Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013, Jeff "Not by the hair on my chinny chin" Chen



LOVED it! Slowly we worked out that the long downs were definitions of the word "cut," but the "see above" and "above the rest" parts eluded us until the very end. It was the NE that finally did it. I got TTTTT (Aids for long drives) ("tees") and then I was still a little undecided about the Ts running across the top. I kept thinking it should be "ththth," or something like a raspberry sound. I showed Frannie, and she, having fought with multiple Us in the middle, put it all together. Very nice, Mr. Chen. Very nice.

Some great clues today, too. 112A: One famed for heartlessness (TINMAN). Brilliant. (Too bad the farmworker (ZEKE) was Lahr's character instead of Haley's (Hickory), but still a nice pairing.) 24A: It has nine rooms (CLUE). Fabulous. And I like how HOUSERULE (28A: Game twist) has such a prominent position, because Mr. Chen is using his own house rules for the "CUT" letters (1A: Oceans (CCCCC) ("seas"), etc.). It's really quite lovely.

It's a little odd that THIRD (106A: Like New Jersey, among states admitted to the Union) followed THRICE (105A: Triply), but there's so much quality, including the very next clue - 107A: Subway fare (HEROES) (do we need the E there?…) that I'm looking the other way. 

Really, though, there's almost nothing wrong here, and there's so much good. 74D: Withdraw from the bank? (ERODE), 18D: Crisp (TERSE), 102D: Ain't right? (ARENT)… and a new contender for "best SIRI clue" 95D: Her name is Norwegian for "beautiful woman who leads you to victory." 

Maybe my favorite Sunday ever. A cut above the rest, indeed.

- Horace

p.s. Jeff Chen's account of how this puzzle came to be is worth a look. It's over on the Wordplay blog. (sidebar)


  1. Funnily enough, I got the top part before I figured out the way the long clues were related. I kept wanting them to be answers to "rest" or "the rest". Once I got ALBUMTRACK, it was finally clear. I got stuck in the SE because I put CHIRp in for CHIRR, and then for some reason thought TINtiN was the answer for the heartless one, which worked because SiTBY almost works for "Didn't get involved". Weird combination of wrong almost right answers. Overall an excellent puzzle. Very nicely done.

  2. Untimed (>2:00)
    I also put in CHIRp instead of CHIRR, but I got the theme somewhat quickly (for the long answers, anyway), so that was changed with SNIDEREMARK (75D [See above]). The thing that held me up was the north. I didn't know what to do with the three Us in a row, thinking that I'd made some grievous error until I got three Cs (3D, 4D, 5D) and realized that 1A Oceans must be CCCCC (seas!). Then I noticed that 33A Profit from was UUUUU (use). That led to my realization of the visual CUT across the top ("above the rest" - brilliant, indeed). From there, the north finally filled in. I may show this to Sue, but I hate to incite her wrath.