While it might have been a bit outside of the typical Tuesday difficulty range thanks to the rebus elements, it wasn’t without justification. The rebus elements, the theme, and a bonus visual element that reveals itself after solving (in the online version) all drive home Mr. McDermott’s clever observation of today’s date: it’s the puzzle of TUESDAY February 22, 2022 or 2/22/22. The puzzle therefore contains five “TWO” squares of rebuses, like the five TWO of the date, to celebrate TUESDAY (or, more precisely, two days).
For starter solvers who may not be familiar with the rebus mechanism, I recommend checking out Deb Amlen’s guide to rebuses. Essentially, this type of puzzle requires the solver to enter more than one letter into a single box – in this case, the three letters of the word TWO. See, for example, the circled square at the intersection of 21A (“Well trodden, like a path”) and 3D (“‘American Gothic’ artist”). These entries are FOOOF THEMRN and GRANOF THEMOD, but there are not enough spaces to fill in the answer with one letter in each box. Instead, the solver should enter TWO in the circled box where the entries intersect, either by writing them down on paper or by using the Rebus function at the top right of the online solver interface. This also happens in four other circled grid locations. My favorite passage is probably at 54A (LEASOF THEMRST) and 41D (FOROF THEMRTH).
The revealer, in the center of the puzzle, connects it all with the clue “Calendar column…or a small clue on the circled squares” for TUESDAY. Once the puzzle is correctly solved, the online grid animates to connect the five circled TWOs, drawing a “2” in the grid. It’s the icing on the cake of what would have been a trick in itself.
Kudos to Mr. McDermott for putting together this incredible build in celebration of today’s unique date. Builders, I expect to see THREE rebuses for March 3, 2033. Better start working on them now!
It was a difficult puzzle to build! Once I staked out the rebus squares and central revealer, there were a limited number of grid layouts I could find that maintained rotational symmetry while providing varied “TWO” responses. Usually I play around with multiple grid layouts and potential fill options, but in this case I was pretty locked into the grid you see posted.
In my original puzzle submission, the filler I settled on was rather difficult for a Tuesday slot – for example, I had crossed paths with KNORR by NSW, EPODE and NARA in the middle section – but the editor of the puzzle, Joel Fagliano, helped me work through alternate fill options to make this grid more Tuesday-friendly. One compromise we had to make was the 43-Down “TWO” response in the southwest corner: I tried inserting CATWOMAN (which required removing the cheat square from the bottom row), but we We just couldn’t find a good padding to support this input. .
Outside of the world of puzzles, today is also my mother’s birthday! She works as a piano teacher so in her honor I challenge you all to go out and do something musical today…maybe TWO something musical in the spirit of the day!
Want to submit a crossword puzzle to The New York Times?
The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system, and you can submit your puzzles online.
For tips on how to get started, read our “How to Make a Crossword Puzzle” series.
The tipping point
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