March 31, 2006

Saturday the Foolth of April

Kevan Choset and David Kwong's April Fool's Day NYT is tricksy. I crave a wide-open Saturday grid (my precious!), but I can always make an exception for a tricksy puzzle that toys with the format. This one almost makes it too easy by including the key word think in the clue for OUTSIDE THE BOX, "How you have to think to solve this puzzle." There's an extra THINK pushed outside the borders of the grid at all four corners; for example, at the bottom left (where the gimmick first dawned on me), DEE[T], RIC[H], ELH[I], AEO[N], and MEE[K] sit atop an extruded THINK. Combine a twist like this with some Saturday-level clues (such as "Nice brushes" for CARESSES) and fill (NO WAIT), and I'm content.


Today's LA Times puzzle by Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke is probably my favorite of their many joint ventures. Some Saturday-level clues and fill, as in the NYT puzzle, combined with an April Fool's twist, as above.

Stan Newman's ("Anna Stiga") Newsday Saturday Stumper has great fill with plenty of high-Scrabble-count letters (JFK AIRPORT, MIZZENMAST, THE DAKOTAS, ANTIQUATING, ADJUNCTS, A VOTRE SANTE, SORE LOSERS, O GAUGE). And is that enough for me? Of course not. As delightful as the grid was, the clues weren't quite hard enough to give me a strenuous Saturday workout. The clues were great, with lots of interpretative vagueness (the plain words with plain clues in the NW corner managed to elude me until the end)—I just would have liked it if they put up a little more of a fight. I think seeing Mike Shenk's A finals puzzle last weekend has whet my appetite for a good cruciverbal whupping. This may sound a little whiny or critical, but really, I liked the puzzle a lot—so much that I wanted to spend twice as long working through it.

NYT 7:58
Newsday 5:19
LAT 5:05
CS 2:58