Friday, July 18, 2014

Scorecard (Puzzle No. 3,331)

Still owe you a solution to 1,066—it’s pretty hard.

As Hot and Trazom hinted a few weeks ago, we have a variety cryptic this week in The Nation. Variety cryptics usually but do not always have a bar-style grid instead of a block grid.  The thing that defines a variety cryptic is some kind of systematic breaking of the basic rules.  It could be an alteration to some of the clues, an alteration to some answers before they go into the grid, a set of unclued answers or answers which are not numbered so you have to sort out where they go.  It can get much more complicated from there, working up to the well-loved forms seen regularly in The Listener and in Harper’s and the intricate and unique twists Kevin Wald creates.  This puzzle is an invitation to explore that universe.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle):  Easy.  I think that was intentional, as a means of not scaring solvers off from trying a variety puzzle.  Still, there were some good spots of misdirection to trap solvers who want things to be too proper.

Hozom’s comment: “Writing a letter,” in which Hot and Trazom explain how constructors get and use single letters in their clues.  There’s a lot of opportunity for misdirection here if constructors are alert and creative.

Cluing challenge: “HORSESHOE

We got a nice comment a coupla weeks ago correcting an earlier post about the MIT Mystery Hunt.

Erin Rhode wrote:
>>Sometimes I Google myself to see what comes up... regarding the Mystery
>>Hunt cryptic, while I wasn't an author, I was an editor. The original idea
>>was Aaron Bader's, Kevin Der wrote the grid (and holy crap, I still don't
>>know how he did that), and Aaron and Dan Katz wrote the clues.

So I looked up Erin, and interestingly, she fit right into the topic I’d planned on using this week.  The Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held Tuesday, and it brought to mind my habit of keeping a scorecard when I go to the ballpark.  My earliest recollection of scoring a game was watching an All-Start game on TV when I was about 12.  I made up my own form for it, with a ruler and ball-point pen, and eventually used a ditto master to print a bunch of them.  Like so much else, the computer makes it a lot easier today, but I still use a scorecard of my own design, with a few quirks like spaces designated to record hot dogs, cheesesteaks, and beer consumed by the scorer.

So I wonder if the same geek gene that’s responsible for an interest in cryptic crosswords and other odd puzzles also drives an instinct to keep score at the ballgame.  It’s worth doing if you’re at the game: not just for the bleacher cred (Erin subtitles her blog “Don’t try to show up the chick with the scorebook.”), but also because you might end up with the greatest souvenir, as when a college friend of ours went to a Braves game and ended up scoring a no-hitter.

Erin linked a couple more puzzles from the Mystery Hunt: I’ll add them to this weekend’s Sunday brunch.

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