Todd Gross’s and David Steinberg’s *Centennial* Saturday, 12/21/13 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

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December 21, 2013 by manvspuzzle

Theme: The 100th Anniversary of the Crossword Puzzle!  There are some theme entries related to this topic, and (unless you solved on the Magmic app on your iPhone, like I did) some shaded squares that emulate the original “word-cross” puzzle of 1913.

Theme Entries:

  • 6A — With 20-Across, where the first-ever crossword puzzle appeared : NEW YORK
  • 20A — See 6-Across : SUNDAY WORLD
  • 45A — Creator of the first crossword : ARTHUR WYNNE
  • 59A — Year in which the first crossword appeared, on December 21: MCMXIII
  • **BONUS** The ‘FUN’ in 16A — Jojoba oil is a natural one: FUNGICIDE is a nod to Wynne’s original puzzle, placed in the same location as in the original.  It’s FUN, dang it.

    © The New York Times

    © The New York Times


First of all, I experienced a Magmic fail.  As you can see from my screen shot, there are *no* shaded squares.  I, being awesome, still recognized the grid pattern’s nod to the 1913 Wynne puzzle, but it would have been cool to have a bit more of a visual.

Kind of a tough break for the puzzling world that the centennial of the crossword had to fall on Saturday — the hardest day of the solving week.  Casual solvers are probably not even attempting today’s puzzle.  It makes me wonder if we’ll have another special puzzle related to the occasion tomorrow.  We’ll see.

So, yeah — the centennial falls on a Saturday.  What’s an editor to do?  I think this is fine.  I’m not sure I can ever remember seeing a Saturday with a theme before, but this worked for me.  It was still Saturday difficulty (although the theme answers were basically gimmes to anyone remotely aware of the centennial), gave an adequate nod to the 1913 puzzle, and I can move on with my life now.  It is a little straightforward and non-mind-blowing — but really, what more could it have been?

Two things that *this* solver enjoyed: the FUN in FUNGICIDE, and the roman numeral MCMXIII.  Both of these tickled me for some reason, and although I’m not a fan of Roman numerals in puzzles in general, this one made me quite happy.

Clues for GREENLAND (“Noted geographical misnomer”), FUNGICIDE (“Jojoba oil is a natural one”), and GUAVA (“Fruit whose name comes from Arawak”) were good — I like to learn things sometimes.

On the whole, I’m happy with my puzzle experience today.  It was all it needed to be.  Thanks to Todd Gross and David Steinberg for takin care of business.


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