Saturday, February 16, 2013

Expect the unexpected (Sunday brunch: February 17, 2013)

On average, the cryptics by Richard Maltby are the hardest that are regularly published in America.  This was not an average week.  First, after thoroughly beating his 1968 New York Magazine solvers up with "Vicious Circles" (which see), Stephen Sondheim took the week off and had Maltby fill in.  The result was "Anesthetics." I got the gimmick pretty quickly, and finished solving in a day or so, which is pretty good for me.

Then yesterday, the new Harpers appeared, with a puzzle titled "Title Search." (puzzle available to subscribers only)  I started in on it on a walk over to the library, got the top right corner right away, and instantly saw the theme.  This one categorizes as a theme puzzle rather than a variety puzzle, which is Maltby's usual medium.  I solved it by the time I got on the train home, in case you were one of the people on the platform wondering what that guy was doing blowing smoke from the muzzle of his pen.

Two easy wins?  Sabers did even easier, winning his latest tournament with a pair of 15-2s, after a decent effort Thursday against much tougher competition.  

There's a whole weekend left?  What to solve?  Start with the Hex cryptic in the New York Times (behind the paywall).  Deb Amlen has commentary at Wordplay, and I'll post the solution later this weekend.

With one set of circles done, Patrick Berry kept me well rounded last night with "Section Eight": a different form of circular variety puzzle: instead of radial words, there are eight sectors: one letter comes out of each sector and the rest are rearranged each time you move inwards.  A tough but very fair puzzle.

And of course, there's the weekly Hex cryptic in the National Post.  Falcon asks us: "Where's the Theme?"  (I think that was rhetorical.)  I'm not so worried about a theme considering the unusual grid.  Each of the 7- and 8-letter entries in the center are fully checked: rare in a block cryptic.


  1. Yah, did you /like/ the "Title Search" Harper's? Agree that it was gratifyingly easy, annoyed that it was gratifyingly easy. SO MANY tap-in clues in service of the ambitious theme. SO MANY repeats from recent puzzles.

    btw I have a review of Harper's cryptics at Check it out!

  2. Tell us how you really feel, Erica!


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