MGWCC #328

crossword 3:19
meta 5-10 minutes    (3.50 avg; 7 ratings)
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Posted in Contests | Tagged | 20 Comments

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Jonesin' 3:55 (Amy)    (3.50 avg; 1 rating)
NYT 3:42 (Amy)    (3.72 avg; 23 ratings)
LAT 3:11 (Amy)    (3.78 avg; 9 ratings)
CS 11:18 (Ade)    (3.70 avg; 5 ratings)
Xword Nation untimed (Janie)    (no ratings)
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Posted in Daily Puzzles | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Fireball contest crossword from 9/11/14

Fireball 12ish minutes + meta time (Amy)    (4.92 avg; 24 ratings)

Big puzzle for this venue—21×22. It took me around 12 minutes, I think, to fill in the crossword, and I circled the dual-action rebus squares. Each of the 11 Down theme answers is the name of a bird, but always clued in non-avian contexts. The first letter of each bird crosses an Across answer where that letter is replaced by EGG. Circling those rebus squares puts 11 round eggs into the grid! Really neat.
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Posted in Daily Puzzles | Tagged | 7 Comments

Monday, September 15, 2014

NYT 3:12 (pannonica)    (3.86 avg; 25 ratings)
LAT 3:21 (pannonica)    (4.12 avg; 17 ratings)
CS 9:53 (Ade)    (3.50 avg; 5 ratings)
BEQ 4:46 (Amy)    (4.30 avg; 5 ratings)
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Posted in Daily Puzzles | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Sunday, September 14, 2014

NYT 9:40 (Amy)    (3.83 avg; 26 ratings)
Reagle 9:08/1 error (Amy)    (2.88 avg; 4 ratings)
LAT 7:59/1 error (Amy)    (3.36 avg; 7 ratings)
Hex/Hook tk (pannonica)    (3.75 avg; 2 ratings)
WaPo 11:04 (Sam)    (3.82 avg; 11 ratings)
CS untimed, reveal button detonated for Southwest portion (Ade)    (3.19 avg; 8 ratings)
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Posted in Daily Puzzles | Tagged , , , , , | 30 Comments

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Newsday 28:24 with 16 squares in the NW corner unsolved (Matt)    (4.00 avg; 8 ratings)
NYT 8:55 (Amy)    (3.80 avg; 22 ratings)
LAT 4:02 (Andy)    (3.46 avg; 13 ratings)
CS 18:22 (Ade)    (3.42 avg; 6 ratings)
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Posted in Daily Puzzles | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

How to construct a crossword puzzle

If you are seriously interested in learning to construct crosswords, there are books and other resources (including mentors) that are incredibly helpful. If you just want an overview of the process, you’re in luck! The folks at Mental Floss have run two articles on that this week alone.

The first one, by a freelancer who does editorial work for the New York Times, was a sorry attempt. It talked about Will Shortz … but then everything went haywire. It said that Will has reviewed hundreds of crossword submissions in 21 years. Actually, it would be close to 8,000 accepted puzzles and probably well over 50,000 rejections in that timespan. And then … the author proceeded to explain the steps for making a criss-cross puzzle. ”

Next, you want to gather a list of words. Depending on level of difficulty, you might want your words to be short and easy or the kind of words you need a Ph.D. in English to know. If a holiday is near or if you know a lot about a certain subject, go with a theme.” Wait, what? “Once everything is laid out, black out the remaining squares.” No mention of symmetry or the actual way that a crossword grid is designed. And then! The last sentence is “If you think your finished product is good enough, the Times will pay you $300 for daily puzzles and $1,000 for a Sunday puzzle.” Um, Shortz doesn’t accept criss-crosses.

Once the crossword people heard about this article, the uproar was swift and highly entertaining, and Mental Floss pulled the feature off its website. (The link above is for a cached version of the page, including comments at the bottom.)

Matt Gaffney responded by pitching an article to Mental Floss that would actually explain how crosswords are made, and the magazine bit. Within a day, Matt had constructed an aptly themed crossword and run it through test-solvers; he wrote his article, and Mental Floss posted it quickly. “Editor’s Note: Last week, we published an item on how crossword puzzles are made. As many, many readers pointed out, we didn’t have our facts straight. You deserve better. So today we’ve enlisted the help of professional crossword puzzle writer Matt Gaffney. Matt currently creates crosswords for The Week, New York Magazine, and  Washingtonian, and he also wrote our book of crosswords. Let’s try this again.” You can solve the puzzle before reading by printing it out from the link at the beginning of the article, or you can just read and perhaps learn. Great work, Matt!

Posted in Daily Puzzles | Tagged | 4 Comments