TUESDAY PUZZLE — To paraphrase a famous film character, “Why did it have to be circled squares slithering their way through my puzzle?”
I kid. We’ve seen serpentine circles before, but I don’t recall seeing quite so many of these theme entries in a grid before.
Over all, fairly easy, although there were a few speed bumps in the northeast, which slowed me down a bit.
15A: You know this, even if you don’t think you know which state is “said to be ‘high in the middle.’” You can guess this one, as long as you understand that there is wordplay afoot. Four letters, it’s an American state and it’s “high” in the middle. If you’re smacking your forehead and saying “Oh!,” you’re on the right track. Add an O on either end, and you’ve got OHIO.
21A: TIL that you can have your very own TWIBE on Twitter. I’m on Twitter all the time (come say hi to me at @NYTimesWordplay), and I had no idea this was even a thing. Join or make one of your own today.
31A: Wordplay alert! On first read, the clue “Long past time?” sounds as if it were talking about lateness (“It’s long past the time you were supposed to be here!”). The answer is YORE because the clue should really be read as “A time long past.”
32A: This is another clue that beginning solvers probably look at and think to themselves, “How am I supposed to know that?” The short answer is that you’re not. No one knows trivia as specific as “Guinness record-holder for the U.S. city with the most consecutive days of sun (768), informally.” But working those crossings will set you free, my friends. They are particularly kind here, and before you know it, you’ll be saying to yourself: “Huh. I didn’t know ST. PETE got that much sun. Perhaps I should plan a vacation there.”
41A: Do the names of sports figures trip you up? Try one of our topical articles, “10 Sports Names That Will Help You Become a Better Crossword Solver” under the “Words to Know” tab on Wordplay’s main page. Once you’ve read that, you’ll know that the answer to “Baseball's Matty, Felipe or Moises” is the surname ALOU, which has appeared 239 times in the New York Times Crossword. So it’s worth knowing.
33D: Sneaky. You’ll start off thinking about what kind of ORE the constructors are looking for, and you’ll end up realizing that it’s a TYPO. “Ore, for one?” is all dressed up like a straightforward, ORE-finding clue until you get to that question mark. Slow down and think. It’s obviously wordplay because of that question mark, so read the clue this way: “What is ORE, to ONE?” Well, there’s only one letter’s difference, so it has to be a TYPO. I would have liked this one even more if the R and the N were closer together on the keyboard, because that’s a tough TYPO to make. Still, it’s a very clever clue.
53A/42D: This is the last square I filled in, because my sports wheelhouse is very small. I wanted an L for League in the AFC/UFC crossing, and put in random letters (L for League? A for Association?) until I gave up and finally revealed that square. That’s very rare for me, and maybe the clues could have given more of a boost to those of us who are sports-challenged.
Check this out, because it’s particularly elegant: There are four venomous snakes slithering their way through John E. Bennett and Jeff Chen’s grid, and as you solve, you will discover them in the circled squares when they’re read top to bottom (there is no backward reading today).
One touch that I really liked was that each snake touches the central revealer, “WATCH YOUR STEP!” That felt like it gave an extra bit of cohesiveness to the grid.
John E. Bennett: I tend to like crossword puzzles that use the diagonals in the grid as part of the theme and solving process. This puzzle is no exception. Snakes have always been fascinating to me, but I must admit to being maybe a little overly cautious when hiking in venomous snake country!
This puzzle seemed as if it would be relatively easy to construct, since the snake shapes could be arranged easily in many different configurations. I put the constraint of total symmetry into the initial mix, which made for a lot of time-consuming frustration. I was finally able to get four venomous snakes, of reasonable length, to work out in the grid in a totally symmetrical fashion using SIDEWINDER, COPPERHEAD, BUSHMASTER, and FER-DE-LANCE, along with the central revealer, “WATCH YOUR STEP!”
Although my first submission to Will received positive attention for overall theme and design configuration, it was turned down because the supporting fill was too weak and the “bushmaster” and “fer-de-lance” entries were not well enough known to solvers. I eventually got another version to work, replacing those two snakes with KING COBRA and PUFF ADDER. I was pretty much down to the end of venomous snake possibilities without having the word “snake” appear in the theme. When this version was rejected, also because of relatively poor supporting fill quality, I knew I was going to need help. That’s when I contacted my crosstown puzzle guru, Jeff Chen.
Jeff accepted the challenge right away and was instrumental in getting this puzzle accepted. His adjustments to the grid made a huge difference in opening up possibilities for improved fill. Jeff also strategically asked Will whether having the snake shapes be totally symmetrical in the grid was necessary, and Will said no. In fact, he and Joel hadn’t really noticed that they were totally symmetrical! This got me off on a totally different course, which ultimately allowed the puzzle to be configured with all snakes either beginning or ending in the “WATCH YOUR STEP!” reveal. It also made the snakes look more “snakey” in their asymmetry, and less like a design pattern. Jeff’s input and collaboration helped bail me out once again.
Jeff Chen: IT HAD TO BE SNAKES is exactly 15 letters! It had to be an incorrect quote, though. Bah!
Almost finished solving but need a bit more help? We’ve got you covered.
Warning: There be spoilers ahead, but subscribers can take a peek at the answer key.
Trying to get back to the puzzle page? Right here.
【当】【他】【们】【看】【到】【楚】【轻】【瓷】【上】【楼】【去】【找】【狗】【哥】，【出】【现】【在】【大】【家】【视】【野】【中】【的】【却】【是】【林】【轻】【白】【的】【时】【候】，【整】【个】【屏】【幕】【都】【是】？【和】！【的】，【觉】【得】【这】【个】【事】【情】【就】【很】【微】【妙】【了】。 【可】【是】，【林】【轻】【白】【都】【自】【己】【承】【认】【了】，【宁】【瑶】【才】【是】【他】【的】【女】【朋】【友】，【所】【以】【到】【底】【是】【怎】【么】【回】【事】【呢】？ 【下】【一】【秒】【剧】【情】【就】【反】【转】【了】，【果】【然】【只】【是】【乌】【龙】。 【原】【来】【是】【林】【轻】【白】【晚】【上】【应】【酬】【喝】【多】【了】，【住】【在】【这】【里】，【还】【是】【狗】【哥】【去】
【苏】【勉】【和】【闺】【女】【说】【了】【用】【意】【之】【后】【都】【觉】【得】【此】【事】【不】【能】【张】【扬】，【动】【了】【民】【心】【最】【可】【怕】。【以】【苏】【相】【思】【的】【名】【义】【递】【上】【去】【给】【皇】【后】【问】【安】【的】【折】【子】。 【皇】【上】【也】【知】【晓】【此】【事】【的】【重】【大】【不】【敢】【拖】【延】，【便】【派】【了】【桂】【公】【公】【去】【季】【家】【请】【季】【家】【主】【来】【给】【皇】【后】【请】【平】【安】【脉】。【最】【后】【桂】【公】【公】【只】【带】【回】【来】【长】【纸】【条】，【上】【面】【写】【三】【个】【字】。 【叶】【南】【筠】。 【这】【下】【苏】【勉】【又】【犯】【难】【了】，【叶】【南】【筠】【用】【针】【如】【神】【不】【逊】【色】【季】【温】。第66期的马报【确】【实】【让】【你】【老】【妈】【接】【受】【程】【度】【提】【升】【了】【不】【少】，【不】【然】【突】【然】【一】【听】【中】【了】【几】【个】【亿】，【我】【怕】【是】【会】【激】【动】【到】【晕】【厥】。【不】【过】【还】【是】【好】【开】【心】，【哈】【哈】，【儿】【子】【你】【有】【福】【气】，【我】【们】【以】【后】【也】【跟】【着】【你】【享】【福】【了】。” “【这】【不】【是】【应】【该】【的】【吗】？”【张】【风】【笑】【容】【满】【面】【道】。 “【那】【我】【可】【得】【告】【诉】【你】【爸】，【不】【用】【去】【看】【昨】【天】【那】【楼】【了】，【帮】【你】【看】【一】【下】【别】【墅】【吧】，【以】【后】【你】【交】【女】【朋】【友】【也】【有】【面】【子】。” “【行】
【又】【逢】【适】【才】【被】【林】【子】【遇】【如】【此】【一】【闹】，【汪】【泽】【食】【欲】【骤】【减】，【外】【面】【的】【食】【物】【更】【提】【不】【起】【兴】【趣】。 【可】【是】【输】【人】【不】【输】【阵】，【他】【总】【不】【能】【就】【这】【么】【乖】【顺】【地】【收】【下】【打】【击】，【一】【声】【不】【吭】【吧】。 【汪】【泽】【强】【撑】【着】【笑】，【辩】【解】【道】：“【不】【吃】，【晚】【上】【简】【曦】【下】【厨】，【我】【要】【留】【着】【肚】【子】……” 【说】【得】【像】【真】【似】【的】！ “【呵】【呵】。”【林】【子】【遇】【很】【不】【给】【面】【子】【地】【发】【出】【一】【声】【怀】【疑】【的】【冷】【呵】，【挑】【了】【眉】，【似】【是】
【但】，【杨】【玥】【并】【没】【有】【一】【点】【担】【忧】，【由】【于】—— “【来】【吧】，【我】【的】【研】【讨】【大】【队】！” 【伴】【随】【着】【杨】【玥】【的】【一】【声】【令】【下】，【无】【数】【个】【洋】【火】【人】【察】【觉】【在】【了】【她】【的】【冥】【想】【空】【间】，【由】【意】【识】【组】【成】【的】【它】【们】【本】【质】【上】【处】【于】【一】【种】【介】【于】【可】【观】【测】【与】【不】【行】【观】【测】【之】【间】【的】【叠】【加】【状】【态】，【是】【一】【种】【具】【备】【精】【力】（【波】）、【物】【质】（【粒】）【二】【象】【性】【的】【的】【物】【质】【波】。 【它】【们】【能】【够】【察】【觉】【在】【杨】【玥】【意】【识】【所】【能】【波】【及】【到】【的】
【山】【羊】【成】【功】【阻】【止】【了】【鬼】【子】【的】【炮】【击】。 【鬼】【子】【步】【兵】【看】【到】【远】【远】【射】【击】【的】【山】【羊】【等】【人】，【一】【边】【阻】【击】【一】【边】【通】【知】【炮】【兵】【转】【移】。 【原】【本】【协】【防】【鬼】【子】【炮】【兵】【的】，【不】【止】【一】【个】【小】【队】。 【也】【许】【是】【南】【边】【小】【王】【乡】【战】【斗】【的】【激】【烈】，【也】【许】【是】【日】【下】【部】【就】【没】【想】【到】【独】【立】【团】【会】【突】【然】【兵】【临】【城】【下】，【因】【此】【他】【派】【给】【防】【御】【炮】【兵】【阵】【地】【的】【鬼】【子】【很】【少】。 【鬼】【子】【步】【兵】【看】【到】【山】【羊】【等】【人】，【知】【道】【自】【己】【的】【位】【置】