Saturday, December 31, 2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016, Jeff Chen


Whew, let's sign out 2016 with a truly tough puzzle! Mr. Chen shows off his tough cluing and unusual long answers. It's also a challenge that the NW and SE corners are nearly completely cut off from the middle diagonal.

1A: Join, as two pieces of metal by application of heat and pressure (SPOTWELD) gets a B- from me. It's an unwieldy clue, with a reasonably good answer. It's certainly not neutral. I like 15A: People on the wrong end of a landslide (ALSORANS) much better. My first confident answer came at 5D: Enamel finish? (WARE).

I love MISCREANT as an answer. 27A: Cosplay and fanfic are parts of it (NERDCULTURE) helped a bit, because I figured out the "nerd" portion early. But even then much of the middle was open, even once I recalled the PERSIANS were on the losing end of the battle of Marathon.

In fact, I filled in the entire SE corner before the middle. I liked this corner the best. 31D: Pistol (GOGETTER) was maybe my favorite of the whole puzzle. It was nice that it crossed HOTRODS.

Meanwhile, I've never heard of UNOBTAINIUM before, but I love it! A substance that is "hypothetical, scientifically impossible, extremely rare, costly, or fictional", according to Wikipedia.

How about 39A: Strips to pieces? (BACONBITS) - hah!

I finished in the NE with ASCIIART. Oof. HARSH!

Anyway, a very good puzzle, which gives me a better feeling than I'd had earlier in this week. Here's looking forward to 2017. Horace will be taking over tomorrow. Which reminds me, Horace, Frances and I are ringing in the New Year in Delmar tonight. Hope everyone has a fun and safe night!

- Colum


  1. I put SPOTWELD in off the clue, but the experience was completely the opposite of yesterday. Instead of taking a long time to get in and then finishing quickly, I got in immediately and finished some 175 miles away! But what a ride it was!

    MISCREANT, NERDCULTURE, UNOBTAINIUM, BACONBITS, ASCIIART, THEANDES, ANACONDA, HULAHOOP, GOGETTER... PERSIANS, SANCTION... It's NOWONDER Mr. Chen is considered one of the best in the business! This was a great puzzle, and a perfect way to close out the year. A sincere thank you to Mr. Chen, Mr. Shortz, and all the other puzzle constructors. And another thank you to you, Mr. Amory, for sharing with me the pleasure and the burden of pounding out a puzzle review every single day of the year. I don't know how long it will continue, but I'm still having fun and I hope you are too. And finally, thank you, our readers. We wish you continued fun, challenging, and satisfying puzzle-solving in 2017, on computer or on paper, and in real life!

  2. 55:00 (FWOE)
    This was a tough one, but I've had worse. My error came at the cross of HERD/SIRENIA. The latter I don't know, and the former I'd guessed HEaD, and SIaENIA seemed sufficiently Greek to me. MISCREANT (a word which I use often) and NERDCULTURE were my favorites, although UNOBTAINIUM and BACONBITS (probably the best clue) are close behind. HERBARIA was good, and ALSORANS went in for me off of the clue. As did VENICE, of course. I needed a few crosses for PERSIANS, and CADENCE, TARRED and STROVE are excellent. Fun end to the year.