Thursday, September 20, 2012

I solve 'em so you don't have to (Old time hockey)

While I was in bed with a cold earlier this month, I worked a few puzzles I came across in a stroll through the crossword virtual world.  I had originally intended to do the 1992 Eugene Maleska "Cryptocrossword" linked in this post from Jim Horne's blog, or at least get far enough to solve the cryptogram meta, but bagged it after ten words or so because the fill was so cruddy.

But there was a diagramless in the PDF I had printed out, so I started idly knocking that one back.  The fill there was even worse, but since it had become apparent there was a novelty grid, I stuck around to the finish (see solution below the fold).

So what'd we learn?  The era of Google, anagram servers, and other crossword tools may be a boon to us solvers, but it's been even more revolutionary for constructors.  They can now feed crossing letters to their computers and get lots of interesting candidate words, instead of relying on their own vocabularies (which were liberally enhanced with Crosswordese).

And I don't think that internet solving tools have altered the balance of power between constructor and solver as much as some purists might think.  Both sides have gained from this arms race.  If anything, it's changed the crossword game from one where memorization and experience prevails, to one where cleverness prevails.

I sure like it better.


Solution below the fold

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