Thursday, May 16, 2019

Thursday, May 16, 2019, Jeff Chen


Today the "revealer" answer, RAMPUP, explains precisely what needs to be done to understand the four seemingly incomplete answers and the four unclued answers. Take the first set, 26 and 20 Across: South American landmark whose name means "old peak." At 26A there is only room for MACH, which, conveniently, is a word, but it's not the word we expected. Then at 20A, the odd ICCHU is revealed. Slowly (ok, maybe that was just me) we notice that there's a "ramp" of black squares connecting the two answers, and if we imagine that ramp as the word "up", the answer becomes the more appropriate "Machu Picchu." Now, if I were the sort to quibble, I'd ask aloud why there were three squares in the ramp instead of two, but since I am instead the "artist" type, I will allow the word, and my mind, to stretch to fill the existing space. I will also declare this a fun, well-done trick puzzle.


Still, since I am something of a dreamer, let's discuss for a moment the convention of the hyphen clue. It signals immediately that the answer will be a continuation of a previous answer, and I have mixed feelings about its "giveaway" nature. What would it have been like if both fragments were actual words (like MACH, LEASE, and EARS are) and the second, upper word had been clued and answerable separately? The first would still be a word, but just not the word you expected - kind of like that "lop off the ends of the word in the grid to get the real answer" puzzle that we saw a little while ago. I suppose that would be exceedingly hard to do, but still, it would be pretty cool.

But aside from that, is there any other way to treat the hyphen clues? Maybe just not include the clues at all in the list of clues? People would think it was an error, but if it happened four times, one might catch on. Oh, I don't know...

Anyway, the rest of the grid is just the kind of well-made, well-clued affair that you'd expect from a master constructor and fellow blogger. KEYSTROKES (58A: Button-downs?) (a very strong QMC) might be my favorite today, although the far-more-straightforward-but-still-excellent "Inert" (STATIONARY) is also good. Things got a tad strained (CPLS, STRATI) around the revealer, but it's nothing objectionable. Overall, I loved it.

- Horace


  1. 14:16
    Methinks that it, the 3 black squares rather than two, is because in each case the answers have multiple words and in each case the U and P, respectively, end one word and start the next. So you have MACHU PICCHU, KUNG FU PANDA, IF YOU PLEASE, and D'ANJOU PEARS. Of course, in three of those four cases, the symmetry and cleverness kind of get lost a bit because there is no black square between KUNG and FU, nor IF and YOU, and, of course, there is no ' in the grid between D and ANJOU. It kind of feels like in trying to be literal with "space" in the three black squares, the construction kind of steals some of that artistic imagination that would have stretched to cover the other missing spaces and apostrophe. But, that is definitely a quibble.

    1. Yes, a square for the space makes sense. Let's go with that.

  2. 8:02
    I agree with Icarus, but in the following way. The parts of the phrases that end in U or start in P are completed on the same row they start or end on. The black space in the middle does work as a spacer, but is not intended to be the only example of a space in the word, just the one that allows the U-P to ramp. I accept it as is without quibble. I love 58A: Button-downs? (KEYSTROKES). That's wonderful cluing.

  3. 20:49
    This was excellent, and a nice diversion on a Thursday. GALAXY unfortunately crosses EXHUMES, but that's not terrible. LCHAIM looks odd spelled out, but then I haven't been to too many Jewish weddings, and never saw a toast written, only heard it pronounced.