Friday, June 6, 2014

One at a time? (Puzzle No. 3,328)

In the last couple of posts at Word Salad, Hot and Trazom talked about critics, and their sometimes-unrealistic expectations.  This week they bring up the concept of the “meta,” which is a big deal among the most dedicated solvers, the type who frequent the NPL.  In previous episodes, they lamented the pans they got from critics and commenters who were offended when a clue failed to meet the strict Ximenean guidelines espoused in the solvers’ guide.  Finally, we embarked here last week on a voyage through Frank Lewis’s work, with the observation that most if not all of his puzzles break those guidelines into smitheroons.

Let me try and fit all those pieces together.  What would you solvers think about a puzzle where instead of a set of theme answers you might have to solve with assistance from the other words in the puzzle, you have one or two answers that are the sheer play with words that is the hallmark of Lewis and the best of the British constructors.

Perhaps if they were limited in number (one or two per puzzle), set off either by a prominent location (edges, center, the longest answers in the grid) or with an asterisk or some other kind of notation in the clues, and able to be reasonably guessed at from intersecting letters, the more fastidious among us might smile on such innovation.

There are some tremendously creative and amusing bits of wordplay out there, but they’re closed off from most solvers because they don’t think the reward of seeing the answer is worth the struggle through the rest of the puzzle.  Why not make them more accessible?

Like the idea?  Hate it?  Have your say in the comments: Hot and Trazom stop by regularly.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): easy

Hozom’s comment: Meta-Physician, in which Hot and Trazom introduce us to Matt Gaffney and to the meta: a final puzzle within the solved puzzle.

Back with the solution and annotation on Monday.  
Join us this weekend for Sunday brunch, won’t you?

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