Thursday, October 11, 2018

"Air Ball," by Victor Barocas

Constructor's Comments

I'm not a Harry Potter fan, but I live with three of the them, so, you know, this sort of thing happens.  As an aside, some years ago my children assigned each of us to a different Hogwarts house, and I was assigned to Hufflepuff.  They insisted that was because I am friendly and loyal, not because I am dumb.  Yeah, right.  Fooled I am not.

Back to the puzzle, I was pleased to find a good set of themers, and the whole thing came together very nicely and with a surprisingly open grid for a themed puzzle.  Sure, no one really wants to see Clifford ODETS standing on a corner, and even though I am an engineer I never write ENGR, but I still felt very good about the grid, especially the good-sized white blocks in the NW and SE.  In terms of the fill, I liked the longer entries, with my favorite probably being SCRABBLE (and I was lucky to find a fun clue in "Where an F is worth more than an A"!); I haven't played Scrabble in ages.

More generally, you'll notice that although there is a lot of theme density, most of the themers have fairly easy-to-use letters.  CHOKED ON and ISABELLA took care of the triple-crossed downs, and TOBAGO unsnarled the NW and used very friendly letters (TOAO) outside of the crosses, and then it was all good.  The whole thing just came out smoothly and easily—sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, I suppose.  As always, I  hope that solvers enjoy the puzzle.


  1. I'd like to see acute accents at 61A and 32D, and diacritics in general in puzzles here. Strictly speaking, clues such as 61A's and 32D's are wrong without them.

    Nice theme!

    1. Thanks, Bob! We just switched to a new system for transferring the puzzle files at Andrews McMeel, so perhaps we could handle diacritical marks now. I'll ask.

    2. I hope so! Andrews McMeel hasn't used diacritics in general, but they clearly can. E.g., Googling my breakfast just now, I found soufflé here: .

    3. Ah, that's a good sign! I think the issue has to do with the way this specific text file-to-PDF script parses diacritical marks, but hopefully I'm wrong.