June 09, 2006


You know why my favorite type of themeless crossword has stacks of long entries (9+ letters), as opposed to 7x7 corners? Because the longer the entry, the fresher it's likely to be. While 7-letter words aren't exactly a dime a dozen in crosswords, stacked 15's are much rarer. The Saturday NYT by Harvey Estes is bracketed by triple-stacked 15's, each with six 7-letter entries crossing them; going across the center are two 9's, two 10's, and a 7. So, an elegant and molto ambitious grid, with plenty of great fill and clues. There's an asymmetric mini-theme of GARRISON KEILLOR and EDITORIAL WRITER (I like his political columns), KING TUT and SPARE PARTS, LOVE SET and PAISANO, the promotional "Product line" MAKES A GREAT GIFT. I recalled ENTENTE CORDIALE from last year (Manny Nosowsky also used it in his March 11, 2005, puzzle). I found the clues to be on the tough side: "It's full of x's: Abbr." is ALG (algebra), that EDITORIAL WRITER is "One whose pieces are slanted," while a "Parlor piece" is DIVAN. "Put down" is DEPOSITED, while "Puts down" is ABASES. I much prefer a crossword that, like this one, offers precious few gimmes—I like to finish quickly, yes, but it means so much more when the puzzle puts up a fight first.


The other puzzles today are two themeless crosswords—Bob Peoples' LA Times and Daniel Stark's Newsday Saturday Stumper—and an easy "Central Scramble" from Thomas Schier in CrosSynergy.

NYT 7:14
LAT 5:07
Newsday 4:37
CS 3:12