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in honor of its nomination for crossword of the month by matt gaffney, i'm posting, for free, my puzzle from lollapuzzoola 8.

many of you were at lollapuzzoola, of course, and many others purchased the puzzles for the at-home division. but of course, this puzzle was so tough that most of the competitors at lollapuzzoola did not finish it in the allotted 45 minutes. if that sounds familiar, maybe it's time to give the puzzle another try?

puzzle (pdf)
solution (pdf)

matt discusses the puzzle here (warning, spoilers! don't read before solving): august 2015 crossword of the month. i'll discuss the theme in the comments.

(ps: if you signed up for email reminders and didn't get one for this post, don't worry. i suppressed them because this isn't a subscriber puzzle.)


  1. Joon Pahk

    Joon Pahk on #

    a number of solvers have told me that even though they finished the puzzle, they didn't get the theme. and it's a subtle theme, so i'm not surprised. but for the curious, here's an explanation:

    there are 16 down entries (exactly one per column) that don't seem to match their clues. in order to make sense of them, you have to realize that one letter has "gone off the grid"—i.e. it has disappeared from the answer entered into the puzzle grid. not only that, it has reappeared inside the <em>clue</em> for that answer. if you copy that letter into the row of blank squares below the grid, you get LETTERS OF TRANSIT, which is the puzzle's theme (and also the name of the macguffin from "casablanca"—the papers that bogart & bergman need to escape the city).

    here is a list of the altered clues, going column by column:

    32d. B(l)ock relative: (L)AGER
    2d. Carl(e)ton's home, in the '90s: B(E)LAIR
    34d. Feeding plan(t)s: DIE(T)S
    27d. S(t)ays: (T)ELLS
    44d. Boxer's stat(e): W(E)IGHT
    21d. Like some ha(r)m: CU(R)ED
    38d. Emulated yea(s)ts: VER(S)IFIED
    7d. Part of some salv(o)es: AL(O)E
    58d. (F)lax: SO(F)T
    9d. They're found in la(t)kes: S(T)URGEONS. this was my favorite of the bunch, partly because POTATOES is exactly the right length.
    42d. P(r)ay: (R)EMIT
    17d. 30, in (a)roma: TRENT(A)
    36d. Part of a s(n)ub: SO(N)AR
    48d. Mac's (s)kin: MI(S)TER. a tough one even if you know the trick—think "hey, mister!"/"hey, mac!"
    49d. Pat(i)ently complete: ENT(I)RE
    31d. Put(t) off: DE(T)ER

    as you can see, in a couple of places i played fast and loose with capitalization in the clues (roma, yeats) and spaces in the answer (BLAIR/BEL AIR). it turned out that TRENTA was really hard to write a good clue for; a couple of solvers told me that the awkward {30, in aroma} clue was what helped them crack the theme.

  2. Peter Abide

    Peter Abide on #

    Outstanding concept and execution! I finished just under the 45 minutes, even I had TRANSIT fairly early in the game.

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