This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox for best results.

Tracy Bennett author page

6 puzzles by Tracy Bennett
with Jeff Chen comments

TotalDebutLatest
67/21/201312/3/2023
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
20101101
ScrabblePGramFresh
1.57178%
Tracy Bennett
Puzzles constructed by Tracy Bennett by year

5 daily crosswords by Tracy Bennett

Sun 12/3/2023 Freestyling
WHATELSEISNEWCLONING
HELENAMONTANAAIRASIA
ESTROGENPATCHDRAGONS
TSARSLIENLLBEANGET
SERAPLANROBOTSDOHA
TEENMASERSTENON
OSWALDSATIREPRTALK
DOLIKEINNINGMEASLES
OLINETRYINGJUAN
WACKADOODLEHELLSCAPE
SLEEPAPNEAFORCEFIELD
EARDOCTORFIRSTDEGREE
WHENTONNESRAINN
RAMADANCRIKEYARRETS
ELITESMAULEDCLASSY
DONORTERMEDTAIL
COINSOGLADJILTSIVA
EGGBETSONHULUHURON
DOORONEREMINDMEAGAIN
ABLEISMFRONTENTRANCE
RIFFLESFANTASYSERIES
Thu 5/28/2020
RSVPGOBSVELTE
ATEALIVEMINION
NETSALESASNEAT
GETSMARTFRIENDS
EDEMAOMG
USEDUPOFTEN
AMESRAHSTROBE
DOCTORWHOCHEERS
OTHERSUVAESOS
SHORTSHONDA
HSIETHOS
THESOPRANOSLOST
HALIDEBADKARMA
AMAZONCLASSDAY
IMNEXTSAYTENS

Tracy's back in the NYT! She's editing the Inkubator puzzle, publishing some neat themes with interesting fill. I've been enjoying those.

I don't watch much network TV, but even this pop culture idiot recognized the six shows Tracy mashed up. I appreciated that she kept things consistent, always jamming a two-word show into a one-worder.

I wasn't sure what fueled these combinations, though. With a huge universe of shows to choose from, why DOCTOR WHO plus CHEERS, for example? Maybe BREAKING BAD BONES is too macabre and FULL HOUSE GLEE is too soon for this quarantine era, but the possibilities seem endless. Tightening up the theme would have been nice.

A revealer would have helped, too. I think most people will figure out that these are plays on TV shows, but how about something like MASHUPS to provide a lift?

Hey, wait a second ... M*A*S*H is a one-word TV title. How meta!

With just three themers, I expect a ton of goodies and virtually no crossword glue. I loved VISIGOTH, FREE AT LAST, BAD KARMA, ORTHODOX — PASS MUSTER is spot on.

Not as hot on the shorter material. It's not unfair to cross EBRO with ESOS on a Thursday, but it's still not ideal. Pepper in some ENNE, HSI, OVO, RAH, EDEMA, AS NEAT (sounds partialish), and it's not as polished as a three-themer ought to be.

Crosswords have mashed up many things—candy bars, movie titles, countries, and more. Sure, why not TV shows? It would have been nice, though, to have more of a raison d'etre. Some extra layer — a snappy revealer, an extra layer like a common actor linking the pairs of shows, etc. — could have helped tremendously.

POW Tue 9/20/2016
ACTSPLASMEDGY
SHIVRUCHEVALE
NINEUSUALIRON
ENGLISHTRIFLE
RASTASEDNAWAS
EMITDIGEST
MAYBAKEDALASKA
ALOTONOBAER
PLUMPUDDINGYDS
LESSONTIOS
EYEOHMSCLUMSY
NOPIECEOFCAKE
UNDONAOMIKRIS
SIMPGLOMSEIRE
EXESESTEERATS

★ Such a fun puzzle! I'm still addicted to "The Great British Bake-off," and my mouth watered as I read the clues. I normally skip over any clue that looks too long, but I stopped to read [Layers of sherry-soaked torte, homemade custard and fruit served chilled in a giant stem glass] several times. I can barely look at that without going to the fridge and wishing there was an ENGLISH TRIFLE waiting for me!

Fun punchline, too. Although the ENGLISH TRIFLE, BAKED ALASKA, and PLUM PUDDING do look a lot like cakes, they technically aren't. NO PIECE OF CAKE is so apt. Neat a-ha!

Speaking of NO PIECE OF CAKE, this puzzle wasn't a piece of cake for me — but in a good way. I stopped very early at … RUCHE? I double-checked all my crossings to find my error, but everything was fine. Then I remembered that Tracy is big into certain crafts, so learning that word for decorative edging gave me a grin. Very glad every crossing was a gimme, though!

Very nice gridwork overall. DARE WE SAY is fun, and I can't type YOU SEND ME without breaking into song. And I really liked her mid-length stuff. PRUSSIA, SVELTE, NICOISE, SUCKER — what interesting words. Great to see MELINDA Gates get her due, too. Amazing what the Gates are attempting to do for the world.

A couple of minor gluey bits in Max BAER (yes a boxing champ, but from such a long time ago), plural Spanish TIOS, GLO. But all of these are so negligible. Tracy took such care in putting together each and every section of her grid.

Another minor point: I usually don't care if a grid entry is duplicated in a clue, but DARE WE SAY felt cheapened to me by seeing ["I dare you"!] for the DO IT clue. The two in close proximity made it stand out even more. This is an awfully nit-picky thing, but it did jump out at me as inelegant.

Just about everything I want in a Tuesday. Delicious puzzle.

Fri 10/3/2014
ARSONISTSDCCAB
NOTSOFASTEARLE
GOATRODEOALARM
LTDILLTRADEYOU
ERINDOSESBOSS
ROUENTESTYLEE
STMARKSUREHAND
MOHSPONE
DIMETAPPSTASIS
UNOCLAROERNST
NAPAICONSTADA
ALPHAFEMALERUS
WIESTBOJANGLES
ANTICATANYRATE
YESNOREGGAETON

Tracy and I recently exchanged thoughts about themelesses, so it was fun to do her themeless debut. She uses a lot of nice vocabulary, such entries as NOT SO FAST, a SURE HAND in leadership, and ALPHA FEMALE. The last one I wasn't perfectly familiar with, but it explains itself so well. Along with the brilliant clue [Leading lady?], that's the type of debut I love to see.

Tracy uses a variant on a standard type of grid, one with the stairstep going down one diagonal. More often we see the black bars in the middle row (on either side of MOHS and PONE) shifted up or down, in order to generate more 8+ letter slots. Today's arrangement leaves Tracy with only 12 of those 8+ letter slots, forcing her to choose those entries wisely. Seven-letter slots can be good too, but they often need to be more neutral entries like IN A LINE or PROMOTE to hold the puzzle together.

Although I didn't know the term GOAT RODEO, I loved uncovering it (thank goodness the crosses were fair!). It's so colorful and hilarious, it makes me want to start throwing it around during finance committee meetings. Well worth the confusion I had during the solve.

For me, REGGAETON didn't work as well. Part of it (REGGAE) is inferable, but I struggled mightily with the STASSEN crossing, debating whether REGGAE TOR, REGGAE-TOS, REGGAETOL, or REGGAE TON seemed least implausible. Ultimately that corner seems fair but not terribly satisfying.

It leads to a question Tracy and I discussed — what is desirable in debut entries? As much as I like that people have such esoteric interests — a huge part of what makes the world fun — it's hard to headline with these types of entries, given that the size of the NYT solving audience is somewhere in the eight digits. I will try to listen to some REGGAETON to get a feel for what it is, but I don't think most people are open to that next step. It's tough to be in Will's shoes, trying to keep so many people entertained and happy.

Solid work from Tracy, just a couple of RUS / DC CAB (Adam Baldwin really is an actor?) / ROUEN crossing NEAME (fair but not very satisfying for those who don't know either) / OST minor dings. And conversing with her helped me to clarify some thoughts. I love contract bridge, but even with millions of active players and Rich Norris of the LAT a partner of mine, bridge terms are going to be too esoteric for a broad crossword audience. So much for the colorful marquee SPLINTER BID; sigh. Good thing there's the (warning, shameless self-promotion) self-publication route.

Sun 7/21/2013 ARTFUL THINKING
JINXPARCAGHASTHENS
AMOKAMORMEAGEREVIL
WADEINTHEWATTEAURITE
AXERIODEJAOMELETTE
PERCOCETTELSAWAIT
UNOSONBOARDVIE
TISTHECEZANNEPENGUIN
ANIONADAREDETANNE
HOTSPOTSTEEUPLUGAR
MASCBOODLESAGENT
ASSOCHELLODALICURES
SHAKAAQUAMANCITI
CALEBBUENAPOLANSKI
ALMASUINOBALLSPEN
PLANETSQUESERASEURAT
DYEMUSTSEEFINS
SHAMENAMEISEASYON
PAKISTANRAFTLIEKIA
ITERWITHFLYINGKAHLOS
THEOISRAELNOAHBENT
SAMSTHAMESGRESORSO

1 Variety puzzle by Tracy Bennett

Sun 7/9/2023
ALPSRAPIDPALE
TOETHELINELOAM
SCREENTESTOLDE
TAKEROOTOUTMAN
ATILTIRONHAND
KENZEENAPOISE
EDGEMISSPELLED
PAILHONE
SPLITTIMESSPOT
PEACESASESAPR
INVEIGHSPALEO
TRENTESIBILANT
TORTSTATUETTES
ESNETIGERSHARK
DEEREXERTOLAY
XWord Info Home
XWord Info © 2007-2024, Jim Horne
78 ms