Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gavotte in 225 squares (Puzzle No. 3,342)

When I checked out Peter Schickele’s page for definitive information on P.D.Q. Bach, what should I find there but crossword puzzles?  Thinking a little more about it, I wasn’t surprised. An academic and entertainer, one who puns for a living?  Of course he’ll have an interest in crosswords.  And so Professor Schickele has taken the leap and constructed some puzzles of his own.

I solved one of the later ones in the collection: it’s not to the standard of a Times puzzle, but it’s better than many amateur compositions.  As is often the case with novice constructors, parts of the fill leave something to be desired, with a lot of threes and fours and some clues designed to legitimize non-words as grid entries.  The cluing is better, with plenty of musical references (not obscure, but definitely not common), as one might expect, but several groaners as well.

And the theme entries and clues were excellent (you’ll have to solve for yourself to see them).  The kind of wordplay in the themes hints that Schickele might have a knack for cryptics. Maybe some constructor could invite him for a collaboration.

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): moderate to hard.  Not exceptionally difficult, but at least to me it wasn’t as smooth a solve as some other recent puzzles.

Hozom’s comment: “Between the Cracks” in which Hot and Trazom try and categorize a few of their less common clue types.  Like me, they often resort to “pun” as a means of explaining wordplay. Generally, these are the ones with emphasis on the “play” part of “wordplay” and the I think the puzzles are much richer for them.  The best of them I’ll share with The Other Doctor Mitchell at cocktail hour, and she’ll alternately cheer and groan.

Cluing challenge: CATEGORY

Back with the solution on Monday.  Join us this weekend and every weekend for Sunday brunch.

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