Saturday, December 29, 2012

Do you like snow too? (Sunday Brunch: December 30, 2012)

Bangle and Sabers are looking forward to the weekend's forecast snow almost as much as I'm looking forward to the Hex snowflake that will be on the lawn tomorrow morning in a Wall Street Journal hidden under some of that white stuff.

The New York Times has a Hex acrostic, which if pattern holds will escape the paywall in its Java form on Saturday (UPDATE: nope--they fixed the paywall).  They've also posted a January "bonus" puzzle behind the paywall: another Fred Piscop creation.  Is it a diagramless or something else?  It's not tagged as diagramless, and Piscop did have a diagramless in last Sunday's Times.

Meanwhile, Deb Amlen is raving over Saturday's New York Times puzzle, in which Joe Krozel managed to construct a stack of five fifteen-letter words.  The rest of the puzzle had to be compromised to make the stack work, but Joe's place in constructing history is assured.

And while there wasn't a The Nation puzzle this week, Hot and Trazom do have a new post in Word Salad.  They decry the tendency of North American constructors to slavishly adhere to the [unwritten] rules, which they think stifles the opportunity to create some fun clues (I agree with that part) and also takes away an element of individuality from constructing (I disagree with that part: I can pick out a Hex puzzle from the way they use secondary definitions, and correctly identified them when The Nation held its puzzle auditions).  So do you think Hot and Trazom are right?  Go over and join the debate.


  1. No argument about Hex's virtuosity within US conventions, but they did *not* audition for The Nation job.

  2. My memory failed me there, Hot--it was actually Patrick Berry that lots of us had recognized in the auditions. As good as his puzzle was, I urged The Nation to pick someone else because I figured that Patrick getting the Nation gig would force him to do fewer of his Rows Gardens and other great variety puzzles. Berry is just as recognizable as Hex, and we're fortunate to have both of them constructing for us in their various venues.

  3. Many people recognized the Nation audition constructors because the names were anagrammed in the byline. If you can really recognize Patrick Berry's cryptic clues, I'm impressed, given that he constructs so few cryptics. Plus, he set this audition puzzle along with Trip Payne, and who knows who wrote or tweaked which clue. Both these guys are brilliant constructors -- there's absolutely no doubt about it -- but I doubt I, for one, would be able to recognize their cryptic clues in a blind test.


If you're responding to a hint request, please remember not to give more information than necessary. More direct hints are allowed after Monday.