This is the crossword puzzle thread

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I have been meaning to make this thread for a few weeks now, since Jordan and I have been derailing the Chicago thread lately with commentary about the Ben Tausig's Ink Well crossword (syndicated in a variety of alt-weeklies) and the Onion AV Club crossword, which Tausig edits. You can find both here.

Additionally, I have been constructing my own crosswords, which I've put up on Flickr. I just spent most of my weekend working on my first puzzle to utilize five theme fills (previous puzzles used only three theme fills or else were themeless).

Feel free to discuss the NYT puzzle, too. I wanted a thread broader than this one, but since that's the premier puzzle in the U.S., it surely belongs here, too. (I have to admit that I don't actually do the NYT one, but that has a lot to do with the fact that you have to pay to do it online.)

Anyway, go forth and tell me about your frequent encounters with "Sea eagle" or "Actress Skye."

jaymc, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:32 (twelve years ago) link

Recently I picked up a copy of the Oregonian in order to do the NYTimes puzzle and I kept it aside for weeks and then finally did it -- it was a Wednesday puzzle and I had a few minutes to spare -- and it was all Latin themed clues, which was nice, and was almost enough to make be believe that divine providence had caused me to hang on to it, almost.

Also while cleaning up I found the enormous bag of old GAMES magazines from the 80s that my friend gave me and which I have yet to explore. Rah!

The difficult part about crossword making is the clues, of course...

Casuistry, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:43 (twelve years ago) link

it was a Wednesday puzzle and I had a few minutes to spare -- and it was all Latin themed clues, which was nice

omg ysi?

anatol_merklich, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:50 (twelve years ago) link

Yes and no. I mean, it takes me several hours to create the fills and usually I'm so relieved to be done that I can rush through the clues in mere minutes. But it's a challenge to make really good clues, ones that will make the difference between an easy and a (more interesting) difficult puzzle. For instance, I like to put a lot of pop-culture references in my puzzles, but a lot of times these are hard to create ambiguous clues for; some end up just being fill-in-the-blanks.

jaymc, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:54 (twelve years ago) link

(xpost)

jaymc, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:54 (twelve years ago) link

Re: YSI: Oh uh I did it and then recycled it. It might still be in my recycle bin though. But it'll have the answers.

Casuistry, Monday, 24 December 2007 04:01 (twelve years ago) link

Har, no worries Casuistry. Are we talking about cryptics or non- here btw?

anatol_merklich, Monday, 24 December 2007 04:04 (twelve years ago) link

Cryptic thread is another one, mostly UK posters, but jaymc and Casuistry show up too.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 24 December 2007 04:10 (twelve years ago) link

i can do ny times up through wednesday 80-90% of the time with a fair amount of ease, thursday closer to 50-60% (usually with some help), friday almost never, and i dont think ive ever finished a saturday ny times x-word

max, Monday, 24 December 2007 04:15 (twelve years ago) link

Oh. I have. Either I get hopeless stuck on a Saturday (30% of the time?) or it takes about 45 minutes. Or, it did when I was doing them all the time.

Casuistry, Monday, 24 December 2007 06:31 (twelve years ago) link

last week's sunday ny times crossword i did in less than an hour (this is not usually the case for me).

i cannot, under any circumstances, ever finish a cryptic crossword

impudent harlot, Monday, 24 December 2007 06:37 (twelve years ago) link

New crossword from me.

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:25 (twelve years ago) link

Haha "what johns do."

The school clue is super-great, too!

I was momentarily thrown by two spellings not conforming to the way the NYT would render them -- and then in both cases yours seems more Korrect, and theirs seems more of the variEnt.

nabisco, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:43 (twelve years ago) link

I'm pretty sure I know one of the two you mean. Is this the other? Because I think that's always spelled like that, even though a word that contains that word has a NYT-preferred variant.

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:51 (twelve years ago) link

Nope, two different ones -- 9 across and 48 across.

nabisco, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:53 (twelve years ago) link

And actually, funny though it may be, I'm kind of annoyed with "what johns do," just because it's a bit of a stretch, even for a Tausig-type puzzle. Really hard to work with five theme fills, though!

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:53 (twelve years ago) link

Nope, two different ones -- 9 across and 48 across.

Ah! I had originally used the variant for 48-A until I looked it up in Wikipedia and saw that that was a common mistake.

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:54 (twelve years ago) link

my pops schooled me on that holiday sunday NYT puzzle. :(

i got ben tausig's book and i'm about halfway through it, although his cluing seems to have gotten harder as he went along.

Jordan, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:55 (twelve years ago) link

I think you can get away with one giant stretch per puzzle, so long as it's , you know, funny.

nabisco, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:56 (twelve years ago) link

Try to be a little sneakier with the clues, maybe? "When Romeo dies" -- the present tense gives that one away far too quickly. Make it past tense, so there's at least a chance that I'll panic for a moment trying to figure out if we know the year -- or, better, "Where Romeo died", and I might think you're going for "GENOA" and realize that won't fit and wonder if I am misremembering the story -- or, maybe even better, for a good Thursdayish clue, find some other character who dies in a similar place, but whose name does not immediately ring of Shakespeare, and I'll be mystified for a while, but it will eventually come to me. Because it's that sort of strip-tease, right?

"What johns do" is nicely phrased for sure, though.

Casuistry, Thursday, 27 December 2007 20:13 (twelve years ago) link

That's a fair point, Chris. My thought process for that clue was basically, "I need something that happens there ... Oh, well, obviously: Romeo dies ... Is that too easy? ... What happens in Othello? ... *reads Wikipedia article about Othello* ... yeah, not really feeling that ... I should probably be working right now ... All right, 'When Romeo dies.'"

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 20:35 (twelve years ago) link

That's sort of what I meant about the clues being the hard part. But you saw the movie, right? How Will Shortz basically rewrites half the clues for the puzzles he accepts?

Anyway I'm not trying to discourage you, of course. I just want more awesome crosswords to do.

Casuistry, Thursday, 27 December 2007 23:58 (twelve years ago) link

Speaking of Tausig puzzles: the numbering of the clues in the Onion one this week (the sports issue) is completely off!

nabisco, Saturday, 29 December 2007 22:37 (twelve years ago) link

Haha, rly? It was correct online.

Jordan, Saturday, 29 December 2007 23:06 (twelve years ago) link

Yeah, it's bad enough that 1/3 of the down clues are sometimes randomly deleted; this time I was like, "Yeah, that's not gonna work."

jaymc, Saturday, 29 December 2007 23:17 (twelve years ago) link

Another new one. Title is exactly the same as Ben Tausig's Ink Well puzzle last week but with a different interpretation.

jaymc, Monday, 31 December 2007 17:32 (twelve years ago) link

I think this is your hardest one yet, for sure.

Jordan, Monday, 31 December 2007 19:28 (twelve years ago) link

Good!

jaymc, Monday, 31 December 2007 19:35 (twelve years ago) link

Do you have .puz files?

Casuistry, Monday, 31 December 2007 20:15 (twelve years ago) link

Wow, jaymc, that last one is really good.

I used to want to make my own crosswords, and looked for books on how to construct them, but never could find any. Are there such things, or do you just get in there and figure it out?

Rock Hardy, Monday, 31 December 2007 20:45 (twelve years ago) link

Most books about crossword puzzles seem to have an obligatory section on making them, I think. I read Eugene T. Maleska's book, and boy was he proud of the awful crosswordese he used to drill into his puzzles, but I'm pretty sure it had a chapter on making puzzles.

Casuistry, Monday, 31 December 2007 20:53 (twelve years ago) link

No, I don't have .puz files. I need to look into that. Also crossword constructors are always talking about a software program called Across Lite?

And thanks, Rock. I just sort of figured it out through trial and error. All you really need to know is the basic rules for what the grid needs to look like: no words shorter than three letters, diagonal symmetry. But any good software (like Crossword Weaver, which I use) will help you make sure you don't do anything irregular.

When I started out doing themeless puzzles, I would just start at the top-right and work my way around the puzzle intuitively. With themed puzzles, I do the theme fills first and then work outward from the middle.

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 15:57 (twelve years ago) link

I'm still a little wtf over this Tausig one from the other day (I'm working through his book). The clue is "Good Buddy" and the answer is "CBER". I assume it's CB radio, but still doesn't quite make sense to me?

Jordan, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:04 (twelve years ago) link

cockblocker?

Jordan, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:04 (twelve years ago) link

I'm guessing that someone who uses CB radio is a CBer, in the same way that Tausig uses the clue "Recipient of 'You've got mail' message" for AOLER.

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:06 (twelve years ago) link

just "CBer," as in one who does CB? seems ok to me

xpost dang it

n/a, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:06 (twelve years ago) link

Yeah guys, I know that CBer is one who does CB, but how do you get that from "good buddy"?

Jordan, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:18 (twelve years ago) link

that is CB slang, they say stuff like "ten-four, good buddy."

n/a, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:21 (twelve years ago) link

http://www.impawards.com/1977/posters/smokey_and_the_bandit.jpg

n/a, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:21 (twelve years ago) link

Across Lite is the program that you use to enjoy .puz files, and you can get it from the NYTimes website, and they distribute their puzzles to online subscribers in that format. Someone you know might have a year's worth of such .puz files, but he has perhaps already worked through them all.

Casuistry, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:50 (twelve years ago) link

Also, you're supposed to have no more than [a certain number] of black squares if you hope to get published by the big-leagues, and certain black-square formations are frowned upon (full 90 degree right angles -- basically anything Tetris-y).

Casuistry, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:52 (twelve years ago) link

I think it's 17% black squares, or 40 squares in a 15x15 puzzle. Though Tausig had one that was 46 recently.

certain black-square formations are frowned upon (full 90 degree right angles -- basically anything Tetris-y).

I didn't know this.

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:57 (twelve years ago) link

I'm not sure it's as hard-and-fast a rule as the percentage one, but on those rare occasions when I see such a puzzle, I'm always a little startled by it. I dunno, I should flip through one of my NYTimes books to make sure I'm not fooling myself about it.

Diagramless puzzles, of course, are all about that.

Casuistry, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 17:00 (twelve years ago) link

http://www.cruciverb.com/index.php/articles/htmlpages/120

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 17:01 (twelve years ago) link

A++ for "Paris's friend," Jaymc -- actually took me a while, with excellent payoff

nabisco, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:09 (twelve years ago) link

Total pro-level theme on that one, too!

nabisco, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:09 (twelve years ago) link

Ha, I sort of wrote that one with you in mind, N!

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:10 (twelve years ago) link

The "Paris's friend" clue, I mean.

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:10 (twelve years ago) link

I had to look that one up after I got the answer, I don't watch that show.

Jordan, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:13 (twelve years ago) link

I feel like a dunce when I get stuck on Amazing.

sound of scampo talk to me (El Tomboto), Sunday, 6 September 2020 00:53 (one month ago) link

I do the Spelling Bee most Sundays - tbh I didn't realize there's one on every other day too - and it's good to hear that their judges are fallible. I think it was the Sunday before last when I found at least five legit words in it that weren't accepted by the website. I was expecting to be classed some kind of mega genius, but the rejections humbled me back down to a more average level.

Josefa, Sunday, 6 September 2020 01:42 (one month ago) link

I only play the Bee occasionally, partly because all I ever hear about it is ckmplaints about what it will and won't accept.

I mean, I empathize on COPE (or whatever) but the continual lawyering about the word list is (a) boring and (b) a disincentive to play the game.

the hardline according to shrimp on the b'arby (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 6 September 2020 01:56 (one month ago) link

* complaints

the hardline according to shrimp on the b'arby (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 6 September 2020 01:57 (one month ago) link

I agree, everything I hear about Spelling Bee is complaints about the word list

Michael F Gill, Sunday, 6 September 2020 02:14 (one month ago) link

I play it every day and enjoy it, shortcomings and all. Even if I chafe against its word list (AARGH and YECCH and YECH are all accepted), it's broadened my vocabulary (tomtit, lanai).

Ruth Bae Ginsburg (Leee), Sunday, 6 September 2020 03:20 (one month ago) link

I’m past bitching about the spelling bee word list; all games have arbitrary rules or else they wouldn’t be games. I don’t have enough time in the day or brains in my head to ever reach “queen bee” but as long as I hit Genius and get a pangram I’m happy.

I do wish they let you play through past spelling bees like the regular puzzle and track stats. I’ll assume that’s coming if enough people keep playing it.

sound of scampo talk to me (El Tomboto), Thursday, 10 September 2020 03:29 (one month ago) link

Today's Spelling Bee is brutal.

Ruth Bae Ginsburg (Leee), Saturday, 12 September 2020 00:17 (one month ago) link

I just barely managed genius. I hate that E sitting in the middle ruining all the easy -ing options

sound of scampo talk to me (El Tomboto), Saturday, 12 September 2020 00:18 (one month ago) link

Exactly!

Ruth Bae Ginsburg (Leee), Saturday, 12 September 2020 15:02 (one month ago) link

weekly themeless tournament starting in October, looks cool:

https://www.boswords.org/

Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Thursday, 17 September 2020 18:23 (one month ago) link

Additional rules here which definitely answered some questions I had: https://www.boswords.org/nuts-and-bolts

Out, vile jelleee (Leee), Sunday, 20 September 2020 18:06 (one month ago) link

Can someone explain 117 Across from today's puzzle?

Kaliningrad Oberst (Leee), Sunday, 27 September 2020 17:05 (three weeks ago) link

like "reputation"

Piven After Midnight (The Yellow Kid), Sunday, 27 September 2020 17:36 (three weeks ago) link

hey will shortz “panini” is plural you donut

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Sunday, 27 September 2020 19:01 (three weeks ago) link

Ah thanks, Yellow!

Kaliningrad Oberst (Leee), Sunday, 27 September 2020 21:12 (three weeks ago) link

Boswords pre-season starts this Wednesday!

Kaliningrad Oberst (Leee), Monday, 28 September 2020 18:27 (three weeks ago) link

preseason puzzle was tough! took me over 13 minutes, but no wrong squares

Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Thursday, 1 October 2020 04:56 (two weeks ago) link

typing out and retyping out today's goddam rebuses on a tablet fucked up my time something fierce

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Thursday, 1 October 2020 19:08 (two weeks ago) link

first sub-six minute Wednesday tho

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Thursday, 1 October 2020 19:08 (two weeks ago) link

i don't entirely know how to go much faster than that? I can often get to 5 on mondays but doing any quicker than that on any difficult level seems impossible because of the time spent reading and inputting clues. do people faster than that just immediately know all the answers?

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Thursday, 1 October 2020 19:10 (two weeks ago) link

yes

Erdős-szám 69 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 October 2020 20:20 (two weeks ago) link

seems like that would get a little boring but what do i know

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Thursday, 1 October 2020 20:33 (two weeks ago) link

Mondays are boring, no doubt. It's basically just typing. But streaks and low average times are nice so I just do them, like taking medicine.

zombeekeeper (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 1 October 2020 20:47 (two weeks ago) link

can someone explain Thursdays crossword to me?

i thought i understood the concept of rebus but im confused by

Stage a coup RGAONTROL

flopson, Saturday, 3 October 2020 19:07 (two weeks ago) link

grABControl

sound of scampo talk to me (El Tomboto), Saturday, 3 October 2020 19:08 (two weeks ago) link

Thursday’s broke us too, we had a really nice streak going and I had just been thinking “60 more days of working from home in lockdown and we’ll finally crack the previous streak record!”

sound of scampo talk to me (El Tomboto), Saturday, 3 October 2020 19:10 (two weeks ago) link

thx!

flopson, Saturday, 3 October 2020 19:12 (two weeks ago) link

I loved Thursday, but then I am a 1970s person, aware of the now-dated gimmick.

I could see that numbers were going to be involved when I filled in 3 down, but it wasn't clear yet what was going on so I just went ahead and kept solving.

I think what gave it away (for me) was GENGHIS not fitting unless you did a rebus for the GHI and that was my "aha" moment.

May you live in interesting Times New Roman (Ye Mad Puffin), Saturday, 3 October 2020 19:23 (two weeks ago) link

We stupidly attempted plugging in the actual numbers into the rebus a couple of different ways

sound of scampo talk to me (El Tomboto), Saturday, 3 October 2020 19:34 (two weeks ago) link

Yes, I'm hearing that it was picky about how you typed it in, but I didn't have trouble.

May you live in interesting Times New Roman (Ye Mad Puffin), Saturday, 3 October 2020 19:37 (two weeks ago) link

i hated it but i am a crossword noob

tom what was

Bisected INA

flopson, Saturday, 3 October 2020 20:21 (two weeks ago) link

It was In 2. The conceit of the puzzle was that in one direction the answers were a number and in the other direction they were the 3 letter sequence paired with the number on a touchtone phone.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Saturday, 3 October 2020 20:28 (two weeks ago) link

I signe up for Boswords w/ a friend, on the medium difficulty. Incidentally, I am not fast and he is. Proud to be deadweight.

rb (soda), Saturday, 3 October 2020 21:41 (two weeks ago) link

Stage a Coup: grABControl
bisect: In2

so that one square was ABC/2 which was unpleasant to type and requires you to remember push button/rotary phones.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Saturday, 3 October 2020 22:00 (two weeks ago) link

You could just leave it as ABC though?

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 3 October 2020 23:35 (two weeks ago) link

Iirc it accepted 2, and then once the puzzle was complete it displayed as ABC.

May you live in interesting Times New Roman (Ye Mad Puffin), Saturday, 3 October 2020 23:38 (two weeks ago) link

didn't try that!

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Sunday, 4 October 2020 00:10 (two weeks ago) link

It was In 2. The conceit of the puzzle was that in one direction the answers were a number and in the other direction they were the 3 letter sequence paired with the number on a touchtone phone.

― justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Saturday, October 3, 2020 4:28 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

Omg... mind blown

completed my first Saturday today :)

flopson, Sunday, 4 October 2020 04:26 (two weeks ago) link

The most recent Saturday was another tough one, especially the SE. Nearly a DNF.

Did pretty well for Bosword's week 1!

Fisherman's Worf (Leee), Monday, 12 October 2020 22:44 (one week ago) link

Boswords week 1 wrecked me, but I did much better on week 2

Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 06:28 (one week ago) link

Made a boneheaded error in week 2. :(

I want to luhbahguh babum gum (Leee), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 18:18 (six days ago) link

Did the puzzle today for the first time since, well, whenever I last posted here. Seemed super easy for a Friday.

Here Comes a Slightly Irregular (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 16 October 2020 20:38 (four days ago) link

Same re: Boswords. 'loci' for 'foci' and another error took my score to the crapper.

america's favorite (remy bean), Friday, 16 October 2020 21:25 (four days ago) link

oh that was my week 1 mistake too!

Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Saturday, 17 October 2020 01:17 (three days ago) link

434 monday is my new top speed. I think i am approaching apex there for me.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 19 October 2020 04:34 (yesterday) link

some nice chewy answers on saturday. loved it.

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Monday, 19 October 2020 06:49 (yesterday) link

Saturday was really challenging! But well-constructed enough that I didn't get naticked.

I see the Bosword standings for week 2, and they did not dock me for my incorrect answers (unless I had a major brain fart and actually answered correctly).

I want to luhbahguh babum gum (Leee), Monday, 19 October 2020 17:48 (yesterday) link

I don’t seem to have shown up in the week 2 bosword standings?

rb (soda), Monday, 19 October 2020 18:10 (yesterday) link


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