Alan Olschwang’s Friday, 3/14/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)


March 14, 2014 by manvspuzzle


Theme: None


Something Good: The 15s.  They’re the main attraction here, including a nice stack down the middle.  All of them are good.  And no “___ one’s ___” phrase?  Most impressive.  Fun, too.


3 14 14

I had a great time with this puzzle.  It’s no secret that, as a solver, I really like triple- (or quad-) stacks of 15s, almost at any cost.  But I truly think these are beautiful.  And the intersecting nature of *all* the 15s in the grid is just pretty.  The grid itself, all around, is pleasure-inducing from an aesthetic perspective.

But the most fun for me came in my personal solving experience.  Have you ever had the experience of totally failing on a puzzle right before bed, sleeping, and then waking up and feeling like your brain is in a totally different place?  Like you’ve suddenly become a master solver overnight?  That’s what happened to me here.  I spent like 30 minutes late last night filling in maybe 25 answers (hey, I’m no speed solver) before my lights went out.  I was totally stumped on everything I had left blank.  7 hours later I rolled over,  grabbed the puzzle, and the remaining answers fell into place in about 5 minutes.  Nice feeling.

As is the case with most puzzles featuring stacks or intersecting 15s, there were some compromises here.  First there are many 3-letter answers.  But I have to commend Alan though for not making them too crazy.  I IN and ME A will never be anyone’s favorite 3-letter partials, and SML is a pretty weird stretch.  MDL, today’s Roman numeral — well, it’s about as exciting as any Roman numeral you’ve ever seen in a puzzle.  But the other 20 I have no issues with.  That’s a fine ratio for the tradeoff in my book.

Other than that, the abbreviation ITAL and the very made-up feeling GOT A B made me sort of cringe.  Gettable, of course.  Presented fairly, yes.  Pretty?  No.

Still, lots of fun to be had today.  KARL had me going for a long time (28D — Jazz player Malone), as did YER (54A — The shorter you are?).  That’s about as fun as YER will ever get.  Great job.

So, happy solver here today.  My kind of puzzle.  Thanks, Alan and Will.


4 thoughts on “Alan Olschwang’s Friday, 3/14/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

  1. Schwing! I also had a lot of fun with this puzzle. And, like you, I have noticed many times that I become a “master solver” after sleeping on a hard puzzle. My theory is that our brains process information in the background while we’re doing other things. I notice this phenomenon as a singer and voice teacher as well: even when I don’t sing between lessons, I am somehow improved at the next lesson, because my brain/body has been integrating what I learned at the last one. Same thing with my own students. No need to struggle or fret if something you’re trying to learn isn’t working for you in this moment….wait a bit, and you just might have become more of a master!

    Thanks, btw, for your wonderful blog. Reading you in the morning sets a tone of reasonableness and openness for my day.

  2. Z says:

    I rarely sleep on it because I’m a morning solver in the paper. However, I thought I was going to have to put this down and come back later until a wrong answer, sobS before GAGS, unlocked the damn dam. Once I started getting parts of the long answers thing started to fall into place.

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