by Ross Trudeau

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

N.B. Today’s puzzle is a Sunday-sized 22×22 grid, so clues may populate above/below the grid rather than on the side as usual. For best results, perhaps print the PDF and solve by hand!

Today’s grid can be solved and enjoyed as a standalone crossword, but I’m also calling it a light contest puzzle. Email your answer (with the subject CONTEST ANSWER) to rosswordpuzzles AT gmail DOT com by 12:00p eastern on 10/22/22. I’ll draw the winning entry from among correct respondents and report the results to you here on the 23rd!

Thank you to Rachaar, Enrique of Datalexic, Jacob, and Ben of Nautilus Puzzles for test solving this bad boy, as well as Joon for his advice in the planning stages!

SPOILERS for the puzzle below; don’t click any of the links until after you’re done solving!

I was inspired to “play in the space” by several similar puzzles that you’ve perhaps run across: a 2005 NYT Sunday grid by Derrick Niederman; a 2019 NYT Sunday grid by Jack Reuter; a 2020 Peter Gordon grid; and a Patrick Blindauer grid from back in ’07. I’m sure there are others!

Ultimately, there were a few ways in which I thought I could add to the tradition. Feel free to leave a comment! Was this a step forward or back?

Happy solving, friends!


11 thoughts on ““Endgame”

  1. This was really cool, but I admit I got checkmated (actually, zugzwanged). I’d seen and been impressed by those precedent grids, recognized what was coming, and then I got the basic concept. But I didn’t fathom that while many chess pieces were rebus’d there were a couple hidden under blocks. I guess those are the white and black pieces respectively? Logical in retrospect! I will set up the pieces on a board later and I’m guessing I will have less trouble with the chess part than with the crossword part.

    Also I stumbled because the only Steve McQUEEN that I remembered was the white actor, not the black director. And since I was certain there had to be a BISHOP in the grid somewhere, I figured Steve Bishop?

    Anyway, the fact that I struggled doesn’t say anything about the quality of the work. Really great initiative!

    P.S. I noticed “en passant” the very familiar clue to 130D! Loved it and glad I could be a pawn in the effort!

    • I almost gave up on it when I realized that BISHOP couldn’t really be hidden at all! Like, you could cross the name BISHOP with ARCHBISHOP, but that’s about it. Still waiting for the Magic Kingdom to open a Bambi Shop. Until then…

  2. Never seen the precedent grids, but I loved the concept, and actually did figure out that some rebuses were hidden under blocks. I’m not much of a chess player, but might try to set up this board and muse upon it.

    • Truth be told, my chess chops are fairly limited themselves. Creating a board layout that presented only one possible solution took… almost as long as building the puzzle!

  3. Really fun – I haven’t seen a chess-theme before and am impressed with how smoothly it filled even though the grid needed to be precise. Well done!

  4. I finally copped to the theme when I figured out that “walk” and “dek” needed to be “walking” and “deking.” In other words, the grammar of the clue needed to match the answer. All in all, pretty fancy constructing.

    • It’s funny, those little number and tense agreements are often the tip-off for me when I’m grokking a rebus or some odd Thursday shenanigans. Thanks for solving, Ed!

  5. As a lady solver I always love a refreshing “lady” clue and answer 94 down. After all, I have played more than my share of men clues and answers over the years. This was more challenging than your usual rosswords fare. Thanks!

  6. Thanks to spending a huge amount of time on cleaning up an infestation of puncture vine on a local trail that I use, I’ve not had much time to spare for this puzzle. I finally completed the grid (by some miracle, correctly! … 😳), but I think I’ll pass on the chess problem. (In high school, I attempted to master the game, but, alas, to little avail … 😳.)

    Thanks for the links to other examples. I intend to check them out, now that I’m getting close to finishing my outdoor project.

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