Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016, Martin Ashwood-Smith


Either Mr. Ashwood-Smith is getting better at creating these puzzles, or I'm getting better at solving them. Or both. Could be both.

Well, it's the (once) dreaded quad stack puzzle. Quad plus two triples, making ten 15-letter answers. Since the meat of these types of puzzles are those long answers, it's worth looking at them a little more closely.

I'd say there are two fairly blah answers: those would be PURSUETHEMATTER and INTERESTRATECAP. The latter is saved somewhat by the clue: "It's of no concern to a usurer". And why is it of no concern? By definition, a usurer lends money at unreasonably high interest rates. So I liked that. Just the term itself feels like something a certified public accountant would say.

I'm sorry. I don't know how that got in there. The people responsible for the insertion of pictures have been sacked.

Anyway, the strong answers include IAPPRECIATETHAT, TOTALITARIANISM, ICOULDEATAHORSE, and TESTEDTHEWATERS. The others were in between. I'd say that's a good percentage for this kind of puzzle.

But, as always, the tradeoff is in the crosses, which have to suffer to get all that fun stuff into place. Impressive then, that the top section only has RET and partial ITS to complain about in my book. I liked the Baryshnikov reference for MISHA. 3D: It comes with strings attached (APRON) is a nice clue. No complaint about Bob KANE or the excellent STAX record label.

The bottom section is also very good, with only DET and partials AWIRE and ILET to detract. I like the tin anniversary trivia for TENTH, and the ALICE quote is marvelous and immediately recognizable.

The middle section, though. Oof. TETE, AAHS, RTES, ISSET, and MERS. SEIDEL is pretty obscure as well, but that and OCULI I can accept. I was impressed by NAUSEAM. And I do have to take a moment to appreciate 13D: Labor day highlight (CHILDBIRTH) - very nice! The lack of a capital in "day" should have given it away.

Overall I actually enjoyed it, so here's to you Mr. Ashwood-Smith.

- Colum


  1. 18:27

    What do you make of "Something that might interrupt a flight, for short" (APB)? At first I thought, Hey, that would just delay a flight... but they mean a criminal's flight from the law, don't they? Pretty fancy. Especially on the same line with "Frequent flier" (PILOT). Nice.

    Also, Colum, the clue "Faboo" (NIFTY) makes me think of the woman who is visiting us this evening. :) And speaking of her, and her daughter, I tried "pas de" where ENTRE belonged (____-deux). Hah! And, for that matter, I thought I was so clever guessing "STair" for "Way up" (STEPS), but I like the real answer just fine too.

    ALLUP isn't too familiar to me, but I kind of like the phrase, and it Googles up well. The long vertical pins are quite nice - the aforementioned CHILDBIRTH and TORETOBITS ("Shredded"). Overall, I agree with the positive review!

  2. 38:20
    Just what a Friday should be. I can't complain too much about the fill that allows for the stacks; I quite enjoy stacks, as the phrases are often a nice mix of run-of-the-mill sayings and more obscure stuff like STRAITOFMESSINA, which I, for one, didn't know. I entered INTERESTRATE___ right away off of the clue, but needed a cross for ___CAP, which I got pretty quickly with ALICE. I guessed on the "X" of STAX/LEX, but other than that, didn't have much of a problem. SPAT (4D Cross words) and STEAM (10D Whistle blower?) were nice, and everyone loves a grid with ASS.