, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: What Constitutes a Good Crossword Puzzle?


May 19, 2008

What Constitutes a Good Crossword Puzzle?

I absolutely hate puzzles with

1) Excessive amount of affixes, esp suffixes like ING's & S's.

2) QUIP theme. I am so tired of seeing the constructor take someone's QUOTE and twist it out of shape.

3) Three- letter Words. I can not breathe when I see too many of them in one grid.

I love puzzles with

1) Sparking theme, like the BROKEN HEARTS one around Valentine's Day.

2) Creative clues, like "Pecking Order?" for KISS ME.

3) Entertaining, exciting and interesting fills.

How about you? Please share with us.



Dennis said...

I like any puzzle that causes you to provide links to pictures of scantily-clad well-endowed women. How's that?

Barry G. said...

To me, a good puzzle is challenging without being overly obscure. Basically, it requires a good command of the English language and makes me "think outside of the box" with clever clues, but doesn't overly rely on obscure ("crosswordese") words and proper names.

Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel said...

You have to make me happy then. Sometimes I am not in the mood to offer those links. Besides, for reasons I can never understand, those links always bring this blog lots of visitors from Europe/Middle East (esp Saudi Arabia). And they are not crossword solvers.

Sorry you had to delete your other comment. I actually read it and I liked it. "Think outside the box" is exactly what I am looking for too. Creativity is so lacking in TMS puzzles.

Dr. Dad said...

For shame, Dennis!
I agree with Barry's statement. Cleverness in the clues and making you think are important. I like theme puzzles more than the quotes and quips and I dislike quips more than quotes. Ones where you kind of have an idea what the answer is but have to get the perps to finish it off are nice.

Dr. Dad said...

Probably get rapped in the mouth for this but maybe they are looking for those virgins to accompany them in the afterlife.

Dennis said...

Uh...C.C., exactly how does one go about making you happy?

Katherine said...

Dennis, hilarious!
Drdad, funny too!

Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel said...

Those virgins are called HOURI.

Make me wise, I will be happy.

Dick said...

cc your question is not an easy one to answer. I never really thought much about xwords before I found your blog and discovered the depth people go to in analyzing the construction of a xword. In the past I just solved them as best I could and went on never realizing the complete puzzle could be analyzed in detail even down to the constructor and editor. This has added a whole new dimension to my morning attempts. After some thought I support Dennis in requiring the great links you provide. I want a challenging puzzle but not full of obscure words or names. Drdad and Barry support "Cleverness in the clues" which I also like. Theme puzzles are my favorites over quips particularly like the inane ones we have seen lately. Quotes are OK if they are quoted as said.

Dennis said...

dick, perfectly stated.

c.c., you're far wiser than I think you think you are. Especially if you can interpret that statement...

sallyjane said...

What I like to see in a crossword is a nice mix of crosswordese, general knowledge, pop culture and some really clever cluing. I've been a solver for nearly a half century so I've accumulated more than my share of crosswordese!

I've been doing the NYT puzzles for about 6 years, so I've only known Will Shortz as the editor. Apparently his predecessor was a very traditional puzzle guy. It's only been since Mr. Shortz has held the reins that the NYT has really come into its own. It's sad to see that TMS, with its horrible editing and small number of constructors, can't drag itself into the 21st century!

My two cents

Dick said...

cc a PS to my previous comment. Since I am not really into the movie and TV entertainment business I do not like puzzles that are full of clues in this area. If there is a nice smattering of these clues that is ok as I can usually get the answers from the crosses. This probably is not what drdad would like as he seems to be an expert in this area and impresses me with his knowledge of films and TV

Anonymous said...

In response to your question-I like clever puzzles and cluing but do not like an over reliance on crosswordese, abbreviations, celebrity names or TV shows/movies. Also do not like inane quotes. Nor do I like puzzles such as this past Saturday's NYT that make the clues overly difficult to the point of tedious. Guess it boils down to what I want out of a puzzle-and that is to build my vocabulary and keep my mind active.


Anonymous said...

In no particular order:

- Clever definitions, rather than obscure words. (See a Saturday NYT puzzle for some remarkable examples.)
- Consistent theme; don't stretch the theme to fit one answer.
- Learning a new word, name or fact.
- What Dennis said.

- Incorrect definitions!
- Boring or inaccurate quotes or quips.
- Trite clues. There are a lot of clues that have become cliches. You should avoid them like the plague.
- Repetition. Do not include the main part of one answer in a clue or in another answer.
- Answers that cannot be completed all at once. Those "Three x Things" puzzles drive me batty.
- Gimmicks. The Thursday NYT puzzle frequently uses a full word in a square, instead of one letter per square.

Dick said...

johnboy you are correct. The NYT drove me crazy the other day with the word cow in one square several places in the puzzle.

sallyjane said...

Hey everyone!

A puzzle with one word or a part of a word in one square is called a rebus puzzle, and they are my absolute favorites! Of course, it sometimes takes a little while to realize you're dealing with a rebus, but once you figure it out it's a blast.

I recently submitted three puzzles to the NYT for consideration. Two of them were rebus puzzles. I'm hoping Mr. Shortz finds them acceptable!

I wish TMS would loosen up and offer some interesting puzzle options!


Anonymous said...

C.C., I see that Dennis is being naughty again! Boys will be boys. The kind of puzzle I like depends on the mood I'm in. If I'm tired, I like easy clues. But mostly I like puzzles that make my mind work a little harder to find the word, especially if it's something obscure. I like to feel a sense of accomplishment when I complete a puzzle. I agree with you; I do not like the ones that are full of three-letter words. I find them boring.