Letter Game – The New York Times

Letter Game - The New York Times
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You’ll probably come across and solve topic entries in random order, I certainly did. The first I knew for sure was at 42-Across, “Beer Named For A Founding Father” which is SAM ADAMS and which I assumed was normal, innocuous filler. This clue is quite close to its paired entry, which is 52-Across: “DST start time… or a clue for 42-Across.” Nothing caught my eye there. I got to 90-Across, “Farm Boys Club… or a 97-Across track,” and I thought it had to be “4-H.” If the input hadn’t been five letters long, I probably would have tried HHHH; instead I sat down for a while and tried 97-Across, “Secretive”. Due to some letter crossings, I hit this entry: HUSH-HUSH. Oh, I realized SILENCE — Those four H’s must mean something.

Due to the location of OAHU, QUIT and JACUZZI, I discovered 27-Across below. “Visitor of a website, in analytical jargon”, is SINGLE USER. His companion hint is at 71-Across, “23 in a series…or a hint for 27-Across”. We’re dealing with “Letterplay”, so the series that comes to mind is naturally alphabetic, but what does “W” (the letter 23) has to do with the entry in 27-Across? Aha: SINGLE USER contains two U or one DOUBLE U.

DOUBLE U had me tuned in on how to answer 68-Across: “Maximum credit rating… or a hint for 25-Across.” That credit rating (for corporate bonds) is AAA, or TRIPLE A. What could that have to do with 25-Across, “Isn’t It True?” Thanks crosses! This one made sense only when I reversed it; a line that is “not true” or straight, could be AT Anorth AANGLE. There are your TRIPLE A’s.

So what about 90-Across? “Quadruple” does not fit; the entrance is FOUR H. And what about 52-Across, that “daylight saving time start time…”? That’s TWO AM, referring to the TWO “AM” in SAM ADAMs.

There are two more examples, an excellent pair of puns at 89 and 115 wide and a variation at 54 and 118 wide, which mark the limits of the number sequence. (Their almost a sequence, anyway. It is missing “one” or “single” and instead says ZERO — TWO — DOUBLE — TRIPLE — FOUR — FIVE.) That ZERO entry is a knockout. 54-Across, “Weightlessness… or a hint of 118-Across”, is ZERO G. 118-Across is “The call of the baseball announcer on a home run.” What is that they say? “Is he out of here?” In this case, it is a statement plus suspensewhich, with ZERO G, says, OIN OIN ONE.

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