Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Tuesday, July 21, 2020, Zhouqin Burnikel


It's a lovely Tuesday when Ms. Burnikel is the NYT crossword constructor. I find her grids so smooth and fun, and with such a great theme as well.

Today, she treats the numbers 2 0 2 0 in five different ways, with different punctuation or spacing to make the differences clear. How often do you get a TIESCORE that is 20-20? Not too often in baseball, hockey, or soccer, that's for sure. Rarely in football, but probably fairly routinely in basketball.

I kept on looking for VISUALACUITY, but it didn't show up until 4/5 of the grid was filled. It's interesting that none of the other four examples are in fact a RATIO. The 20/20 of the eyetest is simply that twenty feet away looks like twenty feet away. Ted Williams of the Red Sox famously was said to have 20/10 vision: for him, twenty feet looked like only ten feet, which apparently gave him an advantage on judging the spin of the ball as it left the pitcher's hand.
The last was the most unexpected: 65A: 2020, e.g. (LEAPYEAR). There were so many choices for how to describe this year. Catastrophe? Apocalyptic? Maybe even hopeful by the end of it, dare we say?

As is typical for Ms. Burnikel, there are two very nice long down answers in ALLFIREDUP and WHATASHAME. I liked OHHI and MYMY so close to each other. DAWDLE is a wonderful word.

26D: Worst possible mark on a test (ZERO) is a cute clue.

So once again, IMGLAD I got to review this puzzle.

- Colum


  1. Well, they can't really clue 2020 to some variation of "Year with the Summer Olympics in Japan" can they? Although I too smiled at LEAPYEAR so there be some incongruity or something else I'm not quite finding the words for.

    As for Jefferson being on the NICKEL, somehow I wanted to have him on a bill, and I gather he is on the $2 bill but I only know this after spending lots and lots of time reading Wikipedia articles on various kinds of paper money and coins and next thing I know I was reading an article about whether it was legal to own gold for several decades, and boy this crossword habit can be hazardous. See where it can lead you?

  2. 5:45
    Geez, I hope that one can own gold; I have a small vial of gold dust that I obtained when I was in second grade (1974, I think) from Knott's Berry Farm, having panned for it myself. Its value is probably nil, so I think I'm safe either way. I enjoyed the theme since it's number-based, RATIO being my favorite answer even though 20:20 is not generally a very interesting one. I didn't know that OMBRE is a "popular" hair coloring technique, and were it not for my certainty of AUTOPEN, I probably would have had an FWOE there. LOMEIN, ALLFIREDUP and CAPRIS are nice fill. I didn't know DIEGO, but with two or three crosses it was inferable.

  3. 5:07

    It's almost like you set today's photo up yesterday by using ICECUBE, even when the clue was not about the man. Very nice. And speaking of yesterday, my two second advantage has been obliterated. Nice time!

    This was a fun theme, but now I'm afraid I'm going to spend some time online researching this gold ownership thing that Mr. Kingdon has mentioned. It's an odd coincidence, because I just happened to pass by a show on PBS where a financial guy was recommending that every portfolio should include some gold bullion, because, as he said, "you can't print gold." I ask you, what are we supposed to do with the bullion if we can't hold onto it for as long as we want?