As I write this, I’m looking out over Lake Flower and the remarkable Ice Palace that serves as the centerpiece of the 2022 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. Locals just call it “carnival,” and it turns out to spark a civic pride and a festive attitude that’s a lot closer to Rio’s festival than you might think.
Jessie and I came up here for the carnival in part because the Adirondacks are my ancestral homeland, and in part because we’re moving to Upstate New York next year and wanted to get the lay of the land. And boy HOWDY, we were wholly unprepared: multigenerational co-ed snow rugby, woodsman competitions, art installations, all culminating in an 80s themed parade down Main Street and a festive mentality that we took to calling Adirondack Crunk. What a party! 10/10, strongly recommend.
Participating in this annual rite also has me primed for another erstwhile event: the 2022 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. See you in Stamford?
The real tragedy of this puzzle is that I didn’t get to use PLAYED / THE WHITE / KNIGHT across the middle three rows, with a clue like [Jessie used to make unasked for sacrifices during chess games. She often ___]. I mocked up a grid that utilized that answer in lieu of the revealer answer OBJECT OF THE GAME, but it didn’t feel worth losing the puzzle’s identity.
I started with OBJECT OF THE GAME, which weirdly enough has never been used in a mainstream puzzle and wasn’t even in any of my word lists. As an evocative 15-letter spanner, that strikes me as sort of odd. I was originally generating answers like SCRABBLE TILE and CHESS PIECE and GO STONE etc., but the conceit felt a little straight forward. Then I tried sorting by specific pieces: WHITE KNIGHT, BLANK TILE, etc. Same result.
It was when I hit on DREW A BLANK that I wondered if you could find idiomatic phrases that ended in various game “objects” that could also reasonably describe an action in the game itself. The original clues were all like, “Adds to one’s Scrabble rack” for DRAW A BLANK and “Forcefully take a turn in Go” for CAST STONES, but in the end I liked their present incarnations best, and the set was complete when I started scanning the class Monopoly tokens and found the good ol’ BOOT.
Happy solving, friends!