Sundays 8pm to 11pm on Radio 2

New Episodes at CBC Music

New Episodes at CBC Music

Need more Strombo Show? Head over to our page on CBC Music for new episodes, playlists and video extras.

CBC Music Past Shows



Secrets of the NYT Crossword Puzzle
September 18, 2011
submit to reddit

Stuck on the answer for 34-down? Perhaps you should take a break from the Sunday puzzle; over at The Atlantic there's a fascinating as-told-by post from New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz, who explains his editing process by showing the actual edits and notes he made on a puzzle-maker's first draft submission.


From the Atlantic story:

"Every crossword in the Times is a collaboration between the puzzle-maker and the puzzle editor. On average, about half the clues are mine. I may edit as few as five or ten percent of the clues, or as many as 95 percent for someone who does a great puzzle but not great clues. Why accept a puzzle when I'm going to edit 95 percent of the clues? Well, if someone sends me a great puzzle with an excellent theme and construction--you want fresh, interesting, familiar vocabulary throughout the grid--I feel it would be a shame to reject it on account of the clues, because I can always change them myself."

Some of Shortz's changes are minor - spellings and the like - but the majority are substantive and stylistic decisions that regular puzzlers will recognize as distinctly Times:

"Her clue for 1 Across was simply "Coach Ewbank"--perfectly fine--but I thought there would be some solvers who didn't know who Ewbank is, so I added the words "who led the Jets to a Super Bowl III Championship." That way, if you don't know the name, you'll learn something."

For more insights like the one above, the entire article is worth a read. But if you don't have time because you want to get back to 34-down, we'll leave you with the trailer for the 2006 documentary about Will Shortz, Wordplay.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.