Welcome to Ana-Links, from Pavel's Puzzles!

Ana-Links are a new kind of puzzle, invented by designer Pavel Curtis, that combines aspects of jigsaws, wordplay, and mechanical puzzles in a unified, multi-stage solving experience.

How do they work?

Every Ana-Links puzzle consists of a set of large, plastic, jigsaw-like pieces, typically with five to eight pieces per puzzle. Your job is to work with those pieces to extract three clues, and then use those clues to discover the final answer!

Each puzzle piece has one ‘outie’ jigsaw tab and one ‘innie’ jigsaw socket; this makes it possible to assemble the pieces into a single, continuous loop where every piece’s outie has been fitted into some other piece’s innie. This assembly is made a bit more difficult, though, by the fact that all of the innies and outies have exactly the same shape, so that almost every outie will fit nicely into all of the other innies! There’s only one way, though, to put all of the pieces together in a complete loop.

To solve an Ana-Links puzzle, you need to collect three separate clues:

  • First, notice that each puzzle piece has a large letter etched onto it. For your first clue, you must arrange those letters to make a single word. We call this the anagram clue.
  • Second, assemble the pieces into a single, complete loop, as described earlier. When you’ve done that, the edges of the pieces on the inside of the loop will form the outline of a picture, a silhouette of some familiar shape. We call this the picture clue. Be forewarned, though: sometimes it can take some noodling to figure out just what the picture represents, since you won’t have any information about which way is up!
  • Third, now that you’ve assembled the pieces into a loop, notice that each letter is followed, reading clockwise around the loop, by a little bit of arithmetic, like “+7” or “-5”. Shift each letter forward or backward in the alphabet as indicated by the arithmetic. For example, if the letter “A” was followed by “+3”, that would yield the new letter “D”, and if “B” was followed by “-7”, that would lead to “U”. Reading these new letters in clockwise order around the loop (you’ll have to work out the starting point) will reveal one more word or phrase. We call this the shifted clue.

Now that you have all three clues, you’re ready to find the answer to the puzzle! One of your three clues (it could be any of the anagram clue, the picture clue, or the shifted clue) will be the category that the answer fits into (like “films” or “country” or “flower,” either singular or plural). The other two clues will work together, making a cute pun (or perhaps a awful one, depending on your tastes) to indicate an answer in that category. Note: sometimes the pun will use the clue just as it is, but sometimes you’ll need to use a synonym of the clue (like in a crossword puzzle). Put the clues together in one order or the other to point you at your answer.

I'm afraid I haven't yet pulled together all of the hints and other materials that I want to be on this page, but for now at least I have these resources:

  • Here is a PDF of my Welcome to Ana-Links! pamphlet, in which I explain the rules of this new puzzle type and give a detailed walkthrough of one example. There is a printed copy of this pamphlet included in every Ana-Links box.
  • If you've already purchased a copy of Series A of Ana-Links, here is a PDF of the Series A meta-puzzle instructions. There is also a printed copy of this sheet in the Series A box.

If you would link a hint or two, or if you'd like to check some of your answers, please send me an email message at “pavel@pavelspuzzles.com”, and I will help you out.

Finally, if you would like to buy a copy of Series A, including seven separate Ana-Links puzzles plus a meta-puzzle that uses their answers to create an eighth and final puzzle, you can do that right here:

Thanks for your interest,