Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Free for All XVII," by David Phillips

Constructor's Comments

Even though this grid is at the 72 (max) word count for a themeless, the left/right mirror symmetry made it feel like I was filling a much lower and more difficult word count.  The smiley-face effect is nice but really comes at a price with all that open hard-to-fill-cleanly white space.  I think the result is still pretty good, considering the restrictions:  The interlocking 15s still strike me as a mildly interesting (WHAT A COINKYDINK was my starting entry, so that one was predestined for attention) and, IMO, there aren't too many short offenders like MTNS or REL.

Also, in case you were wondering, the whole coordination behind releasing this puzzle during Pride Month (don't pretend like you didn't see SAME-SEX MARRIAGE at 3-Down) . . . yeah, that was all David . . . your fearless editor, not me . . . I'm not that self-congratulatory.  In that vein, I will gladly accept any praise about this puzzle's timeliness, though you should in all honesty repackage and resend it to wherever David has his praise mail delivered.  But, seriously, I appreciate David's care in making this puzzle relevant to the now.  Great touch.

I hope this oddball crossword induced a few smiles.  We could always benefit from a few more of those.

Editor's Comments

Whenever I find myself thinking that most themeless grids look the same, a constructor surprises me like Dave did here!  The smiley-face pattern allowed him to work in four awesome 15s, my favorite being the lively and modern COMMITMENT-PHOBE.  Dave also did a great job of maximizing the 7-letter slots, working in goodies like STARMAN, TEXTER'S thumb, VOLCANO, and CREEP IN.  And finally, if you're wondering who was behind the brilliant [Murder one?] for CROW or [Game won by not playing?] for SCAM, look no further than Mr. Phillips.

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