Here is this week’s Stickler – with a difference. In 2001, I had my first cryptic crossword published in The New York Times (NYT). I was the first Australian to achieve this feat. The editor, Will Shortz, demands nothing but the best and strict adherence to US cryptic rules, meaning I had to make multiple changes before my crossword was accepted. In 2014 I asked him whether he wanted another cryptic, and he said “why not?”. The NYT only publish about 6 cryptics a year, so I knew I could have quite a wait before getting my second chance. The years have gone by and I’ve heard nothing, so I assumed it wasn’t going to happen and so some of the clues used have ended up in previous Stickler Weeklys.
Just before Christmas last year Will Shortz posted new payment rates for crosswords in the NYT, which blew me away, quite frankly. The payment for a cryptic is US$600, about 7 times the money I got paid for my Stickler in The Daily Telegraph. I decided to reconnect with Will – maybe a little prodding could get me some easy cash? Turns out he had put it on the backburner because he wanted a number of tweaks – was I prepared to make them? I know what I went through before and how demanding the process could be, so I declined – one day in the sun is enough for me.
So here it is, exactly as I sent it to Will Shortz in 2014, now assigned to his circular filing system (the bin). Cryptics for the NYT are restricted by a number of key things that you should bear in mind as you solve: no etymological crossover between any part of the wordplay and definition; no more than two devices should be used in the wordplay; cryptic definition-only clues are not allowed; British cryptic abbreviations may not be acceptable (depends on their acceptance in the US generally); and all words must be as New Yorkers know them. (I noticed as I was listing these that I didn’t stick to them in all cases, hence the need for tweaks, perhaps?) These requirements tend to make US cryptics easier to solve. Let me know what you think.
(Note: Some clues have been used before in Stickler Weeklys)
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