Maura B. Jacobson is putting away her grids. The veteran crossword constructor has announced her retirement from the New York Magazine crossword, a slot that she has held since 1980.
Ms. Jacobson had learned puzzlecraft at the feet of the first New York Times crossword editor, Margaret Farrar. Jacobson had been hired to do a crossword for a magazine that was eventually folded into New York, Cue, at the recommendation of Will Weng. Beginning in May of 1980, Jacobson's byline had begun appearing in New York Magazine, usually appearing with a cryptic puzzle. Jacobson's puzzles were hardly brain-busters, but were accessible to casual solvers and always great fun. Even before that, Jacobson had been tapped by a brash young crossword editor named Will Shortz to provide one puzzle a year for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Jacobson's Puzzle No. 6 slot hopefully will continue in perpetuity.
Signs that the Jacobson era was soon to end started appearing last year, when Cathy Allis (Millhauser) shouldered half of Jacobson's workload. Allis will take on the construction chore full time after the final Jacobson puzzle appears, at a date yet to be determined. But the legacy of Jacobson lives on. Constructor Liz Gorski noted on her blog that "...Maura's extensive puzzle-ography has had a profound effect on my confidence as a solver...and later, as an aspiring puzzle writer. Seeing a woman's byline over that big New York puzzle each week made all the difference. Maybe I could make a puzzle some day. And if Maura B. Jacobson uses a byline with a middle initial ... so will I."