Pencils out! Congratulations to TTC Partner Simeon Seigel, whose original crossword puzzle is in The New York Times today. You can read the article and solve Simeon’s crossword below!
(text from The New York Times “Wordplay, The Crossword Column” by Deb Amlen)
THURSDAY PUZZLE — Making one’s crossword debut on a Thursday in The New York Times is impressive no matter how you look at it. There are expectations for Thursday puzzles: Trickiness of theme, whether it is a high-wire act or just one harder than Wednesday; fill that is not only clean but harder than what might be found in an earlier-in-the-week puzzle, and interesting to boot; and a plethora of clues that misdirect the solver. It is unusual for a new constructor to clear all those bars.
Simeon Seigel makes his debut and, in my opinion, he has done it very well. His puzzle put up a pretty good fight, and there was enough entertainment in each sector to keep me happy.
“Very happy to be making my New York Times debut. These days, I find myself maniacally focused on just a few overwhelming obsessions, with school reopening and the pandemic leading the short list. Constructing crosswords offers some respite by momentarily zooming out to words and topics from all over — the farther from current events the better! I imagine it has that effect for lots of solvers, too.
I’m an architect living with my wife and daughter (and these days, my son on leave from college) in Brooklyn, N.Y. I initially got into this mess a few years ago when my then-second grader took an interest in word puzzles; it turns out that brainstorming themes and gimmicks is great with kids who haven’t yet learned to think inside the box. Major thanks to my good friend Rich Proulx (a great crossword constructor and a real mensch), who has been a reliable sounding board for just about every puzzle I’ve worked on since then.
This puzzle came from thinking of ways to use “grid art” (evocative arrangements of black squares) as an integral part of the solve. Limiting the set to 15-letter phrases with the string __ AND __ but not the word “AND” yields plenty of colorful options … however, combinations of four such entries that can intersect one another are scant, which makes for a tighter theme. Having _ AND _ straddle two words would have been my first choice — like TASMANIAN DEVILS, say — but alas, that was one constraint too many.
Providing enough white space around the black square plus signs to make them “pop” was another special challenge, but combining that with a minimal reveal (“AND”) left room for some extra eight-letter slots. That helped in a grid which appears, at least at first, to have no long theme entries.
As a noob constructor, I was sad to see some of my favorite clues edited out, such as “Joint holder” for SINEW and “Not a firm order?” for SOFT BOIL, but I was also glad they were able to keep quite a few of my own. I’m starting to appreciate the editors’ need to distribute sneakier clues in just the right places for a smoother solve, especially on a tricky theme.
I hope you all enjoy it!”