Group Formation

New York Times, Aug. 2

I happened to be on a college campus this weekend and drove by a bunch of fraternity and sorority homes. It was a serendipitous refresher course in identifying Greek letters that came in very hand in solving this week’s puzzle.

The “groups” being formed in 34 Across, 39 Down, 79 Down and 93 Across are — as spelled out in 108 Across — FRATERNITIES. So each three-box answer was the spelled-out version of GREEK LETTERS (23 Across, “Contents of four answers found in this puzzle”). Luckily, the puzzle doesn’t require you to know what the actual letters look like — that would actually really confuse things, because “chi,” for example, is represented by an X. And damned if I know what a “psi” looks like. Is that the trident-y thing?

So 79 Down (“Group formed at Trinity College in 1895”) is (ALPHA)(CHI)(RHO), each squeezed into a single box. Amazingly (or not; I mean, this is the NYT) they cross with R(ALPH A)BERNATHY (78 Across, “Co-organizer of the Montgomery bus boycott, 1955); DU(CHI)ES (87 Across, “Bavaria and others, once”); and AI(R HO)SE (91 Across, “Engine attachment”). The other three frat answers (BETA THETA PI, TAU CHI PHI and OMEGA PSI PHI) follow similar logic.

Sorry it took me so long to post this; I was traveling for most of Sunday between Columbia, Mo., and Philly. But there are worse things than being stuck on a plane (or two) with the Sunday NYT magazine. Bonus: I solved my first KenKen puzzle.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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