Thursday, February 1, 2024

Thursday, February 1, 2024, Simeon Seigel

Good morning, puzzle lovers! It's the first day of February, and the first day of The Turn, our term for the tougher, trickier end of the week puzzles, from Thursday through Saturday. Sure, we enjoy our more straightforward fare of Monday and Tuesday, and the oddities of Grab Bag Wednesday (a term we have never before used, but which seemed to deserve capitals), but these are the puzzles we look forward to.

Today, Mr. Seigel gives us a theme where the answers have two LOOPDELOOPS, one above the line and one below the line. Appreciated is the fact that there are no shaded or circled squares to give away what's going on. Doubly appreciated is the fact that I had no idea what I was doing with these theme answers until I completed the revealer at 61A.

And the third level of appreciation lies in finding three strong theme answers with repeated strings of two letters separated by two letters. Thus, TH[IS]THATANDTH[EO]THER. You can see how the bracketed letters are abutting the same pair of letters on either side. Similarly RAM[AL]AMADING[DO]NG and WHE[NT]HETIME[CO]MES.

The final level of appreciation for the theme is the fact that the excess letters do not compromise the fill, despite the letters having to fit in a single answer but be read in opposite directions, as in SINAI containing the IS in the first theme answer, or OBOE containing the second loop of EO. These letters are all "triple-checked," meaning they have to work in three different answers, rather than the standard two of a regular crossword puzzle grid. Often this means major compromises in the fill.

STN is an acceptable bit of crosswordese, as is SEC, AROD, and OBOE, a constant in the New York Times puzzle. BAL Harbour, Fla. is a reach. Apparently it's at the northern end of Miami Beach, but who outside of vacationers has heard of it? Certainly not I, and I clearly represent the majority of puzzle solvers. But if that's the only issue, I'm down with it.

Juliette LEWIS

Also, these tough sections lead to THREEPIO, NEGAWATT (great word!), ACTALONE, NIHILO (love me some Latin), and SOFTEDGE.

I like 23A: Character with a famous opening line? (ALIBABA), 54A: Home of some of the best drivers in No. America (PGATOUR), and 47D: Kind of sense (SPIDEY).

- Colum


  1. Thanks for the review, Colum.

    I'm not easily offended, especially by games. That said? This one completely lost me with it's clue for CROSS at 51D. Really bad form.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, Kelly. Nobody wants to have a bad taste in their mouth after solving a puzzle.

    2. You know? That one was a bit jarring for me as well.