June 27, 2005

Finally finished!

When Eric Berlin asked for volunteer puzzle reviewers several months ago, I jumped at the chance. (This was before I spent $94 on puzzle books.) I received 28 Sunday-size Crosswords Club puzzles and rating forms on which to record my impressions. My favorite part of the form was the 1-to-10 scale ranging from "too easy" to "too difficult." The hardest ones I gave an 8 or 9 to, but if a puzzle is fair, in my mind there's no such thing as "too difficult." "Deliciously difficult" or "a worthy challenge," yes, but not "too difficult." I solved the last puzzle this morning. Truthfully, I'm glad to be rid of the burden. I generally prefer late-week themeless puzzles to Sunday puzzles (the exception being those with brilliant themes, like that crazy Frank Longo anagram one in the NYT a couple months ago).

Spoiler ahead: Don't read this if you're reviewing the puzzles for Eric but haven't gotten through the 12th puzzle yet. My favorite puzzle in the batch was called "Introduction to Rock and Roll." I'm hoping Eric will reveal the constructor's identity when the review process is complete (the forms are all due later this summer), because I don't know who to rave about. The theme was an intricate one: the first word of each multi-word theme entry could be followed by "rock" or "roll"—i.e., PLYMOUTHVALIANT yields Plymouth Rock, and KAISERWILHELMII (is that one in the Cruciverb database?) yields Kaiser roll. There were 10 theme entries (accounting for 110 squares), and they alternated between "rock" entries and "roll" ones. How cool is that? What's more, one of the non-theme entries was VROOM, and the clues were fresh and creative overall.