Sunday, May 28, 2006

Don't Count The Crossword Out Yet

Op-ed piece from The Kansas City Star (that's what I are) from someone who thinks there's still a place for crosswords in a Sudoku world. (Thanks to Van Vandiver for the link.)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Stella Daily Lost on "Jeopardy!"

Stella defends some of her wrong responses on her blog, but that Final Jeopardy! practically screamed out "Harper Lee". Oh well, we enjoyed watching Stella on TV for a half hour.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stella Daily on "Jeopardy!"

Stella Daily has been playing a game of "I've Got a Secret" with us for the past several months. Now the secret's out (and we've been sitting on this news, at Stella's behest, since Stamford): the talented constructor and speedy solver is a contestant on Friday night on "Jeopardy!". If you want to see a video clip of Stella, please go to the "Jeopardy!" Hometown Howdies" page. GOOD LUCK STELLA!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Nipple" Clue Hits The USA Today Puzzle

Say it ain't so, Timothy Parker! At about 5:30 this morning I was really shocked to see a really suggestive clue in the usually milquetoast USA Today crossword.

Weeks after constructor Lynn Lempel and editor Will Shortz opened up a major can of worms with the presence of the word SCUMBAG in a New York Times grid, the USA Today puzzle by Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke yielded the clue "Nipple ring (var.)" for the word AREOLE.

AREOLE (a variant of AREOLA) is usually clued in terms of botany or general biology/anatomy, but never to my knowledge in terms of being the dark area surrounding the nipples in humans. Yes, we all have nipples (most of us, anyway), but there's a part of me that thinks this subject is still not fair game for crosswords.

My two cents.... discuss.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Our First S.A.Q. (Seldom Asked Question)

Most websites have F.A.Q.'s. Here, we have S.A.Q.'s, Seldom Asked Questions. Our first question was sent in by.... gee, this question is so seldom asked, I don't think anyone's ever asked it.
Are you guys related to Walter Mackey?
Gee, that's a good question, whoever you are that didn't ask it. For the uninitiated, Walter Mackey is the name of the gentleman who concocts those "Super Sudoku" puzzles for Dell's Sudoku magazines. They're the devils where you have a 16x16 grid and need to not repeat a number in any row, column, 4x4 box or (and this is the killer) long diagonal.

As far as we know, Walter Mackey is not related to the Puzzle Brothers. Nor is there a Walter Mackey in our family who gets confused for the creator of those s.o.b. Super Sudokus.

Thank you for not writing! More soon, so keep it here, dear!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Not Just A Job...A Career

My initial appearance in Games World of Puzzles is now out, in the July 2006 issue. It's a 21x called "Career Day". Run out and buy some copies and give 'em to orphan kids or shut-ins. You'll be glad you did.

The Biggest Joke In Crosswords Today

"Look how fast I did the Times Puzzle today! 57 seconds!"

So probably says the kook known as fwongstaal on the New York Times Crossword Puzzles timed applet. Every single damn day.

Guess what? It isn't funny anymore.

And we're going to do something about it.

We made a proposition to the New York Times online contingent at the Stamford tournament two months ago that anyone with what is regarded as a "superhuman" time on the New York Times timed crossword applet should be thrown out of the forums. We'd still like to see that happen, but we have something more intriguing to propose, and we're not so sure how the progress on this is going.

We believe there can be some sort of "cookie" on the site itself or on the user's computer that if a solver opens up the non-times Across Lite version of the puzzle, the solver can not compete on that day's timed applet. We think it's possible to do. And we think, at this point, with the ten or fifteen jerks who think it's a riot to cheat on the applet, it's necessary.

We also think every one of the other good solvers on the applet -- Barry Haldiman, Tyler Hinman, Susan Hoffman, Amy Reynaldo, Byron Walden, and a few others we're too modest to mention -- is appalled that this should keep going on with nothing in place to stop it. We've got to start putting some serious pressure to stop this cheating. Take a look at it this way: the SudokuFun website, which features a new Sudoku game nearly every ten minutes, almost never has cheaters. There is a healthy honor system in place over there, with their moderator James Pitts promising from the start that anyone who cheats by using solving applets would be banned for life from the site. Why can't it be that way at the Times?

This little board of "Today's Best Times" means absolutely nothing when you take into account the dozen or so scurvy little cheaters. So the last part of this is a challenge. Those of you who "do" this puzzle on the timed applet in under two about starting tomorrow, you do the puzzle on the timed applet at 10PM sharp, once it goes up, before you have even seen the puzzle? Then you'll be one of two things: hailed as a superfast solver, or totally humiliated. Better yet, why don't you go to Stamford next year? If you can solve a puzzle in 57 seconds as you claim, fwongstaal, surely you can beat Tyler Hinman. There's an easy $4000 for you right there. And if Tyler wins, it's $4000 of your money he wins. That oughta make it damn interesting.

So the screws are on, you cheaters...and the joke is over. Don't insult the real solvers anymore by cheating.