Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Island Getaway

Today's puzzle is Grid Pro Quo's first brand-new puzzle1, a collab, and a debut!

Lily and I met through a friend back in the twenty-aughts, and we've been part of a friendly puzzle group for a while now, solving the Panda Magazine Puzzle Boats together and inviting each other to Learned League.  I can't remember who peer pressured who, but last year (after Lily dominated ACPT's C Division as a rookie) we went to a workshop that Andy Kravis put together to help new and aspiring constructors learn the ropes, and decided we should work on a puzzle together, to slightly lower the odds that we'd just get frustrated and give up—Lily's debut puzzle, and not that far off for me either.

After a crossword dinner date that I guarantee you neither of our husbands was jealous about, we actually had a theme, themer set, and grid that we liked.  We spent a few days polishing tough crossings and putting together clues by text, and then just as we were finalizing the puzzle for a playtester, I opened up the NYTimes puzzle app and saw a variation on our theme---we'd been scooped!  Not only that, but we'd been scooped by Natan Last and Andy Kravis's JASA summer class that I had encouraged my aunt to take.  We got scooped by my own family, like some sort of nerdy, unwatchable soap opera.  I am confident I can blame Andy for this somehow.

But we talked it over a bit, and felt like even though our inspiration was the same, our theme was actually executed differently enough from the JASA class puzzle that it was still worth shopping aroundit would feel too duplicative for the NYT so soon, but we'd already decided during construction that some of our fill wouldn't be a great fit for them, so that was all right.  Right?

We submitted the puzzle around at a few other outlets (one at a time, natch), and got some rejections that honestly made us laugh more than anythinglike passing on it because "choosing an appropriate date to run this puzzle would be impossible."  Getting turned down is always disappointing, but sometimes it helpfully illustrates where wouldn't have been a good fit, which can soften the blow a bit.  But our favorite rejection, by far, was full of compliments for the puzzle, and just wanted us to resubmit once the JASA puzzle was a bit further in the rearview.  It was truly a more encouraging rejection than some acceptances I've gotten in my lifewhich must illustrate that it was a great fit.  Right?

Fast forward a few months, and we're getting ready to resubmit the puzzle, debating what amount of time to wait to avoid seeming too thirsty.  This time, it was Lily who DMed"I'm 80% through Friday's LATimes downs-only and .... well, you should do it."  Oh come on, we'd been scooped again?!  So before a third outlet somehow managed to spiral increasingly closer to our exact themer set, we thought it made sense to just publish on a blog for our Crossworld friends to solve and enjoy.  Right?

TWO Scoops!  Excellent source of SALT

Haha j/k there isn't actually another twist, but the point of the story is obviously that this puzzle is cursed.  If I managed to get this post online before another indie blog does the same theme again, I'll be shocked.  Solve it fast, or there's a decent chance you personally will construct and publish your own version of the theme later today.  That's just math.  And possibly some sort of hex.

PDF: Island Getaway
.PUZ: Island Getaway

Next week, a new puzzle that will truly live up to, nay, exceed this blog's promise of unpublishably nerdy themes.

1 Well...this is technically true. The best kind of true!

Island Getaway

Today's puzzle is Grid Pro Quo's first brand-new puzzle 1 , a collab, and a debut! Lily and I met through a friend back in the tw...