Jun 19, 2021

Saturday, June 19, 2021, Pawel Fludzinski

Saturday Themeless by Pawel Fludzinski  

I had a run of Pawel's wonderful themeless Saturday entries in 2019 and now I am so pleased to see him back again. His last Saturday puzzle that I blogged was on May 14, 2019 but in some correspondence we have had since then he said he had received notice on 1/1/21 that he had had a themeless accepted and figured with the usual six month lag time it would be a summer puzzle. Well, here it is, two days before the first day of summer.

Pawel did his doctorate and post doctorate work in organic chemistry and retired to Santa Fe, NM after 31 years of working for Eli Lilly in Pharmaceutical R and D. Eight of those years included stints in England and Japan. Since then Pawel has moved to Denver to be closer to his new work in Boulder. 

Here are his gracious and informative comments on this puzzle:

Hi Gary,

Thanks for reaching out - always enjoy your commentaries on Saturday puzzles!  Appreciate the time and effort you put into them.

Regarding the puzzle - I seem to have gravitated towards creating themeless puzzles - about 1/2 my overall effort, and probably 80% of recent efforts.  I went through a period of trying to create puzzles with rotational symmetry - the puzzle today was the 9th such effort, but the first one accepted anywhere.  Not surprising - the pandemic has led to a whole new group of excellent constructors, so the likelihood of acceptance, especially for a themeless, is pretty low.  I am pleased/humbled that this puzzle made the grade.

In constructing themeless puzzles, I build around seed entries.  Given the symmetry of this puzzle, I had a seed for each quadrant - INDEXCASE, AREWECOOL, SILENCERS and WORMHOLES - and then I completed the construction around them.  My only regret is that my favorite clue for these four seed entries is the only one that the editor did not keep - I suggested "Librarians, at times" for SILENCERS.   Perhaps my clue was too easy - I am happy to defer to the judgement of the editor.

On Thursday, Pawel added a very insightful addition about this puzzle and I have posted it at the bottom of this write-up! You will find it very interesting!!


1. Epidemiologist's "ground zero": INDEX CASE - Also called:

10. Swiss city that hosts the World Economic Forum annual meeting: DAVOS Here ya go

15. Tourist income source for some farmers: CORN MAZES - A high tech GPS device and a low tech mower made this famous Spanish artist into a CORN MAZE

16. Isfahan inhabitant: IRANI - A 4+ hr drive south of Tehran. 

17. Emphasized: IN ITALICS.

18. Big name in skin care: ARPEL.

19. Is sweet on: LOVES.

20. Field fare, briefly: MRE - My WWII dads and uncles would probably have preferred these Meals Ready to Eat to K-Rations.

21. Mother __: GOOSE - Mother Goose headline quiz

22. River through Flanders: YSER - A 48 mile long river that empties into the North Sea that saw violent fighting in WWI.

23. Good, to Guillermo: BUENO 
¡Este rompecabezas es muy bueno! (This puzzle is very good!) 
25. Wee warbler: WREN.

26. Grumps: MUTTERS - The verb not the noun

28. Mil. group integrated with male units in 1978: WAC.

29. Eli of "The Magnificent Seven": WALLACH - Eli got second billing but played the bad guy in this 1960 classic.

33. Fill: SATIATE.

35. El __ Pacífico: OCEANO.

s36. Shredder: TEARER.

37. Sells to consumers: RETAILS.

39. Projecting architectural features: DORMERS - From the inside

40. Ed.'s inbox fillers: MSS - ManuScriptS (any port in a storm)

41. Genuine: SINCERE.

43. Cease: HALT.

45. Father-and-son actors: CAANS - Here is dad James working on Hawaii 5-0 as a guest star where son Scott has a role

James Caan                       Scott Caan

46. Vertical actions: BOBS - Ali BOBS and weaves

50. Chiwere speakers: OTOES 

52. Many a GI: PVT 

53. Solitaire measure: CARAT -  ~.007 oz 

54. "Glassheart" singer Lewis: LEONA Her IMDB

55. Many a recital piece: PIANO SOLO.

57. Twain's "Taming the Bicycle," e.g.: ESSAY A fun read

58. Depleted: EATEN INTO - Niagara Falls

59. Flute features: STEMS - Oh those flutes!
60. "All good?": ARE WE COOL?


1. How an archrival might be greeted: ICILY - Brrr...

2. Faux pas: NONO'S - Some of the group above thought certain other members of the group had committed a faux pas.

3. Initiative: DRIVE.

4. Log: ENTER - Hourly employees have to log their hours

5. 'Tis the season: XMAS - XMAS ads usually start running around Labor Day

6. __ Poly Pomona: CAL.

7. Surveyor's measurement: AZIMUTH - Astronomer's too

8. Like Superman's alter ego: SECRET - Man! The glasses really fooled me!

9. Early Judaic sect: ESSENES - They are thought to be the authors of The Dead Sea Scrolls which were written ~2,000 yrs ago near Jerusalem  

10. Laptop screen meas.: DIAG - A woman here in town bought her husband a 50" DIAG TV and then put the old TV in the new box and set it out on her porch. Some porch pirate got a big surprise!

11. Feathered flier: ARROW - There's an ARROW in there somewhere!

12. Highly touted computer product we're still waiting for: VAPORWARE - Computer hardware or software that are announced but are not and may never be available. Bluetooth was VAPORWARE for quite a while

13. Kayak, typically: ONE SEATER - This one comes with a tightly fitted "spray skirt" to keep water out of the kayak

14. Brits' mufflers: SILENCERS - In America we call that tank on the right a muffler. The Brits call it a SILENCER

23. Pastoral: BUCOLIC.

24. Figures of speech?: ORATORS - My chem teacher's lab sign

26. Salon treatments: MANIS and pedis

27. Firewood measure: STERE.

29. Sci-fi passages: WORM HOLES - Remember the recent Michael Paleos' puzzle with these WORM HOLES in the grid?

30. Nails the exam: ACES A TEST.

31. Unties, maybe: LETS LOOSE - What's in the box Pandora?

32. Trout's team, on scoreboards: LAA - LA Angel Mike Trout is proof that one very highly paid superstar can not win a baseball championship 

34. 2007 Will Smith film "__ Legend": I AM - Meh...

38. Veggie with an edible pod: SNAP PEA.

39. Like many hibiscus leaves: DENTATE - Leaves that have a dental margin

42. Blini topper: CAVIAR - Blini (Russian pancake) topped with Crème Fraîche,  smoked salmon and Hackleback CAVIAR

44. Common brunch hr.: TEN AM.

46. Simple: BASIC - Also "Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code". My first programming language

47. University town near Bangor: ORONO.

48. Heroic 1920s sled dog: BALTO - BALTO got the most credit because he arrived in Nome with the serum but the real hero was the lead dog Togo who ran much further in much worse conditions.

Balto's statue in
NYC's Central Park

49. Potter's perch: STOOL.

51. Word before or after "who": SAYS - or SEZ

53. Geometric solid: CONE - We math teachers taught about CONES and Conic sections

56. Untested: NEW.

Pawel's extra "inside baseball" comments:


I am working on another rotational themeless and I was reminded about your "inside baseball" comment.  An FYI - here is the worksheet I created for the NW corner of Saturday's puzzle - 




I found eight possibilities that worked, and then compared them two at a time to go from 8 to 4 to 2 to 1.  If I don't like any of them, I go back, tweak the black squares and then start over.   8 possibilities is a relatively low number - for the puzzle I am working on now , I started with  27 combos and gradually worked my way down.   I repeat the process for every corner, but a constructor has the most latitude with the first corner (usually the NW), since there are no other word constraints already in the puzzle.

Just some more "inside baseball" for you.