Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wednesday, July 31, 2019, Dan Caprera


Welcome to Wednesday, where the oddball puzzles live! I am pretty amused by today's "X marks the spot" (literally) theme. There are four 15-letter answers that make up pirate treasure instructions. I like that you don't need the pirate-speak clues to follow their directions: you could simply read STARTATTHESKULL EASTTWELVEPACES SOUTHSEVENSTEPS WESTFIVETHENDIG, and you'd end up at the only X in the puzzle, right in the middle of the grid.

Of course, since X does always mark the spot, we hardly needed the instructions, but that's just being mean-spirited.

There were other theme-related answers, such as PET, SEIZE and PRIZE in the SE corner, as well as TRUNCHEON, which feels like it should have been mentioned somewhere in The Pirates of Penzance, but never was ("Here's your crowbar and your centre-bit; your life preserver - you may want to hit; your silent matches, your dark lantern seize, take your file, and your skeletonic keys").

As is typical of quotation puzzles, I moved slightly more slowly than a typical Wednesday. I made a couple of missteps myself, including DISks instead of DISCI and heWN instead of SAWN, but these were corrected well in time.

Otherwise, ECASH and the INTRANET felt like reverse anachronisms in this puzzle. I think I'll ENDIT there.

- Colum

P.S. Two debuts in a row! Welcome, Mr. Caprera!


  1. 15:01
    I guess there must be a skull in the top right square in some versions, but certainly not on the Across Lite one. Besides the theme, which is great if one can see a skull, and those answers mentioned by Colum, there are some other unusual answers here: TYPEAB, MARQUISES, MOTO, ENTENTES, DELVES, COMMANDO, BETHESDA, ASWAN (two place names not often seen) and the unfortunate ASPHALT. I, too, entered heWN where SAWN belongs, but corrected it quickly.

  2. I solved in an app (which did not show the skull) and then went onto the website to find the skull. I tried to "dig" (tap the screen) on the final square, but that didn't do anything special so then I noticed that X marks said spot.

  3. 11:22 paper

    The paper printout had the skull and crossbones, as did the web version, and figuring out that the theme answers were directions helped me to guess at them, which probably sped things up, but I still ended up thinking this was harder than a typical Wednesday.

    I liked it!