Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sunday, May 31, 2020, Jeff Chen and Lewis Rothlein


Frannie and I solved this one together, as we have been doing for the past few weeks. She thought it was cool that the constructors were able to find entries containing these forward and backward strings, and that they could fit them into a puzzle using this "up and down" stack method, but I was left unsatisfied by the nonsense words left in the original crosses, and by the fact that the stacked letters were sometimes words in themselves and sometimes not. I know it's a lot to ask, but when I see some like "plan," "omen," and "bile" (upside-down), I start looking for another level. When I then find things like "secre" and "deta," it's a little disappointing.


Honestly, I feel a little like Mr. Chen himself saying that. In his reviews he frequently wishes for that next level idea, that raison d'ĂȘtre that will tie everything together. I guess I've just got to trust that if he and Mr. Rothlein thought it couldn't be done here, well then it couldn't be and that's that.

So let's look elsewhere, shall we? It's interesting that GELT (Traditional Hanukkah gift for kids) is back in the puzzle so soon, and it was fun to see both AZTEC and INCAS in there. "Bug experts, informally" was a good clue for ITPEOPLE, and I very much enjoyed the non-QMC "This and others" for CLUES. On the QMC side, "Pop a wheelie?" was cute for GETAFLAT, and "Places for hustlers?" (DISCOS) got a chuckle, but I thought "Breathtaking sight in the ocean?" was a bit too far to go for GILL.

So in the end, Frannie's happy, because she's already excited about making up a new definition for MOBRARIES and using it all the time at work, but I thought that the puzzle could have been more ELABORAIL if only it had contained some kind of a justification for the trick. Maybe it was impossible, but that's what I do, I OPINE.


  1. 27:48
    I'm a fan of the puzzle. For me, it's a nice trick that doesn't necessarily need another level, though on the other hand it's always nice to have one, but still, I ENDORSE this one with ZEAL. I meant to see ITONYA a while back, then forgot about it. Maybe I'll throw it on the queue. I briefly tried cEll where GENE goes, which slowed me for a little while, and entered DAMnIT at 112A, but the LEGARMOR cross straightened that out for me. MOBRARIES is my favorite of the nonsense words. And we don't normally see the full MUHAMMADALI in a grid. Also, did people notice that rePairshOp fits where IMPOUNDLOT goes? That didn't help. Nice to see ITALY in the grid. At this very moment, I am enjoying some Mozart arias sung by an Italian native, which I'm given to understand is not particularly common.

  2. This was an amazing puzzle. When I see quadruple checked letters (that is, a letter which is part of regular across, regular down, trick answer up, and trick answer down), I am first of all impressed that it could be done at all, and then I wonder whether the fill suffered. So looking for those awkward fill in the blanks, made up acronyms, etc. And this puzzle is surprisingly lacking in that kind of forced answer. I was quite fond of GILL so I guess there's no accounting for taste.