When this puzzles goes live on Sunday, I’ll be Home Alone(TM) with Ruby. Jessie is off to visit her folks, so it’s just me and the murder cat and your blog comments to keep the cold at bay. (Say hi! I answer 100% of the comments. It’s like a bed ‘n breakfast here, without the bed or the breakfast.)
I’m really seeing the light on diagonal symmetry these days. I’ve sold a number of puzzles that employ it in recent months, and the format does allow for some interesting thematic conceits.
Puzzles that reference or incorporate the numbers in the grid have been done before. Perhaps you remember this NYT puzzle from earlier this year. Slick stuff. And you may have solved a puzzle on this site that did something very similar.
What set this concept apart for me was the opportunity to employ diagonal symmetry to ensure that each of the BOX NUMBERS that get incorporated into an answer does so both down and across. The trick here is twofold: building a grid that presents numbers in workable slots for connecting them to viable theme answers, and developing a theme set of paired words that start with the same number *and* share the same first letter that comes after the number: 1 WOMAN SHOW / 1 WAY TICKET; 10 PACES / 10 PERCENTERS; 50 FIRST DATES / 50 FIFTY. And as a result, with the number being in the top left of every relevant answer, the digit comes before–either above or justified left of–the rest of the answer, just as it would if it were conventionally part of the grid.
Looking forward to seeing how this one plays for y’all!