Risky Business

New York Times, Oct. 24

Well, there’s no Tom Cruise or Bob Seger in this puzzle, but there is some “Risky Business” going on. This grid by Brendan Emmett Quigley incorporates several games of chance into the answers to form clever turns-of-phrase — an especially appropriate theme here in Philly, which recently became the largest city in the U.S. with a casino.

A “London-based place to play the ponies?” is OTB IN ENGLAND (22 Across); “J.D. Salinger character’s favorite game?” is HOLD ‘EM CAULFIELD (30 Across; from “Catcher in the Rye”); “Game played with dice set on fire?” is CRAPS SUZETTE (48 Across; though I knew Baked Alaska is set aflame, I’m not a crepes person and had to guess at this one); “One-armed bandits?” are SLOTS OF LUCK (64 Across); “Relative of a bingo caller?” is a KENO SPEAKER (71 Across); “Card game played Reynolds’s way?” is BURT BACCARAT (88 Across, for the composer who quietly wrote some of the biggest old hits you know); “‘Please consider playing the wheel again’?” is DON’T ROULETTE OUT (105 Across); and “Pot with a pile of chips?” is a STAKE PLATTER (118 Across).

Sports Equipment Dept.: I’m no Michelle Kwan, but I’m pretty sure the TOE PICK (11 Across, “Part of an ice skater’s shoe”) is on the blade of the skate, not the boot.

Probably Not Funny In The Balkans Dept.: “Split personality?” is CROATIAN (114 Across), alluding to the Croat city named Split.

Random Philly Fact Dept.: “Hall & Oates, e.g.” are a POP DUO (72 Down) who met at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Why I’m A Word Person Dept.: I guess if NTH is commonly used in puzzles (as in “To the ___ degree”), I shouldn’t be surprised by N-TUPLE (“Mathematical sequence of unknown length,” 100 Down). Math people and their Ns. Geez. I kept thinking this answer was going to have something to do with pi.

Damn Yankees and Damn Giants Dept.: The “Texas nine” are ASTROS (104 Down). But for me, the only Texas nine are the World Series-bound Rangers. They beat the hated Yankees for the AL title and, I hope, will crush the freakily bearded Giants, who broke my heart last night by beating the Phillies for the NL crown.

I have to say it took me longer than normal to fill in this grid; either I was still preoccupied with the Phillies’ loss or the clues were harder. And I still have a few empty squares.

Also, thanks to Kim and j. bridges for their comments explaining the “Spat” clue (G8ER) from last week. I am sartorially challenged and never would have gotten that.

Questions or comments? Tweet me @crosswordkathy.

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