Stu Ockman’s Saturday, 4/19/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)


April 19, 2014 by manvspuzzle


Theme: None

Theme Answers: None

Something Good: The top triple-stack.  I say that knowing that LESS COMPLICATED is tied for 1st in the weird-15s contest.  But HOSTILE REACTION is of the same ilk and perhaps even less palatable.  But anyway, yeah, the top triple-stack.  There are no unfair crossings.  All of them are basically good, and even those that were tough (for me) to penetrate were worth knowing in the end.  So 15 decent crossings in a row supporting a more-or-less enjoyable triple-stack is something good, I say.

4 19 14

Not for me.

If you read regularly, you know that I like big stacks.  So it pains me to once again not enjoy one today.

I dunno.  I could certainly blame myself; I didn’t know SCACCHI, MIA SARA, or RESNIK, which are all pretty prominent crossings down south.  I had CABARET instead of CAMELOT for a long, long time.  IN A STIR doesn’t roll easily off the brain for me, and EYE LENS is something I’ve never heard of and find hilarious in retrospect.

But if you look at what it takes to get some of those answers to fall, it’s hard to blame the solver only.  Unless you’re lucky and you know of her, you need basically every crossing for SCACCHI.  So that second C, crossing with CAS, was a total question mark.  SNCC is unfamiliar to me, too, though I feel guilty and stupid for not knowing it.  But similarly, that S could have been anything.

So what I’m saying is that I had to Google for SCACCHI.  Waaah.  Then I got to a point where I Googled for MIA SARA.  Then I scoured maps for LATAKIA and BASEL.  And then I eventually googled to fix my CAMELOT mistake.

Even one use of reference materials and I feel like a failure; today’s *5* took me well beyond that.  I cockily got to a place where I just started blaming the puzzle.  But there may be some hidden truth in that cockiness.  I don’t know, you decide.

And on top of all of these issues resulting from my shortcomings, there seemed like a ton of foreign words (let’s list them: EIS, ANOS, ICI, CAS, NUEVA.  Throw in MAJA if you like.).  And then lots of obscure proper nouns (some of which I’ve already mentioned).  Not quite at the level of the Crossword Fiend tipping point (I count 9 or 10, I think), but when you factor in the relative obscureness, you may find yourself overtaxed (Amy’s word) anyway.  I certainly felt that way.

So who *did* enjoy this puzzle?  Byron Walden, I suspect.  Perhaps Dan Feyer.  And other puzzle geniuses.  Not me so much, unfortunately.  I had my moments of happiness today, but on the whole it was a bust.  Too bad.

But, as I’ve said before, I get some twisted pleasure out of not always liking what I see in this (the NYT) puzzle.  I’ve just started solving the LAT regularly, and I have similar feelings there.  I think it has a lot to do with how big they are, and the breadth of their audiences.  If I ever find myself not liking a Fireball or an indy BEQ, I don’t think I’ll feel the same way.  I know that’s not the prevailing sentiment everywhere, but screw it, it’s my blog.  I pretty much built this place so I could have a better outlet to express such nonsense.






One thought on “Stu Ockman’s Saturday, 4/19/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

  1. tom pepper says:

    I didn’t enjoy this either. Which is not to say I didn’t appreciate it. As far as I can tell, this is Stu’s first themeless. He’s relatively new on the scene, and in his first published themeless, he accomplishes a double-triple stack. That’s gotta be like getting a triple-double in your first NBA game. (OK, that’s probably overstating it, but I still think it’s impressive.)

    I didn’t enjoy it because there were too many things I would just never get no matter how long I worked on the puzzle. That whole SCACCHI/CAS/SNCC/RESNIK area was way beyond me. DIRK/LATAKIA was a Natick. I’m not blaming the puzzle for my shallow knowledge base; I just don’t enjoy a puzzle when I don’t know enough to finish it.

    Here’s a puzzle theme I would enjoy solving: entire grid is proper noun-less. I bet it would be hard to make.

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