Game also called Five in a Row / SAT 4-30-16 / Herbal stress reliever from Polynesia / Bone-boring tool / Alternators in some combustion engines / Royal name in ancient Egypt / Woodworker's device informally / City across border from Eilat
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Constructor: Mark Diehl
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: GO BANG (48A: Game also called Fine in a Row) —
Gomoku is an abstract strategy board game. Also called Gobang or Five in a Row, it is traditionally played with Go pieces (black and white stones) on a go board with 19x19 (15x15) intersections; however, because once placed, pieces are not moved or removed from the board; gomoku may also be played as a paper and pencil game. This game is known in several countries under different names. // Black plays first if white did not just win, and players alternate in placing a stone of their color on an empty intersection. The winner is the first player to get an unbroken row of five stones horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. (wikipedia)
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What was I saying about wanting the puzzles to have teeth? Yikes. This was the hardest puzzle I've done all year, or close to it. Mostly it was just a tough Saturday, but down south things got slightly hairy in the SW (SLAPJACK / JOCKO!?!) and then very, very hairy in the SE. Hirsute, even. Names and technical terms just did me in, or almost did. Let's back up, though, to the NW, where very quickly I could tell it was going to be one of the Those puzzle—a good old-fashioned crocodile-wrestling puzzle. I'm still not sure what 1D: Key that oxymoronic at school? is even supposed to mean. Is it F SHARP because if you get an "F" in school you're not "SHARP"? But ... what? The whole "at school" part feels really forced, like ... you've taken a music clue and shoved it into a non-musical context just so you can make your oxymoron point. Trying too hard (TTH™), I think. But I generally liked that corner once it came together, especially FACE PLANT (1A: Result of a bad trip), which I wanted to be DRUG something something. I've never heard of AMENHOTEP (19A: Royal name in ancient Egypt). IMHOTEP, yes. AMEN-, no. So again, names make things hard. My opening gambit looked super weird:
Two items you might find interesting:
1. This short (6:41) podcast put together by Tufts University student Julia Press, called "The Future of Crosswords." It contains interviews with me, 6-time ACPT champion Dan Feyer, and several other constructors and solvers. I was really impressed with how it came out. So was Oliver Roeder, who (segue!) wrote...
2. This article, a follow-up to his piece about Timothy Parker's crossword puzzle plagiarism a couple months back. Looks like one of the syndicators of Parker's puzzles, Universal Uclick, has handed down its punishment, and it is *severe*! Just kidding, it's a tiny wrist-slap and he'll be back at work very soon. Read about this pathetic response to serial fraud here.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]