Yesterday, I wrapped up my efforts to celebrate 2017’s contributions to the long, marvelous legacy of puzzles and games.
But before saying goodbye to 2017, I reached out to other constructors and puzzlers to ask them if they had any favorite crosswords from 2017, either of their own creation or those made by others.
So let’s check out the favorites from some world-class constructors in their own right.
Note: Wherever possible, I’ve included links to the puzzles, but for the most part, the links included filled-in grids, so if you want the full solving experience, scan for dates, outlets, and names to hunt down copies for yourself.
And remember: every single person who replied stated that there were other puzzles they loved that they knew they were leaving out, so don’t consider this in any way to be an exhaustive list. 2017 was a dynamite year for crosswords!
We’ll start off with some of crossword gentleman Doug Peterson‘s favorites:
– Monday, May 8 NY Times puzzle by Zhouqin Burnikel aka CC Burnikel. It’s an LGBTQ theme executed so nicely for a Monday. Difficulty and theme are spot-on for an easy puzzle. Lots of fresh, colloquial fill. CC is the master.
– Saturday, July 22 LA Times themeless puzzle by Erik Agard. All of Erik’s themelesses are fun, but this one stood out a bit more for me. SHIRLEY CHISHOLM, KITE-EATING TREE, TOOTHBRUSHES stacked on top of ORTHODONTISTS. Fun stuff everywhere you look.
– Wednesday, August 9 AVCX puzzle “Birthday Bash” by Francis Heaney. Broken PINATAs that have dropped their candy into the grid. It doesn’t get much better than that. 🙂 OK, slight ding for having one PINATA filled with ALTOIDS, but this was still a blast to solve.
[Image courtesy of Party Cheap.]
Several constructors, including Joanne Sullivan and Patrick Blindauer, heaped praise upon the puzzles from this year’s Lollapuzzoola event, and rightly so. They always push the envelope in terms of creativity with Lollapuzzoola, and folks went all out for the tenth year of the tournament. Blindauer cited Paolo Pasco’s tournament opener in particular as a delight.
Patrick had several other recommendations:
- The NYT’s celeb series was fun, which I kicked off with Jesse Eisenberg back in February (15th), and I was pretty pleased with how my “Long and Winding Road” NYT Sunday (July 2nd) turned out.
- I was proud of “Masquerade” in my Broadway Puzzlefest, too.
- Francis Heaney’s recent AVCX puz was pretty cool, and Tim Polin was in the NYT almost every month this year.
It’s no surprise to see New York Times puzzles getting a lot of love. George Barany cited David Steinberg’s June 8th puzzle as particularly clever. Definitely not surprised to see those words associated with David.
[Image courtesy of Snark Squad.]
David Kwong sung the praises of Mark Halpin’s Labor Day Extravaganza — which doesn’t contain any crosswords, but it is still very worthy of mentioning — making a point of mentioning that “the meta puzzle involving the spider’s web was so expertly constructed.”
Constructor Brendan Emmett Quigley did an entire post highlighting his favorite puzzles from the previous year, which marked the only overlap between today’s entry and my list of puzzles yesterday. As it turns out, we both enjoyed his “Next Level Shit” puzzle from November 2nd. He cited “Party Line” from September 28th and “We Have Achieved Peak Puzzle” from November 9th as two other favorites.
[Image courtesy of Arrested Development Wiki.]
To close out today’s rundown of killer puzzles, we’ve got a murderers row of recommendations from Evan Birnholz of Devil Cross and The Washington Post crossword:
- May 18th Fireball Crosswords puzzle “Conspiracy Theory” by Patrick Berry
- March 17th Wall Street Journal puzzle “Now You See It, Now You Don’t” by Matt Gaffney
- January 17th MGWCC’s “Secret Parking” by Matt Gaffney
- November 13th “Observe and Report” by Will Nediger (on his website, bewilderingly.)
- January 8th New York Times puzzle “The Downsizing of Nathaniel Ames” by Peter Broda and Erik Agard
- November 29th American Values Club puzzle “Follow the Write Directions” by Francis Heaney [also cited in Patrick Blindauer’s list!]
- April 18th Wall Street Journal puzzle “Follow Directions” by Zhouqin Burnikel
- December 21st “Guiding Light” by Brendan Emmett Quigley
- February 3rd New York Times themeless puzzle by Paolo Pasco
- Aries Xword puzzle “T.V. Dinner” by Andrew Ries
- May 17th American Values Club puzzle “Fall Menu” by Aimee Lucido
Thank you to all of the fantastic constructors who offered their favorite crosswords from 2017! Please check out both these constructors AND the constructors they recommend! There are so many great puzzles out there for you if you bother to look!
Here’s to a terrific, challenging, baffling, and creative new year of puzzles to come!
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