“Six Flags Europe”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] πŸ‡«πŸ‡΄ Difficulty: 3/5

Last night my parents hosted an engagement party for Jessie and me at their home in New York, and it’s probably going to take a week for the endorphins to ebb. As my dad pointed out, when two people get engagement, two families get engaged, and indeed the weekend represented a first meeting for most of our kin. My aunt–bless her heart–took the occasion to travel away from home for the very first time since the pandemic started! And, relevant to crossworld, one of the guests was my cherished friend Amanda Rafkin!

Seeing Amanda for the first time since 2019 brought me to the brink of tears. For a while I was really hung up on everything that the pandemic has taken (and continues to take) from us, but no longer! Going forward (come what may), I am resolved to embrace and make the most of what time we do have to build and strengthen our communities, what opportunities we do have for travel, what moments we can steal for joy and diversion.

Speaking of, thoughts and spoilers for “Six Flags Europe” after the jump! Thanks to Matt, Kevin, and Brady for test solving.

I started work on this concept almost two years ago, and kept putting it aside because I could never get the symmetry to work. I was intent on several things:

1. Rendering the NORDIC CROSSES symmetrically. It’s sort of miraculous that this is possible, given how few nordic countries there are. In fact, ICELAND, SWEDEN, NORWAY, FINLAND and DENMARK are literally all of the *countries*, with ALAND, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands accepted as nordic *autonomous regions*.

(The fact that ICELAND can double interlock–via a flag-shaped grid with up/down mirror symmetry–with NORDIC CROSSES and with ALAND was a delightful find!)

2. Rendering an actual nordic cross in black squares.

3. Using only nordic countries that actually have a NORDIC CROSS on their flag! This is almost all of them… but not Greenland! (Though if you expanded the dimensions of the grid, you could even find a way to cross “Greenland” and “Faroe Islands” through their respective N’s!)

What I like most about the end result is that the grid is *exactly* as tall (13) and wide (17) as it needs to be to accommodate the interlock and the center black square nordic cross, with no extraneous columns or rows. This kind of stuff gives me intense mental cookies.

Happy solving, friends!


16 thoughts on ““Six Flags Europe”

  1. Loved the cluing on 28A. Hadn’t seen it clued in that way before and always like a fresh angle on common entries.

  2. Late to the party again — but whoo-boy was it worth it. Beautiful puzzle, clues, finds…to fall in love with! And speaking of which, I’m loving to tears the notion of your Aunt enjoying the engagement party. (Actually, the engagement party itself moves me to tears of joy!) Thank you so much for the puzzle, Ross! And for educated me on many things…including an interrobang!

    • I was very surprised to see today’s NYTXW theme as well. Wonder what the timeline was on each? Perhaps Tao was/is mentored by Ross?

    • Solving today’s NYT was a bit EERIE for me…which was intensified when I dropped in GRIGRI, given Ross’s penchant for rock climbing!

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