Doug Peterson’s and Brad Wilber’s Saturday, 2/8/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

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February 8, 2014 by manvspuzzle


Theme: None

What’s Good: Every Answer With 5 Or More Letters.  The 3- and 4-letter stuff — meh, not so much.

2 8 14

Nicely done.  Like, really nicely done.  This is an example of two experienced dudes (Doug and Brad) setting themselves up for success.  They designed a grid with 2 triple-stacks of 11-letter answers, and 2 triple-stacks of 9-letter entries, gave themselves 72 words to work with (the maximum for a themeless), and had this conversation:


Brad: Hey, Doug, let’s make sure these 12 longer answers really stand out.

Doug: Ok, Brad.  But what about the short stuff?  Should we worry about it?

Brad: Is that a short joke?  You know I’m sensitive about only being 4-and-a-half feet tall. 

Doug: No, no, no.  I think you’re very cute.  I just want to make sure we don’t end up with something like PEE at 31-Across and have to start over.  

Brad: Ah, I see what you’re saying.  But I wouldn’t worry about those little guys.  If you don’t mind, I’d actually like to seed this puzzle with JUKEBOX HERO and SOVIET UNION.  I think it would be a nice homage to my days as Steve Perry’s personal assistant, and also give a little nod to my hardcore Leninist political leanings.

Doug: Umm, ok… 

Brad: And then maybe we could add OREGON TRAIL in there because, let’s face it, you and I are basically the Lewis and Clark of crossword puzzles.  C’mon Doug, am I right or am I right?

Doug: Whatever, I think that should work.  Of course, if we have JUKEBOX HERO over OREGON TRAIL, that will probably force the word SHRIMP at 11-Down.

Brad: Damn it, Doug!  Lay off the short jokes!


And then they wrote a kick-ass puzzle, focused more on the long stuff than the short stuff.  That’s just fine.  And it’s not like the short stuff is really *that* bad, it just comes across as more of an afterthought than a focus of any serious attention.  ACH, BAS, LAV, TRA, TUE, ELEC, ODER, PARI, etc. — it’s all passable, but below average.

But the long stuff rocks.  Very fun, very good.  Nice cluing, playing right down the middle difficulty-wise.

All in all, a well-constructed and well-edited puzzle.  Thanks, guys.


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