“Get the Digits”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty 3.75/5

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.)

Thank you to Rebecca, Quiara, and Nora for test solving! Spoilers and thoughts on “Get the Digits” after the jump.

how do ya like them apples?

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!

Happy solving,


26 thoughts on ““Get the Digits”

  1. Fun puzzle and theme! I did have to look up one non-theme answer which I immediately remembered I knew but couldn’t bring to mind, and the crosses of which I should have gotten before looking it up anyway. But still, it was a good time.

    Thanks, Ross!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Brandon! I love seeing you in the news these days. I’m wondering if the theme in question was at 50A, which wouldn’t surprise me, though I recommend it!

      • No, 54D was the one I had to look up. I’ve seen that answer in crosswords previously (which is from where I learned it), but I couldn’t resurface that knowledge this time around.

        (Also, your comment about seeing me in the news got me… took me a minute to get it, but it got me 😆)

  2. Well done!
    (Though I don’t understand 2D?)
    10D prompts me to recommend the French Netflix series “Dix Pour Cent” (literally, “Ten Percent”, but it’s known by its English title “Call My Agent”), which is about the goings-on in a Parisian talent agency. It’s awesome, although it relies on the watcher either (1) being willing to read subtitles or (2) speaking French. It’s been out for a few years, so maybe y’all have checked it out already.
    Happy holidays, all.

    • Thanks, Rich! We’re not familiar with the show, but I’ll give it a watch on your recommendation. I’m the worst kind of francophile: one with a French name who speaks almost no French. Hey, there’s a fun angle for CLOSED CAPTIONS: [How to watch your language on TV?]

      As for 2D, it’s sort of a meh clue. OCEANARIUM is just a large aquarium, i.e. a “sea world,” though not exactly a Sea World(TM). Happy holidays!

      • If you’re making New Year’s resolutions and feel like learning French, I strongly recommend my online tutors on the Verbling platform. They are inexpensive and very accessible. I can email you details if you’d like.

    • Thanks, Andy! As you can imagine, the time consuming part was building a grid such that the placement of common numbers–1, 10, 15, that kind of stuff–fell in usable (symmetrically usable!) locations.

  3. Really fun, good brain workout (clicked at 1D) and man—the diagonal symmetry makes for a really aesthetically pleasing grid.

    Kudos for fun, new ways to clue 8D and 32D!

  4. I got stuck at 62/65. Not hip enough. And in my mind 10A/D was 50 not 10 but it still filled the grid. Guess my Sunday morning brain was a little hazy on math.

  5. What a fun puzzle — thank you for sharing. A clever theme and I enjoyed the diagonal symmetry. There’s something fun as well in seeing 21D and 47A together. This puzzle was the highlight of my morning!

    • I’m so glad, Alyssa! I hadn’t actually noted the pile-up of SNEER and SCOFF; perhaps I was feeling just a touch cynical the morning I put the fill together on this one!

  6. You’ve become my Monday morning solve and this one taxed my weekend merriment addled brain! Well done. Count me among those baffled by OYE/BYE. Hope you are recovering well and best wishes for a happy new year.

    • Well, John, you’ve uncovered why I personally don’t do much solving on Monday mornings 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this one, in spite of the tough crossing. (In Spanish, “Mira” and OYE are both interjections that roughly mean “look here,” and the kids these days say “deuces” while throwing up a peace sign on their way out the door… or so I gather!)

      • Very familiar with Mira! and did not think of Oye! which, to me is closer to Listen! or Listen here! but all good. A memorable crossing. A deliberate double entendre on 55A (wink wink)? Thanks again.

  7. Plenty o’ fun! And also, I’m in AWE at the construction! Hand up for not getting the “Mira…” clue, but I did get the “Deuces!” clue which saved my sorry behind — thank you, Ross!

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