See the Secret Word

Merl Reagle, March 8

I’m not a big fan of puzzles where you have to explain the theme beforehand. In this case, there’s a big block of text before the across clues that’s labeled “How to Play.” It proceeds to tell you that there’s a hidden six-letter word in each of the theme answers, but the letters aren’t necessarily all together. For example, the word “sample” is hidden, left to right, in the phrase “sugar maple.”

That’s kind of a cheesy way to “hide” something, in my opinion, and doesn’t really give me the “Aha!” moment that I’m looking for in a crossword. Even so, I found the hidden word — HIDDEN, wouldn’t you know — in all of the theme answers that otherwise seem completely unrelated (66 Across, IRISH INDEPENDENCE, and 100 Across, HOLIDAY DECORATIONS). And I think you know you’re stretching it when it takes two linked long answers (45 Across, THE LITTLE OLD and 51 Across, LADY FROM PASADENA) to make up one theme entry.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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