November 02, 2005

I've gOTTA WArn you

Byron Walden's Thursday NYT is the puzzle Will Shortz called a wower, featured in the finals of last weekend's Westchester Crossword Tournament. I don't know that I'd call it a wower (is that really a word?), but I will say wow and hooray! A Thursday puzzle that's Friday+ hard! Without the circles in the grid, I suspect many solvers would have just thought this was a tough puzzle and missed seeing the elegant twist of six capital cities divided between two words in the theme entries. Plenty of trademark Byronic touches, like APOLLO XI and PUBLIC TV side by side, IS IT ME and HAS A GO, stern clues like "receivers of manumission" for SERFS.

The NYS by Patrick Blindauer offered two theme entries that described the central 15-letter entry, which is MAKE UP OR BREAK UP, split and mixed in an alternate-letter mishmash. My favorite clues were "it's not a cheap shot" for BOTOX and "exmaple, for example, for example" for TYPO.


Byron, you're best known for your themeless puzzles. What prompted you to make this puzzle? My guess is you were reading a menu and saw ROME lurking in the Denver omelet, or saw AMMAN in team manager in the sports pages. It couldn't have been seeing a mascara case, because I can't say I've ever heard anyone talk about a mascara case. (Lipstick case, yes; mascara, no.) We'll forgive you and Will for not knowing that—but clearly, the world of crossword editing and construction could benefit from including more women.

NYT 6:54
NYS 5:11
CS 2:53