May 14, 2006

Mother's Day of crosswords

A leisurely breakfast in bed was followed by a crossword puzzle marathon. Okay, so really, it was a short marathon, but it had more uphill climbs than I expected.

First up, Patrick Berry's "Traveling in Circles" in the NYT, featuring FAMOUS CROSSINGS. This encapsulates what makes good crosswords fun: You've got famous crossings from ancient and more recent history juxtaposed with the CHICKEN crossing THE ROAD. Other features of this puzzle: A brilliant clue ("Obstructor of congress?" for CELIBACY), the unusual inclusion of long non-theme fill like ONE-ARMED BANDIT (necessitated by the asymmetry of the theme entries), some tough spots (including, of course, the six unclued CROSSING pairs), and many words not commonly seen in crosswords (HAYFORK, NOODGES, and—huh? who? what?—SELJUK, "ancient Turkish dynasty founder").

Richard Silvestri's Washington Post puzzle had clues for everything, and yet it took me longer to finish it. In each theme entry, MA has been added, to good effect.

Despite my reputation for not being the most baseball-attuned person, Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's "Swing Time" puzzle from LA Weekly didn't give me much trouble. Did baseball nuts need to rely on the crossings as much as I did in order to complete the six 21-letter theme entries?

If you're in the mood for an easier Sunday-sized challenge, try Gail Grabowski's LA Times syndicated puzzle, "Cagey Connections," or Fred Piscop's Newsday puzzle, featuring terms for collectors.

And, in a smaller themeless format, don't miss Bob Klahn's excellent CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge.

WaPo 12:09
NYT 10:54
LA Weekly 9:15
Newsday 7:12
LAT 7:10
CS 5:54