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.