XW Info

Friday, September 13, 2013
by Patrick Berry
Fri 9/13/2013
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: I e-mailed with Patrick this week and wanted to share words from the master: "I find it easier to comment on the construction of themed puzzles, since those tend to stick in my mind a little better. Themeless construction is almost like meditation — you go into a trance, then come out again when the grid's full."

I'll have what he's having.

A 66-word themeless may not seem all that different from a 70-worder, but there's an inverse exponential relationship at work. Consider the gigantic open space in the middle of the puzzle. Typically a partial, pluralized name, or other bit of crosswordese is required to make such a section work, but Patrick laughs at that notion. Every one of the entries is lively, and there's not a stinker amongst them. What a feat to stack five long phrases without needing a single compromise in the downs.

As with every PB construction, I studied this puzzle for a few hours, trying to unravel the mystery of what makes his themeless skills so strong. One thing I've picked out is that Patrick tends to prioritize in-the-language phrases which incorporate fewer "Scrabbly" letters (JQXZ) and use more of the "Wheel of Fortune" free letters (RSTLNE). This is in no way a knock on him — it's an observation of his greatness. Figuring out a way to make construction smoother while still maintaining liveliness in longer entries is one of the factors that distinguishes PB as the cream of the crop.

Fifteen minutes of bliss. A close second for this week's POW!

Will Shortz notes: I'm so impressed with every crossword Patrick constructs — fresh, interesting vocabulary, with no junk. He makes constructing seem effortless, which it definitely isn't. His clues are excellent, too. My favorite one here is 35A.
1.Holding : CLASPING
9.Way of looking at things : ANGLE
14.Reading light for an audiobook? : LASERBEAM
16.Detergent component : BORAX
17.Going nowhere? : INANIMATE
18.Pine for : CRAVE
19.Org. always headed by a U.S. general or admiral : NORAD
20.Baltic native : LETT
22."After ___" : YOU
23.Seat cushions? : GLUTEI
25.Old airline name : EASTERN
28.Roofing choice : TILE
29."According to reports ..." : RUMORHASIT
32.Wedded : ONE
33.They make a racket : CONARTISTS
34.Cell alternatives : LANDLINES
35.Like each word from this clue : FOURLETTER
37.Many a time : OFT
40.Change places : COINPURSES
41.White spread : BRIE
42.Heavy and clumsy : HULKING
43.White of the eye : SCLERA
45.The Dom is the third-highest one : ALP
46.A whole bunch : GOBS
49.Blows a fuse : RAGES
50.Nation with the most Unesco World Heritage Sites : ITALY
53.Winner over Ohio State in 1935's so-called "Game of the Century" : NOTREDAME
55.Suez Crisis setting : SINAI
56.Startling revelation : EYEOPENER
57.Xerox competitor : EPSON
58.Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane wore them : STETSONS
1.Hold firmly, as opinions : CLINGTO
2.Stuff used to soften baseball mitts : LANOLIN
3.Generally : ASARULE
4.Hill house : SENATE
5."A whizzing rocket that would emulate a star," per Wordsworth : PRIDE
6.Big name in storage : IBM
7.Boortz of talk radio : NEAL
8.Swinger? : GATE
9.Diane Sawyer's employer : ABC
10.Land on the Arctic Cir. : NOR
11.Most dismal : GRAYEST
12.Mouthwash with the patented ingredient Zantrate : LAVORIS
13.Shakespearean stage direction : EXEUNT
15.Depression creator : METEORITE
21.Crab apple's quality : TARTNESS
24.Old-fashioned respirator : IRONLUNG
26.Not as outgoing : SHIER
27.Communist bloc news source : TASS
30.Experienced : UNDERGONE
31.Fountain drinks : MALTS
33.Wrist bones : CARPI
34.Lamebrain : LUNK
35.It's not fair : FOULTIP
36.Car collectors? : OILPANS
37.Greek salad ingredient : OREGANO
38.They arrive by the truckload : FIREMEN
39.Movie trailers, e.g. : TEASERS
40.Carriage with a folding hood : CHAISE
41.Turbine parts : BLADES
44.Advanced slowly : CREPT
47.School door sign : BOYS
48.Amendment to an amendment : STET
51.Southeast Asian language : LAO
52.Dark side : YIN
54.Ikura or tobiko : ROE

© 2017, Jim Horne