All donations to XWord Info made during the month of August will go to David Steinberg and the
With help from Barry Haldiman and several others, David Steinberg is on a mission to amass digitized versions of published NYT puzzles from before Will Shortz became editor. XWord Info will host these puzzles as each full year becomes available so they can be analyzed or even solved online. You can see 1993 grids now and 1992 is coming soon with many more years arriving later.
Mr. Steinberg has just finished ninth grade but he already has five published NYT puzzles as well as crosswords in several other venues. Somehow he has enough time to be a cruciverbal archeologist too.
Opinions about pre-Shortz puzzles seem to fall into two buckets. Either you long for the days before all those recent shenanigans like circles and Rap singers and wacky wordplay, or you make fun of all the archaic restrictions that prevented, for example, OREO from being clued as anything other than “Mountain: Comb.form.”
The truth is more complicated, of course. Yes, the infamous Celebes ox raises his head from time to time, J, Q, X and Z are rare, and there are enough complex Roman Numeral math problems to make Peter Gordon blush (I actually like those clues) but there is an amazing amount of creative ingenuity as well. I was going to write a long blog post about some of my favorites but it turns out there already is a blog dedicated to these older puzzles. It’s written by (you’ll never guess) David Steinberg. I highly recommend it: www.preshortzianpuzzleproject.com. Check out the various tabs.
Remember, every penny donated in August goes to David and his project. How will he spend this windfall? He’s too young for college so I guess it goes to collecting comic books or hustling pool or whatever 15-year-olds do these days. New XWord Info accounts get you full access to the site for a year. If you already have an account, you can still donate. I don’t have “renew” wired up yet so send me mail and I’ll extend your subscription for a year. For now, all the pre-Shortz puzzles are outside the paywall (i.e., they’re free) and, as always, direct links to any XWord Info page from crossword blogs pass through unchecked.