March 25, 2009

2009 ACPT Puzzle #4

Puzzle #4 — 3:06

If you're planning to do this year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament puzzles at home, either by mail or online, don't read on! There will be ACPT SPOILERS in this post. (I highly recommend doing either at-home option. Only $20! And fun! These terrific crosswords won't be showing up in the New York Times, and you can get an idea of how you'd stack up at the ACPT.)

They say Puzzle #1 is the easiest puzzle of each year's tournament, but this year many people felt #4 was a notch easier. Andrea Carla Michaels and Myles Callum teamed up to make "Twice as Nice: You'll have to spell it out for us, please." The theme entries represent the word double by doubling a word that follows double in a familiar phrase:

  • [It cuts both ways] refers to a double-edged sword, or EDGED EDGED SWORD.
  • [London transport] is DECKER DECKER BUS.
  • [Large mobile home] is a WIDE WIDE TRAILER.
You know what my favorite bits were? In the fill, the phrase GO AWRY. (Anyone else think the U.S. Army's recruiting website's URL looks poorly chosen? looks for all the world like a mysterious old adjective. "Oh, don't pay him any mind. He's a goarmy old coot." Plus, if you turn the m upside down and have it switch places with the r, goarmy turns into go awry.) The [Err] clue isn't as fun as its answer.

Barry, Maurice, and Robin are the GIBBS who are [The Gees of the Bee Gees]. Boring ol' EDDY gets dressed up a tad with the clue, [It tends to go counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere]. [Adam and Eve's tree?] is a FIG tree, the better to harvest leaves to cover one's nakedness.

One thing that makes this puzzle easy is the inclusion of a bunch of "repeaters," the short words that are the glue that holds crossword grids together. There's a RUER, the EE's (EEN and EELED), the EL's (ELIA and ELBA), and the AL's (ALAI and ALOE). Zip, zip, zip through the puzzle, hopscotching across these familiar companions.

Up next: Patrick Merrell's #5. {Insert movie soundtrack signaling doom.} And to think that we all thought Pat was a super-nice guy who made fun puzzles. Little did we know that he had the heart of a cruciverbal killer...