that should be dealt with in reverse order. It is a crossword, in that it contains a pattern of crossing words. It is a cryptic crossword, in that the clues are broken into two halves, a definition half and a wordplay half. And it is a variety cryptic crossword, in that those two constraints are not enough for the constructor, and so some other zaniness must be inserted. People make grids out of fishbowls and pyramids; they use superfluous words, randomly placed words, bendy words, and assorted other madnesses. It is precisely because you don’t trust the constructor that makes a variety cryptic the most fun you can have solving a puzzle.

Impact: In the UK, variety cryptic crosswords are seen in many major newspapers. In the US, they remain a niche puzzle curiosity, unlikely to catch on when simpler puzzle types like word searches, sudoku, and acrostics are available in bulk. At the NPL convention, though, they run in packs. I came home with about a dozen made by a variety of constructors; constructed a particularly delightful one, which I hope he’ll release into the wild.

Personal Connection: I’m fairly often thought of as a good constructor of these. I’ve probably made about 50 or 60, only a few of which could be considered classics. Back in the day, a few of us younger constructors (among them the immensely talented ) adopted the variety cryptic as our rallying flag, and changed puzzlemaking forever. Really, you should have seen it before we got there. Every crossword was just 70 occurrences of the word ESNE. You owe us.

Other Contenders: the humble logic puzzle; the coolly homonymohomophonic corn maze on a brisk October evening; the Bongard problem, in which the parts on the left follow a rule but the parts on the right do not, as in the game Zendo; a colossal 3D jigsaw puzzle; the challenge of getting a precisely constituted group of Lemmings into their cave.