Tuesday 11 February 2014

In case you missed the announcement in the post earlier this morning: beginning this week I'll be posting the weekly puzzles on Tuesday evenings rather than first thing Tuesday morning. Adjust your schedules accordingly.

Being as it's Tuesday evening, I have a new puzzle for you. It's vowelless week once again, so I hope that's alright with you. I'm rather pleased with the way the grid turned out on this one, although I struggled with the cluing a bit.

Cluing a vowelless seems easy at first, because it's actually best not to think too hard lest you come up with something too abstruse. Too many tricky clues = impossible vowelless crossword, I've learned. However, sometimes writing easy clues is just as taxing as writing oblique head-scratchers. First, they have to be unambiguous. If a seemingly easy clue leads obviously to two or more equally valid answers, it's not easy. Second, you can only make clues for proper nouns and pop culture references so easy. I can tell you everything about a song or film or novel except its title, but if you've never heard of it then it's still no help and even correct crossing letters will look like an unintelligible dog's breakfast. I try to reference most or all of the title words in clues like that, but that's not always easy. Lastly, you don't want every clue to be a paragraph. Writing lucid and unambiguous clues is much more difficult when you have constraints on length (well, as I'm sure you noticed, I don't really have constraints, but I really do hate it when the pdf runs to 2 pages). Anyway, I'm never quite sure that I've gotten the difficulty even within the ballpark of where it should be and I agonize over some clues for ages when writing these things, tinkering with the most minute aspects of phrasing and word choice endlessly or until it's 2 in the morning and the puzzle's still not even done let alone posted. Seems to be worth the trouble, though, since I'm evidently getting better at it. A number of solvers have written in to tell me that the vowellesses are getting more approachable and fair and all-round good. Always nice to hear.

Feel free to disregard everything I've said in the last paragraph if this one is insanely unfair.

More words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday evening.

As usual, the letter Y is not a part of any answer.

Puzzle: Vowelless #7
PDF (without answer lengths)
PUZ (without answer lengths)
PDF (with answer lengths - EASIER)
PUZ (with answer lengths - EASIER)
Full answers


Bisch said...

Excellent puzzle. I think it's very fair. Only snag I had was, although I wanted STNDRDSS at 14-Down, I was sold on LTSTTHNG at 27-Across, which, alas, fits really well when you can't get your brain to see what 12-Down is. (I still can't.)

I'm really loving the vowellesses. I like seeing those ridiculous stacks that could just never work in a standard puzzle.

And I hope you'll keep breaking the "rules" with regard to symmetry and the like. Whatever it takes to create puzzles that are challenging and fun to solve.

e.a. said...

the clues get better and better. i BLAZED through the bottom right corner. and i suck at these things.

Evan said...

This is the first time I've been able to finish a vowelless completely -- something has always stopped me from finishing like a novel I've never heard of and can't possibly get from the crossings. So take my comment as a sign that you're rapidly getting better at these. I still don't know how you can fit so many sweet phrases together like this.

My biggest trouble spot was that for the longest time I thought 41-Down was RCHDCS (ARCHDIOCESE). But I corrected it with 52-Across.



Bananarchy said...

Thanks all. Glad to hear this one was gettable.
And yes, LE TOUR DE FRANCE is correct. The "Full answers" pdf contains all of the vowelful answers, in case you ever can't parse something out.

Dan said...

I think you're definitely getting better at smooth cluing!

That said, I couldn't finish this one because the latter half of 2-Down is not inferrable at all. I could have figured out the "Z" eventually, but wouldn't have come up with TNTSL. Plotkin also reported two wrong squares; wonder if they were the same ones!

jefe said...

Had a few hangups - couldn't get the last 2 letters of 2D, so many things fit the GRN- pattern. Fell into the trap and had MRCC for MRTN. Hadn't heard of 19A, but got the crossings.