August 26, 2005

What can you say about Byron Walden's beast of a Saturday NYT? Whoa and wow. And whew! Several other recent puzzles with triple-stacked 15s have been surprisingly easy, since it's usually not much of a struggle to figure out at least a couple of the 15s. Not so with this puzzle. I needed a lot of crossings filled in first before I could hazard a guess at any of the long entries. And I was thisclose to Googling in the SW corner (the comet and Tara's foreman), but rolled the dice with some judicious guesses. While there were only two things I was tempted to Google, there were so many more that I absolutely did not know but managed to decipher somehow.

I've got a terrible alternate clue for 38D, HADAGOAT: "What Old MacDonald did."

Now, count up the number of entries you just plain didn't know. I had about eight, plus the six slowly revealed 15-letter entries. Yeow!

Updated with more puzzles:

Henry Hook's "Smile" (LA Weekly) had some unfamiliar entries, too, but not as cutting-edge as Byron's PICONETS. Iceland's parliament is ALTHING (which I may have know at one point), and the 1950s skating champion is TENLEY Albright (a woman who went on to become a surgeon; notable quote: "If you don't fall down, you aren't trying hard enough.") I liked the inclusion of WOMYN, too.

The Newsday Saturday Stumper was by Daniel Stark, not Stan Newman, so it was fairly easy. Stan's website acknowledges that his contributors' Stumpers are easier than his own, but doesn't explain why the Saturday puzzle is still labeled "Stumper" when it's far less likely to stump a seasoned solver.

Today's CrosSynergy puzzle is a light one by Patrick Jordan, while the LA Times offers a good themeless (with two pairs of 15s) by Kendall Twigg. My favorite clue from the LAT: "Back biters" for MOLARS.

NYT 9:34, with a deep sigh of relief
LA Weekly 8:40
LAT 4:35
Newsday 4:02
CS 3:28