Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hello, Hot and Trazom (Puzzle No. 3,290)

While I wouldn't call it a themed puzzle since none of the other clues make reference to them (birthday puzzles and other tributes seen in Britain often include the spouse or avocation or some other fact about the honoree), our constructors make a cameo appearance in their own work this week.

Just as readers of this blog have to put up with the fine points of conducting a face-off or my trumpeting of The Other Doctor Mitchell's latest triumph, constructors deserve license to throw some personal references in their work.  Maybe we can have a puzzle devoted to the test solvers, starting with Hot's daughter, who seems pretty bright in her own endeavors.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): fairly easy.  I made steady progress, starting with the downs.

Hozom’s comment: Incomplete Wordplay, in which Hot and Trazom point out how Puzzle No. 3,289 broke the rules normally associated with American (and Canadian) straight block cryptics by leaving some bits out of the wordplay in the theme clues: specifically John Paul, Benedict, and Francis (I imagine it would be a lot harder to clue Wojtyla or Bergoglio, but Ratzinger is easy).

My two cents on the concept is that I like it.  I see The Nation as an intermediate-level puzzle, and Frank Lewis historically bent his puzzles towards the British style.  That doesn’t mean that only those variations are acceptable; it means that the puzzle is going to go past the boundaries of the straight cryptics you get in the National Post or in Games Magazine, but not too far past them.

Not only is that a little more of a challenge for solvers who are ready for it, it’s something of a confidence-builder.  Get through something where the wordplay doesn’t exactly follow the script, and you’ll have a bigger appetite at Sunday Brunch: bring on the Hex variety puzzles in the Wall Street Journal, Richard Maltby in Harper’s, Tom Toce, Patrick Berry, and Mark Halpin!

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