NYT Crossword for Wednesday, February 15, 2023 by Sean Ziebarth
The first time I saw a W created from two letters was skateboarder Tony Alva's logo — which reads, AWA — merging the L and the V created a strong, stylish brand. I love the optical illusion — all three letters at once!
Then, much more recently, while listening to the band Alvvays (spelled with two V's), I wondered how I might use similar typography in a crossword. I tried finding theme entries using two W's, like: BRAVE NEW WORLD and NEW WAVE MUSIC — but too many V's really gummed up the grid. I also realized I didn't have a reason to join the V's together, and during my search for a revealer the crossword magic happened!
First, I tried the nickname for Volkswagen, VW or VEE DOUBLE-U, but that got me nowhere. I switched gears and remembered in Spanish the letter W is pronounced "doble ve" or "double v." A little bit of research later and I re-discovered the Double V campaign from WWII and I learned the heroic story of George Watson who, along with many other Black Americans, was lost to history for far too long. And as a high school English and journalism teacher, I'm thrilled to celebrate Wells, Baldwin, and DuBois!
As a new constructor I've always found it helpful to hear others' NYT submission stats, so here are mine: this was the 9th puzzle I sent in to the Times, and I've submitted another 13 since to no avail. So we grid on! Reach out if you'd like to collaborate: @MrZiebarthJeff Chen notes:
I'd never heard of the DOUBLE V campaign — not a surprise, given that one of my high school history teachers was also the PE teacher. We did learn a lot about the history of football, but I'm constantly filling in so many gaps. Great to gain knowledge about the DOUBLE V.
Neat idea to tie DOUBLE V to famous civil rights figures: IDA B (VV)ELLS, JAMES BALD(VV)IN, GEORGE (VV)ATSON, and (VV)EB DUBOIS. We've seen double-U and double-V themes before, but this one has an impressive extra layer.
I did wonder why DOUBLE V equals a W, especially when split into two V squares. Ed's VV rebus approach might have given me a stronger click today, but I enjoyed the "something different" approach here.
My editors at Zynga's Crossword with Friends often remind me to cross all names much-more-than-fairly, to the point of zero doubt. For instance, I featured MIKE KRZYZEWSKI recently, and I had to take extra precaution to make sure every letter of his name was crossed by something unambiguous. One could argue that IDA B WELLS is famous enough that everyone should know her, but I'd sympathize with those who didn't and also weren't aware of SMERSH. Even this Bond fan had a tough time pulling that one out.
VMI crossing (VV)EB is much more fair, because even if you don't know either, the theme provides a third hint to certainty.
The DOUBLE V going to split W = V next to V didn't provide as sharp an a-ha as I wanted, but I appreciated the layers of connections, especially during Black History month.
* This article was originally published here