Longtime Walter Berndt comic strip / SUN 5-6-18 / Sultan Qaboos's land / Brand with arrow through its logo / Cinderella mouse / Angry Shakespearean cry / Constellation between Ursa Major Ursa Minor / Bit of nonsense in #1 Ella Fitzgerald hit

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium (10:33)

THEME: "Let's Play Two" — each theme answer is two board game names mushed together, creating a wacky answer (with a "?" clue that takes it literally):

Theme answers:
  • BATTLESHIP RISK (23A: Underwater mine?)
  • ACQUIRE TICKET TO RIDE (30A: Get a copy of a 1965 #1 Beatles hit?)
  • SORRY DIPLOMACY (50A: Rather poor ambassador's skill?)
  • MEMORY TROUBLE (67A: Reason a computer program wouldn't open?)
  • CRANIUM TWISTER (85A: Incredibly hard puzzle?)
  • CONNECT FOUR CHECKERS (101A: Link a quartet of supermarket employees?)
  • TABOO OPERATION (117A: Something you're not allowed to do in math?)
Word of the Day: "SMITTY" (79D: Longtime Walter Berndt comic strip) —
Smitty was a newspaper comic strip created in the early 1920s by Walter Berndt. Syndicated nationally by the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate, it ran from November 29, 1922 to 1973 and brought Berndt a Reuben Award in 1969. (wikipedia)
• • •

I spent the better part of the afternoon in the hot sun at the ballpark. This included drinking most of a beer. Then I came home and had a nap. Then dinner and wine and then this puzzle. This is all to say I was woozy and fully expected to put a big Asterisk next to my solving time (which I do when solving conditions are very out of the ordinary, including when I am, er, impaired). But then I finished in 10:33, which is fully normal. So it's very possible that this puzzle was very easy and I was slow but I can't tell because my time was normal. I do think the theme was Very easy to uncover and understand, though some of these games, yeesh. Never heard of DIPLOMACY and never heard of *either* of the games in ACQUIRE TICKET TO RIDE—so glad I got the "Q" early and also know Beatles' songs. I really wish these theme answers had been funnier and the clues wackier. Or maybe I mean the answers wackier and the clues funnier. MEMORY TROUBLE is a real thing that doesn't lend itself to wackiness. [Link a quartet of supermarket employees?] is just bizarre. Not funny bizarre. Clue is way too literal. A synonym of "connect," a synonym of "four," and a synonym of "checkers," all in order. Where is the zany? Grid is so very choppy that there's not really a lot of room for longer themers to grow. I think it's a good theme, but somehow the execution felt blah-ish. Overall grid was pretty ordinary. But then again, just being adequate makes this puzzle easily superior to most NYT Sunday puzzles, so I'm gonna have to come down on the thumbs-up side, ultimately.

Fill started out so rough in the NW (ABEAM, ATRA, MOL) that I was a little worried, but once I got (the hell) out of there, things mellowed out a bit. Not too many major trouble spots. I managed to mostly remember the Mars moon this time (PHOBOS), but embarrassingly blanked on what sort of BERNIE there was in "Ocean's Eleven." I never saw the movie, but still, if you give me comic BERNIE ... (3 letters) I should get MAC right away and I didn't. He died a few years back and I hadn't thought of him for a while. MEMORY TROUBLE, indeed. No idea that DRACO was a constellation (35D: Constellation between Ursa Major and Ursa Minor). None zero none. Weird it doesn't get made more of. DRACO is Latin for "dragon," btw. Whereas KARO is Latin for "corn syrup." Probably.*


I had major trouble in and around the SW region, mainly around the entryways to the region. BLINIS?! With a freakin' S????!?! I thought BLINI was its own plural. Like, I don't know, fish or sheep or whatever. Yes. I am correct. BLINI = "pancakes [plural!] made from buckwheat flour and served with sour cream" (google). Jeez louise, BLINIS. Dire. Also, "SMITTY," WTF? I have never heard of this comic or its creator, which is mildly embarrassing, as I teach courses (plural!) on comics. He falls right into my comics knowledge dead zone: mid-century strips that were over and done before I could read, and that never had any kind of nostalgia or revival or nothin'. Walter Berndt worked as a young man for a number of comics artists I *do* know very well, including George Herriman. But "SMITTY," whoa, that got by me. Speaking of "whoa": "whoa" is an exclamation. "WHOO!" ... I have no idea what that is. WOO HOO! I recognize. I refuse to recognize WHOO! I assume it is said by people who don't know how to say things, such as the fellow who is excited to be served buckwheat pancakes and exclaims, "WHOO! BLINIS!"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*It's not; don't write me

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:11 AM  

First there was TROYES on Friday, then MONAD on Saturday, both board games. Then comes today with modern classics TICKET TO RIDE, and DIPOLMACY, along with Sid Sackson’s masterpiece ACQUIRE. TICKET TO RIDE is sold in Target, Barnes and Noble and other big box retailers. It’s one of the most mainstream modern board games along with Catan.

Rita Flynn 12:13 AM  

Has anyone EVER used ELHI in a sentence ANYWHERE? Please ban it from future puzzles.

John Child 12:24 AM  

Better without CONNECT FOUR CHECKERS if WHOO, EVAH, and SUCRE are the cost. Untimed, on paper, but well over the 20 minutes I aim for on Sunday. I have heard of three of the 14 games, so was CLUELESS as to the theme until I read Jeff Chen.


Writeovers rib - BRA, hAM - YAM, EVer - EVAH, durA - ALMA, lOcAl - NOFAT.

Arden 12:33 AM  

Easy puzzle done in 30 minutes. For me, that is great especially as I do the puzzle on paper. Like Rex, never heard of some of those games, but the answers were inferable.

Barb Dwyer 12:41 AM  

Oh, haven't you heard of Sibelius?
(He oftentimes uses an alias)
He'll hide in the woods
To check out our goods
And then he'll jump out and shillelagh us

Larry Gilstrap 12:51 AM  

One of those Sundays reminiscent of painting a battleship with a toothbrush. The theme intimidated me because someone I follow on Twitter just published his list of the Top 100 Board games of the year. Really? I had heard of many of the themed games, but certainly not all. "Let's play Twister, let's play Risk."

Most birds seek a safe place to ROOST for the night, and caged birds eschew the ground. Nesting is a whole different behavior, but species roost in nests. Thus, bird brained.

Another controversial subject: The Dixie Chicks questioned the judgement of starting a war. History will tell.

Hey, I get riled up when folks use the term "old" to imply that age is as debilitating as youth. Look around! Yet, let me take off my advocate hat for one moment and confess: the smell of mothballs might figuratively typify something that was OLD. Today, I smelled like apple pie and grilled filet mignon.

It's late and I'm worn out, but I heard once that TICKET TO RIDE was originally TICKET TO Rye, a euphemism for being pregnant and off to shameful seclusion. Discuss. This just in: Paul was killed in a bloody car crash and John was really the Walrus and was just saying that to be nice.

a jazz listener's thoughts 12:56 AM  

Had fun with this. I have to disagree with Rex vis a vis the cluing and solutions — rather straightforward to my thinking, and further just because he doesn’t know something — take Draco for example or a game — doesn’t make it a bad fill. That critique gets awfully tiresome.

TomAz 1:50 AM  

I got BATTLESHIP RISK and cottoned to the theme pretty quickly. But TICKET TO RIDE is a game? That people play? Hey here's an idea: Why Don't We Do It In the Road. Wouldn't that be a great board game?

Fill is typical BEQ squeaky clean. With its lively moments. Theme is a first-rate idea. Execution.. meh.

chefwen 2:55 AM  

Didn’t know half of those games which made the puzzle a little more challenging. My Wite Out was put to the test today, but I sure had a fun solve. I had NUT JOB before TOW JOB at 63D which made me chuckle and RIB before BRA for your chest protector. No way does a BRA protect anything. I took a face plant a few weeks ago in the parking lot of a 7/11, BRA didn’t help me at all, bruise city. And don’t even get me started on MEMORY TROUBLE. How many times do I have to walk into the pantry and say “what the hell did I want in here?

Meeting up with ‘mericans on Kauai tomorrow for lunch and have made a crossword related dessert, hope they like it.

jae 3:15 AM  

WHOO BLINIS this was pretty easy!

Rev. Adam Carl 3:29 AM  

It must have been easy and you were slow, because it was the easiest Sunday I’ve ever done and I set my personal Sunday record (15:44). (And the fact that a 10-something Sunday is medium for you makes me wanna commit seppuku.)

'mericans on Kaua'i 3:38 AM  

This Sunday puz was the first time that we have solved it on the iPad. Usually we do it on paper. Took us two hours! We found the theme answers meh, but enjoyed figuring out the fill. We got really stuck in the south-east. Struggled for a long while with the misdirect of "Gate".

Liked the freshness of much of the fill, such as BOXTOP, SIBELIUS, EXTRA CHEESE, CLUELESS.

But didn't we have ROOSTS yesterday, and ELITE within the past several days?

jae 3:45 AM  

Forgot to say I liked it.

Z 3:56 AM  

The theme was easy to suss out. I am wondering where Catan is. @Anon12:11 is correct, all of these are so common that Target.com has them, although some may not be stocked on a regular basis at the Target nearest you anymore. TICKET TO RIDE or some variant will be, and is about 1 million times more fun to play than Monopoly. I do wonder about calling the games “modern,” though. Sure, in comparison to Parcheesi or Chess, but I played DIPLOMACY in high school. I think the only one created in this century is TICKET TO RIDE.

This is a PPP theme, so if you don’t do board games you are pretty much condemned to a relative struggle.

@Jazz Listener - I don’t think Rex said DRACO was bad fill.

Theodore Stamos 4:08 AM  

STRO \ EBRO cross did me in. Otherwise a fairly standard Sunday. Was hoping for a little more zest from the BEQ constructing God. But a decent Sunday....I'll take it.

Moly Shu 5:20 AM  

@RitaFlynn, while I agree that ELHI is bad and should be banned, believe it or not, I attended and graduated from a school that was K-12. We said ELHI all the time, our teachers and staff said ELHI. Our newsletters, yearbooks, flyers, etc. had ELHI printed on them. Yep, it’s a real thing.
Now, as for WHOO, hasn’t anybody heard of Ric Flair? The Nature Boy? 16 time World Champion? Leader of the Four Horseman? The greatest (IMHO) professional wrestler of all time? “If you want to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man” ? Maybe I’m on the wrong blog.
Anyway, he says WHOO all the time. All. The. Time.
Knew all the games and once I figured out the theme, the puzzle became relatively easy. Liked it.

Frank Birthdaycake 5:56 AM  

Fun puzzle. Ticket to Ride is a fun game to play in a group – more fun than Monopoly, as another commenter pointed out. I too got tripped up on “blini” for a few moments, until I figured it was probably a hypercorrection or other error. It reminded me of the time at a deli where I overheard a couple’s heated debate over fillings. After noisily resolving their issue, the couple asked the server for cheese blintz and one blueberry blint, just to try. The ensuing discussion of how many come in an order – it included an exasperated “What the hell is a blint?” – and the substitution policy was “riotous.” In the end, they resumed to accept that a word ending in an “ess” sound can be anything but plural, and “Well, this whole restaurant is stupid.” As I said at the start, fun puzzle.

Lewis 6:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:29 AM  

While we're marrying games:

1. What a crookneck demonstrates
2. One that might read "Have I got noose for you"
3. Disney World?


Anonymous 6:58 AM  

TOW job? STRO? Does anyone really use “STRO” to describe the Astros?

I played DIPLOMACY in high school. It’s essentially a strategy game set in Europe before WWI, with players representing the various Great Powers with fleets and armies. The object in a move (everyone announces their moves at the same time) is to attack and / or to earn new fleets or armies, but doing so requires sufficient strength, which in turn requires making alliances. In order to win, those alliances need to be broken. Austria Hungary never won.

Loren Muse Smith 6:58 AM  

CLUELESS is such a funny little self-referential entry. Yup. Make a list of easy-to-work-with board game names. Choose ones whose words are fairly common. Get your list of themers. Recognize that you didn’t need to use CLUE. So work CLUELESS into the grid. Hah. Maybe. BEQ is a big sneak. And I say this because I just think I know him very well in a creepy stalker kind of way. We’re tight.

But I tell you, he is the CLUE MASTERMIND. After I got 68D, I kept repeating “teaching positions” both ways (teaching positions and teaching positions) and marveling at the difference in meaning and Brendan’s harnessing that ambiguity.

This. Was. Not. Easy. All of you are reporting that you saw the trick early on. Not me, buddy. I think I had maybe four or five themers in place before I got it. I kept looking at the title, and finally the light bulb went off. My favorite was CONNECT FOUR CHECKERS.

For that “longtime” (read – there’s no way in hell you’re gonna know this so I’ll make you feel worse by telling you it’s been around for a while. Or that it’s “famous” renowned, prominent,” blah blah), I had S_ITTY and had to run the alphabet. Of course I paused at H. Who wouldn’t?

As board games go, I guess my favorite is TABOO. Hate Yahtzee. Hate it. We played Scattergories last night (with The Girl Friend). My son beat us both, spit-balling lots of answers and hoping for the best. Like, he put down “Yam” for a Y-initial ice cream flavor and then brought up evidence from the internet that it is a thing. What a little cheater. Things are going very well - she’s lovely, and I’m pretty sure she’s deeply impressed that we use such high-end (!) toilet paper.

@Lewis – - good ones! How ‘bout...

*Go Uncle Wiggly – like, he’s drunk and dancing to Led Zepplin
*Mousetrap Sequence – Espy, sniff, investigate. . . oops.

BEQ – always a pleasure. We gotta catch up sometime.

mmorgan 7:14 AM  

I really respect and admire BEQ and, unlike Rex, I tend to like or at least appreciate most puzzles. But this one mostly just fell kinda flat for me. Maybe it's because I didn't know a lot of the games, but the resulting answers were more meh than WHOO for me.

Glimmerglass 7:21 AM  

@Larry G: The Dixie Chicks took a stand against W’s I’ll-advised invasion of Iraq. As a country music band, that was a very brave thing to do, and it cost them some money among their red-state fan base. History has already decided: they were right. I got CLUELESS almost right away, but then I wondered whether there was a game called LESS?

Jofried 7:23 AM  

Yuck. Took me way too long to figure out the theme and then I got lost in those proper nouns everywhere. STRO/EBRO? And can someone please explain how RECEIPTS goes with the clue “gate”?? Not a happy Sunday for me!

Pfui 7:27 AM  

Fie: used to express disgust or outrage

Urban Dictionary: means curses or, yes, f*ck in a polite way back in the middle ages.

fie, fie, how wayward is this foolish love The Two Gentlemen of Verona
fie, fie, how franticly I square my talk, Titus Andronicus
fie, fie, fie! Coriolanus
fie, fie, fie! Coriolanus
fie, fie, fie! cuckold! cuckold! cuckold! Merry Wives of Windsor
fie, fie, unreverend tongue! to call her bad, The Two Gentlemen of Verona
fie, fie, thou shamest thy shape, thy love, thy wit; Romeo and Juliet
fie, fie, my brother! Toilus and Cressida: II, ii
fie, fie, master ford! are you not ashamed? what Merry Wives of Windsor
fie, fie, gratiano! where are all the rest? Merchant of Venice
fie, fie, fie, fie! Timon of Athens: II, ii
fie, fie upon her! she's able to freeze the god Pericles, Prince of Tyre
fie, fie upon her! Toilus and Cressida
fie, fie upon thee, strumpet! Othello
fie, fie!you counterfeit, you puppet, you! A Midsummer Night's Dream
fie, fie! what, are you mad? Romeo and Juliet
fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow, The Taming of the Shrew
fie, fie! they are not to be named, my lord, Much Ado About Nothing
fie, fie! pah, pah! give me an ounce of civet, King Lear
fie, fie! no thought of him: The Winter's Tale
fie, fie! Merchant of Venice

QuasiMojo 7:32 AM  

Pretty easy. But clever theme "undermined" by some tired and questionable fill. Things like TARSI ILIAC MIS EEK (so we can have the very dull ITS TIME at the top?) ASA, MOL, MOTRIN (I hate brandnames in puzzles, hi ATRA, SUNOCO etc.) Poor Milo O'SHEA. Isn't there anyone else with that name? If that shows up in your puzzle, rethink the section. Desperation apparent in FIE FIE and A TASKET. NO FAT rather than NON-FAT. And the offensive WHOO. Weak clue for ANOS. No I can't even give this one a BRAVO.

Rex, I remember SMITTY more as a comic strip in the papers than AS A comic book. Per Wikipedia "Smitty was a newspaper comic strip created in the early 1920s by Walter Berndt. Syndicated nationally by the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate, it ran from November 29, 1922 to 1973 and brought Berndt a Reuben Award in 1969." Nearly 50 years seems like a "longtime" to me.

ArtO 7:44 AM  

Clueless is me when it came to understanding the theme as I'd never heard of half of these games. But, BEQ is always fun as he comes up with the most clever clues and has a wealth of trivia in his fertile brain.

But, not understanding the theme left a meh feeling after finishing.

Anne Meilof 7:59 AM  

Gate receipts, or simply "gate," is the sum of money taken at a sporting venue for the sale of tickets. (Wikipedia)

114D: They always come with mayo (ANOS)

What is ANOS?

suea 8:02 AM  

Did not like this puzzle. Did not get the theme. Did not really care about it. But I did care about the political statement about Sucre being THE capital of Bolivia. Technically it is not, but may be considered one of the two Capitals of Bolivia. The technical capital is La Paz, but many people consider Sucre a second capital. This screwed up that part of the puzzle for me, and was a big reason why I did not like it.

Two Ponies 8:14 AM  

Did BEQ really write this one? Didn't seem like his usual work.

All of you new tilde users get your chance to show off with 114D.

Abeam and ayear in the same puzzle?
Throw in atasket and you have a real mess.

Clue for eagle was wicked and sneaking in clueless was funny but this one had no sparkle for me.

I predicted yesterday that this Sunday would be crappy on the heels of two really fun puzzles and on another Sunday this might have been OK. But not today.
I also predicted I would skip today for the same reason but it seems I am a total crossword junkie because here I am.

Jofried 8:19 AM  

@AnneMeilof...thanks for the explanation, never would’ve interpreted GATE like that!

Right back at you...ANOS are years in Spanish and Mayo is the month of May in Spanish.

Richard 8:25 AM  

I'm in Houston, and sometimes you will hear 'STROS plural. That implies a singular that I've never heard. I was fine with it. Would not want to to see it often.

I liked it. Have played most of those games so there were several pleasant memories associated with the game names. TICKET TO RIDE is quite popular in the world of board games.

American Liberal Elite 8:30 AM  

My knowledge of board games is rivaled only by my knowledge of current popular music. I solved the puzzle and then turned to Rex to explain the theme.

Matthew G. 8:43 AM  

Though I'm a pretty big board game fan, it was only recently that I first heard of ACQUIRE. And although TICKET TO RIDE is one of the games I've played the most in the past decade, it is definitely a game that board game fans know and the general population largely doesn't. So yeah, ACQUIRE TICKET TO RIDE is a legit tough themer for most people.

On the other hand, DIPLOMACY is a major classic that has been around for half a century, so I'm fairly surprised Rex hasn't heard of it.

John McKnight 8:50 AM  

i initially missed EVAH, but then that was quickly fixed with crosses, SE was kinda funky but I made it with no real hangups. Hope y’all enjoy your Sunday!

Dragoncat 9:13 AM  

Someone please explain114 Down:"they always come with mayo"= Anos . Huh?

GeezerJackYale48 9:30 AM  


Teedmn 9:36 AM  

My co-worker lived in England for about six months and tells the story of planning to go to the Isle of Wight. He walked up to the window and said, "A TICKET TO RyDE, please." EVAH since then, he has been convinced that the Beatles song was Americanized to RIDE but they meant RYDE. Makes sense; RYDE was known as a resort get-away and if you had a ticket to Ryde, you might just not care (about anything else).

Random solving this as usual on a Sunday meant the theme was hard to see so it wasn't easy for me - I had a normal 35 minute solve and not too many ahas or SIGHS (which I first had as "I wish"). Some clever cluing but I'll agree with @Rex that the themers weren't wacky at all, so a fine Sunday overall, nothing to ROO (there's one of the clues that had me scratching my head), but nothing to WHOO either.

Thanks, BEQ.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Also recently had BLINIS and ....for dummies

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Brian Vaughn Bradley, Jr., better known by his stage name Astro, STRO or The Astronomical Kid, is an American rapper, producer and actor.

Nancy 9:45 AM  

Quick -- what's worse than a long Sunday puzzle based on a bunch of board games you've never heard of? Answer: a long Sunday puzzle based on a bunch of two adjoining board games you've never heard of.

Now you'd think that because I'm 1)still not recovered from my miserable cold and 2)looking out at a damp, dreary, about-to-rain day, that I'd be thrilled to have a nice long puzzle to keep me entertained and diverted. Well, actually, I would be, except that this is not that puzzle. I dropped it -- causing a loud thud --a little less than a quarter of the way through. For those of you who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you like. I wish you a Happy Solve. As for me -- I'm outta here.

Unknown 9:45 AM  

Yes, please. I don't get it either.

Jan Charles 9:45 AM  

Yes, please. I don't get it either.

Carola 9:50 AM  

I'm with the few who found this theme not quite up to BEQ's snappy standard. I liked the parallel EXTRA CHEESE and RYAN GOSLING, in the what-makes-life-better department.

Huh. Just noticed that he did CONNECT FOUR CHECKERS with the names in the line below: DOLLY, ROO, IRA, and ALMA.

Sarah 9:53 AM  

ACQUIRE ("High Adventure in High Finance!") has been my family's traditional game since my mother was a child, so it made me happy to see the shout-out even though I knew a lot of people would be confused.

Z 10:01 AM  

@Moly Shu - I thought Nature Boy was saying “Wooooo,” not WHOO.

@Matthew G. - I’m not into Board Games, but I have a son that is so I may be more aware than most non-enthusiasts. Still, a game that has sold 2 million copies by 2013, garnered an article in Forbes, has versions in 19 languages, and has a plethora of spin-offs has made at least a small dent in the zeitgeist.

@Dragoncat - see @Jofried8:19 for your AÑOS explanation. I’m sure you’ll also see an explanation of why ANOS is wrong before the end of the day.

Loren Muse Smith 10:02 AM  

"Mayo" = May. As in years (ANOS) have the month of May.

Birchbark 10:16 AM  

Good to learn that A TASKET is nonsense, so I can stop wondering as to its meaning.

A SIEGE isn't really its 83D "All out attack" clue. In your basic siege, the idea is to surround a fort, walled city, etc., prevent anyone from entering or exiting, and then sit around and wait until the adversary runs out of food and water and is too weak to put up much of a fight. Then either accept a surrender or storm the castle and easily win it. It is often more of an engineering exercise than anything else.

SIEGES can go on for a long time if the target is well supplied or can resupply itself. There may be skirmishes or other battles as the besieged tries to break free or if an ally comes to the rescue. An "all out attack" may or may not be part of the process. The SIEGE of Troy was a stalemate measured in years that ended with Trojan Horse subterfuge. Grant's SIEGE of Vicksburg was methodical and ended in a surrender without a final attack.

Alan_S. 10:17 AM  

After last Sunday's fantastic entry I was expecting garbage. What we got, I think, was serviceable and mediocre - some of those games were a stretch - but I will agree with Rex this week in that it wasn't damnable. For entertainment though, the comments were better. You guys (and Dolls) know who you are.

I had Subway for Sunoco for the longest time - they have an arrow running through their logo too - otherwise this would've been on the easy side.

Mohair Sam 10:20 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan_S. 10:25 AM  

Gate = Amount of total receipts ($$$) at the entry points of a venue. Quite literal.

GILL I. 10:26 AM  

This one isn't really the BEQ I know. @Rex is right. There is no zippiness in the cluing nor in the answers. Will must censor him a bit. At least we got one ASS.
The only board game shown here that I ever played was CHECKERS. My grandad and I would play for hours. He'd get bored losing to me so he taught me backgammon. Now THAT is a game. You really need some finesse and just a bit of luck to win. Another favorite Is dominos. That was the national game of Cuba. You could see people playing in the parks or outside the cafes - anywhere you could prop up a little table.
I wonder what contests need a BOX TOP as proof of purchase.
I liked seeing STOOPS. You really only see them in NYC and Philadelphia. You can thank the Dutch for that. The rest are called a porch.
Has anyone ever read OMOO? just wondering.
Another beautiful day that won't be wasted.

Rob 10:27 AM  

Surprised so many of you liked this. Mostly it was... fine, with some bad fill. STRO/EBRO is a ridiculous crossing.

TICKET TO RIDE is a very famous game if you are into board games in the hobbyist sense, but definitely more obscure than SORRY and RISK and the like, which is what most of the rest of the puzzle uses. DIPLOMACY is also very famous for hobbyists, mostly for ending friendships and taking several hours to play. I play a lot of board games and I have never heard of ACQUIRE, though.

Roo Monster 10:35 AM  

Hey All !
All the games Rex goes to and he never let out a WHOO? Or even a WOOH YAY? What does he yell out? Go Team?

Have heard of 9 of these Games, but not having played any boardgames in quite a while, the new ones I didn't know. ACQUIRE, TICKET TO RIDE, DIPLOMACY, MEMORY, CRANIUM. According to some of y'all, some of those have been around a bit. DIPLOMACY sounds the same as RISK. Anyone remember STRATEGO? I used to kick butt on that.

Liked the South Center O group. ROO, ROOST, COOKE, TABOOO. Lots of Double O's today, 7 of them, with that Triple O also. Seems alot of O's in general. O MAN. :-)

A few writeovers, most I can't remember, but did have juicER for ZESTER. Liked RIOTOUS. Just a neat looking word.
If you drink a specific beer at a Houston baseball game, is it a STROHS STRO? SORRY. :-)


Alan_S. 10:39 AM  

Years, in Spanish. Mayo = May, as in Cinco de Mayo. But you knew that.

Alan_S. 10:42 AM  

OK now I see all the replies that came in while I was asleep. I'll keep quiet now!

Mohair Sam 10:54 AM  

Fast and fun. We got the theme right away with BATTLESHIPRISK, that helped a lot as we filled most themers off a just a few crosses. The games we didn't know were ACQUIRE and MEMORY.

Where were Scrabble and Balderdash? Nobody's sneaking up on me anymore with a Mayo misdirect, it was a gimme today. Even though BLINI is apparently correct, I'm still gonna say BLINIS (however, I don't think I've ever said the word). Outraged that TCM buff Rex didn't link us to the Sinatra/Crosby "Well Did You EVAH?" duet from "High Society".

Played DIPLOMACY a lot in the '70s - games would take weeks because our group was scattered from Watertown, NY to Phoenix, AZ. We made all moves by mail and did all negotiating by phone. JFK was a huge fan of the game and it was often played in his White House. Henry Kissinger was a regular in the Kennedy group, when he first learned that Jack played the game Henry is quoted as saying "My God, I hope he always wins."

Our middle son Kevin has a marvelous sense of humor, is the life of any party, and absolutely adores the spotlight. Playing a family game of TABOO a few years back his mother (Lady M.) and I were teamed. I got a word that seemed impossible to define given the forbidden words. Then it hit me, "Kevin" I clued her. "Ham!" she confidently shouted. "Correct" said I. We're hoping that in a few years Kev will talk to her again.

Clever Sunday puzzle BEQ, thanks.

Stanley Hudson 10:59 AM  

What @Birchbark said about SIEGE.

@Mohair Sam, great story about JFK and Henry K.

One week of classes, then finals. Then summer: research, reading for pleasure, BBQs, camping, music festivals, all manner of fun in the sun. WHOO!

Randall Clark 10:59 AM  

Also a Houstonian here. We say Go 'Stros! quite frequently. Never heard it singularized, but it seems fair to me. BTW, Loaded Questions is the best game of all time. Forget about trying to win - for each turn, pick the most open-ended question you can find, and then submit answers for laughs as opposed to accuracy. Hilarious way to spend an afternoon.

mike colt 11:01 AM  

Wonder why CROSSWORD wasn't an answer

GHarris 11:16 AM  

Well I nevah. Was undone by evah. Fie, fie on me. (Yeah, that too).

Hungry Mother 11:28 AM  

After filling in most of the grid, I went out for a 4 mile fitness walk and a 6 mile run. En route, I mentally changed EVeH and finished up before icing my legs. Very quick time for me today.

Unknown 11:48 AM  

They are VERY commonly referred to as “The Stro’s”

Z 11:52 AM  

I was thinking of the BLINIS discussion as I watched soccer this morning. The British announcers pronounced Gabriel Jesus’ last name “gee sus,” not “hey zeus” as an American announcer almost certainly would. It seems to me a more true to the original formation Americanization would be “blin” for one and “blins” for more than one. There’s no logical justification for BLINIS. Of course, language doesn’t devolve logically. AnyWHOO, curious how we Americans make token, albeit oft wrong, nods to linguistic origins while Brits basically say, “it’s English, dammit, and we’ll pronounce it that way.” Me, I want BLINIPODES.

@Birchbark - Not to get all metaphysical about war, but isn’t an attack so overwhelming that one side wins without a fight the most all-out attack?

@Mohair Sam - I thought your story must have been apocryphal, but I looked it up and DIPLOMACY was released in 1959. I thought it was new when I played it in HS, but it was already 20 years old. WHOO knew? Not I.

Unknown 11:52 AM  

If only it cost them a little money. Huge Dixie Chicks fan here. It cost them their entire career.

Trudy Morgan-Cole 12:07 PM  

TICKET TO RIDE is a great game and we own about 5 versions of it so I was happy to see it in the grid.

jberg 12:18 PM  

My youngest child is 41,so most of these games came after my playing days; maybe there'll be a new round with the grandchildren, but that hasn't started yet -- so I just had to go with the clues and what were plausible words.

FIEFIE is what feudal lords called their domains when being arch.

I had no idea where Minute Maid Park is -- around here we've got Minute Men, but don't pay as much attention as we should to their feminine counterparts. But I figured out that it must have something to do with ST. ROland's University.

Judging by all the complaints, there is a WHOO in this puzzle, but I not only did not notice it, I can't find it now. @Rex, I wish you'd go back to specifying clue numbers.

BLINIS didn't bother me, though perhaps it should have -- but LAVENDERS!!?

I used to occasionally enjoy a slice of CHESS PIE but the latter doesn't really name a single game, as far as I know.

Also, are yoga instructors really called YOGAs? I had YOGi there for way too long.

CDilly52 12:24 PM  

A-MEN!!! First on my personal list of “should be banned from crosswords” is ELHI.

Boo Boo 12:44 PM  

@JBerg: Think Yogi is correct

Birchbark 12:50 PM  

@ Stanley Hudson (10:59) -- Good description of a life well lived. Enjoy the finals.

@Z (11:52) -- As they say in Wayne's World, "Did you ever see that scene in "Scanners" when that dude's head blew up?"

TubaDon 12:50 PM  

Not being a fan of board games or Beatle's songs, it took me an hour to solve this, but I did it using my contiguous handicap. Ashamed to say I had astronomical MEMORYTROUBLE, writing DEIMOS for the Mars moon which delayed me in the NW, but I did know DRACO. I usually love BEQ puzzles, but this one was rather soso. SORRY 'bout that.

Anoa Bob 12:59 PM  

My go to BEQesque clue for ANOS would be "Julio is always in them".

Never cottoned to board games when I was a kid. If we were playing them, it meant that the weather was too bad to go outside. Yuck.

Banana Diaquiri 1:10 PM  

if your from anywhere near Baaaahhston, yeah, you say EVAH. also, Valley Girls use whatEVAH a lot, I'm told. not my neighborhood.

Aphid Larue 1:14 PM  

Speaking of old age. Healthylifecalculator.org will give you an estimate of how many"good" years you have left. I'm trying to get more people to try it.

JC66 1:16 PM  

How is TWISTER a board game?

Banana Diaquiri 1:19 PM  

No way does a BRA protect anything.

well... some sturdy ones protect the wearer from exposing those high beams. always thought they were chicken.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

@JC - the same way that BATTLESHIP, CONNECT FOUR, and OPERATION are?

Masked and Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Mammy Mia! 42 weejects!
Clever theme idea, and ok SunPuz. But not one of BEQ's top-notch bests, fill-wise.

Had some trouble catchin on to the theme gimmick, mostly due to havin these two themers first, as my analysis base:
* ACQUIRETICKETTORIDE. Don't know these games.
* SORRYDIPLOMACY. Know only the SORRY game.

staff weeject pick: MOL.

Thanx, BEQ.

Masked & Anonymo8Us


Brian 1:32 PM  

Is there a rule about needing to be spoken?

Casarussell 1:33 PM  

Being from Houston, I got STRO immediately, but have never used or heard anyone use that as a singular form. "He's an Astro", yes, "he's a Stro", no. I root for the 'Stros, but not an individual 'Stro. Easy but questionable/bad fill.

puzzlehoarder 1:49 PM  

Judging by today's comments there are quite a few popular board games out there that I've never heard of. The wording of the clues eventually gave away what I didn't know.

The bottom center held out for a little while. I had UPPER for 105D supported by BARTERS at 125A. ROO gave me URBAN which made BANTER obvious and all was finished.

There were a couple of spelling issues along the way. I had to change ORE to OER (they are pronounced the same.) For a while I had ACQUIRE spelled with two C's. However even I know that QUAIL does not start with a C.

John Ciolfi 1:51 PM  

TICKET TO RIDE is a fantastic board game (3-5 players). Very simple to learn, plus it has a cool scoring system so that no one is truly out of the game until the very end. It's considered a "new classic" board game (along with Catan), and you can find it in a lot of places, including Target and B&N. Definitely worth checking out.

Jamie C 2:18 PM  

"South America's ____ Picchu." As opposed to Scandanavia's ____ Picchu??!!!

JC66 2:45 PM  

IMHO, today's BEQ CRooked Crossword is much more enjoyable.

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

I'm a day late with this but...
I cant beleive Rex didnt lose it over Enos Slaughter. He was a raging racist. Spiked Jackie Robinson on more than occassion (yes, on purpose).
Anyway hes 10 times the bad guy Trump ever was. I dont mind the general population not knowing Country's faults. But Rex is constantly crowing abot his deep involvement with baseball-- from posting pics at the Rumble Ponies to constructing puzzles wuth a baseball theme. Not pegging SLAUGNTER AS A CREEP OF THE FIRST ORDER Was a big swing and a miss.

Mohair Sam 2:50 PM  

@Z - I discovered the game in the early '60s as a result of the Kissinger quote. Talk about piquing one's interest!

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

Olá @Z. Gabriel Jesus is Brazilian. Both the American and British announcers would have been mis-pronouncing his last name. "Gabriel Jhay-zus" or "Gabriel Chay-zus" We don't do the J=H thing here.

"The British announcers pronounced Gabriel Jesus’ last name “gee sus,” not “hey zeus” as an American announcer almost certainly would."

por nada

the puzzle? the games were mostly unknown but inferable. honestly, a very easy BEQ sunday. agree with the other comments about Sucre and _____Piccu.


mathgent 3:55 PM  

I usually don't do the Sunday. Not enough payoff for the time it takes this slow solver. But when I saw that it was by BEQ, I couldn't resist.

Happy I did it. Smart cluing, fun to figure out the theme.

Connect Four is a great game. I read up on it a few years ago so that I could beat my grandson. The player going first can always win by using the optimal strategy. However, that strategy is very complicated.

Trombone Tom 4:08 PM  

Like many of you I had never heard of several of these games. The GK's were into some board games in younger years, but now they all flop out their iPads and go at it.

I found the puzzle harder to conquer. With typically good BEQ cluing things came to me more slowly today. "But he persevered."

I'm always impressed by what I learn here. I'll have to go check out the game aisle at Target.

sanfranman59 5:11 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Che 5:45 PM  

Come on, Bolivia. You don’t need two capitals. Pick one or the other for crying out loud.

sanfranman59 5:54 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 5:27 4:30 1.21 87.7% Challenging
Tue 6:39 5:37 1.18 81.8% Challenging
Wed 8:07 6:07 1.33 89.6% Challenging
Thu 10:24 10:01 1.04 59.5% Medium
Fri 12:48 13:01 0.98 47.1% Medium
Sat 12:24 16:06 0.77 25.5% Easy-Medium
Sun 18:25 21:22 0.86 37.0% Easy-Medium

I'm always happy to see BEQ's name on a puzzle and this one didn't disappoint, although I agree with Rex and others that the cluing of the themers wasn't a strength here. I have a feeling that Will doesn't get BEQ's A-list or maybe even his B-list constructions. He's not appeared nearly as often as he once did.

This is the first BEQ Sunday where I've been below my 6-month Sunday median solve time. In the past I've been consistently 10-20% above my recent median vs 14% below for this one. I think part of that is my improved solving over the years and the fact that BEQ appears in the Times a lot loss frequently than he did a few years back. But I also think this was an atypically easy BEQ puzzle.

I wanted SMITTY off of the S and the Y but then Snuffy Smith sprang to mind and figured that was what I was thinking of, so I moved on without entering it. BLINIS confused me also.

Great week of NYT puzzles AFAIC.

Alan_S. 7:35 PM  

But the Yankees just recently WHOOped day ass so here in NYC it's the no's. Just sayin'.

Blue Stater 8:16 PM  

Horrible, horrible, horrible. Full of mistakes and unfair clue-answer pairs, as has been pointed out in gruesome detail. Way below BEQ standard (and NYT standard, too, but that ship has sailed). We deserve better.

Z 8:48 PM  

@anon-Zippy - Now I’m not 100% sure, but I still think the announcer said “gee sus” not “Chay-zus.” Regardless, I’m 100% certain an American announcer would have gone with “hey zeus.” About the only thing Brazilian to really break into the American zeitgeist is the wax. TBF - good announcers ask the player how to say their name, but that’s only the good ones.

@JC66 - I guess that dotted plastic mat could be considered a “board.”

@Anon2:46 - ENOS and probably 75% of all the players in 1947. Heck, probably 98% by 2018 standards. It took Boston another 12 years to sign an African-American, while ENOS finished his career with African-American teammates. His attitudes are hardly remarkable for his era and seemed to have changed over time. He vehemently denied both the strike allegations and intentionally spiking Robinson, so even if the allegations are true (which I tend to believe) he at least learned that that behavior was not good. In short, worth noting but that’s about it in my opinion. But, no, I’m not going to mention it every time Slaughter makes an appearance.

Anonymous 8:52 PM  

Wow! Dig in for the bigot. Good for you.

Anonymous 8:57 PM  

Actually z, slaughters attitudesa and behaivior WERE notable. And were noted at the time. I love your fake percentage, but do some real research and convince me. My reserach says 79 percent of National Leagures in 1947 thought Slaugnter was a dick.

RJ 9:17 PM  

Got Naticked at EBLO/STLO

A bra is chest protection said no one who's ever worn one (especially all day)

Mark 10:20 PM  

I know BEQ is a crossword legend and I guess that buys him a bit of indulgence from Rex (I can't imagine a B-List constructor getting off so easy) but the fill here was garbage.

kitshef 10:21 PM  

Puzzle felt pretty easy, but unlike Rex I found the theme very hard to get. I had sixteen blanks remaining in the grid (and two incorrect letters) when CONNECT FOUR CHECKERS finally got me there.

mmorgan 11:24 PM  

This is one of the many days in which I wish that we could recommend (or not) these comments...

Brian Miles 8:31 AM  

Elhi was complete crap. The theme was fun and very helpful, but I agree with Rex that there were few chuckles.

TJS 9:33 AM  

Re Z, and Anon;8;52, While not defending Enos Slaughter's racism, I will note that at the height of his baseball career, he served 3 years in the military. Apparently bone spurs had not been invented.

Z 9:42 AM  

@TJS - LOL. Also, let me point out that saying he was probably as bigoted as most of his cohort and became at least aware enough to deny his alleged racist behavior is hardly defending him. I find it more than a little ironic how black and white people want to make systemic racism.

John Hoffman 12:42 PM  

These are board games? I did the puzzle but have no understanding of the theme. I hope it’s clever, I hope somone enjoyed it.

Michael McCormick 10:11 PM  

Got it. I thought Quail was the kicker for this xword. Blinis was a shit clue also.

Azzurro 9:28 AM  

My ex wife was a teacher, and ELHI is a common abbreviation in education circles.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

Just fabulous, Barb, thank you!

spacecraft 12:43 PM  

Some, including OFL, glommed onto the theme quickly; not me. The first themer I completed via crosses was ACQUIRETICKETTORIDE. This was a quite literal answer to the clue, but made no sense at all to me. Later when I uncovered BATTLESHIPRISK, it looked like two board games--which did make sense with the puzzle title--but I knew perfectly well there couldn't be a board game called TICKETTORIDE. Ridiculous. ...Wait...there IS one?? Really? Well, WHOO!

After doing the rest of the puzzle, I still wondered about that one. I am an avid game player; know and have played all in this grid but TTR. The things you learn! I was, heh heh, CLUE-LESS!

Hand up for EVer, fixed easily enough. For a bit there I had DBS and JAM, with a guy named DJANGO SLING. At the last second I saw RYAN GOSLING (duh!) and fixed that. Hey, DBS can score TDS: the infamous pick six. And can't you have JAM at TG dinner?

OK, I get that BAGELS are "rolls," but "out of bed in the morning?" Are you serious? Fill seems to be a little tortured in spots, but nothing to get in a TWISTER about. Yeah, I know, that's more of a floor game than a board game. Whaddyagonnado?

DOD NATALIE--either Maines as clued or bygone beauty Wood--will serve nicely. Honorable mention to Ms. Portman. Par.

Burma Shave 1:17 PM  


that he INHERITS from DOLLY, his sister.
It was CLEAR he NARRATED double


AnonymousPVX 2:29 PM  

Wow...I got the solve.....despite some very shaky clueing.

Not much to add.

rainforest 2:36 PM  

I think the title just means "games", not necessarily board games. CONNECT FOUR, eg.

I got the theme at BATTLESHIP RISK, then was flummoxed by The Beatles' record answer. As a matter of fact, there were many games I nevah heard of. I'm of an age where I don't play a lot of commercial games. Apples To Apples is the most recent, I think, but then, I'm of an age. It was while playing TWISTER that I met my future and ex- wife. Story there.

The EBRO/STRO cross made a few people cross, but if you're a fan of Spanish rivers, it was no problem.

I found this medium, fun, and unsloggy. Oh yeah, if BLINI is a plural, which I don't doubt, then "panini" must also be, but I always hear "paninis" as the plural. I think the singular is "panino". Any Italian mavens out there? Nevah mind.

Carl 6:24 PM  

Yes, can we put ELHI to rest. I've never heard it used outside of crossword puzzles.

What do bagels have to do with rolling out of bed....unless one eats them for breakfast????

rondo 10:08 PM  

Busy today - got the grand-daughter baptized, etc.

@Carl - BAGELs, usually eaten in the morning, are *rolls* that you have when you're just *out of bed*. Unlike a continental breakfast, which is a roll in bed with honey. Har.

NATALIE Maines and the rest of the Dixie Chicks cost themselves tens of millions by standing up for what they believe. Yeah babies all.

Only real question was "Is it gonna be ATiSKET or ATASKET?"

brendal 11:04 PM  

When was the last time you heard "sit-in" for a protest? I add it to the dead-word file, like "rad."

Anonymous 12:06 AM  

The Dixie Chicks speaking the truth cost them their career ??? Here is what it cost them:

As of 2015, the Dixie Chicks had won 13 Grammy Awards, including five in 2007 for Taking the Long Way—which received the Grammy Award for Album of the Year—and "Not Ready to Make Nice", a single from that album. By December 2015, with 30.5 million certified albums sold,[1] and sales of 27.5 million albums in the U.S. alone, they had become the top selling all-female band and biggest-selling country group in the U.S. during the Nielsen SoundScan era (1991–present).[2][3][4]

I'd say speaking the truth about the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq set them free, and it landed them - or at least Natalie - in today's puzzle. And they are still touring the world speaking the truth while former president Bush could be arrested if he travels to certain countries as he has been identified by the world court as a war criminal suspect. But he may still wind up in some crossword puzzles - perhaps with the clue "war criminal who ordered invasion of Iraq based on false WMD claims."

SharonAK 12:18 AM  

Hey Jazz Listener,
Why did you take the comment on Draco as a criticism of the puzzle? I just thought Rex was commenting on his own solving experience. And the following Karo is latin for syrup line was amusing

Anonymous 5:41 PM  

Hey Rex- totally agree with the Beatles one- at first I thought a taste of honey- but realized their cover was from an earlier album. got acquire from crosses- but I have never heard of the 2 games that were answers to that beatles clue. so ticket to ride did not come to mind-I was a teenybooper at the height of beatlemania- been watching the beatles anthology- just fab- four- ulous. My sister and I used to pretend we were the girlfriends of john and paul and would say things like gear fab in an awful cockney accent. Anyway- didn't really finish this until 2 days later when I finally got the theme. Then it easy. still where was the game of life- couldn't that have been fodder for the theme? struggled with some of the crosses also- some of the answers were a real stretch from the clue. awful lot of lazy slang and answers like its time or whoo and Ive etc. its spring up here in central Ny- had a great mothers day w/ my grandsons . love your blog!!

lodsf 11:29 AM  

Re. the “mayo” questions & answers: in the (syndicated) print version of my puzzle the word “mayo” was not capitalized. If this is supposed to be the month of May in Spanish shouldn’t it be Mayo??? Answer easily gettable from crosses, but still....

Anonymous 1:17 PM  


46d Like the theme answers in this puzzle

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