October 04, 2006

Thursday, 10/5

NYT 3:56
NYS 3:36
CS tba

Kevin McCann posted an update at the NYT forum earlier today—Cruciverb.com may be down for a few more days while various ISP/phone/cable companies learn how to get along. If you're craving the LA Times puzzles in Across Lite, see the comments on the previous post for Karen Tracey's offer; the other puzzles Kevin posts are generally available here.

Before heading off to Europe for the annual World Puzzle Championship, Will Shortz promised NYT solvers a forehead-smacker (this, I reckon, is akin to a sock-knocker-offer). Presumably he was referring to Joe DiPietro's Thursday puzzle, which wasn't very difficult to solve...but must've been a bear to construct. The clues are in ALPHABETIC ORDER, with exactly three clues for each letter. This accounts for a clue like [Kangaroo pocket openings] for SLITS; can you think of a smoother clue that lands between "just" and "Ken" in the alphabet? But while I was solving this puzzle, the clues never struck a false note (the kangaroo one seemed the oddest, yet was completely gettable). If anything, the clues were a little easier than I'd expect, which is amazing given the limitations inherent in how they were written. I wonder how much the fill was worked and reworked to facilitate the cluing. (The same gimmick was used in Lee Glickstein and David Liben-Nowell's Wednesday Sun puzzle from June 8, 2005—mere days before I started this blog—with two thematic entries, RUN THE GAMUT and ABECEDARIAN. I think the fill came out a bit smoother in Joe's NYT version.)

I was able to zip through Will Nediger's Themeless Thursday from the New York Sun faster than I've ever done a themeless Sun or NYT crossword. What was your experience—easier than you expected? And d'you think SNEEZES AT and RUNNY NOSE were meant to be a mini-theme?