PUZZLES & GAMES

On Breaking In to the New York Times Crossword Puzzle Community

“The nice thing about doing a crossword puzzle is, you know there is a solution.” — Stephen Sondheim

My daughter Christin and grandson Wally.

My Aunt Barbara was into solving crossword puzzles. In fact, she was so into it that one year we bought her toilet paper with a puzzle on every sheet. My dad was into the Cryptoquip puzzles in our daily paper. I’ve always been compelled to solve word scramble puzzles like the daily Jumble when I see them.

So it was no surprise to find my daughter doing Sudoku when she was younger. This past year she and her husband began doing crossword puzzles together, which also seemed a natural progression. What did surprise me, thought it shouldn’t have, was when Christina began creating crossword puzzles.

As she shared with me some of the inside dope on crossword puzzle creation, it made me want to share her story here in a June blog post about making crossword puzzles for fun and profit.

What’s especially cool is that this morning, as the sun rose over the Eastern skies, people who enjoy solving the Times crossword puzzle each morning will be working out the solution to Christina’s first puzzle to be published in the New York Times. (One already emailed me while I was writing this.)

What I just learned today is how extensive the community of crossword puzzle fans is, especially the NYTimes players. There’s a daily column in the NYTimes itself in which a staff puzzle critic writes about that day’s puzzle. Deb Amlen’s column is titled Wordplay, The Crossword Column. The title of her piece this morning is Obvious Signs of Pregnancyand subtitled Christina Iverson makes her New York Times Crossword debut. Amlen’s wit shines through in the piece. In addition to three paragraphs about the author of the puzzle she proffers her own critical assessment of the puzzle itself. It’s a good read. Clearly Amlen loves words herself.

I’ve been reading Seymour Hersh’s memoir Reporter for the second time and I just finished reading about how frustrated he was when first trying to break in to the New York Times. Way to go, Christina! I’m impressed.

There are other websites that write about each day’s NYTimes puzzle. It shouldn’t be surprising that such communities exist. Every subject that has fans no doubt has an online community of fans and followers these days. Here are two more articles about Christina’s puzzle.

The first, at Rex Parker, has the answers along with a critical analysis of the degree of difficulty, favorite clues and answers, etc.

And here’s another, at Xwordinfo.

The skies are blue here, but today my heart is warmed from within.

Originally published July 30, 2019 at https://pioneerproductions.blogspot.com.

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An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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