Downright Tricky!

New York Times crossword puzzle June 29 / Constructed by Byron Walden

If you’re looking for a hint on today’s clever puzzle, read the title literally.

“Downright” is the “tricky” way that you have to enter the six theme answers – that is, down and to the right. The L-shaped entries are all three-word phrases that start with C-I-D … which gives you EL CID (“Spanish hero whose (name) is represented enigmatically six times in this puzzle,” 108 Down).

When in doubt, read the title literally. (Click to enlarge.)
When in doubt, read the title literally. (Click to enlarge.)

I became suspicious of a gimmick as soon as I saw “Tricky” in the title. Then when crossing words gave me CANON _ at 13 Down (“Palchelbel classic, familiarly”), I knew more than one letter had to go in that last square.  It clicked when I noticed the DIXIE in WINN DIXIE (“Southern grocery chain,” 109 Across) happened to be at a “right” angle for a “down” answer involving a C&W group (“1982 holiday country hit by Alabama,” 50 Down). CHRISTMAS IN DIXIE fit perfectly with the bend.

Others: CHIVALRY IS DEAD (“Lament about modern men,” 8 Down), COVERED IN DUST (“Like the contents of many attics,” 38 Down), CONSIDER IT DONE (“‘Right away, boss’,” 71 Down), CRISIS IN DARFUR (“Major humanitarian concern of the 2000s,” 32 Down) and the aforementioned CANON IN D by Pachelbel.

The Times ran a similar puzzle last year titled “Capital Ls,” which also used words entered at right angles. My only quibble with today’s is that some of the L answers didn’t dead-end: CHRISTMAS IN DIXIE ended with a black square, but COVERED IN DUST actually reads COVERED IN DUSTRIES before you hit a black square; same with CANON IN D BID.

What did you think?

For Fun Dept.: There was a lot of great fill in this puzzle, which makes up for the relative lack of theme entries. Among my favorites are YES, INDEED! (“‘Of course!’,” 56 Down), PADDED BRA (“Drag staple,” 100 Across), I HAD A HUNCH (“‘That’s what my Spidey sense told me’,” 3 Down), OFF BALANCE (“Bad way to be caught,” 77 Down), SALT MINING (“Enterprise for Morton,” 74 Down), YEARLY PHYSICAL (“Routine checkup,” 51 Across), FILM INDUSTRIES (“Hollywood and Bollywood, e.g.,” 86 Across) and I’VE MADE A DECISION (“Statement after long deliberation,” 67 Across).

Say What? Dept.: PICARO (“Rogue,” 100 Down) and ESTIVATE (“Stay inactive over the summer,” 58 Across) were both new words to me.

Who Knew? Dept.: “Material in the hats of Buckingham Palace guards” is BEAR FUR (89 Across). And I have never heard of a species called SPIKED ACES, which apparently are “Ray-finned fishes of the Southwest U.S.” (17 Down). When I tried to Google for a photo or even a written definition, all I came up with were references to this puzzle. Anyone else? (UPDATE: Kind readers have informed me the fishes are SPIKE DACES. See comments below.)

Blast From The Past Dept.: “It’s Tricky” by Run-DMC was one of the anthems of the 1980s. I looked up the video out of a sense of nostalgia and found it co-stars Penn and Teller! Awesome.


Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy. And here’s a little more about me.