Very Cool Grid Design

IMG_20140722_211922_942

The above puzzle called “Positional Play” was constructed by David J. Kahn and appeared in the New York Times Sunday newspaper.

If you study the highlighted words, I think you will be able to see the theme pretty quickly – especially if you are a baseball fan.

The THEME words are strategically placed to imitate the defensive positions of a baseball team (LEFT, CENTER, RIGHT, THIRD, SHORT, SECOND, FIRST, PITCHER, and CATCHER.  In addition, the constructor has some other THEME words specifically related to baseball.

All in all, this puzzle was a HOME RUN.  I really enjoyed solving it.

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Ducking the Issue

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Merl Reagle is a favorite of mine.

Here is another example of why I have developed that admiration.

In a puzzle titled, “That’s Just Ducky”, here are some of the clues and answers that got me quacking …

WHICH DUCK?                                                                                  EIDERone

DUCK THAT’S HOUSEBROKEN?                                                stainlessTEAL

NOTED DUCK IN A NAVY ROLE?                                                 saltwaterDAFFY

PARTY GAME FOR DUCK’S?                                                         PINTAILonthe donkey

FAMED WASHINGTON DUCK?                                                    MALLARDfillmore

HERSEY NOVEL  ABOUT A BATTLE-WOUNDED DUCK?    abillforaDONALD

LOWLIFE-SCUM-OF-THE-EARTH-DUCKS?                             theDRAKESofsociety

PART OF A DUCK’S PORTFOLIO?                                               DOCKSANDPONDS

You might wonder how a constructor comes up with the ideas for this type of puzzle.  Take it from me, it is not easy.    I will get into the details of how this occurs in a future post.

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Fun Theme of The Week

This week’s Fun Theme of the Week is a puzzle by Elizabeth C. Gorski.  Elizabeth is a very well known and respected crossword constructor.   She is frequently published by the New York times and she publishes a weekly puzzle for the website Crossword Nation, where she serves as managing editor.

She was named constructor of the year in 2013.  A major and significant accomplishment.  To learn more about Elizabeth, click on this link  to read an article found on the website Ravishly.

The puzzle All In The Past was published in the New York Times and reprinted in The New York Times Sunday Crossword Omnibus in 2009 (edited by Will Shortz).

Here are the clever clues and puzzle answers:

  • FILMS SHOWN AT DENTISTS’ CONVENTIONS?                    extractortrailers
  • SHIPPER OF NATALIES RECORDS’ ABROAD?                       coleexporter
  • DISPOSITION OF A REGULAR SORT OF PERSON?              exlaxattitude
  • PAINTER WHO MAKES A FAST SUBSTITUTION?                 quickexchangeartist
  • COMMUTER TRAIN ESCHEWED BY DRACULA?                    garlicexpress
  • 1960′S PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE LIVING OVERSEAS?  expatpaulson
  • PAIN CAUSED BY ADDING ONTO A HOUSE?                         extensionheadache

As you can see, the simple yet elegant technique used by Elizabeth was to add the letters EX to the start of one of the clue answers.   Did you notice that the puzzles’ title ‘All in the Past’ was a clue to what the theme was?

I really enjoyed solving this puzzle.  I think my favorite GOTCHA was the Dracula clue/answer.

What was your favorite?

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Clue of the Day

Today’s clue of the day comes from a puzzle that was published in the New York Times on 3/5/2014.

The constructor was Ed Sessa and the editor was the famous Will Shortz.

The clue was One Controlling Drones and the answer was BEEKEEPER.

Speaking of drones, any 24 fans out there?    I have recorded the past few episodes so I am a little behind on Jack’s latest exploits to save the planet.

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Grand Old Pair

My favorite cruciverbalist is Merl Reagle.    A cruciverbalist is another word for someone who creates crossword puzzles.  Merl is famous for his humorous style.  His puzzles are syndicated nationally with a new puzzle published each week.

I look forward to his weekly puzzle which can be found in  the Tampa Creative Loafing publication.  Merl lives in Tampa and I had the honor of meeting him several years ago when he spoke at a local college.

One of his puzzles had the title “Grand Old Pair”.  The 10 themed answers to that puzzle were:

  • BUSHelbasket
  • mickeyDOLEnz
  • aDOLEscent
  • granDOLEopry
  • drhackenBUSH
  • shouteDOLE
  • BUSHwhacked
  • myconDOLEnces
  • francisBUSHman
  • ernieBUSHmiller

As you can probably see from how I capitalized the theme answers, the Grand Old Pair were George Bush and Bob Dole.

The clues that Merl used were ‘straight’, not punny.  He didn’t try to trick the solver with the clues.  He wanted the ‘gotcha’ to be when the solver figured out the clever theme.

This puzzle had been published back when Bush and Dole ran for President and Vice President.

The clues Merl used had nothing to do with the political pair.  It was up to the solver to detect a pattern as they filled in a few of the themed words.  The cool thing in these type of puzzles is once you catch on to the theme, you can sometimes get the other long themed words without having to fill in the grid around the long themed words.

I will reference Merl’s work a lot in upcoming blogs.  Here is a link to his puzzles:  http://www.sundaycrosswords.com/.

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Crossword Puzzles Back in the Day

Today, we will travel back to a time in the early 20th century where people led lives much simpler than we do today.  There were no Starbucks or any fast-food establishments where people could visit to help get their days off to a good start.

They did have newspapers though.  In 1917, the Boston Globe was thought to be the first paper in the United States to include a daily puzzle.

In these early days when crossword puzzles were first becoming popular, the crossword constructor didn’t have much of an imagination.  It wasn’t their fault.  Even though people in general have always had a sense of humor, the style of the early crosswords were pretty standard.  The person solving the puzzle were given clues that typically were the definitions of the answer.    Example:

Clue = Animal that flies        Answer = Bird

As time passed and crossword puzzles matured, the style of crosswords evolved to where we are today.

In future blogs, I will discuss the history of crossword puzzles in more depth.

However, that may put some of my readers to sleep.  We don’t want that to happen.   Sleep is a good thing – we all need it.  But, it is a very BAD thing when reading a blog!

The majority of blogs will look at the things I enjoy about creating (yes – I am a constructor) and solving crosswords.  Those ‘things’ are FUN clues and FUN themes.  I love hearing comments from my ‘fans’ when they encounter a clue that makes them GROAN.

Well, that’s all for now, thanks for reading my first of many blogs.  I hope you visit often.  My primary goal is always to entertain.  I enjoy making people smile and/or laugh.

Feel free to comment and/or leave suggestions.

Until next time …

Dave

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