Thursday’s Puzzle – It doesn’t happen often, but I thought Alison Birch’s first crossword puzzle would end as soon as it started.
The first clue I came across for this problem was that the detector was at 20A, and I’d been doing that long enough to know exactly what the answer was telling me – or not for me, as it were -. So I solved it, somewhat disappointed that the fun of figuring things out was over so quickly.
Ha! Shows you how much I know. It turns out there is two Explorers (both first-time participants), the second holding a delightful surprise for the solution, as if to say “Don’t forget your goodie bag on the way out!”
So, if you’re feeling bad because you think you solved the puzzle too quickly, just hang in there. There is a good bag waiting for you at the door.
Detector in 20A the first three words of the song “Take me to the ball game,” a song written in 1908 that has become the unofficial anthem of American baseball. However, when reading through a cruciform lens, the phrase can be interpreted as “Take the letters ME from the subject entries to make another word.”
Clues for the four trait entries are starred for better visibility. If you’re solving with just Downs, for example, you might not notice that 24A is spelled in the grid as COIN, which is quite a harsh word on its own, but the clue is “answer a knock on the door”, which makes no sense until you solve 20A And you realize the original answer should have been “enter”. (CoI IN minus ME = COIN.)
If you solve 20A right away, you may have felt somewhat frustrated, because now you can easily guess the answers to the other three traits and it doesn’t feel like a Thursday riddle. Maybe so. But wait, as a wise man once said, there’s more.
The four entries without their MEs, from top to bottom, are:
And there’s the matter of that second clue, which is at 53A: “Win…or what the answer to the starred clues will do in each case.”
The answer is to make money, and all of these entries are types of currencies.
Enjoy a goody bag.
14a. OBVI is an acronym for “obviously”, which is synonymous with “obviously”.
17a. I love puzzle clues. The answer to “the empty it is, the more of it you’ll have” is the room.
35 a. “Ask Me Anything” often abbreviated as an AMA, is a question and answer that takes place on Reddit.
43a. These “for example” guides ask parsers to come up with a category for which they are named. Sometimes it can be very mysterious. “Crunch, for example,” is a candy bar.
7 d. “Caesarean births?” Not some kind of birth in this puzzle. It is the delivery of the line “ET TU, Brute?” By Julius Caesar in the titular play.
11 d. The “key line” in this puzzle is a brain wave, or a line that measures brain activity. Interesting side note: The phrase hasn’t appeared in the New York Times Crossword since 1965.
Fearless Fridays: About the Easy Mode newsletter
Puzzle Editor Christina Iverson will be sending analysts a weekly puzzle on Friday with more crossword clues accessible straight to your inbox if you sign up for the Easy Mode newsletter. This extra bit of goodness is for those who want to experience Friday’s mysteries but have heard all about how powerful they are.
If you solved puzzles at the start of the week but feel like you don’t have the experience to get going, think of the newsletter as a set of training wheels in the shape of a cross. Use the easy mode guides until you don’t need them anymore, then tell a struggling friend about how you beat Fridays. Maybe they can benefit from this newsletter too.
Have a look at the difference between Friday guides and easy mode guides. The links below are a small sampling of the clues that will run in the Friday puzzle. When you click on it, you will see both the regular version and the easier version.
(Warning: Mystery spoilers for Friday, July 7).
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