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Garrett Chalfin author page

6 puzzles by Garrett Chalfin
with Jeff Chen comments

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68/1/20221/29/20242
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Garrett Chalfin
Puzzles constructed by Garrett Chalfin by year
Mon 1/29/2024
RAPTTGIFAPBS
ACAIWOVESWEAT
PEPELEPEWTERRY
IDAEROSMIDST
DIYTKOLOLERA
STASHFAIRTRIAL
PADDADEDYS
PALINDROMES
ODESSOORAD
ONEMOMENTTYPOS
OAKPALWIZRUE
BASALKENOETC
GABORFLASHSALE
INOUTDEKEACID
SKORRESTWHEE
Sat 12/16/2023
SALADBARIRA
CRIMERINGCRUX
OPTICALARTPORNO
WEELASSOHCOMEON
GRADSSURESIGNS
AGATECAPULETS
SIRECOLDPLAY
SOYCARSALESPAM
TOPRATEDWENT
RIPTIDESDARIN
FLATSODASFIRMS
LUTHERANPASTIES
AIRESSCOUTMOTTO
NGOSEARWARMER
KIDREALNEAT
Sun 11/12/2023 Right on the Money
SODPLUMBAHEMAHA
EGOTEASERRIPERDUAL
AREHADAGOODTIMEURSA
LESURLAREACODEMAPS
WONEATDIRTRAND
FENDLIEONDADGUMIT
DOLCEGLENNSOBAMENU
ELLERBEEHELIOCPR
BIBSERGELEERERSHUN
TOYSAMEXCARDSSPATS
PHDSPOUNDSAAG
LMFAODEADSETONACES
OILASSORTSDEPTHORA
AMYGAMUTCHIASMUS
FIEFLASSSACHSPUMPS
SCRIBBLEGENIIPRAT
REALDEVISESYEN
INDIANAJONESANNDIP
TEENDRAGONTATTOOIKE
ZINGOMNIAONVIEWNET
ANTSEENNOSESGAS
Thu 5/25/2023
AWESCOMABARRE
TAMEONUSIDEAL
WHIPPETSTIARA
AOLSTEAMOPEN
ROYALWESPAS
POWERSUPPLY
TESTRIDEEAU
RAPDISCDAMASK
ACLAIRFARES
PHILIPPINES
TORAHNOWTHEN
EMPLOYEESERA
SEEINFLIPPANT
STATETISHAVIA
ASSADYETIREEL

A few years back, a friend and I were exploring SPLIT PEAS, and while it was neat to find PHILLIPINES = PHILIP PINES, every other discovery was so short, splitting 4 / 4. Building around a central 6 / 5 was such a pain. Mirror symmetry worked, running all the themers vertically, but the entire thing felt tenuous, especially since it's rare for editors to take themes using short entries.

You don't have to do the splits in tinikling, but you do have to be agile!

Therefore, I convinced Sam to change to what I thought was more interesting … which Will Shortz rejected.

As is often the case, it shows what I know.

There ought to be a word for "enough symmetry to fool people into thinking there's symmetry." If you don't pay close attention (or if your anal brain refuses to let you ignore asymmetrical aspects, no matter how small), the grid might look perfectly fine. Those black square chunks in the center play some mind games!

I can see why Andrew and Garrett wanted to run their themers horizontally — it can be trickier for solvers to read vertical themers, since so many of us are used to reading left to right, not up to down. They could have used up/down symmetry to do this, but Will has said several times that he thinks up/down symmetry looks weird.

Asymmetry is like nails scratching down the chalkboard of my eyes, but there's something vaguely pleasing to this execution. Along with a reasonable find (that I dismissed, telling Sam that it wasn't a big enough change) in POWERSUPPLY to POWERS UP / PLY, it all made for a solid solve.

Never listen to anything I say if you haven't already figured it out.

Sun 1/22/2023 With Ease
THAWSPROOFSGABISLE
LOVINLAPTOPACEFOOD
CHILIFACTORYSTRAYDOG
ODDDUCKHIPPIEBOOTY
GENESCENESALUMS
BRISKREORGSSLEW
POINTYOUTIETILISLA
AGOGRILLNOSYBESTIE
MOTELANIBASSLAHIRI
RESTSLRSUFOSLAO
CDSSWEETIETREATYLSU
REPLISPMAYATSAI
OLLIESSPEDTICSTREP
WHINYSTORYETNACARL
SITSANTCRAFTYFAIRY
TARTALASNOHANDS
CHINASLOPESLENT
PHONYBOOKIEHEATHER
LOGCABINTESTYGROUPIE
ERATINNESTADODRESS
DENSSKYRHYMESSTEEP

Whenever I see a Sunday title with words like EASE, TEE, or WISE, I get worried. Will it be a simple letter addition? Letter deletion? Sound change or addition? It isn't easy to make a concept stand out these days using these tried-and-true ideas. Well done to Garrett, doing double dut-EE by adding the E sound to both words of a common phrase.

WHINY STORY was my winner, perhaps because I hear many whiny stories involving accusations that the other sibling started it. Neat transformation, too, the spelling change of WINE to WHINY making me work to uncover the base phrase, WINE STORE.

PHONY BOOKIE wasn't far behind, eliciting memories of the first time I watched The Sting. It suffered from being too similar to PHONE BOOK, just as POINTY OUTIE links directly to POINT OUT, and CRAFTY FAIRY is a CRAFT FAIR wearing a fake mustache.

Adding the E sound to both words of a phrase is difficult, so there are bound to be some themers that don't land as well as others.

Great INSTINCTS to focus bonus fill into the long Downs. IF YOU WISH, IT CAN'T HURT, and especially WILD GINGER are so spicy. Garrett Ys-ly did something to Es up on solvers, by making sure that his longest Across fill — the colorful LOG CABIN and STRAY DOG — are shorter than the themers.

These days, my radar is always up for entries that might rile up solvers with a "that's weird" reaction. I'm supportive of using any word with valid dictionary support — as long as the crosses are all unambiguous — but I can sympathize with those who get the FANTODS at something like Y'HEAR (think: ya hear?, shortened even further). Unfortunate to be neighbors.

I didn't get as many laughs as I wanted out of a sound addition puzzle, but the doubly double-E concept helped.

Mon 8/1/2022
BOOEDELSARAFA
MATEYVOOMAMEX
WHOLEBEANCOFFEE
SUEVENMOHTML
WALKFAYE
CARETOELABORATE
LEADWEESUSSEX
IIILILANI
NOSTRACOPIDOL
GUERILLAWARFARE
OSLOPIES
TRUELWORDUSE
THEPRICEISRIGHT
SANEDARNURGES
KITSSTETMESSY

Come on down, crossword solvers! THE PRICE IS literally RIGHT, synonyms for "price" at the end of three long phrases. WHOLE BEAN COFFEE, CARE TO ELABORATE, GUERILLA WARFARE ... there's something elegant about 15-letter grid spanners because they leave no residues or stowage in the rest of the row.

Hopefully, those puns don't make you want to charge at me.

"Disguised synonyms" puzzles are usually done using whole words, like with DEPTH CHARGE or TARGET HEART RATE. "Hidden words" typically get tucked in the middles of themers. It's fun to get something different from THE USUAL FARE today.

Four grid-spanning themers can be challenging to grid around, especially in the west and east regions, where you have a triplet of down entries that will need to thread through the ends of two themers. Garrett did a solid job, the east not only smooth but with an X woven in to boot. I don't know my royals well, but SUSSEX rang a bell.

The west was nearly as solid. I don't mind III since it's a common suffix. (A close friend of mine is Fred, Jr., and his son is Fred, III. His other son is also named Fred, and he doesn't care to elaborate.)

The rest of the grid isn't usually too difficult once you figure out something that works for the west and east sections, but I appreciated the extra touches, Garrett working in the colorful EVEN KEEL and LOW POINT. I'm sure some solvers will balk at LOLCAT, either because they're too old to know what this is, or the kids these days will roll their eyes at the LOLCAT being ten years past its prime. Doze cats still making me lolz, though.

So many hidden words and disguised synonyms take a toll, so I appreciated something a little different.

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