by Guy Jacobson and Greg Pliska
Problem:

This puzzle looks like an ordinary black-square cryptic crossword—and, for the most part, that’s what it is.

Solvers will quickly discover a few odd things, though: every clue contains the name of a U.S. State, and the numbers in parentheses following the clues are not the usual answer enumerations.

After a little exploration, solvers should be able to determine that each clue’s state name must be replaced by a different state name in order to make a valid and solvable cryptic clue.

In fact, the replacement/correct state name is always found in a different clue in the puzzle. Armed with this knowledge, solvers can go ahead and solve:

 C A P I T A L S H I P O F F L I A E U L R L U L C E R S A N M A R I N O E K O L T I G W E N T R I E S D R A K E D T C E M M R R A S C A L M A T C H I N G A R C N O I M A I L D R O P E D I T O R A M N P I A L T Y P O S S O U L F U L I A T E Z I L S S A N T A C R U Z E G Y P T T E R V L R H Y S O L S T E R E O S C O P E

Across: [Washington → Pennsylvania] Capitals+hip, [Vermont → Illinois] [H]off, [Nevada → Alabama] shift Nev[ada] to ulc+E.R., [Florida → Washington] S+[D]an Marino, [New York → Maryland] en(TRI(R))es*, [Virginia → Florida] D+rake, [Alabama → Kentucky] rasc* + AL, [Hawaii →Texas] matc(H)ing[e]*, [Illinois → North Dakota] ma+IL+Dr.+op., [Oregon → South Carolina] editor (H), [Ohio → California] typos (H), [South Carolina → Tennessee] sou[th]+l+f+u+l {fifth letters}, [California → Arkansas], Santa+Cruz, [Kentucky → New Jersey] e.g.+y+pt., [Connecticut → Hawaii] sol (2), [Pennsylvania → Vermont] stereosco* + PE

Down: [Maryland → Connecticut] c(l)ue, [New Jersey → Colorado] pick+[J]ets, [North Dakota → Oregon] ta(rotca)rd (R), [Arkansas → Louisiana] Leslie*, [Utah → Massachusetts] hu(n[u]ts)man, [Idaho → Nevada] pla* + ID, [Georgia → Rhode Island] o+Riga+mi, [Rhode Island → Idaho] flow+ERG+IR+L (R), [Tennessee → Ohio] dramatists*, [Massachusetts → Maine] Cod+if+iers*, [Colorado → New Hampshire] CO+n(s)erve, [Maine → Virginia] impanel*, [Louisiana → Georgia] T(ally)-Ho, [Texas → New York] pu(ZZ)le, [New Hampshire → Oklahoma] S+tars, [Oklahoma → Utah] stye {phonetically part of “Hammerstein”}

Solvers should note that in following the chain of [correct state → printed state] from clue to clue, they are making a kind of “tour” of the nation, finally returning to the start of the chain.

There are in fact two tours covering all the clues (this is hinted at by the flavortext): a large one starting at 1A and another smaller one of only five clues.

Now solvers need to follow these tours. Starting at 1A and following the large tour, using the fake enumerations as indices into the correct state names:

ClueStateIndexLetter
1AWashington7G
30APennsylvania2E
7AVermont7T
18AIllinois7I
3DNorth Dakota6D
20AOregon3E
25ASouth Carolina12N
13DTennessee1T
23AOhio3I
27ACalifornia1C
4DArkansas4A
21DLouisiana1L
7DGeorgia5G
8DRhode Island1R
6DIdaho1I
14AAlabama4B
28AKentucky8Y
2DNew Jersey4J
24DNew Hampshire8S
26DOklahoma5H
5DUtah1U
16DMassachusetts2A
19DMaine2A
12AVirginia6N
4AFlorida6D

Reading the indexed letters in tour order, solvers get the message GET IDENTICAL GRID BY JOSHUA AND

Clearly, this message is unfinished, but following the small tour, which solvers need to determine the starting point of 15A:

ClueStateIndexLetter
15AHawaii1H
22DTexas2E
11ANew York1N
1DMaryland3R
29AConnecticut8I

They can read the completion of the message: HENRI

What does this message mean? Joshua Kosman and Henri Picciotto construct the weekly cryptic crossword in The Nation magazine. When solvers look for the cryptic in the current (at Hunt time) issue of The Nation they find a puzzle with an identical grid to the one in this puzzle.

Solvers need to solve that puzzle as well—the solution can be found at the bottom of this page.

Now what? Solvers may be wondering why the message was divided into two tours, when it could very well have been constructed with only a single tour.

If solvers look at the answers associated with the small tour in HENRI order, they can read the following message:

 C A P I T A L S H I P O F F L I A E U L R L U L C E R S A N M A R I N O E K O L T I G W E N T R I E S D R A K E D T C E M M R R A S C A L M A T C H I N G A R C N O I M A I L D R O P E D I T O R A M N P I A L T Y P O S S O U L F U L I A T E Z I L S S A N T A C R U Z E G Y P T T E R V L R H Y S O L S T E R E O S C O P E

MATCHING PUZZLE ENTRIES CLUE SOL

Aha! Now if solvers look at the corresponding entries in The Nation’s grid, they read this:

PASSPORT HOLDER KNOTTED ZINC TIE

This is a cryptic clue for the word CITIZEN, which is the answer to the puzzle.

Many thanks go to Joshua, Henri, and the editors of The Nation, for being so willing to do this for us!