Hidden Tactics

Jack Reuter makes a flashy debut.

Comments: 194

  1. Such a dull puzzle, run of the mill. Done to death. You just construct a CHESS BOARD in the middle of the puzzle and then, using chess notation, come up with clues/entries that leave the correct letters (for chess pieces) in the correct squares to get the solver to see that by moving the WHITE KNIGHT TO B EIGHT (the square occupied by the H in DISHONOUR) CHECK MATE IN ONE move will be achieved. Sure, you have to make the theme part of the puzzle solvable enough that even those who don’t know, or don’t remember, much about chess have a decent chance of finishing if they hang in there. And sure, the rest of the puzzle can’t just be glue and dreck — even though the theme is the star here, you have to keep it interesting and challenging. And sure, you have to make it all come together with a grid design that works and doesn’t strand solvers too badly in any one area. See what I mean? Ho hum, hum ho ... (OMG, this puzzle was so good! Thank you, young Mr. Reuter for a most enjoyable Sunday puzzle. Looking forward to many more.).

  2. I saw “1” under comments and had to see who it was. Should’ve known!!! Gotta get to it myself! ;-)

  3. Well said, PM. But what does Jack do for an encore?

  4. Congratulations! Great and fun puzzle -- and what a debut! May you have many more puzzles in the Sunday Times -- thank you!

  5. Having not played chess for decades, and then badly, I found this doable but not much fun. Few surprises and too much 3- and 4-letter sludge.

  6. A prodigious feat of construction doesn’t always produce much fun for solvers, IMHO.

  7. As both a crossword and chess buff, I was most impressed at the construction of this puzzle.

  8. Not a chess player, not a fan of this puzzle. Tries too hard, overly gimmicky.

  9. Bland, ho-hum puzzle. Not looking forward to any future submissions by Jack Reuter. There was no "theme" in spite of his efforts. The clues were super-easy to solve and there was no great "aha" moment of figuring out the non-existent "theme." For the many of us who prefer Across-Lite, messages regarding Across-Lite's failings -- for this puzzle, for example -- should be noted on the web page, not on the puzzle once it is opened in the NYT app.

  10. @LadyB And after reading the note and recommendation in AL, I opened (but did not print) the pdf. While that made everything obvious, it certainly didn't add anything.

  11. Another annoying Tour de Force of Construction. I had a hard time visualizing the pieces on the board, so I ignored them and tried to force RAFFISH and KNIGHTTOBFIFTH for far too long. BAH, HUMPH. Guess I'll take my SOREKNEES and BIFOCALs to the TV and SENESCE while watching an OATER. OTOH maybe NOSFERATU would better suit me since I seem to be in AMOOD.

  12. @Al in Pittsburgh So you thought it was MEH? How about FANTASIA to get out of the mood?

  13. @vaer Hippos in tutus will do it.

  14. @Dr W That's the scene that flashed in my mind when I read Vaer's comment. :-)

  15. Neat!! Only one lookup -- for the world's fair site. This is the type of puzzle that seems impenetrable at first, then turns out to be one of those that just plain ooooozes .... that is, each entry into the grid facilitates filling neighboring ones. I didn't bother with the chess hints except in one case -- and now I've forgotten which one. I did make a nonfatal mistake -- I thought "b1" was for the bishop's row. Shows how much I follow chess matches. Kudos!

  16. My first impression solving this in the iOS crossword app is that the shaded squares and the ones with symbols are difficult to see.

  17. @Kevin Davis Agreed. It was tough on the Android app, too. But I opened it on my laptop and that wasn't so great either.

  18. The print version looks terrific! (You can see the print PDF online.)

  19. @Barry Ancona Agreed that the print version looks terrific. It is more visually pleasing, and was probably easier to solve with, than the on-line version. Also, according to Jim Horne at Xwordinfo, this was the first 22x22 NYT crossword. That probably contributed to the difficulty in being able to read the chess piece letters on-line, especially for the Black pieces within the pyramids (⧍‘s).

  20. For “Watsin’s Creator” I had ACD, the Sherlock Holmes author, as I just watched a PBS show about him. The first down clue nixed that and quickly gave me the correct answer.

  21. Kevin, If the "first down clue" doesn't save you next time, note that there was no abbreviation signal in the "Watson's creator" clue, so no ACD (IBM is the company name, not an abbreviation of it).

  22. @Barry Ancona IBM May not use their full name much, but it’s International Business Machines Corporation, at last look. Several major websites, including Wikipedia, Yahoo, CNBC and Bloomberg use the full name.

  23. Challenging, since I don't play chess or know chess notation, and I found much of the rest of the fill to be plenty chewy. At least it was clear that it was going to be a chess game. The most difficult areas for me were the far NE and the middle bottom--the B EIGHT and IN ONE sections. They made sense once I got them, but there was nothing obvious about them. Nice debut!

  24. Got stuck in a couple places in this puzzle: 59D (ORESTES) led to a couple problems for me. I have never seen that word before and so many letters could have been swapped in: - the crossing with OATER could have had almost any consonant there. - not knowing what "pith" meant except as "pithy", I couldn't figure out what RIND_ was. RINDi seemed like it could easily be the plural of some non-English word I didn't know. - the middle E in SENESCE, another word I didn't know, could have been an "a". With those crossings VEXing me, I doubted myself on the spellings of KERATIN (the A may have been an "i") and VERDANT (the A may have been an "e"). Then EROSE! Another word I didn't know crossing a brand, TETLEY'S, that I don't know. These crossing E could have been any vowel. Oof! Eventually realized I had all the correct letters in place for those crossings even though I was doubting it... but hadn't gotten the happy music because I had COsBIRD and sSW at 98A and 99D respectively. The clue mentioned "brown" so I put that in and voila! With today's solve I tie my longest ever streak, though due to the struggles above, also set my longest solve for my current streak. Oh well, a gold star is a gold star! A streak continues regardless of the effort it took in a particular puzzle!

  25. @Tyler D. You and Steve L (who hates opera) should get together and watch Richard Strauss's Elektra. Important part for Orestes (armed with an axe).

  26. I must have stopped playing Barbie at a much younger age than I realized. I had no idea she had sisters other than Skipper or friends other than Midge, all of which started appearing sometime in the late 60s.

  27. @vaer Same here! I remember asking for a Barbie for Christmas one year, and getting a Midge instead. As it turned out, Midge was more my style; I wasn’t really a girly girl. I’ve never learned how to play chess, but I loved the cleverness of this puzzle.

  28. I'm not into chess, so I said HUMPH when I saw what was happening. I liked the puzzle all right, but it didn't spark joy. I had to look up the board on the link provided to realize that we were moving the white knight, not the black knight. :| I appreciated that the black (crossword) squares in the center 8x8 were all black (chess) squares. Mildly disappointed that the letters N, R, P appear as non-pieces within the chessboard, but I don't know any other words that fit SE*PUKU, so I'll let it slide.

  29. 3D of today's mini helped a bit.

  30. What an incredibly inventive puzzle! I don’t play chess (I know that the pointy guy goes diagonally and the horsey guy turns the corner, after that I’m lost) so the specifics of the piece placement are Greek to me and I couldn’t tell you which square is B8 to save my life, but this is tremendously creative and was great fun to solve.

  31. @bratschegirl I'm with you. Don't play chess either, but quite enjoyed this challenge. And when I realized that the letters in the circles and triangles actually indicated which chess pieces they were, well! So impressed. Sorry to see so many crabby comments, and I hope Mr. Reuter doesn't take them too much to heart.

  32. @bratschegirl You are wise to the fact that the horsey guy has Pegasus in his pedigree, eh lady? I can set a chess board in seconds. Little Queenie always holds her color. Starting up Backgammon?, not so fast.

  33. Streak intact, after lots of squinting and musing. And naticks/crosswordese. EZINE, REGEL, ANSELS, ENA, CTO, ENOTE, ESTOPS, EROSE, TETLEYS, AKU ... That being said, there were also lots of fine entries. PROMINENT, FREE TO GO, VERDANT, TIKIBAR, ICEBLUE, CHEROKEES, CHIPS AHOY, SORE KNEES, JINGO, AUNTIE EM ... and many more. I do appreciate working very hard on a creative and novel theme. Personally, there was a little too much going on at one time. To reach the full extent of the theme, you need to deal with tiny squares, triangles, and circles, along with non-theme letters. I am not familiar with chess notation, is N an abbreviation for knight? It's obvious that Mr. Reuter has a lot of talent, though, and I do look forward to seeing more of his work!

  34. "I am not familiar with chess notation, is N an abbreviation for knight?" John S., Yes; the king gets to the K (see the column).

  35. @John S. " is N an abbreviation for knight? " It is now, but for those of us of a certain age, it was Kt and the answer square BEIGHT was QKt-8. But I'm not bitter, I'm just SENESCing. Search for "Chess Notation" leads to a comprehensive Wikipedia article giving many variants.

  36. Al, I, too, learned with the old notation.

  37. Okay, maybe I missed something. Was there supposed to be some extra fun? At least that's what I was looking for when I read the AL notepad and looked at the pdf and thought I was going to have a super-puzzle. That one look was enough to let me know we were dealing with a CHESS BOARD. Okay. I discovered at about age 10 that I wasn't very good at CHESS, and verified that as an adult during one of those periodic moments when super-players were playing and everyone suddenly got interested. But anyway. After I had looked at all that and gone back to do the puzzle, I didn't find much there there. Looked first when I got to 25A. I hadn't even thought about what would be good or not good chess-wise, but thought about how chess moves are expressed, so I had to think for a brief moment. Okay. Bishop. After that, nothing. I looked several times at the pdf with the graphic presentation. The black and the white were obvious. But I don't know enough about chess representations to know the difference between the circles and the pyramids (or triangles, or whatever they were). I kept thinking I'd figure it out. But since it didn't matter insofar as the puzzle-solve was concrned, I stopped worrying about it. I still don''t know what the pyr ... uh ... non-circles mean. I know I could look it up. I don't think I'll bother. Other than that, there were no solving problems, except for a personal Natick in the 78 square and a bad judgment (S instead of W) in the 99 square.

  38. @Deadline Unless I am missing something, the circles and triangles have nothing to do with chess notation. They are simply the constructor's way of differentiating black chessmen from white.

  39. @Andrew Maybe. I was thinking that some of each shape being black and some being white was what did that, but I guess it was just the shading of the board showing through. Anyway, it didn't matter. I do, however, hate to sound so negative, especially on a new constructor's debut puzzle. I hope that he will come back and exercise his creativity to bring us a more solver- rather than constructor-focused puzzle.

  40. Deadline, For this solver, it *was* a solver-focused puzzle. (Neither of us own cars, but our mileages vary.)

  41. After working on this very cool but kinda confusing puzzle for well over an hour, I finally finished but didn’t hear the happy music. I looked and looked but couldn’t find my error. Streak ended having to use the check puzzle function. I had an A rather than an E and couldn’t find it. I need yesterday’s POOP EMOJI to express my angst. HUMPH just doesn’t quite do it. I played bridge, never CHESS. Nonetheless I enjoyed most of the puzzle. The center area was a bit difficult to see (I solve on an iPhone). Congrats to Mr. Reuter on his Sunday debut! :-/

  42. Sure glad that I hit the puzzle tonight rather than tomorrow morning. To my surprise I actually finished it in spite of the dizzying center section. My other half and I were terrible chess players, usually ending up with only two or three pieces each and seldom reached checkmate. We gave up playing chess with each other before our first anniversary. There were lots of good entries, from GOSSAMER to SORE KNEES and HUMPH. As for SEPUKU, I doubt I'll remember that next time it shows up.

  43. Although others have already expressed the opposite opinion, I'll put in that as someone with absolutely no interest in chess, this one was a lead balloon. It seems like yesterday when I was telling people that hard crosses are normal for a NYT puzzle, but the crossing of a century-old movie and a Japanese word relating to samurai death rituals was a little over the top. And Sunday isn't supposed to be that difficult a day! This puzzle was like opera to me. I know that it takes great skill and a lot of practice to become a great opera singer, but I still can't stand listening to the stuff. I felt the same way doing this puzzle.

  44. Good heavens, when you said "century-old", my mind went to roughly 1896, *not* 1922. I need to get with the times.

  45. Steve, Were U personally thrown by that U, or were you just worried that less accomplished solvers would be? In any case, the fat lady has sung; on to Monday.

  46. @Steve L/Barry A If NOSFERATU was an unknown, I thought it was very gettable from the crosses, except maybe the U. But considering how often Japanese words end in U, I'd call it guess-able.

  47. I. Can’t. Even. Worst puzzle ever.

  48. @Joyce PALEVITZ - Maybe. Say. More.

  49. Solved electronically. Tiny little letters, shaded areas, geometric forms? My eyes burn and I have a headache. Wish I’d quit a couple of Tylenol ago

  50. TIL, so many things! This is an amazing feat of construction. I got the chess board theme fairly quickly, but it took me a while to get 25A and 122A because the clues showing on my tablet (Android!) just said "See instructions". Once I got to the link provided by Thomas Gaffney (thank you!), I saw how the white knight to 25A got the black king 122A. For a few seconds, I thought, what about the black king to 6e - but that was before I saw the white rook on 2e. Just first-rate clues all around. Many, many BRAVOS to Jack Reuter!

  51. I play CHESS. But I do my crossword puzzles on my phone, and the letters and symbols were to small to try to make out the chess diagram.

  52. Our Internet is down so I had to solve on my phone, and I can't read the numbers in the grid, and there are no numbers in the clues, but I faked my way through! Took forever, but I got there, FAT FINGERS and all. ROOKS in the mini got me in the right frame of mind.

  53. I don’t really mind puzzles that layer ideas, but this one required a fair amount of knowledge of another game altogether. I’ve never played much chess and therefore this puzzle was a mystery to me. I completed most of the grid fairly quickly, but then the “trick” fouled up my ability to finish. Have to say I’m in the camp of thumbs-down for this puzzle.

  54. BHanck, I understand that a non-player would not and a chess beginner might not discern how CHECKMATEINONE would be accomplished, but I don't understand how any knowledge of chess is needed to successfully fill the puzzle grid.

  55. @Barry Ancona Agree. I have only enough knowledge of chess to know a few buzzwords, but not how they are utilized in the execution of the chess match. However, I had no problem solving this puzzle in record time. All the graphics of triangles and circles and borders just distracted from the crossword, which IS what we are doing. I vote that we keep chess and Chinese checkers and other ‘checker board’ graphics out of the online puzzle.

  56. Honestly, my knowledge of chess is pretty much limited to knowing the names of the pieces and knowing the horse makes L-shaped moves. But I found this an enjoyable solve and especially liked the TIKIBAR which prompted me to hear again this gem by John Hiatt and the wonderful Goners. So fun to watch Sonny play guitar! https://youtu.be/jIky9KbaWc4

  57. On Saturday afternoons, Hal is a little like a cat waiting for the mouse to come out. Hal watches the clock eagerly waiting for the next supergrid. Ding! OMIGOSH, what is this? ArtkraftStraus and NEC. They've electrified the puzzle! After about 15 minutes of playing with screen resolution Hal was able to discern most of what needed to be filled but it was not easy. For Hal, this is the first sunday puzzle that he actually walked away from because of the diagrammatic overkill. This is the kind of puzzle that is difficult to review. At one time you marvel at the concept and the construction and at the same time you hate the execution. Hal does not play chess and knowing how to play or the notation is not necessary to complete the tedious fill. Hal votes please not again or come up with a better way of dealing with such a busy design. As always, this is Hal's opinions and YMMV.

  58. @HALinNY I am enjoying the visual of the Hal-cat demurely waiting, eyes half-closed, for the mouse to drop.

  59. @vaer ... Hal demurs

  60. It's 2019...if there is a chance that it might not appear correctly on a computer or more important, phone, There is no point in publishing it

  61. @Jon The fact that it's 2019 is partially the reason that things sometimes appear incorrectly. There is a plethora of devices, apps, and browsers, and when you think in terms of statistical combinations of device/app/browser, there are literally millions of descrete platforms. As I've mentioned before, though, solving on the NYT website always works.

  62. @Jon Well, the Notepad in AL *did* point us to other options.

  63. Bizet was only 17 when he composed his first symphony. Balanchine was 43 or so when he choreographed a ballet to it. The 4th movement/finale. https://youtu.be/KJTg8L87Sqo

  64. Just started, so I can't read the comments on how bad the construction is, etc, but stopped by to say, Last night I asked you to save the perky clues for the morning coffee solvers, and here was 60A. Thanks! Except for the part where it's still Saturday evening. The spouse took the daughter out for a nice day on the town, and they came back like they were a mother and her almost teenaged daughter. It's very sad, and I am suffering. I don't know why I always wanted a daughter. Or a spouse. I think I was just raised wrong. Stay single, young solvers! and constructors! Basically, NYTImes should run a "single solvers" club, the way the opera runs a club for young supporters of the art form. They could have weekly luncheons, actually a Sunday brunch with Caitlin and a Thursday three-martini lunch with Deb. I would move to Manhattan for that. Or if Deb and Caitlin live in Brooklyn, I would move there. You might wonder, isn't a childless art form doomed to extinction. No, because there are always children prepared to flee a miserable household. As I am.

  65. @Andrew Okay, that was a little depressing. But makes me feel better about my single self, so thanks! BTW, while molasses usually OOZES OUT, a glaring exception occurred when a giant tank of it exploded into Boston's North End. "Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919" by Stephen Puleo, if you're interested. (And you thought YOU were having a bad day, Andrew!) The puzz: I haven't played chess in years so that part went over my head. But I liked it as a somewhat challenging Sunday.

  66. @Andrew Hey bud... Sorry to hear of your troubles, but pro tip: try not do drink and post. I've been there and it's always a bummer to read what you've wrote the next morning. Hang in there, dude!

  67. Oh, dear. As an Aged Veteran, sitting here with all of my beauty, youth, and vitality drained away through the travails of Parenthood, I can only assure you that "This, too, shall pass." PhysicsDaughter was mean as a snake there for about 2 years, but then she matured and has been pretty much a pleasure ever since. (If only we could have known...) Hold a Family Meeting.

  68. As usual, I mainly comment on my solving experience. I certainly appreciate that as a construction feat, this was pretty awesome. From a solving perspective, it worked mostly ok. The chess board itself was a little distracting with the grey squares, triangles, circles, and thick border, made it a little hard to see the entries that intersected with the board. I solved online, and after solving and reading the comments here on Wordplay, I went to look at the printed version. I preferrred the online version. Reason? The thick border around the board is more PROMINENT and sets it off more. Also, all printed versions were the same (newspaper, no ink saver) except the solution one. Solved the instructions and the chess board mostly independently. Aside from the visuals that made it obvious what 70D and 55D were and that 25A and 122A are chess related, mostly it didn't help much. Well, ok, I solved 25A near the end, and knowing that it's a chess move helped decipher BEIG_T as B8 as B-EIGHT. The chess board didn't present much in the way of a puzzle within a puzzle, at least not the way I solved it. The rest of the grid was pretty normal. Liked how it was lush with VERDANT and WINOS. Didn't know ASHANTI but did know SIA. Had ESAS and therefore was looking at CA_BIRD and thought it was CATBIRD but couldn't reconcile with _SW. REGEL & RETOTAL were a bit BAD. Also liked very much the crossing ending in U like Caitlin did. No complaints, and pretty fast Sunday for me.

  69. @Wen - I agree with you and others that the special feature makes the grid hard to read. I haven't thought this thru, but an alternative idea would be to hi-jack the mini for a theme like this. It would not be as virtuosic -- or alternatively, the online presentation could "pop up" the center rather than showing it as an embedded element. I've also been thinking how a puzzle is several smaller connected puzzles, "the NW" etc, so that the app could magnify that subgrid as a popup that is easier to see, even for a normal puzzle. I wonder if an emu is reading this or just pecking at their reflection in the monitor. Thanks for connecting VERDANT and WINOS, I feel very green now. I'm afraid to view a SIA video on youtube, which we obsessed over and my daughter sang in the shower, because I'll have to watch SIA for an hour. Oh well, tomorrow is Sunday. Or today.

  70. Great idea to use the mini as additional part of the puzzle!

  71. I pay for electronic crossword subscription so I can do crosswords electronically. This is quite the letdown for a Sunday puzzler who relies on the electronic version. Please don't do this again.

  72. I also pay to do the crossword electronically and don’t see what the problem is. To the puzzle creators and editors, keep giving us interesting and challenging puzzles.

  73. Cute, but there was no way I could grasp the dynamics of the game going on from the online display. I wish the web-staff could have put a bit more though in displaying the board and its pieces. Maybe even just bolding the letters that represented the pieces might have helped. And color-- color could have saved the day. As it was, I could see that NB8 put the other king in check but could not see the checkmate without copying the whole thing to a separate chess diagram. Still-- what a tour de force of having words in the chess diagram coincide with the letters representing the pieces. Wow wow wow. For folks who don't love chess, I can see why this puzzle would be sort of boring. All I can say is... not so long ago we had to endure a puzzle based on arcane trivia regarding the Lion King. Between chess and the some broadway show, I don't think there is any contest in importance.

  74. @David A. Hmm...let's see: On the one hand, a game of such intellectual complexity that it can only be played effectively by a minority of the population and mastered by a rare handful of international super-intellects, which as a spectator sport ranks as the slowest and most confusing of activities one could hope to devise, and whose sole purpose is to pit the war-making skills of its two compeititors in a battle of wits to determine which is better able to systemically destroy and eliminate the other. On the other, a story of forthright courage against tyrannical and destructive forces, requiring an alliance of hardy outsiders to topple a band of tyrants from their usurped position and restore the rightful and nurturing equilibrium, fostering and re-validating the underlying Circle of Life, in a format suffused with delightful melody and dance which has come to be treasured by millions the world over, is open to everyone, and which only excludes those who would exclude themselves on grounds of style and genre. I agree. No contest whatsoever. For the record, I'm lukewarm on The Lion King, mediocre and amateurish at chess (which I haven't played in years), and prefer crosswords which sizzle with wordplay without being dulled down to support flashly construction stunts.

  75. @Alan J, you must remember to use your powers for good. As one beloved leader said: "We choose to... do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that... will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." I guess that means sometimes it's the warm fuzzies, and sometimes the more arcane specialties. Seems like the room is big enough for both.

  76. because of the elements on the center grid i couldn't see a letter i MISTYPEd. had to move to my computer to see it.

  77. I've never been any good at chess, but I do know how the game is played. BLACK and WHITE were fairly easy from the crosses, then CHESS and BOARD followed. Then, with help from crosses, and the instructions, I got CHECKMATEINONE, I felt intimidated at the prospect of identifying the 'move', having not actually played a game in decades. As others have pointed out, it was a bit of an eye strain to figure out what was happening on the 'board'. 'Mate' has to involve one of the 'K' s, and clearly the white 'K' was well protected behind a phalanx of pawns. Spotting the kNight near the black K, it seemed a likely candidate for the attack. Because the knight can jump over pieces, a check by the knight can only be escaped by either taking the knight or moving the king. It took me a while, to convince myself that if the knight attacked, there would be no way out for the King. But, even though I'd figured out the move, I had forgotten whatever I may have once known of chess notation, so it took quite a while longer to actually know how that would need to be expressed at 25A. Very satisfying to have been able to work it out. No complaints from this side, though to be honest, there seldom are.

  78. Good puzzle, nice doubling up with the chessboard. It displayed fine in my electronic version.

  79. I've only dabbled in chess - one can only take so much losing - but I have the NYT to thank for knowing about the "algebraic notation" mentioned by Thomas Gaffney, because for years the paper ran a weekly chess column adjacent to the sports pages, and I thought if I read it I'd learn something. I did, although it didn't make me a better player. (Wonderful movies like "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and "The Queen of Katwe" offered me vicarious joy I otherwise would not have known.) Enter Jack Reuter, marrying two fairly complicated disciplines, chess and puzzle construction, and all I can say is: Bravo, mate.

  80. Well seems there’s a lot of haters so I’ll chime in for the first time and say that as an intermediate chess player solving on iOS this is one of my favorite Sundays ever. Great debut! I look forward to more puzzles from this constructor.

  81. I used to solve the Sunday puzzle with my MIL and FIL. Sadly, they have passed. I can tell you right now that I'm to have to .use "Reveal Square" a lot in this puzzle. LOL

  82. This one sparked a lot of joy for me, though I can understand why non chess players wouldn’t enjoy it. Still, I loved that the chessboard area was easy enough to solve on its own, so that I could find the long theme answers strictly by solving the chess problem first. Placing words in the board to create the position was a tour de force. It was a bit hard to see on my phone but by concentrating on one area at a time I was able to make it out. I guess word puzzle people and strategy gamers don’t often overlap but I’m right in the middle of that Venn diagram—which makes it hard to get work done. Great idea and amazing execution. Loved it.

  83. While not everyone's cup of TETLEYS, I thoroughly enjoyed the theme. My wife picked the theme in seconds, giving me the head start I required for my first ever 10-day streak. A clever opening gambit.

  84. Longish-time puzzler, first time commenter. I ADOREd this puzzle, though I will admit that I PANICked when I first saw it. I had a moment when I thought I should skip this week, but I didn't want to break my streak. As it turns out, the fill was not only fun, but easier-than-usual for me on a Sunday. I got my best time ever for a Sunday! And the chess element was just fabulous. While I'm a word puzzler, my DH is a chess player, and it seems I have learned enough by osmosis to get the theme answers relatively quickly. BRAVOS from both of us to Mr Reuter! Looking forward to more "multi-layered" treats from him!

  85. @Sara Welcome to the Comments section. Come back soon.

  86. The only problem I had with this puzzle was trying to keep track of the active square in the chessboard area, and the occasional MISTYPE. Haven't played chess since high school—a long time ago—but I did not feel that knowledge of the game affected the solve either way. The crossings were pretty straightforward and the varied content kept me interested. SEPPUKU was a term I'd read before, and the crossings suggested it when hara-kiri was not going to fit. After that, NOSFERATU was a gimme with LECHE and TETHER in place. Took a bit to figure out/remember SENESCE or DUCAT, but I knew EROSE and AKU AKU. After finishing the puzzle, I was able to figure out the newer (to me) notation and see how the chess move worked out. Managed to finish the puzzle in about ¾ my usual Sunday time. I imagine it took quite a bit of time to figure out how to accomplish this, and I'm impressed. Nice work!

  87. @JayTee - my favorite part is how it took a few minutes to remember SENESCE. Impressive about EROSE and AKU AKU. I looked up the word that is not the web site for 1-800-flowers, because it was so improbable. I have a casual interest in plants (for instance, I eat them and sometimes plant them), I should have known that aside from the crosses (it was my last word). About to look up the AKU thing, which will probably lead to another wiki article and a youtube video and be a big time suck, albeit interesting.

  88. I haven’t posted here for ages, but I’m stopping in to say how much I adored this puzzle! It’s chess-plus-crossword and therefore everything good. Yes, the cluing is somewhat “retro and formal” — I’m with you on that — but for me that’s caramel topping on vanilla bean ice cream. In other words, give me more of this any day. Excellent debut.

  89. @Passion for Peaches - You may have intended peaches on ice cream? but let's not quibble, just get salted caramel on the other scoop.

  90. @Andrew :-P

  91. Are you kidding me? I'm novice here, and I'm not sure if I even understand what this one was about.

  92. Stick with it, Rose. The elaborate puzzles confounded me a mere few months ago — now, I look forward to the added layer (but they’re still tricky!).

  93. Even though my name is Jack, I'm certainly not the SPRAT guy. Therefore I felt FREE TO GO to the pantry to get my CHIPS AHOY!. That MAKES IT more enjoyable to do the puzzle. I SEEN IT right away that it was a CHESS BOARD, so the words BLACK, WHITE, CHESS and BOARD filled pretty easily. Many BRAVOS to a great feat of construction.

  94. Worked fine on my phone; I just had to zoom in on the chessboard at times. Brilliant puzzle!

  95. I was today years old when I found out you could zoom in on the puzzle.

  96. There is something wrong with the app version of this. I had it about 2/3 since, and then all the answers on the bottom half of the puzzle were suddenly cleared. This happened twice, so I'm packing it in.

  97. @Canard Paper and pen.

  98. I knew that this one would cause mixed reactions. Having some familiarity with chess, it was the theme that made me realize that ADAM was wrong, and also helped me with the P in SPYS. The construction of course must have been horrendously difficult. The final result did have a somewhat chaotic feel in the center of the puzzle, with triangles, circles, grey squares, black squares, and the chess board border. But if one accepted this inevitability, the idea was quite ingenious. An additional constraint that was not mentioned is that within the chessboard area, any black crossword squares had to coincide with where a black chess square would be. And of course the overall symmetry had to be maintained. The 22 x 22 was necessary in order to have an 8 x 8 chessboard perfectly centred in the puzzle. So far I've managed to maintain my solving while travelling around France. Between internet concerns and the time zone change, I'm not sure that I will be able to keep it up for two weeks but I intend to try!

  99. I very much enjoyed your debut puzzle Mr Reuter, thank you!

  100. It was hard to do on the phone and I had to use the “check puzzle” to see where I had mistyped. Hate that. Just my old eyeballs I guess. Good puzzle but too much detail on a small screen. I am not a chess player but got there eventually.

  101. @California dreaming You know you can zoom in, right?

  102. LETTER BOXED G-S (6) S-R (7) Probably my fastest time ever. Hint: First known use of 1st word was 2005 per M-W, so fairly recent concept

  103. @ColoradoZ Good morning and good solution! I have the same, which struck me like lightening. I tried the first word on a lark. It was used in the 70’s as a character in a Kurt Vonnegut short story, and I was not aware of its modern usage. I also found U-D(8), D-S(7) for a more conventional solution. I suspect there are several other solutions - a different kind of fun from the last few days of tough nuts. Cheers!

  104. @ColoradoZ G-S (6) S-S (10). Need more coffee.

  105. Spelling Bee 23 words, 105 points, 1 perfect pangram, no bingo 4 5 6 7 Σ A 1 2 - 1 4 C 1 3 6 - 10 H - - 1 - 1 N 5 2 - - 7 V - - - 1 1 Please enjoy this packed Sunday puzzle.

  106. @Ben Now I'm REALLY confused! I went to the site that someone gave us Friday (William Shunn's site) - and it gave me almost the same grid - except it said 25 words, and included VAHANA and NAVVY, which the Bee doesn't allow. I had gone thru all the V words in the dictionary - and there was no 6-letter V word that met the criteria! Continuing to struggle, I got queen bee with just 23 words. Then I saw your post. Then I went back and saw what the 2 extra words were. I don't think the site was including disallowed matches, because when I say to include disallowed matches, it returns 61 words! The only good thing about it is that at least it lets you know what not to bother with (ie., O or Y words)

  107. @Linda The site says if it includes words that the Bee disallows, it's because "our daily analysis is still pending" - but how can they be considering VAHANA, which isn't in the dictionary??

  108. @Linda Now I see what the problem is! I often wake in the middle of the night (3 am) - and I think I pulled the grid too early. I'll bet if I try it again in a few hours, it will only say 23 words. That explains why, yesterday, when I first pulled the grid, it said there were 27 words, then someone posted the grid here and it was only 23 words, so I went back to see that the extra 4 words were, and this time it said only 23! I thought I was going crazy!

  109. Very impressive puzzle and an enjoyable solve. My only complaint is that KNIGHT TO B EIGHT results in CHECKMATE, period, end of game. CHECKMATE IN ONE means that one side still has one or more legal moves, but no matter what move they make, the other side will win on the very next move.

  110. @Cary Coutant - I agree. The normal terminology works: 25A "reveals" 122A. But I also have to echo the anxiety others expressed, that we were expected to come up with a chess move in order to win. You know, it's stressful enough to encounter a clue like "losing tic-tac-toe move".

  111. @Andrew - maybe I'm not the only non-chess-player with the commercial line running through their head now: "I coulda had a B EIGHT!"

  112. Cary, I suspect the constructor would have edited the editor's instructions had he had the chance to do so. I don't know the current formal chess term, but Andrew's "reveal" works for me too.

  113. As noted: a satirist is an upended idealist.

  114. Because of the recent D-DAY anniversary, perhaps, 11D could have been clued "German rule?" for REGEL. "Rule in Deutschland?" I showed the Tracey Ullman video of Angela Merkel to the daughter, "thanks 3000" (to riff on Avengers Endgame sentimentality) to whoever linked to it. She said, won't the German chancellor be offended? I was like, first of all, it's Chancellorette.

  115. @Andrew - except we love french clues, and hate spanish ones, and german clues are verboten. We didn't fight the big one to have german show up in our Kreuzworträtsel. Also why does Kreuzworträtsel sound like a pastry you get only at Oktoberfest?

  116. @Andrew I think REGEL is too obscure for being clued as a German word. But other than that: do you have a recipe for Kreuzwortraetsel?

  117. As always I'm really impressed by new and innovative ideas for a puzzle. In spite of the fact that it has been well over 60 years since I played chess, I found this quite intriguing. I will have to take Jack's word for it that the position of the chess pieces represent CHECKMATE IN ONE and look forward to more puzzles from him.

  118. My first thought at seeing the grid was "Oh, this is ambitious!", and immediately, just based on the look of the grid, I greatly wanted the puzzle to succeed. That desire colored my entire solve; I glided over any nits I might otherwise have noticed. I also had opposing thoughts about that cacophony in the middle. On one hand, it looked so intriguing I wanted to save it for the end; on the other, it looked a bit intimidating, another reason to save it for the end. So I worked the periphery, the non-chess-board donut. Some areas felt Monday easy. Other areas required revisits with fresh eyes, and eventually all that was left was the middle. That filled in without me having to work out the chess ending. So my post-solve involved figuring said ending out. I vaguely remembered from my youth where B-1 was and had to figure out N stood for "knight", and while ignoring the non pieces and wading through the triangles and circles was cumbersome, I did finally see the endgame. The whole sussing of the chess game ending turned out to be anti-climactic, but I didn't care. That the puzzle itself was so out-of-the-ordinary had me from the beginning, and still does. That is, I loved solving this from start to finish. I loved the moxie and skill of constructor Jack. I will smile through whatever complaints solvers have about this puzzle, and float through my day knowing that crosswords are still rife with boundless possibility.

  119. @Lewis You should start your own XWP review blog! Give old crabby Rex P. a run for the money... :0

  120. @Steve Faiella Rex is .... crabby? OMG

  121. Very clever! I do not play chess, but was taught how in 4th grade by a 6th grader, Francis Shipman. As many a kid my age then, I also became caught up in the Bobby Fisher v Boris Spasky match during the cold war. So I am familiar with the terminology, All this made today's puzzle especially fun and reminiscent. How many checkmate-in-one configurations did you try before settling on this one?

  122. Congratulations to Jack Reuter on the debut, but this was not a fun solve. I do not play chess but I know enough of the terms to muddle through. And it was a muddle. The rest of the puzzle was incredibly bland with nary a spec of wordplay or cleverness that makes a puzzle pop. I look forward to the Sunday all week and this was a disappointment. On to the WaPo!

  123. Call me old-school, but I still get pleasure from putting pen to paper, so I print out the puzzle using AcrossLite. I know almost nothing about chess, and with a grid looking like any other grid, I methodically filled in answers and completed the puzzle. I was unsure about CTO and KNIGHTTOBEIGHT, so after finishing, I verified that I was correct. I can understand why most here are so impressed by this construction. For me, it was simply MEH.

  124. @Times Rita Yeah. High points for me were: AKU (AKU-AKU was another great Heyerdahl saga.... Kon-Tiki thrilled me as an 8th-grader. and GOSSAMER (cool word!) COWBIRDs and CUCKOOs don't throw out other eggs, they just add one. Apparently, birds can't count. The large foreign hatchlings get more of the food and attention and often the other young do not survive....

  125. @Mean Old Lady A little more trivia: GOSSAMER is also the name of the orange-haired "monster" in a few Bugs Bunny cartoons.

  126. @JayTee And even more: "Gossamer Beynon"is a voice character in Dylan Thomas' "Under Milkwood"

  127. I truly enjoyed this one. thanks for the creativity on a steamy Sunday morning.

  128. Here is a puzzle I enjoyed & respect enormously; but the second level was lost on me, I’m afraid. I drew no smileys next to clues today :-c(€ but I had three scars: OPULENT/VERDENT, A SNIT/A MOOD, & YAP/YAK. It was unusually fast. I finished before church today. But now I must be going or I’ll be late! Happy Sunday, Everyone! :-c)€

  129. @Floyd Feliz Domingo!

  130. @Steve Faiella I forgot to say: Congrats on your Times debut Mr Reuter!!! What an impressive way to make an arrival! Thanks, also, for the constructor’s notes. I was interested to learn how long you worked on the puzzle. :-c)€

  131. This was a good long workout for me and that's mostly what I look forward to on a Sunday, so no real complaints. I played some chess many years ago - just enough to be able to comprehend the two longer theme answers with enough crosses, so that wasn't a problem. I solved in AL and never read the notepad, so didn't see the pattern in the middle. Now that I've seen it, it seems like an impressive feat, but I can't say it adds anything for me. I blinked five times and finally realized i really don't want to bother figuring out exactly what the layout implies in chess terms. Bit of a disappointment to end up with a fail in both the NW and mid-west. TIDEPOD and ENA were unknowns as clued and then I just couldn't quite work out the rest of that corner (DRNO never dawned on me - I feel dumb about that). Won't detail everything in the mid-west, but that seems like a very strange clue for RADIUS, and I really don't want to know any more about it. I probably didn't fully appreciate all the facets of the theme, but no real complaints about the puzzle.

  132. @Rich in Atlanta I know that you said you didn't want to know more, but I'm going to tell you anyway! :) First, "dating apps" is a cutsey euphemism for "hookup app", and when hooking up, you want to specify the RADIUS from your location that you'd be willing to travel to "get some". I know this not from personal experience, but with many years in I.T. you get exposed (no pun intended) to a lot.

  133. @Steve Faiella I spent about 30 years in I.T., but it was writing systems software for IBM mainframes. You don't encounter any dating apps doing that. I thought about mentioning this in my original comment, but I'll take this as a second opportunity. With the occasional frustration in the above referenced occupation, we often pronounced IBM as "One BM" (see yesterday's emoji for an additional hint).

  134. @Rich in Atlanta Did you write any of the utilities? My fave was the popular IEFBR14. Ah...memories. :)

  135. I thought this puzzle was tremendously fun and had to be a bear to construct. What a great idea. Thank you, Mr. Reuter.

  136. The late, great Rodney Dangerfield once quipped "I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out!". That's how I felt about today's grid. I went to do a puzzle and a chess game broke out! I loved it, despite the fact that my aging eyes had a devil of a time filling in that middle section... I needed to do a bit of squinting and pulling the screen closer... LOL This puzzle was a hoot, and there were *cough* *cough* no ridiculous sections that couldn't be figured out with a good cross or two. I look forward to more multi-layer puzzles from Jack!

  137. Steve, Glad your cough is better.

  138. "...with a good cross or two." Funny, that's how a formidable boxing problem can be solved too.

  139. @Steve Faiella Glad that you are off and running with a new streak!

  140. Although I never got past being a beginner in chess, after reading the note, CHESS BOARD were my first two entries. Had to review how the board is numbered, but then I knew enough to really appreciate the layered fun of this puzzle. Thanks Caitlin for the graphic of the board; easier to see the checkmate. Well done.

  141. I wonder if today's ICON CUR is responsible for creating yesterday's #2 Emoji

  142. Amazing job, Mr. Reuter! For those who, like me, have only a little knowledge of chess I recommend Thomas Gaffney's link to what the chessboard looks like near the bottom of Caitlin's column. Much easier to comprehend than looking at the solved puzzle.

  143. I saw the triangles -- or what looked like triangles -- and thought: "Oh, please, no!!!" It looked as though I would have to perform some long-ago-forgotten mathematical procedure involving triangles. Nervously I wrote in my first answers in the Dreaded Center: HORN, INK, SUPER crossing PERK UP. And everything crossed perfectly!!! Everything worked!!! Nothing had to be changed!!! I realized that I could ignore completely whatever was going on -- and I really had no idea what was going on. Whew!!! This was going to be solvable. No math required. Later I found out that it wasn't math; it was Chess. Unlike math, I haven't forgotten any Chess because I never knew any in the first place. But I didn't need to know any Chess to solve the puzzle. Whew, again. One complaint: Those triangles squoosh the squares even more than tiny little circles. My Ps and Rs and Ks were squooshed almost beyond recognition when I crammed them into the reduced space. I've told you before, Will Shortz: DON'T SQUOOSH THE SQUARES!!! But other than that: the theme didn't cause me any trouble. And I imagine it gave great pleasure to the chess-playing solvers who understood it all and could follow it. So I'm thinking -- would Bobby Fischer have agreed??? -- that it's a nice puzzle.

  144. This was a very impressive debut puzzle from Mr. Reuter. Count me among the non-chess players who liked it.

  145. Getting DISHONOUR and SEPPUKU within the CHESS BOARD is quite the achievement.

  146. Amazing debut puzzle. I stopped playing chess because I always lost--never even managed to improve. So I was glad the chess element was not omnipresent. Even though "Skipper" wasn't the right Barbie relative in today's puzzle, it was delightful to retrieve that name out of long-term storage.

  147. Alas, I always print from AcrossLite, and if there is a Note, I usually miss it. None of the secondary features mentioned were present, NOT that I would have gotten the hidden tactics or the meta-puzzle. Hats off to those of you who got it all! On a historic note, 90A CHEROKEE: Ahem. Part of North Georgia was also included in the territory of the CHEROKEE Nation. The first Gold Rush in the United States took place in Georgia; (you can still pan for gold in Dahlonega, where a US Mint was established.) The presence of gold gave impetus to the (unConstitutional) seizure of the territory, and despite a Supreme Court case in which the Cherokee Nation prevailed, ("Mr. Chief Justice Marshall has made a ruling; now let him enforce it"--or words to that effect,) under The Indian Removal Act General Winfield Scott proceeded to round up all the Cherokee he could capture and relocate them to the desolate Indian Territory. Another shining chapter in US history.... I think I am recalling all of that correctly. GA History in 8th grade was quite some time ago... SENESCEnce may have infiltrated. Congrats to Jack Reuter on this high-OCTANE puzzle.

  148. @Mean Old Lady - Well, since you learned it in Georgia in a Georgia history class, you mought's well be forgiven passing on the misinformation about being firstest: Cabarrus County North Carolina Gold Rush, 1799 North Georgia Gold Rush, 1829 California Gold Rush, 1848 The NC gold rush was behind the early rise of Charlotte and its continuing identity as a banking city.

  149. Marvelous mechanics. Wearying word work.

  150. My goodness, so much whining! I liked it. Good job Jack.

  151. I appreciate that you publish puzzles that are for all levels of play. This was a reachable reach for me, giving hope that I can do a Sunday every once in a while! Also fun to anticipate what chess move(s) would emerge (that seemed obv).

  152. This puzzle was too FANTAStIcAlly good for me to waste time trying to count up they thumbs up versus thumbs down. If I wasn't a chess player, I guess it might seem less impressive, but even non-chess players should appreciate the difficulty of construction. As for my personal solving experience, I lucked out in that the NE corner provided my easiest entering point, and that weird-looking BEIGHT ending gave me the key idea very early in the game. (And I also enjoyed a bonus kick with LUSH and LUSHES among the definitions. Say what you will about VERDANT WINOS. At least they sound ECO.) Muy Bueno, Senor Reuter, and I salute your knowledge of the Ruy Lopez.

  153. @twoberry, thank you for mentioning Ruy Lopez! I was trying to dredge up the name, and had got as far as "Luz Rey".

  154. A metapuzzle masterpiece!

  155. Liked the puzzle, but difficult seeing on my device.

  156. @Victoria Klein I agree that seeing this puzzle was the major problem with it. Trying to make out a ‘k’ inside a triangle was too much for these tired old eyes. I knew that checking this puzzle would be impossible for me, so I did the unthinkable and used the ‘check puzzle’ option. Good thing that I don’t care about streaks anymore.

  157. Those of us who do the puzzles diagramless were happy to see a 22x22 grid. But it would be great if the Times would have 23x23 Sunday puzzles like it used to. Thanks for the little chess problem.

  158. First thing I thought when printing out the puzzle in AcrossLite was, "What's up with the tiny squares?" Then I realized the oversized grid was the culprit. To accommodate the tiny chessboard in the middle of the puzzle. So all is forgiven! What a fresh, interesting take on the Sunday crossword! I don't play chess, I haven't a clue what to do, but no matter, I can appreciate what Jack Reuter has wrought. I suspect an avid chess player would get the most of this, but I still think you'd have to be brain dead not to see the brilliance of this construction. Jack Reuter, great concept, brilliant execution! CHECKMATE!!! Congratulations on your debut!!!

  159. Almost blew it. The on-line version told me I had at least one square wrong so I started through and came across one that had bothered me along the way. I figured maybe radium might be used in a dating app, something like carbon dating, but MENESCE didn't seem to be a word. Too SENESCEnt to remember there is another word that begins RADIU- I was finally forced to google the clue. I think I understand the answer but it would never have OCCURred to me.

  160. I’ve been traveling in Europe for more than three weeks and have been determined to keep my streak going, and this one almost did me in. It was hard to read on my phone, and I know nothing about chess. My time was awful, but I prevailed. I head home tomorrow, streak intact!

  161. Since I don't play chess, the beauty of this puzzle was lost on me. (This reminds me of my probabilty class in college where we had to figure out the odds of certain bridge hands; since I don't play bridge I had to skip those questions.) Anyhow, I'm totally in favor of crosswords that are more than grids for weird words. Congratulations to Jack Reuter on his debut.

  162. Does anyone know where today’s Acrostic column is? It’s not coming up with the search icon, which is how I regularly find it.

  163. It would have been nice if there had been a note, NOT to do the puzzle in AcrossLite which I did -- and frankly, it made no sense.

  164. @peter green Actually, there IS a note about the puzzle in AcrossLite, but you have to enable the notepad from the View menu to see it: "The print version of this puzzle contains multiple visual elements that this software cannot reproduce. We recommend using The New York Times app or desktop version, or printing out the PDF."

  165. Well. I'm sure this was great fun for chess players!

  166. Hardest Sunday by far in recent memory, but I loved every minute. I remembered enough chess from childhood games with Dad to immediately recognize the board, which helped me with the theme clues. Even so, it took a good 10 minutes of staring at the finished product to find the checkmate. Would have helped if I had known "N" was knight, but I figured it out eventually. Really impressive debut - keep the layered puzzles coming, Mr. Reuter! PS Thanks for the fantastic clip, Caitlin. I'm going to have to find the full scene - I'm "dying" to know who wins...

  167. @Chungclan, perhaps you'll be enveigled into seeing the whole film. I saw The Seventh Seal when it came out, about [clears throat] years ago. It was one of my first Ingemar Bergmans, and my very first Max Von Sydow. In my lexicon, the actor wore better than the director...Early passions, you know. I remember it as a wonderful film.

  168. Tough weekend. Friday wore me out, well over my average time, then Saturday crushed me with its combination of colloquialisms and opaque clueings. One-third of the squares were still empty when I closed my iPad in defeat and went to bed. Then came Sunday, and it was a slog, looking like a second consecutive defeat, with about 60 squares still empty. I asked myself, "What do they mean, 'See instructions'?" And then I noticed that blinking, circled 'i' up there at the right side of the menu. Well, how about that, puzzle fans? I won't search for help anywhere doing crosswords (what fun is that?), but when Will and crew flash an icon in my face, what can I do but accept the invitation? And right there on the title splash page (which Caitlin calls the "visual overlay") was the breaker of the logjam, the chess master's guidance. The squares began to fill in as if by magic. Who knew N-B8 would be the route to crossword victory? Such a clever and satisfying puzzle, Jack Reuter. I hope you didn't hear me cursing at the 90-minute mark. I've been an Apple geek since 1984, but I'll concede that for an Android guy, you're all right.

  169. I enjoyed this puzzle very much. I had no trouble with the theme on the basis of having read the book The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis as well as being caught up in the general chess mania that gripped America during the Bobby Fischer-Boris Spassky match.

  170. I had a vague memory of the musical Chess that includes a great song Anthem. No matter what country, some heart string pulling here. https://youtu.be/Fw7yjpxKKH0

  171. OMG what a tour de force! I haven’t played chess in many years, but I remembered enough to appreciate just how grand this puzzle is. Like some others, I really enjoyed the clueing, even if I had to use Google for SIA and two other answers. I use the iOS app on my iPad, but when I first opened it, I was on my iPhone in bed. That’s when I remembered that the iPhone app lets you ZOOM IN! So bravo Mr. Reuter, and bravo to the app developers at the Times!

  172. Had to comment after a long hiatus. OMG, what an achievement, Mr. Reuter! Ditto Puzzlemucker's tongue-in-cheek "criticism." 😄

  173. Brilliant and fun. I see waves toward future puzzles, and am in awe. Clearly, the time is coming when I need to take a nice walk, or something, instead of crosswords on Saturdays.

  174. The last time I tried to play chess, I got fools-mated. But this puzzle was a blast!

  175. I don't know much about chess, but I thought this was a cool puzzle! I realized right away what the grid was, and I thought it was a fun idea. It wasn't necessary to understand chess strategy to solve the puzzle, but I bet it was that much more enjoyable for the chess players. Great debut!

  176. Had to add a late note adding my congratulations to the constructor on his accomplishment. My goodness! I can’t imagine, even reading the notes, how he did it. Also, it was my best Sunday experience yet, finding the CHESS BOARD and CHECKMATEINONE and enjoying the clues, especially TIKIBAR and OCTANE. I did wonder for a long time what a COSBIRD was. Was definitely smiling when I finished. Thanks for that.

  177. Well that was challenging. Did not understand TETLEYS or know ORESTES, but somehow I had them right. I got hung up on “MITIS” before “MATIC” and “ENO” before “ENA”. After bumping through Thursday and Saturday, I was prepared for at least one or two google searches. Oh well. On to Monday. As per the chess theme, yes I get it. Very clever.

  178. I absolutely loved this puzzle. And, I suspect that I did it in roughly the order that Jack intended, first figuring out that this was a chess board, and then getting 122A "checkmateinone" and then realizing that I needed to put down the crossword and set-up my chess board. Now I'm playing chess to find the answer to a crossword--incredible. So much more satisfying to say to myself aloud "Knight to b eight" and realize that is the answer, than to get there by crossings. Fantastic!

  179. I am barely conversant in chess, but it was enough to get me most of the way through this puzzle. My biggest problem was that I was firmly convinced that I was looking at a CHESS match, not a CHESS BOARD, which held me up for a very long time in the west.

  180. Near as I can tell KNIGHT TO B 8 isn't CHECKMATE IN ONE. It's CHECKMATE. White/Triangle King has only 8 possible moves. 1 is occupied by White/Triangle Rook. 3 are guarded by Black/Circle Rook in row 8. 2 are guarded by Black/Circle Bishop. 1 more is guarded by the other Black/Circle Rook. And the last one is guarded by the Black/Circle Knight that moved to B8. What am I missing???

  181. @tensace The "checkmate" doesn't happen until the King is actually under threat. At the moment, the King just can't move anywhere.

  182. @tensace You can achieve “checkmate in one” by making the move in 25-Across. Moving the knight is the “one” of “in one”. I thought exactly the same as you and it took me quite a while to arrive at a reading of the instructions that didn’t seem like an error, which was unthinkable in a puzzle otherwise so meticulously constructed. Overall a highly enjoyable challenge and a fantastic debut for a constructor I hope we see often.

  183. I have written to the Times about this often, but they have ignored me. The word for a person who takes care of a person became "caregiver" many years ago. A caretaker takes care of property. Felt sad to see this misuse even in the puzzle (37A). I hope all the enthusiastic comments--and yes, the construction is impressive--do not encourage Mr. Shortz to incorporate chess or any other puzzle into additional crosswords. I did the whole thing until it came to the chess part and then recycled it quickly.

  184. This puzzle was insanely hard. Almost made me want to quit crosswords forever. Thank goodness for cheating.

  185. I finished Sunday/Jack Reuter. I have doing the NYT Crossword since I was about 12. I was a Eugene Maleska solver for years I love the puzzle. I finished Jack Reuter's Sunday. It was fun and once I got "checkmateinone' I should have done it faster. I save them and go back to unfinished ones - have for years. Two words clues are still odd to me w/o hint but I loved this last puzzle. I do them in ink and it can get messy. Cheers.

  186. Great puzzle, Mr Reuter. I don't play chess, but I do know the set up and notation, as my brother used to play George Koltanowski by mail in the 1960's. Koltanowski had a chess column in the SF Chronicle, back when it was a real newspaper. My only quibble is for the answer "at once", I think the clue should be STAT, not Stat, which is short for statistic.

  187. Of all the great Sunday NYT crosswords I've done over the years, this one is right up there at the top. And you DO learn something knew every day-- had no idea that "Tetley" is a brand of tea! I do play chess-- looks like Black really took a licking.