Alan DerKazarian’s Sunday, 1/5/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

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January 5, 2014 by manvspuzzle

dirkTitle: CLUED IN

Theme: Clue.  Like, the board game.  There are really four 11×11 puzzles in this massive 23×23 grid, and each is its own mini-puzzle.  The NW is a “words that can follow…” theme that provides hints for the solver to figure out the SUSPECT.  The NE is a “synonyms” theme that provides hints for the solver to figure out the ROOM.  The SW is an “anagrams” theme that provides hints for the solver to figure out the WEAPON.  Finally, the SE is the puzzle where the solver can enter his or her solution to the Clue mystery.

What’s Good: 1) Multi-Layered and Innovative Theme, 2) Rule-Breaking, 3) Unique Grid Structure, 4) Exceptional Long Fill 1 5 14


So.  Cool.

I loved everything about this puzzle.  There was so much going on, it was actually quite exciting.  I’m not just saying that.  I actually felt *excited* while solving this.  No Sunday morning slog here — just pure fun.

Realizing that this was a Clue (the game) theme was pretty immediate.  The clue for 1A is “The “who” of a Clue accusation, whose identity is hinted at by the three circled answers in this quadrant.”  Combine that with the title, and you kinda get it right away.

But that was just the beginning of my journey.  It took a while to realize that not only were there four separate puzzles, but the mini-theme in each of them was completely different.  I solved the NW puzzle first, and tried in vain for several minutes to apply those principles to the other quadrants, only to find out that I was way off.  Once I hashed that all out, I *still* had to solve each one so I could then crack the case in the SE.

So I got a lot for my money today.  It was really, really fun.

The icing on the cake here is the really great long fill.  DIET SODA, PTERODACTYL,  ALIEN ATTACK, LAREDO TEXAS (some hate on those city/state answers, but I like ’em), NOT VERY MUCH, ROLLING PINS, ABANDON SHIP — this is all just great stuff.  Pretty amazing that Alan was able to squeeze those in with everything else that he had going on.

Of course, all of this goodness is buttressed by a handful of pretty stink-tastic answers.  ENL, ENOUNCE, CRENNA, NOMINE, OOX, STR, UHS…yeah, I could probably do without these, along with a few more you can see for yourself.  But, as I’m often quick to say, they’re *real* and crossed fairly and basically fine.  And the trade-off is so good, I really don’t care at all.  This puzzle is a behemoth, and it needs some of this stuff to make things work.

DerKazarian in the House with with an Awesome Puzzle.  Shortz gets 5 years probation for his role as an accessory.  Very good stuff, guys.  Thanks!

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