Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017, Jeff Chen


This is what I call a classic Sunday puzzle theme. It's right out of GAMES magazine from the old days. One word is put inside another to make a new word or phrase. What elevates this particular theme is the cleverness of the cluing: it's almost cryptic crossword style, with the exception that there is no reference to the finished product. Still, in each example, there's some term to indicate that one word is inside the other.

My favorite example is 68A: Flourishes around monsoon events (BRAINSURGEONS), or "rains" inside of "burgeons." Very nicely done. I also very much liked 28A: Neighborhoods surrounded by crime (THEFAREAST), or "areas" inside of "theft."

While all of the theme answers are clued well, I didn't think DRIVETRAINS stands up that well as its own phrase. Also, 116A: Crew found inside again and again (THROWINGRICE) doesn't work that well with the manipulated words. Why is "rowing" equal to "crew?" Shouldn't it be "rowers?"

Meanwhile, the rest of the grid is strong, as is to be expected from Mr. Chen, who pays very close attention to the quality of the fill. I feel sure he will remark on the "cheater" squares in the NW and SE corners, which likely improved those areas. Look at 18A and 18D, GRAVLAX and GROK. Beautiful combinations there. 1A: Per (APIECE) gets a C+, though, for its commonality.

Other nice entries include DOTTEDI, POSSECUT, and DULCINEA. 3D: Does his name ring a bell (IVANPAVLOV) and 124A: Need a lift? (SAG) are both GROANERS, but the former positively, the latter much less so.

I really have very little to complain about. Yes, there's AONE, NRA, and ECRUS (how can a color be pluralized?), but it was a fun Sunday.

- Colum


  1. 34:20 (FWOE)
    I wasn't too familiar with KARPOV; I wanted Kasparov in there, instead. DRIVETRAINS is perfectly fine (IMO) as, often, these are warranted for a bit longer than other parts of a new car. I loved the theme, but made my error at the cross of DULCINEA/LEN, as I didn't know either and thought that an "i" would work fine there. It didn't. I wanted "Irish" at 45D "Fighting" collegiate team (ILLINI), but the crosses were fair and the number of letters needed didn't match up too well with my wish. SEESTARS (75A React to haymaker) is excellent. I wasn't too happy to learn of 82A Its filling contained lard until 1997 (OREO), but at least I took lard at that point in my life. It's always upsetting to hear of things with hidden animal products.

  2. 21:11
    Yes, I enjoyed this one also. Maybe I was just happy to have a puzzle I could finish, after yesterday's dumpster fire.

    It was a little bit unfulfilling to me that Mr. Chen didn't drop a little hint to the final full answer in the clue somewhere. I think this would have made it closer to the Games Cryptic Crosswords that we all remember. Between that challenge, and the hardest one (ROYALTASTERS) being the first one, this cost me a few minutes in the NW corner. I should know better than to start there anyhow.

    There were three answers here that I had to say a little prayer at the end. It turned out I had guessed right on all of them. (GRAVLAX, GATS, and SAL). We'll see if I can remember what the heck Sal Ammoniac is when I see it again 10 years from now.

  3. 19:24
    I don't usually put in my time on Sunday, and I do so now only because it is faster than Mr. Berman's time. :)

    I attribute my nearly two-minute advantage to having dropped in GRAVLAX off the clue. Mmmmm.... cured salmon....

    And since I'm throwing shade, I might as well say that Karpov also went in easily. I was never a huge fan of the guy, but he was the only one challenging Kasparov before the latter got so big that only IBM could take him down.

    OK, enough crowing. I enjoyed this one, too, not least because it made me chuckle at the puzzle constructor's brain. Who else would look at DRIVETRAINS and see "drains" and "rivet?"

  4. Well played Horace. I do recall you walking out of the room before me at least half the time in Connecticut. I may have to hire a photographer next Sunday to infiltrate your breakfast nook and snap a bunch of photos while you are solving. SNAP SNAP SNAP. This will surely get me my two minutes back.