“Bound to Succeed”

by Parker Higgins & Ross Trudeau

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

N.B.: Today’s puzzle is 21×21, so the clues may populate above/below the grid, rather than to the right. For best results, feel free to print the PDF and solve on paper!

We were inspired to run today’s puzzle by a recent New York Times Magazine profile of Henry Winkler. It’s a delightful read by the talented Matt Klam, an old writing teacher of mine. And in fact, the article’s title is somewhat apropos of the content of our crossword: “Henry Winkler Breaks the Curse of Stardom.”

Working with Parker has been one of my great joys and honors these past couple of years. We recently made a puzzle zine you can buy, and we stream crossword solving/constructing on Twitch, which we’ll do again tomorrow (Monday) at 10p eastern!

Thanks much to Dan, David, Shreya, Matthew, and Gavin, who all provided valuable test solving input! Thoughts and spoilers for “Bound to Succeed” below.


Parker: This was one of the most ambitious grids I’ve ever helped fill, and I think if it hadn’t been for Ross’s steady hand guiding the motorboat I might have deemed it impossible. The revealer is such a fun phrase! One fun bit of trivia: the canonical opposite of “jumping the shark” is said to be “growing the beard,” a reference to Commander William Riker losing the babyface look after The Next Generation’s let’s-call-it uneven Season 1.

Ross: He’s talking about “Star Trek.” It’s always “Star Trek.”

Happy solving, friends!

14 thoughts on ““Bound to Succeed”

  1. Brilliant. I wonder which was the two-line combo that made you think it was possible; I enjoyed solving it through my confusion, not recognizing how it worked until I came upon the revealer. Kudos to both of you!

    • What you’re describing is an optimal solving experience, at least from the perspective of the constructor. A lot of iterating on this one. Glad you liked it, Jeff – thanks for stopping by!

  2. Had a lot of fun solving this one! I was excited to have heard of 3/5 of the gold medalists. Definitely a fun theme

  3. Please tell me that one of you guys proposed a 15×15 and then the other said, “You’re gonna need a bigger grid”

  4. I adored this theme. Feats of construction alone don’t do it for me but this was one of the most satisfying “Aha” moments I’ve had in a bit. I was still looking for the trick with ~60% of the grid filled, and I wasn’t disappointed. Really well done. Had to reveal a letter around the SE themer to get to the end (not familiar with them), but it was a fun ride. I still don’t agree with the cluing of the NW themer. Everyone else won gold in the event (sometimes implicitly) described by the clue. As someone who used to compete in hurdles it made that section kind of confusing. It was a cluing issue for me, while the grid was great.

    • Your point is well taken! And actually, I turned this over in my for just the reason you’re describing. We liked the idea of referencing the fact that all of our featured athletes are known in particular for their jumping/aerieal prowess, but of course we couldn’t say “long jump” (only of his gold medal events) in the JESSE OWENS clue because *JUMPS* THE SHARK lives in the grid. Thus, left with hurdles, which created the lack of symmetry you point out. Alas! Thanks for solving and commenting!

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