See the results of the ACPT here. At the moment they’re updated through puzzle 6; among Team Fiend members, Joon is 8th, Doug 11th, Amy 30th, Jeffrey 52nd, Neville 121st, and Sam 226th. If I left someone out, my sincerest apologies. Also, head over to Wordplay for tournament write-ups from Deb Amlen.
Mike Nothnagel and Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword, “REAR-END COLLISIONS”
Another toughie today! But what else would you expect with a Walden/Nothnagel byline? two masters of cunning puzzles! I only caught onto the rebus squares at around 15 minutes, which on many Sundays is around finishing up time! I got that each second word in symmetrical two-word entries had been doubled up, but not why those words were chosen for the honour. At the time, the presence of other multi-word phrases, both down and across, was bugging me, but when I finally got it, near the end of the puzzle, there was a Hallelujah Chorus of an a-ha moment! Each of the first words is a synonym for squish, but you all saw that, right? It was just me who was a bit slow on the uptake… Anyway, the theme answers:
- 15A “Burro, e.g.” PACKANIMAL. “Animal” is packed into three squares.
- 26A “When the pressure’s on” CRUNCHTIME.
- 45A “Big media event” PRESSCONFERENCE.
- 53A “Widely popular shows, say” CROWDPLEASERS.
- 55A “Bunting is part of it” SQUEEZEPLAY.
- 71A “Some morning fund-raisers” PANCAKEBREAKFASTS. This was my favourite theme answer: a colourful, colloquial synonym and an inspired choice! It was also where I finally grokked the first part of the theme, once I’d corrected AlTE at 66D. D’oh!
- 86A “Late rallies” CLUTCHPERFORMANCES. One of two sports terms among the theme answers.
- 99A “Car safety feature” CRUMPLEZONE.
- 101A “Data storage device” COMPACTDISC.
- 111A “Mexican cooking ingredients called ‘flores de calabaza’ in Spanish” SQUASHBLOSSOMS. Didn’t know people ate this! I’ve heard of people eating nasturtium flowers, though… Has anybody tried this?
- 135A “Diamond substitute” PINCHRUNNER. I wasn’t the only one who tried first BENCHWARMER and then PINCHHITTER, right?
- 142A “Occasions to try out riffs” JAMSESSIONS.
Some other answers I’d like to highlight:
- 7A “Label for unmentionables?” ETCETERA. Fabulous clue!
- 23A “Like some collisions” THREECAR. When I first came across it, I thought it might have something to do with the theme, despite its odd placement for a theme answer…
- 25A “Hero of an old Scottish ballad” TAMLIN. All crossings, baby! Wikipedia has more, of course!
- 74A “___ me!” SEARCH. Off the S I wanted SOHELP…
- 109A “Decalogue possessive” THY. That’s a fancy way of saying “The Ten Commandments”. “Honour thy father and thy mother.” Bible clues always seem to ignore the fact that modern translations like the NKJV, ESV and NIV all use ordinary English…
- 121A “Murder, ___” INC. A charmingly named hip-hop music label.
- 143A “Peeping Tom’s home”. COVENTRY. That’s the original Peeping Tom, who peeped on Lady Godiva…
- 7D “Impress clearly”. ETCH. Another smart clue!
- 32D “Former Ford offering, for short” MERC. I think I’ve mentioned how that’s short for Mercedes, not Mercury over here before.
- 90D “Attendee”. GOER. Here’s some barely related comic relief:
This could have just been a synonym theme, which over a Sunday-sized grid would have been rather boring. I thought the extra layer was really clever and a great gimmick. I’d say this is deserving of at least 4.3 stars in my utterly objective opinion! It’s been a great weekend of NYT puzzles here, I’m glad I could share my experiences with you! I’ll be back later with Merl Reagle’s puzzle, but for now I’d like to say thank you Amy for the opportunity, and more importantly the time she puts into this blog every day! It really does give you a fresh appreciation as to how much time she puts in, doing it yourself for a few days!
John Lampkin’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “How to Finish This Puzzle” – Doug’s not-really-a-review
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. I’m in Brooklyn today, at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament!
Some exciting stuff has happened so far, so check Facebook and Twitter for the latest. Kudos to John Lampkin. This was a fun puzzle. I didn’t know what to expect when I read the title.
- 24a. [Persevere, like a teamster?] – KEEP ON TRUCKIN’.
- 39a. [Persevere, like a stand-up comic?] – NEVER SAY DIE.
- 68a. [Persevere, like a frequent flier?] – CARRY ON.
- 95a. [Persevere, like a very loud organist?] – DON’T STOP NOW.
- 113a. [Persevere, like a golfer?] – STAY THE COURSE.
- 3d. [Persevere, like a boxing promoter?] – PUT UP A GOOD FIGHT.
- 6d. [Persevere, like a judge?] – TRY TRY AGAIN.
- 47d. [Persevere, like a lightning rod installer?] – STAND YOUR GROUND.
- 70d. [Persevere, like a museum curator?] – HANG IN THERE.
OK, I’m going to get back to the crossword action here in lovely Brooklyn. See you later!
Mike Shenk’s Washington Post Puzzler No. 102 – Jeffrey’s Review
Wow! This puzzle was awesome. Created by one of the world’s best constructors and edited by the superb Peter Gordon. Five stars just aren’t enough to express my admiration for this masterpiece. And I’m not just saying that because they both could be standing behind me at any time today here at the ACPT in Brooklyn.
Actually, it is a very smooth 66-word unthemed challenge.
- 1A. [One in charge of late admissions?] – ST PETER. Yes, Commissioner Gordon should be sainted. But can’t someone else handle the late arrivals?
- 14A. [Kyoto courtesy] – ARIGATO. No! Don’t play Mr. Roboto, Jeffrey! Too late. you’re welcome.
- 16A. [Puzzle made up of five right triangles of three different sizes, a square and a rhomboid] – TANGRAM. You don’t hear TANGRAM enough in conversation. I hope to change that today (see below).
- 17A. [Orlando Bloom’s role in the “Lord of the Rings” films] – LEGOLAS the elf.
- 19A. [Clownfish protector] – SEA ANEMONE. Long words with fishy clues always include ANEMONE. Trust me.
- 21A. [___ signatum (bronze currency ingot of ancient Rome)] – AES. Ickiest answer.
- 22A. [13½-inch-tall gold-plated knight] – OSCAR. The ACPT Foreign Division is only half that height. Doesn’t seem fair.
- 23A. [50 on a table] – TIN. Periodic table.
- 27A. [Bench need] – MITT. Catcher Johnny Bench, I guess.
- 28A. [Punched up] – ENLIVENED. Punched up is very different from punched out.
- 31A. [Fancies] – DAYDREAMS. ——oh sorry, where was I?
- 36A. [Howard Cosell portrayer in “Ali”] – JON VOIGHT. Full names always welcome.
- 40A. [He’s across the diamond from Tex] – A-ROD. Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, 3rd baseman for the New York Yankees, is across the baseball diamond from Mark “Tex” Teixeira.
- 46A. [Best Spoken Comedy Album Grammy winner for the posthumous “Live From Hell”] – SAM KINISON. Full names always welcome.
- 50A. [Like “K-I-S-S-I-N-G” couples] – IN A TREE. How childish.
- 54A. [Eighth of eight] – NEPTUNE. Pluto’s demotion reduced the number of planets by one. Pluto is now Mickey Mouse’s dog.
- 3D. [Brand created by Harry A. Cole, who lived in a Mississippi forest] – PINE-SOL. A forest full of sol, no doubt.
- 7D. [Play with a ball] – ROMEO AND JULIET. Just when you thought we were still talking about sports…
- 8D. [Diamonds and rings] – ARENAS. Back to sports.
- 15D. [Abutting, in a way] – PLACED END TO END. If you placed every crossword I solved this year end to end you would have a mess.
- 20D. [Game featuring a triangular ship] – ASTEROIDS. In the 80’s arcade next to Pac Man, kids.
- 37D. [Bauhaus founder] – GROPIUS. Walter Adolph Georg Gropius (May 18, 1883 – July 5, 1969) was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture. Wow, that almost sounded like I didn’t steal it from Wikipedia.
- 47D. [Label of “Singing to the Hits” karaoke albums] – K-TEL. 25 Polka Greats!
- 48D. [Player in baseball’s “Senior Circuit”] – NL’ER. Best word ever!
Special surprise for ACPT attendees: If you see me and say the secret word “TANGRAM!” anytime today, I will give you a yummy treat imported from Canada! Valid while supplies last.
Frank Longo’s Celebrity crossword, “Sunday Funday”
“This puzzle wasn’t in my wheelhouse,” people sometimes say when the topics in a puzzle are things they don’t know (maybe opera, or baseball, or [insert your black hole here]). How did the wheelhouse take over from “area,” “bag,” and “bailiwick,” anyway? However it happened, I can tell you that a crossword with a Super Mario videogame theme is located on a different continent from the last place I saw my wheelhouse.
- 1a. MARIO, [Pudgy plumber who’s the hero of dozens of Nintendo games]
- 14a. BOO, [Ghostly, floating-in-air enemy of 1-Across]. Didn’t know this.
- 15a. ONE UP, [Item that awards an extra life in a video game, such as a green mushroom eaten by 1-Across: Hyph.]. Didn’t know this.
- 16a. BOB, [___-omb (enemy of 1-Across that’s a walking explosive)]. Didn’t know this.
- 20a. BOWSER, [Turtlelike beast who’s the archnemesis of 1-Across]. Didn’t know this.
- 25a. POO, [Martial arts master in Super Nintendo’s EarthBound]. I commend you, Frank Longo, for sneaking POO into a crossword. Didn’t know this.
- 32a. PRINCESS PEACH, [Damsel in distress whom 1-Across is always trying to rescue: 2 wds.]
- 44a. GOOMBA, [Mushroom-shaped enemy of 1-Across]. Didn’t know this.
- 60a. LUIGI, [Brother of 1-Across who often aids him in his missions]
- 10d. BONES, [Dry ___ (skeletal enemy of 1-Across that continually reassembles itself)]. Didn’t know this.
- 40d. YOSHI, [Dinosaur sidekick that 1-Across rides on the back of]. Didn’t know this.
- 50d. BEE, [Buzzing insect that 1-Across can imitate after eating a special mushroom]. Didn’t know this.
- 52d. WII, [Nintendo game console for some 1-Across games]
A gazillion short thematic answers supplement the primary MARIO/BOWSER/PRINCESS PEACH/GOOMBA/LUIGI set of answers. If you’re a Mario player, then I’ll bet these were all gimmes for you and you romped through the crossword with 13 freebie answers you could fill in right away. Me, I worked the crossings to piece together all the names I didn’t know. (POO!) I’ll keep waiting for a theme about the top-selling pop artists of 1983, which I would nail.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Oof. Okay, I better drum up some excuses for my slow solving time. I’ll start with this: I solved this Sunday Challenge in the lobby of the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, surrounded by fellow crossword lovers–so maybe I was distracted by all the interesting conversations. Also, a fellow solver was watching over my shoulder, and that added pressure didn’t help (especially when I got stuck on [Cathy’s cartoon dog] and she exclaimed, “Oh, I know that!”). (It was many minutes later before I sussed out ELECTRA.)
But maybe this 72/30 freestyle was just plain tough. Or, as we sometimes call it, “Klahn Tough” (like “Ford Tough”). Here are some of the clues that vexed me most:
- The [Granulated clay in an open box] is KITTY LITTER, but the clue had me thinking of kids playing in a sandbox.
- When I discovered that [Short-billed rails] are CRAKES, my first thought was, well, this a family blog so I won’t share the entirety of my first thought. Let’s just say it started with “What the.” My dictionary confirms that a “crake” is “any of several short-billed birds of the family Rallidae, such as the corncrake.” As if that’s supposed to make me slap my forehead and say, “Ah! Of course! The corncrake!”
- I was seriously befuddled by the clue for YUKON, [It’s fed by the Porcupine]. When I finally had YU-ON in place, I figured the K had to be right, and I assumed that the Porcupine must be the name of some river. Yep, the internet confirms the Porcupine River runs through Alaska and the Yukon. Holy shnikes, was that clue tough!
- I don’t think there’s a clue in this world that would have given me TERRY-THOMAS, the [Gap-toothed British actor with a hyphenated name]. Wikipedia has this to say about him: “He was famous for his portrayal of disreputable members of the upper classes, especially cads, toffs and bounders, with the trademark gap in his front teeth, cigarette holder, smoking jacket and catch-phrases such as ‘What an absolute shower!’, ‘Good show!’, ‘You dirty rotter’ and ‘Hard cheese‘.” We need more cads, toffs and bounders in our television shows.
- [“Dance with Me” pop-rockers of the ’70s] instantly put the song in my head (where it’s still sitting, thank you very much), but darned if I could come up with the name of the band, ORLEANS.
My favorite clues and entries were [Parking spot] for GREASE STAIN, [Preparing to take too much] for OVERPACKING, [Movie honey] for ULEE’S GOLD, and [Buffalo wing?] for SABRE (the Buffalo Sabres are an NHL team, and wing is one of the positions in ice hockey).
Okay, off to solve Puzzle 7, the last one I’ll solve with 600+ of my closest friends before watching the finals in the top three divisions. After this humble beginning, I don’t think Puzzle 7 can do much to scare me. But we’ll see.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “O Punnish Me The (Sequel)”
Today’s theme is a bunch of phrases that are reinterpreted in some way, but without changing their pronunciation. I was going to say one of the words was changed with a homonym, but I don’t think that’s strictly true in all cases. It’s a pretty broadly defined theme concept in any cases, though the answers Merl has chosen are definitely solid, if not roll-in-the-aisles funny; your mileage may vary in that regard. Anyway, lets peruse them shall we:
- 16/21A ACOLLECTIVE/SIGHOFRELIEF “What you hear at a kibbutz at the end of a day?” Kibbutz’ are Israeli farming collectives (n.), if you don’t know the term. This answers parts are nearly wholly stacked on each other, a tricky feat, but partially aided by additional black squares in that area.
- 33A WIGGLEROOM “Place for hula lessons?”
- 49A OVERBEARING “Having too many kids?”
- 58A MINIMUMWAGER “One with a small income?” Am I not seeing something, here? That’s seems to me to be pretty literal.
- 67/70A OVERNIGHT/SENSATION “Heartburn?” This one’s a winner!
- 80A SPOILEDBRATS “Wurst at their wurst?” This one’s pretty good too!
- 88A EXHAUSTFANS “What long concerts may do?”
- 100A PSYCHOWARD “Only episode of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ that was never aired?” I assume Ward is one of the Beavers’ names. I also assume some people say psycho ward, as I’ve only heard it as “psych.”
- 119A STICKERSHOCK “Result of backing into a cactus?” A very Warner Bros. answer!
- 123A TIMINGBELTS “Pacing oneself between drinks?”
I found myself frowning at quite few answers today. Yes 130 theme-letters is a lot, and yes there are two stacked pairs of themers. Does that mean the bar should be lowered for the fill? It depends how much you value the theme as a total of your crossword-solving experience, I guess. Some that rankled for me: NEGATERS crossing UTTERERS, ONEI, OSO (somewhat inured to this by now, but still), IGET, OLAVS, MEGO, ISSY.
Another pair of observations: NEPOTISM has the same number of letters as 18D CRONYISM. I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that the clue referred to “pals” not “family.” 34D GIBBOUS gets the Reagle obscure word anagram treatment, but I’m not sure why. I was partially schooled with an American syllabus, and I’m pretty sure the phases of the moon was covered in the grade 7 science syllabus. I tend to overestimate people’s science knowledge, however.
3.5 stars for the theme, minus a half for the several junky answers.
Henry Hook’s Sunday crossword, “It’s the Coppers” — pannonica’s review
Copper: metal, element, cuprum in Latin, is abbreviated and symbolized as Cu, which is what is inserted into various base words and phrases to make new, wacky ones, clued appropriately. In general, they’re entertaining, but some are of course better than others.
- 19a. [Poisonous entree?] CURARE STEAK (rare steak).
- 23a. [Give and take among parish heads?] EXCHANGE CURATES (exchange rates). Seems as if the answer wanted to be “curate(s) exchange,” which punfortunately (that was a typo, but I’m siccing it, or stetting it) doesn’t have much support as a base phrase.
- 46a. [What baby clothes have?] CUTEST PATTERNS (test patterns).
- 72a. [About a yard, to Noah?] TWO CUBITS (two bits). His eponymous ark was supposedly 300×50×30 cubits. The term comes from the Latin cubitum (“elbow”) and is based on the length of the forearm from elbow to the tip of the middle finger.
- 95a. [Salt-preserved pullet?] LITTLE CURED HEN (Little Red Hen). Especially liked the phonetic alteration in this one. Does the character need the definite article ‘the’?
- 119a. [Rid of gourds?] DISENCUCUMBERED (disencumbered). Interesting, as there was already a CU in the original. And surely I’m not the only one who was reminded of Matt Gaffney’s recent contest puzzle (#197)?
- 126a. [Huge knickknack?] CURIO GRANDE (Rio Grande).
- 16d. [Caribbean toiletry?] CUBAN DEODORANT (Ban® deodorant).
- 52d. [Making small fruit even smaller?] CUBING CHERRIES (bing cherries). At first, I was annoyed at this clue because I was thinking mathematically, not culinarily. I have no idea why. In any case, hackles went up because I knew that any amount of cherries equal to or greater than one would be increased by cubing them (i.e., multiplying them by themselves [Again and again] (105a, THRICE).
Yes, the central themer is a bitty little thing at only nine letters, but look at the giant overlap off the first and last across pairs! The entirety of each eleven-letter fill lies along its fifteen-letter cohort. There are a few non-theme CUs in the puzzle but they don’t cause me concern because (1) of the extra CU in 119a, and (2) it just doesn’t seem like That Sort of Puzzle. For the record, there are: ECU, OCULI, MISCUE, and CUB.
The CUs appear at the starts of answers 5 of 9 times, and at the beginnings of words 8 of 9 times. It would have been nicer if lonely DISENCUCUMBERED had had at least one other playmate.
The puzzle’s construction flows well, there are no isolated areas. What really set the thing apart, for me, was the cluing. A lot of playfulness and cleverness.
- 70a [Out of sorts?] ALIBI. The absence of a comma makes it trickier.
- 12d [Get smart?] PREEN.
- 127a [He took two tablets] MOSES.
- 97d [2011 nonevent … twice!] RAPTURE. By the way, Harold Egbert Camping is still kicking about, so, like your favorite GPS (11a), he’s probably
recalculating…as we (metaphorically) speak.
- I even liked the little touches, such as the [Blue hue] rhyme for AZURE, and the out-there [Kajillion] for TON. There were also a ton of playful but familiar clues, but I still liked them: 86d [Fisherman’s chum] BAIT, 125a [Switch places?] ONS, 64d [Point of no return?] ACE, et al.
- Why are there two sets of double quotes around in 1-across? [“”__ Mater””] STABAT.
p.s. Nobody noticed my “joke” about a similar clue being a Moby-Dick reference in a recent puzzle write-up. Or was it the other way around?
- 54a. A new old word makes the Roman numeral XLII interesting: quarantadue. Don’t know specifically how it’s “old-style,” as per the clue, but it’s certainly the Italian name for the number. See also 72d [“Quinze” doubled] TRENTE.
- Unfamiliar names: couturier Mollie PARNIS, baseballier Charlie LAU.
- 80a [Exmoor heroine]. Sure enough, with the O in place, I wrote in DOONE instead of LORNA. I blame the subconscious priming of the double-o’d Exmoor.
- 107a [Immunization trio, for short]. DPT, not MMR. Diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus. Not measles, mumps, rubella. GRR.
- Least favorite answer: ICS [Microchips (abbr.)]. Uh-oh, did I just invent an emoticon? Hope not. By the way, IC stands for integrated circuit.
- Last square filled was the crossing of 20d and 27a. Not immediately aware that DI is short for drill instructor, I plunked down an M for [Besmirch] MAR, making a reasonable-looking-if-unfamiliar abbreviation SGM. The correct answers are SGT and TAR. See also 8d [Boot camp figure] RECRUIT.
- NO HAT! DERAT‼ D’ÉTAT‼
- Some hifalutin and some casual, what with TONEME, and [Perspicacious] ASTUTE, as well as GET LOST [“Scram!”], ME TIME, and [“Oh, really?] IS THAT SO.
Fun puzzle, very enjoyable. That is so.