"Aces!" — a Rex Parker free puzzle

Monday, November 30, 2009

Here's a puzzle I wrote last week when I realized that a recent public announcement presented great opportunities for puzzle answer symmetry. It's too straightforward a tribute puzzle to be a good fit for newspapers, and the subject matter / names involved will cause radically different solving experiences among solvers. Still, I hope there's entertainment or challenge enough to go around. Should be solvable even if the subject matter is way out of your wheelhouse.

Get the puzzle in .puz (AcrossLite) format HERE (or just print it out below; click on "Print") ... completed grid can be viewed HERE.

Thanks, RP



Jim Murphy 12:52 PM  

Nice work intersecting those middle three theme answers. Clearly the crossword gods are influencing baseball writers. A few nifty little pockets of fill as well.

But IGA, ASOU, and NEL? It burnssss usss!!

Meg 1:26 PM  

Rex er Michael:
With minimal knowledge I made it through with only 1 error.
TRIPPING for "one way of getting to 3rd". Can't believe I did that! A runner on drugs or just clumsy?

I didn't know either of the winners, but got them with the crosses and "Radar pop" was cute.

Hazel?? You're makin' me feel old today.

Do you see names in the news and automatically count how many letters?

Rex Parker 1:41 PM  

Jim, I hear ya, esp. re: ASOU. That NE section was a #@$! I so badly wanted YES WE CAN where I SURE CAN now is, but the surrounding fill ended up even more terrible (with "words" like YAS and WINIEST!). NEL and IGA don't bug me as much. Not great, but they've got database cred aplenty, and they aren't anywhere near each other.

Thx for feedback.


nanpilla 2:49 PM  

Not knowing either of the pitcher's names made this one difficult for me. And what names they are!! When did you first notice that they could cross CY YOUNG symmetrically? BURNETT and HAZEL give it an old timey flavor, and BASH IN, ANTI HERO (one of my favorite shows, btw), and CAD a bit of danger. Lots of nice fill in there, and a pangram to boot!

nanpilla 3:45 PM  

Just did BEQ's puzzle. LOL at 63a. What are the odds? (Just ask Matt Gaffney, I guess)

lawlady 5:00 PM  

That was fun and I know less than nothing about baseball! I also had "tripping." Thanks for another puzzle for Monday.

Elaine 5:36 PM  

I know baseball (as in, I can spot an error, know where the play should be, and so on.) I do not know players, by and large. I got CY YOUNG, TRIPLING, and even a goodly portion of the puzzle. I very confidently read "Big name in facial paralysis" and put in BELLS (as in, Bell's Palsy)...then had to take it back out; tsk. But despite getting UPSY and BASHIN and even SNEEZE, I can't finish. Am IN A PANIC. Well, not really, but I am giving up. Thanks for the treat, though.

Two Ponies 5:47 PM  

I really surprised myself with this one. I figured I would crash and burn but did I did much better than I hoped.
Facial paralysis! What a scream.
You got your favorite sea bird in there as well.
Great job.

hazel 6:06 PM  

Totally awesome puzzle - and not just because i made it into it :) - I am a baseball (Braves) fanatic and totally loved the solve - I wouldn't call it a breeze, but it was definitely in my wheelhouse - I forgot to turn on the timer so I'm not sure how long it took - probably Wednesdayish for me.

I knew LINCECUM immediately, but couldn't remember the ALER right off the bat and needed a few crosses.

The symmetry really really rocked and the clues were very clever - loved having kittens - INAPANIC was the last word I completed, in fact.

Thanks very much for sharing it.

mac 6:24 PM  

The hardest part were the names of the two guys. I did better on the puzzle than I had expected, and enjoyed it!

Norm 7:29 PM  

Nice nice nice. That was a hoot. Of course, one of them is my guy -- assuming we can afford to keep him. (That didn't violate any rules, did it?)

Bill from NJ 10:11 PM  

As a life long baseball fan, this puzzle was definitely in my wheelhouse although I was surprised that I was unsure of the spelling of either players' name. Like Jim, I enjoyed the award name crossing both winners names. (Trying to avoid spoilers makes for convoluted syntax and comma placement seems problematic).

Rex, I wish I had a tenth of your energy. You do so much for us.

andrea abuzz michaels 12:14 AM  

My usual one square wrong...
I couldn't get the M in LINCECU?HU? even after running thru the alphabet. And there was a lot of "Is it JIM or TIM? ZACK or MACK OR JACK?" going on in my head.

sigh (Cy?)

The way the printer broke up the clues I read "Big name in face"
and thought "how odd!", but it made me chuckle.

Not just a pangram but 3 Z's all huddled together!
(Ironically PUZZLE gave me trouble as I had SQU for SPH)

Loved HIJINKS!!!

Under "constructive feedback": just noticed you crossed two INs...INOR/INAPANIC)

Hmmmm, maybe that's a secret puzzle within a puzzle...
if you CIRCLE the INs (INor, INapanic, bashIN, INdycar, jimlINcecum, zackgreINke, triplINg, and hijINks you get eight IN-nings! Where is the nINth?!

I also liked how each corner paralleled each other with GIANTS/ROYALS the fact that those were even the teams of the guys being honored...and ERA/RHP in the other corner!

(Even tho I don't know what an RHP is. Right-handed pitcher? I put in RBI at first)

The fact that you got in three pitchers, their team names AND they crossed the award for pitching, maybe you could consider cleaning up some of the fill you felt iffy about and submitting this for actual publication.
(tho judging from the downloads from your site, you'll prob have hundreds of folks doing this anyway...)!

(ps Doug and I are reeling from how many folks have downloaded the bday present...thanks for making that into a sidebar!)

Anyway, bravo. Nothing to SNEEZE at
(40A my favorite clue)

Schmidtenor 2:28 AM  

I liked the puzzle overall. As usual for me, a confluence of proper names generally results in an incomplete solve. Since I didn't know TIMLINCECUM, NAHUM, or IOLANI, there was really no way for me to fill in the I or M of TIM. I suppose one could argue that Iolani Palace should be general knowledge. A plain vocabulary word somewhere in there would have been welcome.

Rex Parker 7:31 AM  

The 9th IN-ning is running backwards in IONLA-NI.

Can't believe No one caught the double-IN thing in the SW. It's a tiny detail, but I could've fixed it w/o much problem (though INOR would then be a less-than-pretty abbrev.). I wasn't about to tear out HIJINKS over INAPANIC. Having ERA locked in down there was oddly restrictive (given how ultra-common and grid-friendly ERA is generally).

I wrote this in an afternoon. I think if I thought it was publishable as a concept, I would have redone the puzzle from center to NW. Don't like the two -ING words next to each other, or UPSA. Everything up there is OK, but none of it makes me happy. OOLONG TWANG, on the other hand, makes me very happy, as does BOTOX. And LUCKNOW. The East, with its Q and three Zs (!), was such dumb luck. Literally, the first things I tried in that section. Not in love with SPH., but for all those Scrabble tiles, I'll take it.

Thanks for the feedback. ~RP

The Corgi of Mystery 9:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan 10:50 AM  

This was fun, Rex, and I say that as a baseball hater. I didn't care for your two -ing's next to each other either, but there were so many other fun things like Lucknow and Bash in and oolong. Thanks!

HudsonHawk 11:29 AM  

Nice puzzle, Rex. My only quibble was that OR was in both the clue and the answer for 48D.

Ulrich 11:58 AM  

I got through it, but boy, was it a grind! Those two names are so unusual that I had to piece them together from crosses down to the last letter. Stepping back, I have to admire the 'backbone' of the puzzle formed by the names together with 25D.

Rex Parker 12:39 PM  


I guess. I mean, you're right. I could have just abbreviated the lyric, and started it at "We're..." But JM just had his 100th bday, so I wanted to give the lyric some room to breathe, in his honor :)


HudsonHawk 12:58 PM  

@Rex, props to Johnny (and I kinda needed the whole lyric).

retired_chemist 9:58 PM  

As a sports fan, but not particularly a baseball fan since my youth a long time ago, I was able to do the puzzle but without any help from the two theme answers. They were ALL by crosses. Last fill was the M in LINCECUM/HUM, which I tossed a coin between H and M for. 34A was TEAL until I gave up on it. Once I did, I speedily filled in the mid-Atlantic.

Nick 2:56 PM  

As a baseball fan, it was great! Throwing in 40d very tricky though (spent a lot of time thinking it was Detroit instead of Cincinnati). "Quitter" in 39a, a bit harsh, but totally enjoyed it.

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Hitesh 9:16 PM  

Nice work here Rex...

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