“Power Grid”

by Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty: 4/5

n.b.: today’s puzzle is 21×21, so the clues may populate above/below the grid rather than on the side where you normally see them. For best results, I recommend printing the PDF and solving on paper!

The headline today, apart from this bonkers-looking grid, is that Cursewords is BACK! After an extended summer hiatus, Parker and I will be live solving and live creating puzzles once more over on our Twitch channel, starting TONIGHT (Sunday) at 8pm eastern. We hope you can stop by and say hello in the chat!

Also, big shout-out to my patient wife, who is incidentally out of town receiving an award this weekend! Jessie did all of the fill and much of the cluing for a previous iteration of this puzzle. More on that that below the jump, where you can read a couple thoughts and spoilers for the grid.

Big thanks to crossword links purveyor Matt Gritzmacher for test solving today’s puzzle!

I will never not endeavor to crisscross theme answers. I don’t know why I get such a kick out of trying to put these together. Remember this one in the New York Times?

When Jessie and I put the finishing touches on the first iteration of this puzzle, we had inverted the title and the revealer. POWER GRID interlocked into the very center of the arrangement of our “Networking Abilities” puzzle, with the various super powers radiating outward.

But after all that work, we both agreed that NETWORKING ABILITIES (19) was the revealer the puzzle needed, since it was actually business-related and tied more neatly into the conceit of describing these super powers as, well, office powers. (POWER GRID can only really get an electrical system clue, which takes the conceit in a whole different direction.)

But the resulting interlock, this time using mirror symmetry, just didn’t have as many connection nodes, and didn’t inspire us.

Version three compromised with NETWORKING SKILLS as a revealer, and we forged ahead. However, ultimately we couldn’t get past the semantic distinction between a SKILL and an ABILITY. Surely super powers have to be described as the latter?

Finally, version four delivered on the duodecuple (!!!) interlock, with NETWORKING ABILITIES as perhaps not the revealer Gotham needs, but the revealer it deserves.

Happy solving, friends!


14 thoughts on ““Power Grid”

  1. I’m exhausted! But satisfied for having solved in 1:19:54. Or longer, actually. I can tend to ignore good advice, working on an iPad mini, as usual, and at one point, when I returned to the puzzle, it failed to restore my saved answers. (Grr!)

    As well, one little technical caution. On my tablet, oriented vertically, the whole grid doesn’t display fully. The column on either end falls off the edge of the frame—which I knew, but didn’t remember. That can confuse dopes like yrs truly. Oh well.

    Ross, you’re from NYC, so I figure you oughta know, but isn’t a Brox cheer more, uh, faux flatulence than vocal disapproval, as 51A suggests?

    And one little typo, I think: 37D should be “know,” not “known,” no?

      • Ah! I admire your doggedness here, Blaine. I’m sorry your lost some work on the iPad! I’ll check the settings, but that *shouldn’t* happen to you… I’ve also experienced the clipping phenomenon on a tablet. No way around that one w/r/t 21×21 puzzles the way the website is laid out (unless I reinvest in web dev).

        As for the Bronx cheer, I’ve always heard it used as a good vocal razzing. Perhaps with BOOs smattered in there?

        Thanks for solving! R

  2. Working to solve this puzzle today was truly humbling. I experienced a mental power outage as rolling blackouts crossed my brain accompanying efforts to solve various clues. Suddenly the power was switched back on and I saw the light as answers revealed themselves along the grid.
    Thanks for another well made puzzle! BTW, 1A, 18A and 94D cracked me up.

    • Mazel tov, Dom. This was was a tough nut to crack (and a bit ‘un at that). Matt Gritzmacher (the tester and a champion speed solver) said he moved pretty ploddingly through it himself, so you’re in good company!

  3. Hey Ross, just wanted to say a long overdue thank you for these puzzles. Between your weekly offerings, my NYT desk top puzzle-a-day calendars and the NYT puzzles in our local paper you helped me get through the past three very difficult years. I quite liked this one, took 34 minutes which felt like a fail until I saw the other comments above!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Billy, and for your kind note. This one definitely played tough–the analytics are pretty funny to look at next to the usual rossword fare!

      • LOL – haven’t been called Billy for over 60 years! Happy Columbus Day, as we in Canada celebrate our Thanksgiving.

  4. This puzzle was clever and fun to solve. Your grids make me work for it, but not so difficult that I throw in the towel. I broke my foot a couple weeks ago, so as I am convalescing I’ve been downloading many of your puzzles into Across Lite to keep me busy. Thanks for all your hard work!

    • Ah, music to my ears, Dawn. (Not your foot!) I gather that this one was on the more difficulty side for a lot of solvers… I’m glad the grids are giving you something to do while you’re on the mend!

Leave a Reply