Sunday, December 22, 2013

Centennial (Sunday brunch: December 22, 2013)

I have to day that the week in puzzles didn’t live up to my expectations for the week of the centennial of the crossword.  Google ended up being the big surprise, putting an interactive crossword in their doodle Friday and Saturday.  It was a nice puzzle with a theme that paid tribute to Arthur Wynne’s original.  If you didn’t see it already, it’s archived at  I did it in 7:34, though I would have worked faster if I knew there was a timer on.

Turns out there was a helluva story behind the puzzle, as recounted in the Washington Post.   Merl Reagle had a puzzle all ready to go, and then Google learned that Matt Gaffney had just published a puzzle with the same theme.  So they dumped their puzzle, and asked Reagle to come up with a replacement.  Reagle responded like an old pro, and the Google programming team led by Tom Tabanao gave it a very smooth online presentation.

The Post also did a puzzle contest for the centennial, using a Washington theme. The prizes are probably all spoken for now, but it’s still a fun experience.

Kevin Wald has 100 letters in his grid called “In a Century of Letters,” but there’ll be a few more when you’re done.  The grid part is actually pretty easy; it’s the conclusion that will leave you scratching your head for a while until it all comes together.

The National Post cryptic missed the centennial, but did celebrate the start of winter by recognizing two of Canada’s greatest athletes.  One’s a hockey player and the other is a figure skater, so you know it was a hit in our family.

The Wall Street Journal went seasonal too: a Patrick Berry puzzle called Candy Canes.  There's not a lot of interlock between groups of rows, so you really need to get three starting points to finish the puzzle: use a pencil.  I’ve got the solution posted elsewhere on the blog; there’s a fun twist in the finale.

The Times?  They didn’t even give us a crossword for the variety puzzle this week (behind the paywall).  It’s a Boggle-type letter game by Will Shortz in a novel 3-D format.

For some centennial reading after you finish solving, visit the Guardian for a column by Alan Connor or get Connor’s book “Two Girls, One on Each Knee.”

Finally, I got an update from the Cryptic All Stars team.   Their target ship date has slipped from December into January, but the puzzles are being edited now.  The giant poster-sized puzzle is done, and there are extra copies available for $10.00.  I also got the souvenir pencils they’ve promised to their supporters.

1 comment:

  1. I've launched something that might ease your disappointment. It's a 7x7 'magic square' crossword with no grey squares. You can solve it at


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