NYT Crossword for Tuesday, October 25, 2022 by Ashleigh Silveira and Nick Shephard

Ashleigh Silveira and Nick Shephard notes:

ASHLEIGH: A while back I was solving a NYT puzzle with "Highway to Hell" and "Stairway to Heaven" step answers. This was the kind of music I grew up listening to, so I of course, LOVED this puzzle. It got me thinking of what other things would work as "steps" in a puzzle and the phrase "step your game up" came to me. I also really love board games, so I ran with it.

At first, I also experimented with some video games as the theme answers (which would have been a nice gift for my husband and his best friend, Nick, who wrote the clues for the puzzle), but the board games made for the nicest grouping.

I then just fiddled around with making the games fit in a way that would allow for a nice grid, and once that was all done, I passed the puzzle off to Nick Shepard for clue writing.

NICK: I'm a software developer with a love for wordplay. I spend most of my time either in the coding matrix or editing my emails to use some periods instead of all exclamation points so that I don't sound crazy!

My friend and co-contributor, Ashleigh and I, are major board game enthusiasts, so a puzzle featuring some of the classics seemed like an appropriate nod. My favorite clue in the puzzle is "Inner ear? COB" because I am originally from Indiana and am forever a sucker for a corny pun.

I hope everyone enjoys my first published crossword, and there will be more fun to be had in the future.

Jeff Chen notes:

The games people play! STEPS UP ONE'S GAME is a solid rationale for diagonally-oriented classic games.

Diagonal entries are notoriously difficult to grid around because they strip away so much flexibility. With each letter "triple-checked" (having to work with an Across, Down, and diagonal entry), there's so much gloop needed to hold everything together, that Will Shortz is down on this genre.

Today's result is much more solid than average, with only some minor ANS ELL PSAS. That's a fantastic result, given that two of the four games are long, spanning so much grid real estate.

More restricted grid flow is a trade-off — the NW and SE corners are separated from the middle swath, only connected by two entries apiece. If you can't figure out the long revealer or SONICARE, woe be unto early-week solvers who get stuck in one of the three regions, unable to cross into the others.

Counterintuitively, one way to help the problem is to add black squares. Blacken out the A of TERRA + shift the black square below TBAR up one space + shift the black squares before TAB up one row = solving chi freely flows.

Fun, fresh cluing touch on SPIKED. Linking volleyball and hair demonstrates creativity.

This is a solid-enough early-week theme, although playing on classic games is a well-worn concept. (I helped a friend build an "Endgame" puzzle, with reservations that were echoed when Will said playing on classic games was much too familiar.) I did like the snazzy revealer, though, helping to step up today's game.

* This article was originally published here


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