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David Kwong author page

21 puzzles by David Kwong
with constructor comments

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214/1/20069/6/20205
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David Kwong
Sun 9/6/2020 COULD YOU REPEAT THAT NUMBER?
STRAPTOMBSROPESIAN
IRINAORIONEXERTRBI
LOFTSMANGAVIRGOELL
ONESELFGERIDALANES
YOUONLYLIVETWICE
ODSSPREESBASIEECO
VEEIDEDAILOLDSAWS
UNSEENWIZLAUREL
LITTLEBROWNANDCOMPANY
AREASLICITEWOKS
ROTSONOHEPASIS
SPASMBUILTCLINT
TINKERTOEVERSTOCHANCE
OMEARASNLAUSTIN
INERTIALIECAMPATT
ODESTIEGTOBOOTXES
INTERCONTINENTAL
GENOAIRTREGKEROUAC
RTESOFIAABASESUNRA
ITSEULERMAMIEASIAN
NASDREDDPRESSLETBE

Hello puzzledom! So pleased to be back in the Sunday magazine. And with a puzzle that was years in the making. I love constructing puzzles in which the grid numbers are relevant. As you can imagine, it's a difficult construction feat. Every time you insert or remove a black square, the numbers cascade and change. It's just the kind of torture that we constructors love.

Through earlier versions of the puzzle, I learned about some more subtle things that Will and the team look for. The first is "long answers to engage the solver." Previous versions of the grid got all the numbers to work but the answers were too short. So I had to rework the grid first and foremost to get some 21s in there. The second thing I learned is that Will doesn't like answers that are "too cluey." That means answers that are arbitrary in their wording. For example, I used to have the clue (Double) Dutch lead to GAME USING TWO JUMP ROPES. Answers, I've learned, need to be tight and canonical phrases.

My favorite part of this puzzle has always been the twist with 111-Across. I actually wanted to title the puzzle "Double Headers" and let the solver infer that the same principle, albeit with triple, needed to be applied to 111-Across. But with "Could You Repeat That Number?" I believe they are encompassing all the tricks under one title and that works quite well.

Last, in the bio that accompanies the crossword, Will was kind enough to mention my upcoming virtual puzzle show with the Geffen Playhouse, Inside the Box. Would be thrilled if all you puzzle-heads can join! There will be fun interactive games, twists and turns and surprises. Below is the poster for the show. There might be something else going on in this image ... if you know what it is, please message me on Instagram or Twitter (@davidkwong).

The show premieres on 9/29 with times for both the East and West Coasts. All ages are welcome! More info about Inside the Box is here at the Geffen Playhouse website. Happy solving!

Thu 9/19/2019
ASSARABSMADMN
LAHGOPROABODE
ONOAMRICANCRIM
NTWTAINTACA
GAMOFTHRONES
ASPIREALLFOR
ANTSILOSORCA
SIAHOMLANDACT
ATTATENORUAE
PAELLADROIDS
PANTOMIMQUIZ
AFTSTARSLOE
PRIMTIMEMMYENS
PERILSOFIANET
STORYTSARSTDS

I always wanted to have PRI(ME)TI(ME)EMMY be the revealer, but what filled out the rest of the puzzle took a bit of work. Actors who have won the award were not lining up for symmetry. I had the full list, including DEBRA(ME)SSING, JA(ME)SGANDOLFINI, RIZAH(ME)D, A(ME)RICAFERRERA. Even dug deep to find PA(ME)LAADLON and (ME)RRITT WEVER. I even looked at hosts: SETH(ME)YERS, JIMMYKIM(ME)L and (ME)RVGRIFFEN. But no dice!

In the end, I'm very pleased with making the show names work. A(ME)RICAN CRI(ME) / STORY mirrored MAD(ME)N nicely. And PANTOMI(ME)QUIZ works because it's a nice piece of trivia that it was the first winner. And I think if I didn't include GA(ME)OFTHRONES I would have been in big trouble.

I hope you enjoyed it!

Sun 2/17/2019 TRIVIAL MATTERS
MADESODAPARMJARS
IBETCHRISTENDOMAMAT
ALWAYSHASFOLIAGEPIMA
TAIPEIPOMESULYANOV
AZTECEVERALLINONE
SETCIVILVANOPERAS
OHMANAPINGWES
MOCKHENSTATESEA
ENOLASOWSELMVSOP
TRUANTSLEDAIAMITLL
HIGHSCHOOLSECRETCODE
OCHOMOILACEERITREA
DEEMOLECOLSMOIST
DANPRETTYINRATS
SOBUMASSNOISY
ARMOURMATRELETWKS
CHOOSEUPBOWLAGAIN
CORNEASTIMONINESSE
EDGEDELAWARENICKNAME
SEARSTAYINALIVEUBER
SSNSOPENTYPESITS

It's so nice to be back on glossy newsprint! Haven't had a Sunday puzzle for 9 years. Last one was Kevan Choset and my Mad Magazine Fold-In puzzle in 2010!

This one has been cooking for a number of years. I originally submitted it five years ago and Will took issue with a couple of entries. I had OTTO THE ORANGE (Syracuse mascot) for Sports, and BLUE DIAMONDS (rare South African gemstones) for Geography. He thought both of those were too obscure. I agree. And so, years later I pulled out the puzzle again and did a complete re-grid — started at square one. I think it works much better now and I'm proud of the theme intersections! So, this puzzle was five years in the making!

And the new constructor blurbs are so nice! I'm grateful for the Times for mentioning my show in New York City, The Enigmatist. If you're coming through, please come check it out! It's an "immersive evening of puzzles, cryptography and illusions." More info here.

And the trailer has quite a few hidden puzzles in it as well. Enjoy!

Wed 12/27/2017
RBIWHOALADIES
ARMAUDIAVENGE
GAGORDERBODEGA
TNOTEWIENER
ADOTATALLTEL
GODOFLOVESHIVA
FINENOBAIL
MISPLAYCOROLLA
OPERASAONE
JANETAGNESGREY
ODDSWEETAIDE
CACHESBRAGS
CHATTYADDERLEY
GASTROGAYETRE
INHALFOMENOSS

I've been looking for another magic themed puzzle ever since Kevan Choset and I had MAGIC WORDS in the Times ten years ago!

There weren't a ton of "ladies" that worked for this puzzle. They needed to be well-known and have an even number of letters. MARMALADE was out, unfortunately.

I was excited when I saw CHATTERLEY would work and this largely drove the puzzle.

JANE was almost impossible to hide in anything but JANET. I toyed with JANEIRO, but it did not work with the black square lay out. Similarly, I wanted to distance GREY from the surname and fought with the grid to make THE GREY happen. Lost that battle.

Ultimately though, I am pleased that I was able to get a stack of 4, 6, 8, and 10 lettered ladies.

The original submission for this puzzle had the central clue as "What they saw in Las Vegas?" and not "what some performers saw". I guess Will and Joel thought that was too hard.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it. I'm proud of the construction and fill. Tada! (sorry)

POW Wed 6/28/2017
UDDERASTIFLOP
NUEVOSCOWRIDE
HOWIWISHNATALIE
IMACVEENEUTER
PORTMANDATED
ENTLYSARP
ALAINIDOEVEL
JACQUESCOUSTEAU
ARESLYECARPS
RADSSNGPA
SOICOULDCALL
MCLEANUNEARLO
THEMPORTMANTEAU
GIGIRUDEBEAMS
SASSETONASSAY

My pal Kevan Choset told me this joke a few years ago so I decided to turn it into a puzzle. I bet he's super mad at me right now. Hopefully he's not reading this post.

It wasn't that easy to get this quip to fit. I had probably a dozen different versions of it, varying the "connecting" words and the tense of it. JACQUESCOUSTEAU was always going to be a 15, but the rest required a lot of massaging.

(Jeff: David is up to all sorts of cool stuff. Check out his new book, info at Publishers Weekly and Amazon. And a cool magic trick below ... on the Today Show!)


Thu 6/23/2016
PEDIELLENSOAP
ALECNEARSINGA
ROBERTFORAPPLES
ENTREATSOHYES
INITHALO
PENELOPEPINCH
YORKEROLESHEM
ERASJIBESMELD
WETLOGONSARIS
DOROTHYMATRIX
ERSTIRAS
UPPEDARMYBASE
SYLVESTERASAFOX
ERIEAIREDREFI
DOESLEONASWAT

DAVID: Proud to be a part of Megan Amram's debut!

We had entertained a bunch of other entries as well: WILLIAMOFHEALTH and THEODORETALKS, the latter which was nixed because TED is an acronym. Also, I was advocating for a nice third 15 letter long entry in DOROTHYMATRICES, which is the correct plural! But I don't think that ever would have seen print.

We hope you found it funny (Megan) and clever (Megan and me)!

Tue 5/10/2016
ABCSCLOWNINSO
HAHAAEGISSEER
SLAVEARLWEAVER
CTASKEDDIAS
JOHNJAYDADAS
INANERTONYHAWK
MYMANSAABNSA
HARTCRANE
ENSOUISOASES
TOMSWIFTMORALE
CREPEBIRDMAN
ILEAMOOGRAP
PETERFINCHURSA
AGEDELECTMIEN
WADSNOSEYSADO

My frequent collaborator Kevan Choset had a similar theme back in 2006, so I have to give a shoutout to him. But after BIRDMAN won the Oscar for Best Picture I couldn't resist. Sorry Kevan!

I wanted to stay away from his entries and put in new ones. Had to overlap with FINCH, but 5 new ones ain't bad. Was pleased that I got 7 themers in there, but at the expense of some fill.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed it!

Mon 4/4/2016
GOPADMITSHIM
ONAONASSISACE
TETWAYNEKNIGHT
TRAILISWEAR
CLEARSIGNINTO
SURFTASSEL
PISTOLHEATLAMP
AGOREFCNNNOR
NINEBALLGASTRO
BEFAIRHIED
TODOPLAYBILLS
OHIOANNUOVA
BACKCOUNTRYBAD
ERECARPETSODE
YESTHIRDSROW

Just over a year ago Martin Gero, the creator of "Blindspot," hired me to consult on the puzzles for his new NBC show. When we started cooking up ideas for where to hide secret messages naturally we thought of the NYT crossword. We pitched Will the idea and he agreed!

So here we have a Monday puzzle that is also featured on screen during the 4/4 and 4/11 episodes. It was not easy to make! I had to put in a message for the Blindspot viewers while maintaining the integrity of the crossword. After lots of back and forth with Joel Fagliano, I finally settled on the theme of BACK COUNTRIES. This worked well because countries are large enough of a category that I had lots of options for themers. And with the secret message adding in another thing to juggle, it was helpful to be flexible.

Will and Joel pushed me to make the countries at least five letters (OMAN and MALI were too easy). I am particularly fond of CLEARSIGN (ISRAEL) and WAYNEKNIGHT (KENYA), and happy to give the latter his crossword debut!

Other rejected options:

  • CARMINA BURANA
  • NO BAGGAGE
  • DAIRY SECTION

Hope you enjoy the puzzle and the episode!

POW Thu 12/17/2015
TWANGYABROGATE
SECURENONRIGID
PRIDEANDPREJUDD
EDENOYSGOADS
AASFOE
CANDDBERGENMAW
ARBORSURNCODE
LUAUASSOCAXLE
IBETLAHESPIED
FARBODDRIPPERS
AIMONE
STINKPDAEACH
LONGISLANDDDTEA
INCENSEDTSURIS
TSARINASSTELLA

I'm proud of the trick in this one, but I think I'm even prouder of the fill. I tried very hard to have very little crosswordese — did I succeed? You be the judge =) I originally submitted this puzzle with no partial phrases. Will since changed the clue to ASA from "Botanist Gray" to "__ whole ..." Totally understandable.

I'm always fascinated by the unwritten rules of crossword making: not too many 3-letter words, nice looking patterns of black squares etc. In this case, I learned that even though 78-words is the limit for a daily puzzle, Shortz prefers not to run 78-ers on Thursdays.

So I got the word count down to 76, which was not an easy task! And I'm pleased how it turned out. I think the long themers are fun, and I'm glad LONGISLANDICEDTEA breaks up the letters between two words. RUSHDIE was a must-have for me, and I am so glad I was able to get that word to span two of the long themers.

Hope you enjoy it!

Thu 11/12/2015
SCIATICOSMOSIS
OOMPHPHFLIPPNT
IMPLODEARSENIO
LEEEELINN
SSRLASALLESKY
SAMPECKINPH
KNOWNOTHINGPRTY
NINARONLIRA
OKAYPANDAPCER
BELGYESLEON
AHIUMA
PLIMONYPNACEAS
SALESDEPRTMENTS
SPYTINYTIMSPT
ETASASSILYERS

So I have a secret . . . I love pandas! There, I've said it.

This is my first foray into grid art. The "eyes" of the grid came pretty quickly for me as a starting point. I always love pushing the rules ever so slightly, so I was pleased when the unchecked squares looked good. After that, there aren't many other placements that work for the nose and ears.

The "triple PA" was a must have for me. Once I got into the corners, it wasn't too difficult to add more PA's, especially near the bottom, which is broken up a little more. I was a little iffy on ENSE and SSTS in the South East and was willing to sacrifice one of the PA's. But Will seemed to be ok with it, so voila, there are 11 PA's That's good right?!

Have to tip my hat to Patrick Blindauer who beat me to the "panda punch" about a year ago. But I hope that with my cute and cuddly grid art, solvers find this fresh and fun.

Fri 3/27/2015
BIGMACREPEALS
ENRICOOPENSUP
ALAMORTLEADSTO
TABERNACLECHOIR
STSNEBOHORSE
MIALINPUTTS
ENTITESISS
UTAHSTATE
ISAATMSSHH
TASESOASHOI
IPODSGRIMASP
LATTERDAYSAINTS
STOOLIESTINKAT
IONBEAMENCAGE
TWEEDLEDEARER

This puzzle is a nod to cruciverbalists who have been thwarted by the ugly five-block monstrosity known as the "Utah." Who hasn't scrapped a puzzle or had one rejected because it contained too many of these? So I decided to face the problem head on. Enjoy! And go Aggies!

Tue 3/18/2014
BADCOBBSMART
ALIAPARACOMER
BURGLARALITALY
AMTOOITAOTIS
GENTDISTRICT
BOOBOOCHAO
CUPRNACLOGS
AFAREWELLTOARMS
DFLATBIOCAW
TCBYMRBEAN
DEATHWEDOVER
ERIEISABEAST
ERODESNAKECHER
RELOSITSOTERI
EDINAREINMAP

There's a Ted Talk and a YouTube video to help explain this puzzle.

POW Thu 10/31/2013
WOLFMANNAMFLOW
INUTEROARIGATO
MONSTERRETSNOM
PREMIUMNATDEB
IMPMISER
SKATEVIANOTSO
LOCHJARJSBACH
OATATRIACAY
GLOSSYORBEINE
SARAHARKPUTTS
DIALSSAG
ACCABUINSECTS
PHANTOMMOTNAHP
EASESINSWEEPEA
DRACULA

As a magician, I am once again pleased to add a little bit of illusion to the New York Times crossword puzzle.

The "trick" answer was difficult to place. It had to be in the SE corner or resting on top of a horizontal row of black squares. This is because the answer couldn't start down answers.

I enjoyed coming up with down clues in the SE corner that were slightly misleading, hopefully yielded confusion for CAP vs. GOWN, THE vs. CAFE, SNOW vs SLEET, SPA vs BATH, perhaps even EUGENE vs SEATTLE.

The most challenging aspect of the puzzle was finding four Halloween creatures that were the same word-length. I was afforded a little flexibility with VAMPIRE and DRACULA being both seven letters long. At one point I had SPECTER but nixed it because I thought one could argue that a specter/ghost also wouldn't have a reflection.

Eventually, I stumbled upon the Universal Monsters characters and felt like the crossword gods were blessing me. All hail the crossword gods!

Hope you enjoyed the puzzle and Happy Halloween!

Fri 5/3/2013
YIDDISHAIRMAIL
ARIANNACLEANSE
WISHFULDRINKING
ENBLOCEYETESTS
DAEKFCDAG
LAEAAHOSHA
TWITTERFOLLOWER
ONETOGOPAYDIRT
SEVENOFDIAMONDS
STENFENENG
DETAGOFUR
TRIAXIALWINONA
MIDNIGHTINPARIS
ELECTRADESPITE
NEMESESORESTES
Wed 4/11/2012
HENCEHOPSQUID
ALOHAENTOUNDO
MILITARYASSAULT
ATICTEXAIMEE
SEEKOUTATTN
LABORPROTEST
PLAITISONBIB
LENTCASEYFATS
ENERAREBUYUP
BOWLINGSCORE
OLEOANALYZE
ADAGEARCLOAM
NOJOYINMUDVILLE
OLAFDOESINKER
SERFARNOMESSY
Sun 1/24/2010 ABRIDGED EDITION
CCLAMPFONTIGLUTBONES
FLORIOOMOOTRIPABSENT
LAWNBOWLINGSOCIALCHAIR
ARLOREDSEAEVENSOALDA
TOYSMAPSSALETINSESP
LANAISIFSHASTA
ORIGINGOULDZENAMI
RENALFENCEPSATAPICES
BEDSIDESHIDALGOSHEETS
SLOTALOEARNEPOESCAG
AIRDATEADAMANCYAPT
HASPSMADMAGAZINEALPES
OSHSWANSONGENDLATE
STEPINDTIEDXBOXSHOE
POKEATBEETREDOVERHAND
SPENDSAURACOMTEOARED
LAMARRBADATRUNDRY
LATKESLRIROBOT
TANNOELTERAAMASBTEN
ULEEPLIERSPATRIARAVE
NEWSCHANNELSCHOOLPAPER
ARETHAESAIENOWICHIRO
STRAITDEKESENSEBERTS
Mon 2/16/2009
PLIECIGARBLAM
ROSYOMEGAREPO
IRAEKARATOXEN
SNAPDECISION
MACAOPONTIFF
TRAPSMETER
CRACKLEWAREILE
ROTHPRIDEOSLO
EMOPOPMUSICIAN
DANTESETAT
ONEARTHMULTI
RICEKRISPIES
QTIPELIOTLENO
ESAILINDAETON
DONTLOGESTORE
Tue 7/29/2008
BOGIEKIAPECOS
EARNSNONTIARA
THEDECENTGATSBY
HUGELEEZAHESS
ELOMAE
GOODBARRIERREEF
UPNSKEINCORAL
EROSSHARPRITA
SANYOATESTCUR
THENOTBADESCAPE
OPEUKR
MOWNRIGIDARAL
OKAYBALLSOFFIRE
PRIMEKENITALO
SALSASETNYLON
Sun 2/18/2007 MAGIC WORDS
TBONEMUIRAEONSSLED
AARONATNORELEECOPA
ETATSREFSGREATBRAIN
BITINGCROSBYOPULENCE
ONECARORIOLESPEE
ERESNOENDSUNOCO
DEADLYSITINVIIEULA
UNSSTLOSHORTCIRCUS
RENEWSOONAIKMANHET
ARETHASLAINANTI
NOWYOUSEEITNOWYOUDONT
MODELEACHERENOW
SHAPIRATEHEILNOTSO
SUNVISITORSASEAHIP
RANIFARHUNTINGPERM
SCENEVBARONSOIR
ETALHORSESDROWSE
AREYOUOKONEARMEDBAND
TITANLINESATTAELSAS
ASTRTREATTMANRETIE
TEEDSEERSSESSSMELL
Wed 2/7/2007
EPEECAROLPATS
SARAACELAROAN
QWERTYUIOPOLIO
UNCLESDROOP
ESTERASDFGHJKL
SILLHEELS
DINSAIDAATSEA
RNAZXCVBNMTIT
ANGLEEDENSSNS
NIGERTESH
KEYBOARDSPEARL
ASSHESURREY
JOANTYPEWRITER
ARNOAMOREFILE
WRENRETIEFESS
Sat 4/1/2006
HOSETADIRONON
IKESORRSEEMTO
TALSSENATESEAT
OPLACETOGO
NITAAHLOGICAL
SOARANIASAMI
CELENAMORED
OUTSIDETHEBOX
ENLISTEDABA
WEAVENYCARNO
ERNESTOOILOMI
OVERFLOWET
DREAMWORKSFARS
EILEENMEAFITI
ECHOESARYSTAN