First Pass Friday: Work the Crossings, Luke

Sep 08, 2022 · 302 comments
GeoProf (Ames, IA)
Awesome Show, Great Job!
Michael Indy (Indianapolis)
Wait-is today Monday? Breezy puzzle for Friday.
Julie Percival (Dallas)
This was a delightful and challenging puzzle, from end to end. Friday puzzles can often be difficult without much fun for me. I worked it, quite deliberately avoiding the SE corner, trying to puzzle out the game from the clues, first. I thought, perhaps, some kind of Super Mario reference? A few of the crosses made reference to them. The blanks brought to mind an odd shaped face if I turned it… I thought, “Ugh, how will I be able to guess this in two letters?” I finally gave in and as I filled in the first two letters of the game name, it was instantly clear from the clues and the blank art. My hat’s off to the creator and editor. Great job!
Leapfinger (Durham NC)
It was quite some time before I thought of TETRIS, more time before I was brave enough to to type it in, and even longer to understand why. Let's just say DROP ME A LINE really had me fishing. At long last, the TRIS was much like the TRIS we used a lot of in the lab (produced by Macallister -Bicknell, whick I'm throwing in just to see if I can still spell it) and, like the lab TRIS, made a good solution. And I can rest E-Z it has nothing to do with TRISkaidekaphobia. This was a wonderfully clever FriPuzz which 100% proves Brian Koppy Right
Leapfinger (Durham NC)
@Leapfinger I didn't see if this TETRIS theme had already been linked. Very often, the Dutch have a knack for getting things Just Right. I'm happy to watch this time and again over the years.
Leapfinger (Durham NC)
PS: I love how the end goes from generic EUROpean to pure Slav. That's real TINToretto! As is the entire grid and the cluing. HONEST.
Vaer (Brooklyn)
@Leapfinger There are no words for that video.
Trent (British Columbia)
Great theme. I felt hard done by on 15D. Usually it’s indicated in the clue when there’s an abbreviation and this one was even tougher for non-Americans, even though I suspected it was tax-related.
Melissa (Edwardsville, IL)
The grid was fun- but I really struggled with the clueing on this Friday. Even knowing the TETRIS theme right off the bat- I wrestled with the theme entries. And the left center side? Woof. I almost had to take a peek at the answer key. Very challenging in many aspects but I appreciate how approachable the grid art was. I’d raise my pitchfork at the lack of crosses but I’ll forgive it in this case.
Phishfinder (Silicon Valley)
Was puzzling thinking this had something to do with Mario, which would completely skunk me 'cause I've never played console games. Then I looked at the grid, and those black squares look really familiar. I gave my Mom the Mac OS version, in black & white, with the wonderful Russian music to play on her new Mac 512E in 1988. She ACED IT! Still having trouble at the top, but almost done.
Michael D (NY City)
Well, this basically took me the whole day, on and off. Started at breakfast then stopped to have a long lunch with a friend. When i came back, i was “smarter.” Truly is amazing how the brain keeps working on stuff I’m not even thinking about consciously. This was a really good puzzle, but i did have to look up a couple of answers. And I believe I learned quite a bit today! (We’ll see what sticks — LOL! )
Mark (Dallas)
Busy day so I was late to the puzzle. I thought it was quite a treat, even though I share Deb's Tetris anxiety. I especially enjoyed the adjacent George Smiley clues. A couple of points puzzled me, and I'm hoping one of the more seasoned solvers will see and respond. First, I was under the impression that some form of symmetry was required in modern American crosswords. But I wasn't able to identify it if it was there. Second, I've seen references in recent days to typical word counts of themeless puzzles, and am wondering what lack of a theme has to do with the number of clues in a puzzle. Thanks!
Amy (San Francisco)
A few really odd clues that were absolutely unknowable to me and needed googling: TIM, FTD, PET and SEESPOT?! Some days I do not have the same mental model as the creator. But I loved the theme and it had me humming the Gameboy theme tune all day!
Mark (Dallas)
@Amy I wasn't familiar with TIM, either. I did know about the Dick and Jane reading primers, in which the dog's name was Spot, and we were invited to See Spot run! Also, I get the impression that Florists Transworld Delivery was more of a big deal before the rise of the Internet
Maggie (North Carolina)
This puzzle was a treat. Many years ago I was given Tetris for Mother's Day to play on my son's Nintendo since my family knew I loved the game. It was the only video game I ever really played besides the original Mario Brothers. Thanks for bringing back these fond memories! Breezed through the clues. Never heard of PET for SNIT but I see PET can be short for Petulant. Thanks, Brandon!
Josh (Pittsburgh)
I really enjoyed this—both the intriguing (and then rewarding) puzzle art and the fun fill and cluing. I’m not going to say that it was easy. In fact, I’m still unclear on the cluing for PET and LADED, but the crosses and the theme were enough to take me over the finish line. So, thanks, Brandon Koppy, for an excellent puzzle and a delightful diversion.
Sarah (New York)
I did recognize the Tetris art, found it cute, and was inspired to play a game afterwards. I liked disappearing act, blockbuster and epilepsy (since I have it, and don't think I've ever seen it in a puzzle). I was a few letters off from a gold star. ADWAY seemed plausible for the marketing company, as I couldn't wrap my mind around sacred syllables. In the NE, had a few squares I couldn't make out. Was it HEAD or LEAD? (Never heard of laded, so it didn't click when I ran vowels in my head with H and L). Had no idea what company F_D could be. Could only think of ships with the sink clue (not much of a sports fan) and didn't think alp had an E in French. I was wrong. Oh well, tomorrow's another game!
Zumilla (Atlanta)
Quickest Friday solve in ages! Thanks Tetris😊
Laura (Oregon)
This one broke my streak. EXNIHILO and UHURA….woof. Flummoxed by those saying this was too easy for a Friday.
Mark (Florida)
I did not like this puzzle. Too many unknowable entries. I liked Tetris back in the day. Not this game.
MrSmeg (Earth)
couldn't agree more, awful crossword with too many cryptic clues. 0/10
Great Lakes (US)
@MrSmeg Name one cryptic clue. They all seemed straight up to me.
Bob (Washington)
Different, creative and well done.
Joe Felice (Las Vegas)
Fun puzzle! Good theme and a nice mix of subject matter. (Two references to Islam was a rare treat for me personally.) I never knew PET was a synonym for snit. Is that like, crazy obscure, or did I just never notice?
xphoon (Pleasantville, NY)
Ah TETRIS. What would my college GPA have looked like without you? (A lot higher, that's what.) I really enjoyed the puzzle, but I can only imagine how maddening it must be if you've never played the game. I finished with a time about halfway between my PR and my average. I'll take it.
Steve (Pacifica CA)
ROCK ROYALTY fit in 18a. Threw me off for a while. Fun puzzle
Ron (Austin)
'Scuse me if I missed an explanation in the comments, but I don't understand the constructor's statement "I decided that the black squares should use each piece exactly twice and that none of them would touch." (I have played Tetris only once in my life.) Anyone? Not one of my favorites ... ⭐️⭐️
Gyrndi (Toronto)
@Ron The black squares are shaped like tetris pieces. There are two of each. Tho technically it is missing two types of pieces (the mirror images of the S and the L pieces)
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Ron Each group of four black squares represents a Tetris block (a/k/a tetrominoe). Each of the different shapes in the game appears twice in the grid (though some mirror-image pieces don’t appear in the grid at all). Hope that helps.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Ron, I assumed if you'd only played it once it was not one of your favorites, but thanks for confirming.
Greg4734 (Oakland)
What a great reason for a funky looking grid.
LStott (Brunswick, ME)
Unhappy with a puzzle that doesn't allow you a chance to work the crosses to complete the solve. It is a crossword, after all, not a cryptic.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
LStott, This is the fifth puzzle in 2022 with one or more squares that did not have both an across and down word. Those squares *were* checked by the theme. If you don't get the theme, it's just another type of Natick (and claims of Naticks are rather common around here).
LStott (Brunswick, ME)
@Barry Ancona i still maintain that there should have been a way to clue the 4-letter dangling end to Tetris for those with zero knowledge of video games. Even on a Friday. We can agree to disagree?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
LStott, I'm not sure we're disagreeing. This is a puzzle. The theme checks the unchecked squares. If you can offer an additional means of checking the unchecked squares, I'd be happy to hear it.
Geoffrey King (Seattle)
I spent truly bonkers amounts of time as a kid playing Tetris on the old black & white Nintendo Game Boy. But then I got my mother hooked on it and she became quite adept as well despite, as a GOLDEN AGER, having no gaming background.
Paladin (New Jersey)
Never played Tetris, but at the end guessed that must be the game. Pretty straightforward clues for this. Loved SNOG as synonym for French - tee hee!
OboeSteph (Florida)
I really liked the Tetris theme. So much fun!
Helen (Huntsville)
Great fun - thanks!
Donna (Atlanta)
I got stuck in one of the corners and decided to take a peek here to help out. That was easier said than done, though. Has the NYT intentionally chosen to hide this article to avoid temptation? If so, well done. I did eventually get here, but only by dint of knowing the article existed and using google to navigate here directly.
Great Lakes (US)
@Donna There are other ways to get here. Do you ever bookmark links? Are you using the app? If so, on what platform? If you're using a browser, look below the puzzle for a link to the Wordplay index.
patricia (Chicago)
As a golden ager tetrist, I also appreciated the USSR sidelong references in the two George Smiley clues
Great Lakes (US)
@patricia I've never read Le Carre, thanks for reminding me to look that up.
Michael (White Plains, NY)
Very fast for me, although I know nothing about TETRIS, including the name of the game. I had to monkey-type to get the last four letters.
Rachel (Portland, OR)
I found this to be way harder than a Friday puzzle, maybe because I didn't get the Tetris theme. Wasn't my favorite.
D. Patrick Ryan (Okotoks, AB)
I found this one to be a breeze - probably because I recognised the Tetris grid straight away - and finished in a personal best 12:49! 🎉
Amy (Los Angeles)
I noticed the last several puzzles do not link directly to that puzzle's crossword column. I guess this is to avoid spoilers as often, the headline, subheading, and/or photo give parts of the puzzle away. This was a good decision, NYT. One thing though, you could just provide a generic link without a picture or headline just to reduce the number of clicks. I'm thinking that would increase traffic. I know I would appreciate it.
Great Lakes (US)
@Amy Others have said that there is a generic link. If you say what platform you're using, you'll get more specific suggestions.
Joanne (Florida)
@Great Lakes I reported this broken link a week ago but the person who responded (three times, quite promptly) was no help, really. I use Google Chrome on a PC. It takes me three separate clicks to get to it now. I don't see the point of disconnecting the Daily Crossword column from the landing page of the puzzle itself. I was never tempted to peek at the solutions.
Great Lakes (US)
@Joanne A number of people (using very large screens) complained that the column photo was a spoiler. I never even noticed it was there. I access the column other ways, and usually do the puzzle on the app, but I do remember people saying there was a link to get to the Wordplay index, at least, right next to whatever photo they use now. I'm nowhere near my laptop now, or I'd check!
MDNY (Huntington, NY)
I think I recall having TETRIS and Snake on my first flip phone! That would be the extent of my gameplay, but I did almost immediately recognize the falling shapes in the grid. I'm not sure how I felt about this grid (being a lover of symmetry) but it was definitely a unique approach. Those shapes also reminded me of the Soma cube game (invented by Piet Hein) that I played with for hours upon hours as a kid. I had blue, red and multicolor and would build various structures with them. Anyone else have affection for Soma? There were some oddities in this puzzle. I have never considered P.U. as PEE-YEW! But evidently it's a thing-ish! EURO as a prefix for zone and pop. Not top of mind, certainly. A very -ish clue to me. Those Zener cards show up again in ESP TESTS. Is this a popular thing-ish to do? Some nostalgic bits, too! Kindergarten's SEE SPOT. The very 70's STACHE reminded me of a boyfriend - I asked him to shave his off. Pousette-Dart Band's AMNESIA was a college touchstone. My husband recited a love poem by GOETHE to me the night we met. Luckily, our marriage did not turn out to be a Faustian bargain!
Phrogge (Succasunna, NJ)
@MDNY Not sure I can find my old Soma cube offhand, but I still recall my favorite solve; used it recently in a gift store that had a sample of a lovely wood one out for folks to toy with.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@MDNY I remember much juvenile puzzling with my Soma cubes. I think thy disappeared decades ago, unless they’re in one of the boxes of junk up in the attic.
Repatriated Expat (NYC)
What a beautiful, brilliant puzzle! Once I realized what it was I couldn’t get the theme song out of my head the whole time I was solving. It added just a little urgency to an excellent solve :D
Wesley (Houston)
I took a little bit of pleasure that the 4 black boxes directly above “Tetris”, were about to achieve a Tetris.
Ashley (Los Angeles)
This was one of those especially tough ones for us under-35s, despite the game theme. I used to be wary about subscribing when I saw puzzles like these, full of phrases I’ve never heard, but now I enjoy what I learn from them (while chewing on my humble pie as they destroy my streaks 😅)
Pax Ahimsa Gethen (San Francisco, California)
Beautiful grid art tribute to my favorite game! I finished surprisingly fast (for me) considering I had about four hours of sleep last night. Had quibbles with some of the clues, but that might be due to aforementioned sleep deprivation. The grid art made up for it in any case :-) If you're a fellow Tetris fan, I highly recommend Tetris Effect. (Not a paid promotion, just a satisfied customer!) You can find me playing online as "Funcrunch" nearly every Saturday.
Seward Parker (Seattle)
Fantastic! I picked up on the Tetris theme pretty quickly, but it took me a while to realize that the entire grid is an accurate Tetris playing field; every section of black squares is a Tetris piece, and when the line drops through the word Tetris at the bottom, those four rows of black squares will be cleared. Bravo. I only wish the NYT had made it animate when it was completed...
Darcy (USA)
Am I the only person who has never even heard of Tetris and consequently solved this happily as a themeless puzzle in (what would have been) record time for a Friday, except for the dangling TETRIS? (So much for using crosses—ha!)
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Darcy, You are not the first to report here never having heard of TETRIS, but I think you are the first in that select group to report [almost] solving the puzzle happily.
Shari Coats (Nevada City, CA)
Yes, I really had to work the crosses, as I am clueless about video games. Still, the name TETRIS seemed familiar, so once I had the TE, I plugged in what seemed to me a possible game and it turned out to be right. I had a very busy day yesterday, long hike in the Sierras, then handbell practice and choir practice right after getting home. So I wasn’t able to do the Thursday xword until late last night. It was a fun one but I was a little too tired to appreciate it fully. Smoke is very bad from our current big fire, so I’m stuck in the house today. Sending prayers out to those in the area of the fire and feeling grateful for a roof over my head plus AC.
Laurie (Boston)
Fun puzzle. Did you guys know that even amnesiacs dream of electric games?
Jonathan Leal (New Jersey)
As a golden ager I was perturbed by this answer. I don’t mean to make something ex nihilio but golden ages is a far more natural usage!
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Jonathan Leal Golden age or golden ages refer to historic high(s) in the course of a civilization. A GOLDEN AGER is, euphemistically, a senior citizen.
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Barry Ancona Correct. But he may not know that "golden age" or "golden ages" refers to something else.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Steve, Anything is possible, but I've never heard golden ages used to refer to an individual's age. And if it were so used, why would that be "a far more natural usage?"
Geoff Offermann (Atlanta)
Completed everything but the final theme answer in about 10 minutes. Made coffee and sat staring at the three clues like an idiot for another 20 minutes. And never got it. Definitely a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. Had I stepped back and looked at the grid design, that essential *fourth* clue, I may have gotten it. Well done. You got me again, Friday! :-)
Chris H (Georgia)
@Geoff Offermann Like you Geoff, I was able to get through all of the puzzle but with only the TE of the drop down clue filled in. Miffed that there were no across clues to help fill in the rest, I kept reading the three related down clues over and over, and then it was the block in block buster that finally hit me. I filled in the TRIS, got the happy music, and THEN noticed the shapes of the black spaces...and I'm an old school gamer! smdh On a side note: Across all platforms, Tetris is the #1 selling video game of all time - selling more than #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6 COMBINED. So I would have to say that it is fair "game" as a crossword theme.
Levi (New York)
Wonderful use of black squares. I don’t understand a few of the answers, like why PET the answer for snit. It could be a poor clue, or due to the fact I’ve been hit in the head extremely hard 3 times in my life. Or maybe I need to read more. Or all of the above. Yay Tetris!!! I have to go back to work now where I wish I made more money.
David Wilcoxen (Austin Texas)
@Levi Me too, I looked it up. I never heard that term for "snit" in my life!
Geoff Offermann (Atlanta)
@Levi “In a pet” is a quaint phrase from days of yore for a peevish mood. You’ll see it every now and then in the puzzles, but never in everyday conversation since maybe Franklin Roosevelt’s second term in office.
Geoff Offermann (Atlanta)
@Levi “In a pet” is a quaint phrase from days of yore for a peevish mood. You’ll see it every now and then in the puzzles, but never in everyday conversation since maybe Franklin Roosevelt’s second term in office.
Kim Kirby (Tennessee)
Worked this one with both teens over my shoulder, which was fun because we’ve all played Tetris. 16-year old son was great for other video game clues and sports references. 14-year-old daughter came through with BLOCKBUSTER and SEESPOT (from perusing her grandparents’ Dick and Jane books). We got hung up on SNOb for “French, perhaps, in England.” I actually had a hunch the cross was GREER, but it took us a bit to realize that French referred to kissing. Thanks, Brandon, for giving us some impromptu family bonding time today!
Kim Kirby (Tennessee)
Also, I forgot to give a shout out to the black squares in this puzzle. The Tetris blocks! Brilliant! That was a delightful “aha” moment for the kids and me.
Deb Amlen (Wordplay, The Road Tour)
@Kim Kirby I love it! I, too, have solved with my kids and they are definitely very helpful with some topics.
xphoon (Pleasantville, NY)
@Kim Kirby I played TERTIS endlessly in college (late 80s to early 90s), so I recognized the grid almost immediately. It really is brilliant!
Cynthia (Belfast, Maine)
I've never played a video game in my life (75 years in length so far), and needed Deb's column to get TETRIS, which replaced my guess, Titans-- no help from crosses there.
kilaueabart (Oakland CA)
I gave up after 59+ minutes last night, feeling that I might have finished the puzzle correctly except for 58A, where I had a puzzling S_ACHE, and 59D, with _E____, worse than puzzling bacause there was no chance for crosses. Now that I have been through the column I know there is an MU missing from 58A (why?), but even if I had guessed the missing T, 59D would have remained beyond me.
C (Hot as Heck)
@kilaueabart I took the "informally" part to mean being a shortening of mustache :)
kilaueabart (Oakland CA)
@C Sure, but seems odd. Why would anyone do that? "The Beatles were great sicians"?
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@kilaueabart Someone decided to get cute and call a mustache a STACHE. Someone else was amused and started using it. And that usage spread to the point where it’s familiar to enough people that it’s been in the NYT crossword puzzle four times in the last seven years. Language evolving right before our eyes!
Ambrose (NY)
Great puzzle in all respects! I thought I had it complete and stared and stared with no luck. Had to check and learned it was “Tetris” and not “Tetras” that I once spent many hours playing.
Great Lakes (US)
@Ambrose Did you have to fish for TetrAs? =)
greygrrl (DC suburbs)
Tetris, to me, is in the vernacular...i.e. fitting disparate elements into as compact a configuration as possible (Tetris-ing 10 pieces of luggage into that compact car trunk, for example). I have never nor will I ever play that, or any, video game but they sure are part of the zeitgeist and these terms seep in by osmosis. Helpful for us crossworders.
C (Hot as Heck)
@greygrrl "Tetris"ing items in the fridge when it gets very full :D
xphoon (Pleasantville, NY)
@C I play what I refer to as "Refrigerator Tetris" every Thanksgiving night.
greygrrl (DC suburbs)
@xphoon My fridge is more like Jenga 😂
Captain Quahog (Planet Earth)
Good puzzle. When I realized it had something to do with a video game, I assumed I wouldn't get it, since most of the game was not checked by crosses. Then, I saw what was going on and the pieces fell into place. I am very, very glad that I don't print out these puzzles. I'm low on toner so as it is.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Captain Quahog - always set the printer to Draft quality!
David Connell (Weston CT)
A delightful and refreshingly odd puzzle. The “recreate a classic computer game” task ranks at the top of all tasks on the British show Taskmaster. Here’s the complete task; Tetris comes in at 5:45 or so, but the whole video is a great laugh… Wordle led me to absurdle, which is a version of wordle where there is no answer word per se. The game always gives you the worst possible response to your entry (the response that eliminates the fewest words from the master list). The same person developed Hatetris as a version of Tetris that always provides the least useful piece as you go. I’ve never gotten more than two rows playing it…
Cat Lady Margaret (Maine)
@David Connell: since you’re here today: remind me about your anecdote involving a clergyman enthusiastically mispronouncing a word. It was so funny, but I have forgotten the word!
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Cat Lady Margaret - not a clergyman, it was the lay president of our congregation… Firstly, to Fred’s credit, when we had a city pigeon loose in the sanctuary, he knew how to catch it and release it, unharmed, back into the Norfeas Philly air… Secondly: When Fred, as president of a struggling antique German Lutheran congregation in Fishtown (K&A - northeast Philadelphia), was reading a passage at the lectern, and I, 20 or 21 year old organist, sat at the back of the room, he was given to read a passage from the vision of John, recounted in the Book of Revelation… “And I saw the wingèd creatures, myriad upon myriad, surrounding the throne and singing [praises]…” Except that, bless his lil ol heart, Fred solemnly read, “And I saw the wingèd creatures, mermaid upon mermaid…” at which point my very literal mind pictured the scene, and I guffawed loudly, and everyone looked at me, wonderingly.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Cat Lady Margaret - in case this appears… I’m here every day. Some days my posts are allowed to appear. Enjoy life, CLM!
Sarah (Winter Park, Florida)
What a great puzzle. Just the right level for a Friday in my opinion — a lot of puzzling things out but workable crosses. I figured out the TETRIS answer first thing after a few moments of looking at the grid, and was able to break slowly in and nibble at it throughout the day. So much fun! Thanks for this one!
Anna (Bellingham, WA)
Filled in the whole darn puzzle except the dangler at the bottom. Best selling video game, six letters, starts with a T-E? No idea. (Admit have never played any video game, of any sort. . . Spend waaaay too much time staring at screens as it is!) Despite the generational handicap I am typically dimly aware of pop culture references -- in fact, have been known to use the phrase "playing Tetris" when trying to cram an assortment of objects into a tight space, but have always assumed the game in question existed in the physical world, kinda like messing with lego blocks. The highlighted Down entries rang no bells for me, nor were they candidates for a helpful Google search, and there were obviously no crosses below the T-E to help me out. In other words, I was S-T-U-C-K. Had to Reveal the answer. I feel silly.
Marshall Walthew (San Diego)
I was taken aback when I first saw the strange looking grid, and thought I was in trouble when none of the early acrosses seemed easy to me. But despite never having played Tetris (I have seen people playing it on my train ride into work), I managed to complete the puzzle in a below Friday average time. I loved the clues for GUITARSOLO, which I guessed right away, and which kickstarted my solve, and ROGUESTATES. All in all a nice piece of construction and a fun solve. Side note: Yesterday the app refused to even submit my comment. That happened to me once before. Has anyone else experienced this.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
"Has anyone else experienced this." Yes.
Rhonda (Chicagoish)
TIL the word PET has yet another meaning. And also, TIL all about TETRIS. I always wondered what all those people were poking around at on their phones. Thanks, Brandon Koppy (whose “tsar name” could be Brandon the Block Buster).
kc (Canada)
SO much fun!
Bob Adler (Kensington MD)
I usually don't consider the grid construction that much but this one was really clever and entertaining. It was only after I read the Wordplay article that I realized the black spaces are in the shape of Tetris pieces in different rotations. Nice!
Roger (San Diego)
A smile upon opening the grid. Is this legal? It must have a purpose, let’s find out! Although I’ve played the odd game of Tetris my aha! moment came embarrassingly late after having Blockbuster, Disappearing Act and the TE of Tetris. So the PET in pet peeve isn’t what I thought it MEANT? I suppose I never gave it much thought but I was content to think of it as a peeve that threatened no one and you nurtured while it followed you around rather than a petulant peeve. Being a countryman of George Smiley and old enough to have been schooled in Latin SNOG, BRIT an EX NIHILO where in my wheelhouse today. Particularly liked ‘shredded with an Ax’ for a clue.
leep (NH)
How do you know how fast you have solved past puzzles on the app, including average time etc? Is there a way to see then without clicking on each puzzle? Or do some of you memorize your finish times each day?
Friend (Apt 303)
@leep The iOS/Apple app has a stats page. I believe that the Android app doesn’t provide this info. You can login to the NYT website Games section to see your stats.
Vaer (Brooklyn)
@leep You can now get to your statistics in the Android app. From the Wordplay column click on the link that says FRIDAY PUZZLE just below Deb's byline. On the page that you're taken to, keep scrolling down until you see Statistics.
I tried making my own crossword back in high school, long ago. That's when I first noticed that the grids were always symmetrical for some arcane reason. Surprised to see this one did not comply. Enjoyed it a lot though i don't think my tetris skills were that helpful.
Tessa (NC)
I’m not very good at Tetris but when Tetris 99 came out on the Switch a few years ago I sunk 100+ hours into it to get that Tetris Maximus. I’m not very good at crosswords either but when I saw this grid I smiled and knew immediately what was going on. Loved seeing this unique grid pay homage to an extremely addictive, classic game. All of the theme entries came early and make perfect sense in the context of Tetris. Had to Google to confirm I was on the right track with EX NIHILO and FELIPE of Spain, other than that, smooth sailing.
Pax Ahimsa Gethen (San Francisco, California)
@Tessa I too sunk many hours into Tetris 99 to get the coveted Maximus title. Now I usually play Tetris Effect, but I come back to 99 whenever there's a new theme to unlock.
Nancy (NYC)
It's not just the awful unchecked revealer -- a video game I'm not familiar with (am I familiar with any video games at all? The answer is "No"). It's all the rest of the awful pop culture-riddled grid. The constructor would seem to care deeply, deeply about thoroughly forgettable tripe that I care not one whit about. But despite fill that I felt that was put there for the sole purpose of making me unhappy (yes, I know that's not true; it just feels that way) I actually completed this thing right up to the TE of the sunken answer. Only then did I hurl it into my wall, though my pitching arm had been twitching and eager to go all the way through my almost-solve. I would call this one of the most irritating puzzles I've ever done.
replay (KC)
@Nancy LOL Tripe it, you'll ike it ! I thought the grid art looked like a control rod going into a nuclear reactor! ...and I would've preferred it that way. I agree, the obscure pop culture was—unfufilling.
Darcey O’D (Sandy Hook, CT)
@replay @Nancy “…obscure pop culture”? TETRIS was (is) pretty ubiquitous; just because one is unfamiliar with something does not mean it is fair to classify it as “obscure”! Although I have spent little time playing the game, the significance of the grid design was immediately obvious to me— and I give a great deal of credit to Mr. Koppy for coming up with a clever theme idea and an amusing and spot-on implementation. If one chooses to remain ignorant of certain subjects, and not to engage in certain pastimes, fine: we all must decide how best to spend our time. But is it really necessary to be superciliously dismissive of those with a different knowledge base or choice of leisure activities? One may enjoy solving crosswords, or playing Tetris— or both!— but IMHO, neither choice deserves to be sneered at!
Great Lakes (US)
@ABelsey This thing between you two has gone on longer than I've been posting here, amirite?
John Dietsch (West Palm Beach)
The answer to 1-Across is a much richer description of my reaction to certain clues and puzzles than the prosaic words, irks and ires.
Johanna (Ohio)
I have absolutely no idea of how I solved this puzzle. The knowledge in my brain of TETRIS is nonexistent. So I literally created the solution out of nothing. Viva EX NIHILO! I did enjoy the long colorful answers, especially DROP ME A LINE. (It just occurred to me that those are words a fish would never say.) Congratulations to Brandon Koppy for your talent to construct this unique grid and the chops to fill it so smoothly. I still know nothing about TETRIS, but had a lot of fun learning nothing!
Marks (Brussels)
Hint to other GenXers: don’t quickly guess “DIGDUG” for the elusive down. (Even I was wondering: was the game that popular? That’s more Saturday-level obscure...) Finally at 10 minutes into it with little progress I bothered to notice the lack of puzzle grid symmetry, and the shapes… Time to hit the spacebar.
Pax Ahimsa Gethen (San Francisco, California)
@Marks Oh wow, fellow Gen Xer here - now having fond memories of playing Dig Dug on my DOS computer when I should have been doing my homework in college, circa 1990.
Lpr (Nashville)
Wow!!! 😍😍😍 That was a super fun, elegant and cool puzzle! And I love Tetris. Spent countless hours of my youth directing the blocks into place. So satisfying. A small nit is why there are two "stinky" answers plus a "yucky" one. I might have picked different clues for RANK or PEE, already having THATSGROSS. But the slight odor did not diminish my enjoyment!! Thanks Brandon!
Dan Sussman (Phoenix)
TAPS IN? A bit of a stretch. TIPS IN is the usual expression.
Mike K (D.C.)
You tap in a short putt, you don’t tip it in.
Jeb Jones (NY)
@Dan Sussman I too was thinking basketball
@Dan Sussman -- My progression was from layS IN (yeah, that was a bad guess), to TiPS IN, and finally to TAPS IN. It took me a while for that last step, though.
John Peil (San Antonio)
Fun grid; felt too easy for Friday; ex nihilo: also our current understanding of the Creation fact (despite wild, unprovable speculations to the contrary). Happy Friday!
Lars (London)
Shouldn't it have dimensions 10x20? Fond memories of my first computer game - тетрис - on a 3.5" floppy on my Dell 286 running MSDOS 2.1, thanks :)
mporter (Maine)
Not much fun if you don't play video games!
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
mporter, Sorry you didn't have fun. I don't play video games, but I had fun. I often have fun with themed puzzles when I'm not familiar with the theme. I may not "get" all the inside stuff, but it does make for more of a challenge (which is often lacking in themed puzzles).
Tessa (NC)
@mporter Tetris was created in 1984, I think it’s been around long enough and popular enough (much like PAC Man, Mario and Pokémon) to warrant a themed puzzle. Most people are familiar with it even if they’ve never played it. Considering all of the opera, tennis, baseball, chess, and golf references that pop up in crosswords I was so excited to see homage to a game I know and love for a change.
Ronzo (Mass)
Exnihilo? Umm?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
archaeoprof (Danville KY)
As Doc Holliday says in ‘Tombstone”, “That’s Latin, dahlin’. Evidently Mr. Ringo is an educated man.”
Ronzo (Mass)
@Barry Ancona ah…thanks. As a recovering Catholic, my Latin is a dim memory.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
Down near the bottom of the Comments were several people mentioning ROUGE STATES....which of course was wrong....but they didn't seem to get it (thinking REDs?) Entertaining, sort of. I really, really need something more here....
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
MOL, I liked the KGB reference in response to ROUGE STATES.
Ricardo (Austin)
A really fun Friday solve in my opinion. Seeing the grid layout I immediately went to 59D and filled in the classic game that I spent perhaps too much of my youth playing. The rest of the puzzle was an enjoyable fill of "I know these down clues, so maybe the across is this." Well done Mr. Koppy, and congratulations on your first Friday puzzle!
ad absurdum (chicago)
So many amazing things about this puzzle. I'm in awe. It wasn't as easy for me as it seems to have been for others; about average time. Part of that was my being disturbed when I shoulda been perturbed. All those black squares at the bottom--should we call the constructor Dark Brandon? I'm gonna go ask my mommy if I can get a pet snit!
Ken S (Florida)
I did not recognize what the grid art represented at first and then misspelled it as TETRuS. The NW gave me fits - never heard snit described as PET nor familiar with EXNIHILO. Otherwise, this was a pleasant workout. Glad I didn’t print this out, it would have used a prodigious amount of black toner.
archaeoprof (Danville, KY)
Took one look at the grid, noticed that 59D extended below the rest of the grid, read the clue, and at that point the charm of the puzzle was over and done. Indeed, not one clue/answer combination brought a smile. But no worries: tonight, non-puzzle wife and I are going to Alan Jackson's concert in Lexingon. "It's five o'clock somewhere..."
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@archaeoprof Who?
alan (indiana)
whats an FTD?????
Margaret Michigan (Michigan)
Floral delivery
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
John (Jersey Coast)
@alan Established in 1910 as a collective of 10 florists, Florists’ Transworld Delivery (FTD) used the telegraph to transform the age-old practice of flower-giving. I think they've dropped the "Transworld Delivery" part and now its just FTD.
Zézito (Alexandria, VA)
"All that really matters here is that you are enjoying yourself." I didn't enjoy myself at all. I don't like odd fill for the sake of supporting a theme. There were far too many celebrity references. Pet was terribly clued. And what is a golden ager? Is that someone who turns gold as they age? Not for me. Give me a solid themeless on Fridays.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Zézito A Golden AGER is someone such as myself--a person who has attained retirement; attempted downsizing; lost her keys, glasses, password, and short-term memory. In short, it's a MISNOMER....but that didn't fit.
Zézito (Alexandria, VA)
@Mean Old Lady Are you turning golden as you age?
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Zézito Too much work! Just letting my hair get whiter and whiter!
PuzzleDog (Mountain High)
Astonishing feat of grid construction, IMNSHO. I recognized what was going on immediately (I wasted a lot of time playing Tetris at one point in my life) and solved 59D immediately. Very quick solve (would have probably been a best time if I hadn't confidently filled in AGES for 52A and not bothered to check the crosses--had to relook all the across answers and most of the down answers to realize that GSEER was probably not actress Judy's last name. My only disappointment? I was really hoping we'd get a really magical animation at the end, the line would drop through 59D and the bottom four lines of black squares would disappear.... One can hope.
Kippi (Florida)
I loved today’s puzzle!! There were some really tricky spots (I’m horrible with history names), but I got theme just looking at the blank grid. I have spent many, many hours playing Tetris. I can’t count how many times I beat the original on NES. Thanks, Mr. Koppy for a great Friday puzzle!!!
E.W. Swan (Little Rock, AR)
Love this one. Love it love it LOVE IT! Maybe the most delightful reveal since the time I started solving. And now there's this certain theme music running through my head...
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
Where's the rest of my Friday puzzle????? I vaguely recalled the offspring speaking of this game; otherwise, it would have been hopeless. DISTURBS before PERTURBS GHOST BUSTERS before BLOCK BUSTERS Those were th SOLe rewrites. And I don't know enough about the game to 'get it,' so PFFT is pretty much the description of my solve. Aside: Is 49A considered sacrilegious?
Lpr (Nashville)
My limited understanding of Islam is that the Prophet cannot be pictured. Nothing about using God's name. Ar-Rahmaan is one of the 99 names of Allah. Maybe you're thinking of Judaism where one is not supposed to utter or write the name YWH. I look forward to someone more educated than I correcting me.
Ann (Massachusetts)
Amazing puzzle. Fortunately, although I have never played Tetris I am vaguely familiar with it so I got that part early on. Then the rest was a struggle but very fun. Constructors never cease to amaze me.
Chungclan (Cincinnati)
Fun and challenging Friday. Finished about 2 minutes faster than my Friday average without noticing that the 4 vertical black blocks could slip right down into "TETRIS" and complete 4 lines of black squares. As is so often the case, I needed Deb's explanation to get that little extra Easter Egg. However, I still don't understand our esteemed constructor's comment: "1. I decided that the black squares should use each piece exactly twice and that none of them would touch." What does "use each piece exactly twice" mean?
Han (Australia)
@Chungclan Tetris pieces - there are two 'T's, two 'L's, two zigzag shapes, two 2x2 squares and two 4x1 lines, just rotated into various orientations
Chungclan (Cincinnati)
@Han Ah! Thanks.
Brad (Iowa)
@Han the puzzle technically doesn’t use all pieces twice. The L pieces have mirrored pieces known as Js and similarly the S pieces have mirrored pieces known as Zs.
Merrill Baylor (Asheville NC)
What an awesome grid! All the Tetris pieces represented by the black squares, which I didn’t see until the very end. Thank you for a very fun puzzle!
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Merrill Baylor I did notice the peculiar NONsymmetrical black (well, InkSaver gray) squares....meant nothiing to me, though. Sadly, this was wasted on the likes of me...
Han (Australia)
I gasped when I saw today's grid, the wildly unconventional layout feels refreshingly unfamiliar on the brain, and made me think 'wait - is that allowed?!' When the revealer highlighted the downward lines I understood that it was gesturing to the significance of downward movement to the game. My first instinct was Space Invaders, but only momentarily as (aside from the fact it's not the right length) the familiar and iconic shapes in the negative space made it pretty clear it was TETRIS. I'm also mildly amused that for the second day in a row I can thank The Simpsons that I knew the answer to a clue... "Feel this sweater, there's no better than authentic Irish SETTER."
redweather (Atlanta)
I've never encountered the word "pet" used in this way. Otherwise, I didn't find the puzzle all that difficult for a Friday.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@redweather He was in a PET because the toast was cold; for him, breakfast was spoilt. (Ha ha, BRITs put their toast into little racks to be sure it loses all heat before it's served.)
@redweather -- I dredged up PET from memory, though I don't know where I first encountered it. These days, I'd be more likely to interpret "in a pet" as a reason to visit the veterinarian. :-)
redweather (Atlanta)
@Mean Old Lady I'm not disputing it, just never encountered that particular locution. Sounds twee to me.
John (Jersey Coast)
Although I should have been familiar, EX NIHILO was new to me so an interesting morning dive into ex nihilo vs. ex materia. A clever grid that initially intimidated both myself and my poor printer (greyscale to the rescue!). Fun puzzle and many thanks.
Times Rita (NV)
I was once addicted to Tetris, in a galaxy far, far away. It still was the last to fall, no pun intended. I got those last four letters by running the alphabet until my long-term memory clicked in. Still, though I solved the puzzle rather quickly and without having to look anything up, I'm annoyed by the increasing number of gimmicks in too many puzzles. Though it may be considered a master of construction, thumbs down on this one.
RI guy (Newport, Rhode Island)
TETRIS is the only video game I have ever played, but not once since the late 90's. Even with that long layoff, the theme was obvious to me as soon as I looked at it. Kudos to Brandon Koppy for the achievement n construction, which must have been quite difficult. But the cluing lacked the pizzazz I anticipate with Fridays. It felt like a Wednesday not a Friday. Sure enough, when I checked my average time today's solve was right around my Wednesday average.
Doug (Tokyo)
@RI guy - You missed out on Centipede…
Lewis (Asheville, NC)
Oh, I loved the novelty in the grid design – the total asymmetry of the black squares, that finger going down into the Black Sea, the 15 x 15 normal sized puzzle with the slab o’ blocks attached beneath. Seeing all this before filling in square one got me buzzed to plunge in. Things fell swiftly (for a Friday), but as they fell, sparks kept my buzz going. DROP ME A LINE and BLOCKBUSTER describing that rogue line of white each drew a big-smile “Hah!”. [Sinks from not far away] had me picturing plumbing fixtures and geographical depressions until the right meaning for “sinks” smacked me with an “Ahah!” (combo of “Aha!” and “Hah!”, stronger than either individually). I liked when its answer (TAPS IN) was echoed with SPAT, a lovely semordnilap. The clue with “shredded” and “axe” whooshed me back into my rock and roll band playing days. So, I was having a terrific time. The finishing touch came with trying to come up with the name TETRIS, a game I’ve never played. For a few moments, it felt like, even with the first two letters filled in, I might not come up with the name, but then with a wave of relief, it tapped my shoulder, bubbling up from the mass of black squares in my brain. Long live out-of-the-boxness! Thank you Brandon, for a hoot of a time!
Michele G (Ottawa, ON)
I would have loved an animation at the end that had that vertical block slot into empty spot, and having those four rows disappear. That was always so satisfying when I used to play Tetris (my go-to procrastination method in university).
Morn (In)
@Michele G awe man I missed that animation! Bummer.
Doug (Tokyo)
@Morn - “would have”
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
I've never played TETRIS, but I've certainly heard of it. Looked at the grid, saw tetrominoes*, looked at the clue for the entry with unchecked letters, knew from 58A and 61A that it started with TE, and entered TETRIS. No problems anywhere else. As our constructor noted, "The theme didn’t feel tricky or dense enough for Wednesday or Thursday..." *Learned about and worked with polyominoes decades before video games.
Jack McCullough (Montpelier, Vermont)
I thought this was great! I've spent many happy hours playing TETRIS, getting to the end many times. The funny thing for me is that the way I do the puzzle online I never even saw that huge black expanse at the bottom until I got there--I never took an overview of the puzzle before that. Never heard of 15A or 31A, but both were easily accessible from the crosses. Interesting clue for PEE: I always think of that as P.U. I felt that I got off to a slow start, with nothing before TAPSIN, HYDRA, and KGB, but I still might have gotten a Friday best were it not for a few typos. Oh, and for all the TETRIS veterans, here's your music for this morning: Thank you!
Rich in Atlanta (Austell, Georgia)
Interesting puzzle and quite a workout for me. I ended up staring at the TE for a couple of minutes and finally remembered that there was a game called TETRIS and filled it in. But... mostly ended up as a reminder of how bad my memory is now. I worked on IBM PC's (programmer) from the early 80's on. And (now at least) I do recall playing TETRIS starting some decades ago. But, even after considerable online review (even watched some youtube videos) I have absolutely no memory of how the game was played or what it looked like. I still can't exactly figure it out. Ah well - 12 day streak survives. I'll just have to leave it at that. DISAPPEARINGACT led to my puzzle find today. I'll put that in a reply. ..
Rich in Atlanta (Austell, Georgia)
@Rich in Atlanta As threatened. Thursday puzzle from August 16, 2001 by Joe DiPietro. DISAPPEARINGACT was the reveal in that one. Here are the theme clues and answers: "Be affected by electrical attraction?" GOWHERETHEIONIS "Bishop preparing to hold a yard sale?" PRICINGCATHOLIC "Workout for bratty kids at a mountain resort?" HIGHIMPAEROBICS ..
Bill (Detroit)
So much for no unchecked squares. Luckily I am a child of the Eighties.
Grant (Delaware)
So disappointed that 59D wasn't Dig Dug.
APNerd (MA)
@Grant HA! Same! I put Tetris in but was paranoid that it was Dig Dug for a while! That was a great game...
ERT (New York, NY)
Given how many are complaining about not knowing Tetris (which I still find hard to believe), I can only imagine the clamor if 59D had been Dig Dug!
Chris Gibbs (Fanwood, NJ)
I did the puzzle and then read the column. I have no idea what any of that meant, never played the game, but it was an OK Friday puzzle with some nice cluing.
dana yaks (philly)
i did the whole puzzle last night. got the yellow star. today it looks like i didn't do it. good thing i don't care about streaks... sort of... anyone else having the problem?
Great Lakes (US)
@dana yaks I've seen it mentioned; have not seen a solution. But you have all day to solve it again and maintain your gold star.
Arnie (Cincinnati)
My simple problem was that I must be the only person in the world who has zero familiarity with Tetris. For the most part, this didn't matter, and I was able to complete the entire grid, except the dangling final four letters, TRIS. If Tetris had been embedded in a more typical grid, I probably could have "derived" it from the intersecting answers, but that wasn't possible in this case, which was slightly frustrating, even though I enjoyed this puzzle overall.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Arnie Naw....there are two of us. Used to live in Cinti (9 yrs, during Big Red Machine days) so maybe it was the water...
dk (Now in Mississippi)
Bring back the flying toasters. This puzzle was a lot of fun except for the out of nothing clue..... that we did not know and had to look up. Thank you Brandon
Grant (Delaware)
@dk High five for the flying toasters! I was thinking of them just the other day.
Whoa Nellie (Out West)
@dk Sounds like you'd be up for a game of Pong! 🙃
Hanson (PA)
@Whoa Nellie Tanks or Asteroids.
LD (Back in CA)
I'm always sad for the constructor when a lot of the comments are about the day of the week. From his notes, it's clear that he was worried about it. I'm sure he'd appreciate more feedback on the puzzle itself. I also finished the puzzle quickly, but like Deb, I had almost nothing after my first pass. I definitely had to puzzle it out from crossings, which was fun for me. I enjoyed the anticipation from wondering what all those black boxes could mean. I really love how the long piece hovers above the open slot. Those occasions were the most satisfying part of the game!
suejean (HARROGATE)
Always fun to see something new, but this was very difficult for me as I know nothing about video games, so I’m afraid I didn’t even wait until I’d gone through the whole puzzle before turning on the auto check. As always, not a complaint, just my personal experience.
Rachel (Miami)
This clicked for me. EX NIHILO popped into my mind, then KGB and a few more quick wins. I didn’t even notice the strange grid until I got to the revealer, but at that point recognized TETRIS. Then it was off to the races. A new personal best. Thanks for a fun puzzle.
Mary (Switzerland)
Help please with guitar solo? I’ve heard the term “shredding” but can anyone explain “with an ax”? Google wasn’t helpful…thanks in advance!
Margaret (NY)
@Mary Ax (or Axe) is slang for guitar.
Willy (South Carolina)
An ax is slang for a guitar.
Mary (Switzerland)
Whaddya know! :) thanks!
Helen Wright (Dorset UK)
Came here for some light relief in the aftermath of yesterdays news. Didn’t really get it, but I’ll blame my state of mind rather than the constructor. Was looking forward to a meaty Friday BLOCKBUSTER but was flummoxed by the weird grid design. Worked out it was referencing a video game, but not being a fan of such I got no further help there. Very few gimmes; ANWAR SADAT being a notable exception. As for 14a. What? EXNIHILO?? Got it eventually from crosses but convinced it was wrong. Taking dog, husband and picnic for a (damp, chilly) walk on the beach instead. A weird, somber feeling in the community today, nobody quite sure what to do. GBTQ We won’t see her like again.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Helen Wright, suejean, and others Feeling for you--sadness at the end of n historic era, some shock at the sudden end, some relief that there was no long spell of debility or suffering... GBTQ, indeed.
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
@Helen Wright Commitment and dedication to country are rare qualities in leaders these days. Elizabeth II was matchless in that regard and GB won't be the same without her. From here, Charles III seems like an afterthought.
Ben (Melbourne AUS)
Unusual choice for a Friday, but I enjoyed it so much.
LBG (Mount Laurel, NJ)
That last entry was kinda hard to get from the crosses, which required going on safari for this non-gamer ... otherwise, a walk in the park.
AudreyLM (Georgetown, ME)
Great first puzzle, Mr. Koppy! And I'm here to say that it is eminently solvable without any experience with TETRIS, provided you can dredge up the name from somewhere in your dusty mental landscape. Never played TETRIS though I do vaguely recall playing Pacman in 7-11s during my misspent youth.
robert nelson clark (south carolina)
I have no idea what TETRIS is. I'm 84 years old and finished this puzzle without having a clue about that or any video game. I think today's puzzle is probably quite ingenious and clever and all that, but please do not do this kind of thing again. I've been doing NYT puzzles for about 70 years and this one is the most stupefying I've ever worked, and yet I finished it. Yes, I had HEARD of Tetris, and I didn't think that 'tennis' made any sense at the end. I've never said this before, but this was not a fair puzzle!
Phrogge (Succasunna, NJ)
@robert nelson clark On the other hand, I'm 5 days away from turning 81, and have played Tetris myself, very badly (couldn't cope with the speed); sorry it bent you out of shape! Certainly I have areas with which I'm unfamiliar, and increasingly there's more pop culture than I can easily cope with, and already I've had to struggle with puzzles for that reason. But I won't call them unfair simply because the fare isn't to my taste; instead I try to take satisfaction in overcoming the odds... which, however, wouldn't necessarily stop me from griping about 'em!
JJ (San Francisco)
@robert nelson clark My grandfather was born in 1919 and was playing a little handheld Tetris game up until he passed away at the age of 84 in 2003. I have never seen Don't Look Now or watched an NFL football game, but I didn't feel that either ROEG or TUA were unfair clues. I was happy to have learned something today.
Susan (Cambridge)
lots of people staying how easy this was. well for me, it was tough. almost empty on the first pass. but then Tetris was a gimme and thank God for the theme entries. they saved me! very novel grid, I enjoyed it!
Beverly Hasegawa (Tokyo)
Whoa. I've been doing NYT puzzles since I was 19, and I'm now 71. For the first time I will say: This puzzle was not fair. Though I have no interest in video games, I would normally resolve that by solving "around" the term I didn't know, in this case the name of the game. This puzzle does not let us do that. Tsk tsk.
Flamingo (Phoenix)
Hi all, Can someone please explain LADED? Got the solve but can’t figure out the clue.
@Flamingo To lade is to load on a ship. You may be more familiar with the forms "laden" (as in laden down with cargo) or "lading" (as in bill of lading.)
John (Oxford)
@ALH what about FTD for busy business around mothers day? That one has stumped me. Thanks
Viv (San Diego)
@John FTD is a flower delivery company. Cheers!
Alex (Israel)
Fun and original puzzle mixing grid art with a theme! Thanks!
Mike (Munster)
"Why are you carrying all those tetrominoes?" "I thought we were playing Tetris hold 'em." (I'm such a blockhead.)
Doug (Tokyo)
I was convinced the theme was Pacman. I didn’t have a ghost of a chance. (What does Pacman listen to on his morning run? His wakawaka man.)
Whoa Nellie (Out West)
@Mike Job done. This one stacked up nicely.
Jay (Mass)
@Mike I bet there's no limit to your innovation.
Mikala (Seattle)
This was great! So used to ignoring the black squares that I didn’t notice the Tetris shapes until I was done. Somehow the themed clues had me thinking of billiards/pool :/ Impossible not to see it now! Thanks for a fun, fresh-yet-nostalgic puzzle.
Phrogge (Succasunna, NJ)
A pleasantly quick Friday puzzle, which had made me blink a bit at first glance. Had I done more than glance, I wouldn't've needed a final pause before filling in 59D. Grinned at seeing UHURA, because, as I learned shortly before starting the day's puzzles and after having seen "The Wrath of Khan" a few hours earlier, September 8 was Star Trek Day! Also felt appropriate to encounter both BRIT and SNOG, since Britain had certainly been in the news and on my mind for a great deal of the day. I was fortunate to know EXNIHILO and that EPILEPSY was the sacred disease, both of which gave me good starts down and into the rest of the grid. Can't say I was all AGOG about this one, and I didn't achieve a RECORD DEAL though I finished well under my average. However, the constructor's layout cleverness rather makes up for the general lack of nicely misleading or punny clues. Mr. Koppy, EUROkay!
Joe (Atlanta)
Fun puzzle and Gen-X approved.
Zachary (Baltimore)
Pretty quick Friday, though I got rather stuck in the top with the UHURA and EXNIHILO for a bit, that character name forced into recent puzzles and I can never remember it. Another misgiving in the top was seeing TIM, can never forget him doing Sam Hyde dirty and pushing the better comedian off the network, a real shame. Felt really lucky getting ROUGESTATES with practically no crosses early on. Because of the early fill of the SW, ended up being a rare puzzle that I finished bottom-up for the most part. Another unexplainable long down was pulling ANWARSADAT practically out of thin air from 2 crosses, with no idea who that person is or even what country they are from -- something to add to today's Wikiwalk I suppose.
redweather (Atlanta)
@Zachary Pretty sure ROUGESTATES would have required a different clue and one ending with a ?
APNerd (MA)
@Zachary Alas! When we type in ALL CAPS spell check ABANDONS us.
Jim (Nc)
@Zachary rouge/red, LOL! That would have been a rogue answer.
Zachary (Baltimore)
Pretty quick Friday, though I got rather stuck in the top with the UHURA and EXNIHILO for a bit, that character name forced into recent puzzles and I can never remember it. Another misgiving in the top was seeing TIM, can never forget him doing Sam Hyde dirty and pushing the better comedian off the network, a real shame. Felt really lucky getting ROUGESTATES with practically no crosses early on. Because of the early fill of the SW, ended up being a rare puzzle that I finished bottom-up for the most part. Another unexplainable long down was pulling ANWARSADAT practically out of thin air from 2 crosses, with no idea who that person is or even what country they are from -- something to add to today's Wikiwalk I suppose.
Gary (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
@Zachary ROUGESTATES - must be the KGB right? :)
Vaer (Brooklyn)
Solved with no look ups despite not knowing anything about TETRIS other than that it exists. Thank goodnes for all the names. Best moment was getting BLOCK BUSTER just off the K in KGB.
Matt G. (Woodinville, WA)
Very clever, but very easy -- certainly easier than Tetris!
Andrew (New Rochelle)
How is SNIT a clue for PET?
Sara (US)
@Andrew PET is an old-fashioned term; a person who’s pouting can be described as being in a pet.
Patrick J (Sydney Aus.)
Both synonyms for being upset
Dbsmith (My)
Must be REALLY old fashioned; I’m 74 and I’d never heard/seen it!
Great Lakes (US)
Confession: I still play Tetris. Every day. It's my go-to (mindless) game I play to wind down. I actually mis-stack half the grid before I start fitting the pieces together to make it more challenging. Got a late start tonight, so was happy to recognize the black squares functioning as Tetris pieces right from the git-go. Love how the final, correct-shaped piece was hovering right above the TETRIS slot. I really like this (unconventional) Friday grid; it's a great change of pace. Thanks much Mr. Koppy!
Jim (Nc)
@Great Lakes Thanks for the explanation. Brandon said "I wanted one of the lines to be placed directly above the TETRIS slot at the bottom.", but he did not say why, and it did not occur to me how that fit.
Mick (PNW)
Fun grid! Skipped immediately to the odd down clue and immediately got Tetris, which made most of it easy. Had epicS before SAGAS for a bit, and then took a while to get the last clues of NE. Need to look up FTD.
Brian (Baltimore)
This is not a complaint! A clever asymmetric grid, and I winced at DROP ME A LINE, having thought that while playing Tetris often...but it was a record Friday for me, and just a hair over half the time it took me to solve yesterday's puzzle...Wednesday, maybe? 😬
Jon (Eugene)
Not quite a personal best, but very breezy for a Friday. It helped that as soon as I saw the board I thought "huh? That looks like a TETRIS board."
Dan C (Oakland)
@Jon Same here, and i immediately scanned the clues to find the inevitable TETRIS clue.
George Kenney (Washington DC)
Did it in record time for me for a Friday. Juvenile. For many probably unsolvable. Editing fail 👎🏻
Sarah Amberwood (Hudson Valley)
Hey, is the happy jingle not working for anyone else? It kind of makes completing the puzzle complete. My sound is working everywhere else, so I wanted to see if this is nonetheless a glitch just on my end.
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
@Sarah Amberwood Check your settings button; it may have been turned off on your device. It's on the left on the web puzzle page, on the top right on iOS apps.
Sarah Amberwood (Hudson Valley)
@JayTee It worked! Somehow we accidentally unchecked it. Thanks!
Alan Young (Chiang Mai)
I’ve never played any *video* games, which are games played on a video console, right? So I figured the final entry would be difficult for me to guess. Of course I used to play tons of Tetris, which is a *computer* game. Aside from this bit of misdirection, a beautifully designed puzzle
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
@Alan Young Actually, video games can be categorized as games with movement (animation) played while watching a screen, whether that's from a console, a hand-held, on a computer monitor, etc. Tetris has been on a variety of devices, not just computers.
Whoa Nellie (Out West)
First look had me thinking this might be TETRIS related. In anticipation of a big reveal, and yup, eagerness at whatever animated glory would reward solvers, I worked the grid slow and steady. Thanks to comments debating Brooke Husic's solo "French, to the English" clue, (6/18/22), followed by Brooke & Erik Agard's CANDYHEART collaboration (8/5/22), SNOG was in my puzzle bag. TSAR or TZAR? Check. SPAR or SPAT? Easy! EXNOHILO? Got it on the crossroads. Pretty quick going, but waited to fill 59D. TETRIS for last, like the cherry on top (or bottom), expecting that all singing, all dancing reveal... Guess I'll just sit out on the back porch and hope for some shooting stars.
This was surprisingly a fast and easy Friday for me. Once I got TETRIS everything fell in line quickly. I did enjoy going back over the clues, something I do not normally do, to see hints I had missed.
Clare (The West)
I remember Tetris from my grad school days, when we joked that the game had been invented in the Soviet Union to grind knowledge production in the US to a halt. Little did we know what the future would hold, video game-wise. This puzzle went really fast. I don’t think it’s because I am that smart. That ship sailed in the late 80’s!
J-J Cote (Lunenburg, MA)
I have no complaints about this puzzle, I enjoyed it and have no problem with it being on a Friday. However, I do want to make one nerdy, nitpicky observation: there's are two Tetris blocks missing. The ones that land in the fifth through ninth columns come in the forms shown, but also in their mirror-image forms, which can make a big difference when you're playing the game!
Friend (Apt 303)
@J-J Cote Agreed! I came to the comments specifically to make this point :)
Joaquin (SoCal)
I've heard of it, but I've never actually played TETRIS. I've heard the word "snit" but never knew it could mean PET. And I've never heard of Nicholas ROEG or his movie. Not my wheelhouse at all today.
Alan Young (Chiang Mai)
@Joaquin, You should get acquainted with Nicolas Roeg. One of the greats. “Walkabout” is my favorite movie of all time
Great Lakes (US)
@Alan Young Otherwise known as the (brilliant) man who directed David Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth, lol.
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
@Alan Young We have a copy of Nicolas Roeg's "Walkabout" and have watched it many times, a brilliant movie. There have been some other great movies set in Australia, many of them from Peter Weir, with scenes that stick in the mind for their strangeness and mystery.
Selective Walrus (Canada)
Wow. What a beautiful puzzle. I only noticed the shapes of all the blocks after I finished. How clever!
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
An exciting run, despite never in my life having played a video game, then I was stopped cold in the upper NW corner. How many times did I enter disTURBS and have to take it out again when it netted me nothing? I finally went for help on the last half dozen blank squares and wound it up way under average. Some first class literary cluing—loved GOETHE and the sacred disease. Anytime you're up for giving us another puzzle ..... ! Thanks for this one, Brandon.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@dutchiris That corner did me in, too. I had zipped through the rest of the grid, but misremembered the Latin as ab NIHILO (probably conflating it with “ab initio”). I think I have come across the “TIM and Eric” show in a previous puzzle, but could not remember the one guy’s name. Looking at it now, though, I think I just made it harder than it needed to be.
Janine (Orange, CA)
@dutchiris That corner was my last to fill as well. I knew UHURA and EX NIHILO, but also had disTURBS, which didn't work at all. Finally getting the TEAM of 16A gave me enough to finish. Until this corner, I was zipping along well under average, but ended up just a few seconds under.
Jay (Washington DC)
Sometimes I like an easier-than-normal Friday, especially after Thursday's puzzle chewed me up and spit me out. And I'll happily sign on to any video game theme.
Schroedman (Ontario)
I may have had a great time except that TIL that "EX NIHILO" is actually a word. :( Duh...
Andrew (Ottawa)
@Schroedman It’s actually two words.
Jeb Jones (NY)
@Andrew two Latin words
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
This puzzle might have been many things, but it was not a Friday-level puzzle.
Michael R (Arlington, MA)
Didn’t love this one, mainly because the cluing lacked the usual Friday sparkle. The long down answers were pretty easy to get, so the whole puzzle came together quickly, a bit too quickly for my taste. But the theme was fun and the grid itself is a marvel.
John h (ny)
Let's hope for a killer Saturday to even out the week.
Gregory M (Brooklyn)
Thought EX NIHILO and UHURA was pretty brutal cross for the non-nerds and non-scientists!
Great Lakes (US)
@Gregory M I resemble that remark, lol. Had no idea for either clue.
Humu (San Francisco)
Very fast one for me today, at nearly half my average time. Had a just-right (for me) combo of gimmes and mysteries, and the mysteries were largely fact-based things I didn’t know—lots of learning in this puzzle, which I love! Off to spend some time in Wikipedia. I enjoyed the theme. There was some interesting-looking research banging around a few months ago about Tetris potentially being useful in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event—it might help the brain encode the memories in a less-damaging way. Not going to be able to explain it here, because this is a goofy little text box and I’m nowhere near an expert, but it was intriguing.
john ezra (pittsburgh, pa)
@Humu I was just advising my son, who is entering a PhD program in NYC, after he was complaining about some aspects of academia and questioning what he was doing with his life, just to relax and treat it like a Friday-Saturday level crossword puzzle; looks daunting at first, but you figure it out step by step, and soon you're comfortable and feel confident about the game and about yourself, and so forth. Which is to say that cruciverbalists might also be better equipped to deal with life problems...
Susan (Cambridge)
@john ezra that's a great motto to live by! i'll remember what you wrote the next time i am in a bind.
Mia (PNW)
@Humu Very interesting—going to read upon this. Thank you!
Ed (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Pretty easy solve for a Friday, even for someone like me who has never played Tetris but has heard about it for 20 years or more. I have a theory that puzzle quality suffers when the words take a backseat to grid design.
Great Lakes (US)
@Ed Constructors seem to like grid art, and it may give them a boost at the NYT, but it's not a big draw for me.
Kris (Palm Springs, CA)
Ahhh...after the fact, I recognize all those black shapes. Fun theme! But it looked intimidating initially. Personally I have quite a spread between my best Friday and my average but this was closer to best time. I have a hard time complaining about puzzles when the constructor(s) put so much time and effort into them. In my limited (760 ish) solves on NYT I find them to be overall well done, well edited and achievable. Drag race or slog....I'm in! Thanks Brandon.
Embee (MN)
Loved this, any day of the week! Great creative chops by the constructor and super fun nostalgia (at least for me).
Mr Mark (California)
19 seconds behind my all time best Friday. Half a minute better than my Wednesday average. I wouldn't have questioned this as a Tuesday or a Wednesday.
Emma (Portland OR)
Can somebody explain FTD as a busy business around Mother’s Day to me?
DQ (California)
@Emma. Flowers
Embee (MN)
@Emma it’s a flower delivery company in the US.
Patty (SF Bay Area)
It was originally named "Florists' Telegraph Delivery," although it's been a looonnnng time since they've used that name.
Cat Lady Margaret (Maine)
EX NIHILO = where my knowledge of TETRIS came from to solve this puzzle, and to where it will now return. Perhaps I’d like it, but then what would happen to all my Wordle addictions?
George Cathcart (FL)
I know nothing about Tetris, but found this puzzle smooth and fun anyway. Near record time for me, too.
Dan (Harrisburg, PA)
I'm still fairly new to the crosswords (only been a subscriber for about 6 months) so I definitely needed a fair amount of help but as a NES and Game Boy player in the early 90s, this theme and how it was incorporated was just great!
Henry Su (Washington DC)
One more thought. This puzzle could have been jazzed up with the blocks glowing in color and "Korobeiniki" playing in the background instead of the usual happy music. TSAR could be highlighted too.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Henry Su Check out the grid at They’ve got the colors at least.
polymath (British Columbia)
Not super fast for me, and that forced me to think about which of the already-filled in five or six islands of possibly-right letters should be tackled next. I love that having to strategize adds an extra, as it were, stratum to the activity of solving. I was also fun figuring out a number of quite long answers from only a few letters — especially if one of them is the first letter.
polymath (British Columbia)
PS Normally a crossword diagram doesn't seem to have any particular gender. But this one is definitely male.
Anne Salemme (Boston MA)
Very nice puzzle, but I found the appearance of all the black squares at the bottom very disturbing while I was solving it. When it was all done, I could admire it. I remember seeing all my co-workers in the early 90s hooked on it!
Great Lakes (US)
@Anne Salemme I hear you. I'm more of a crossword puzzler than a gamer, so I was a little disturbed by the "wasted" space. It seemed a little ugly to me.
Jim (Nc)
@Great Lakes In the context of the theme, the space was not wasted.
Philly Carey (Philadelphia)
I completed the puzzle, but don't know why "pet" is the answer for "snit"
Edward Rice (Vienna, VA)
@Philly Carey Slang term, you can google for "pet def" and locate the meaning which corresponds to "snit". Not obvious, and I posit that is deliberate.
polymath (British Columbia)
I usually hear it as "___ is in a pet."
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
Steve (Colorado)
Another amazing construction, specifically the grid. And I love seeing one of my favorite actresses included.
Liz B (Durham, NC)
Ooh, this was fun. Although the word TETRIS was the last thing I filled in, and the three theme down entries didn't help me figure it out.
Mickey (USA)
Seems like a nice Wednesday puzzle. Doesn't feel right for themeless Fridays.
Richard (St. Joe Michigan)
Cute, but doesn't rate Friday placement.
JBW (Winston-Salem, NC)
This was a gift for Friday average time stats.
Henry Su (Washington DC)
I love the grid art that Brandon has created but this Friday puzzle solved too quickly. BLOCKBUSTER told me all I needed to know, and I sort of feel cheated by the four rows of black squares that could have been filled with more entries. Oh well.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Henry, You did note that the grid was a 15x19, so the four rows of black squares didn't diminish the normal solve size?
Beth Kelly (Brooklyn, NY)
@Henry Su I actually thought BLOCKBUSTER and DISAPPEARINGACT could go with Super Mario Bros., except no variation on that fit into the drop-down solution and the Mario Kart clue wasn’t highlighted as a theme clue (I solve in the app). A fun puzzle for me, though my solve was a bit speedy. Not so speedy as to be a PB though.
LetsPlayTwo (Washington, DC)
I have a feeling there may be little middle ground on this one, but it was squarely in my wheelhouse in every way and one of my favorite puzzles ever. Bravo!
Hogan (Los Angeles)
Fridays are my favorite day of the week to solve. What a shame the best themeless puzzle had to be wasted with this nonsense. Looking forward to a proper Saturday tomorrow.
Wayne Harrison (Canada)
That’s a bit harsh. If you didn’t like then say so but remember that it is just you opinion.
Jim (Nc)
@Hogan Just because you did not get the puzzle you expected does not mean you weren’t served up a really great puzzle.
Rob D (CN NJ)
Boy, a few of you crossword aficionados are a bit stuffy and unforgiving. The crossword isn't just for you you know. I expect that the NYT is trying to satisfy experts like yourself as well as cultivate new, young players.
See also