Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013, David Steinberg


Long ago there was a publication, edited, I'm pretty sure, by Will Shortz, called the "Four-Star Puzzler." (It was affiliated with Games magazine, whose highest ranking of difficulty for a puzzle was three stars.) They ran a crossword called "Element 18," (argon) wherein all the Rs that would normally have been in the answers were simply left out. In this puzzle, instead, we are forced to add Rs to what would be sensible answers to the given clues, which results in random new words. Hmph. Not my favorite.

We actually "finished" this puzzle with blank squares, then slowly realized that Rs would fit into all of them, including, importantly, 63A: Moderates (E_ASE_S), and then the resulting word, if parsed into two parts, would read "Erase Rs." But to have the puzzle accepted by the software, we needed to do exactly the opposite.

- Horace


  1. Unfinished. I missed the instructions and couldn't figure it out at all. Kudos to this one though: MRANDMRS. That's brilliant.

  2. Yes, MRANDMRS is clever, but I just felt that the whole thing was missing something. It's interesting to think of words that can also work as words without Rs, but the reveal seemed backward, and the new words didn't have anything to do with anything.

  3. Very strange. I just did this this evening--I'm a day behind. As I was doing it, I was all ready to savage the thing: Another too clever but weird and unfun creation of the boy genius. I didn't completely get the thing until after I was finished, so I am quite proud of finishing with zero write-overs. Now that I am done, and I can take in the whole creation, I think this one is quite brilliant. Horace, It's a shame you had to fill in the R's in order for it to be accepted. The only way the thing works is with the eleven empty squares. That's the way the clues work, obviously. When you have it done with the blank squares and then go back and read what the answers would be with the R's, you appreciate the achievement. The revealer is spot-on and rather ingenius: After the puzzle was finished (in theory, I know), with "erasers," "corners," "rambler," "at rest," etc., the constructor went back and took out all of the R's, and reclued the fifteen--I think--answers affected. And the in-puzzle revealer was in the last across pre-alteration. I really think you guys are selling this thing short. Sure, maybe it's brilliant after the fact, but it is still brilliant. Plus, "theme" aside, there's some nice stuff in here. Refreshing to see CEDILLA instead of serif for "Letter attachment." Don't remember seeing LUEGO previously. "Boomer born in 1961" might have been my favorite. I was thinking generic baby boomer until very late in the game. Nastase has been in puzzles a lot, but I like the stack of those two athletes. Love seeing two other guys from my youth, Weird All and Casey Kasem. Young Mr. Steinberg, I've reviled you in the past, but today I salute you. Keep 'em coming, my man.