December 29, 2006

The Fresh Princes of New York

The crossword cognoscenti all recognize Peter Gordon's antipathy to using the same ol' clues in the New York Sun puzzles. Did you know that the New York Times clues under Will Shortz's aegis, while perhaps less aggressively new than the Sun clues, also tend to eschew the same ol' stuff? It's true. If you use the Cruciverb database and look up the clue summary for, say, STY, you find that the #1 clue is the rhyming [Pig's digs]. The NYT hasn't used that clue in over six years (four times in the earlier years included in the database), and the Sun's used it just once, in 2002. In contrast, the LA Times, Creators Syndicate, and CrosSynergy puzzles have each turned to [Pig's digs] seven to 10 times.

So when you think about the sort of easy clues that you've seen over and over (and over) again, you might not be encountering them so much in the Sun or the Times. This is just one factor that makes Will and Peter's puzzles more challenging, interesting, and consistently high-quality than the other mainstream daily crosswords.