“The Drop Off”

by Ross Trudeau

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

In recent weeks I’ve been toying with the idea of using this site to share puzzles from the wider indie crossword community, perhaps midweek. There have only been three puzzles not at least co-authored by me on this site, and I’m curious to know how Rossword Solvers would feel about doing that a bit more regularly. Drop a comment below. (You’re definitely going to see some of Cursewords artist and activist Parker Higgins‘ solo work here regardless.)

My gratitude to friends of the blog David, Rebecca, and Daad for test solving this week’s puzzle. A couple thoughts and spoilers for “The Drop Off” below.

This one went through several iterations (see inset). For me, it all hinged on whether the mechanic was interesting enough to only be repeated a couple of times (version 1, 4 EAVEs drops), or not interesting enough to sustain, say, a 21×21 grid (version 2, 7 EAVEs drops). What you solved above was version three, which felt like the right amount of theme density for a gimmick like this one. (FWIW, the 21×21 version almost entirely exhausts the possible valid E-A-V-E strings I could find.) Did I make the right call? Leave a comment below. Happy solving, friends! -R

34 thoughts on ““The Drop Off”

  1. Agree that 15×15 is sufficient… It did not l EAVE me wanting more… Yes please, do link (or post) other indie puzzles that you like

  2. Clr use of the names as puzzle’s centerpiece. Big grids tend to be a slog, so a 15×15 like today’s makes a delightful way of avoiding NYT Sunday while still getting a solver high. Yes to a midweek crunchy alternative since both New Yorker and NYT grids on Wednesday tend toward mediocre.

    • Yeah, honestly, when I realized BEAVER CLEAVER presented symmetrical eaves, I knew I had to start there and build around it… Watch this space re: midweek offerings…

  3. Great puzzle! I thought at first it had something to do with street suffixes, like “ave” getting dropped from the word, but then about halfway through I noticed all the “eaves” in the down words and figured it out from there. Very satisfying.

  4. I tend to experience brain fatigue solving 21×21 grids (last week’s ‘Common Ground’ being an exception), so I think you nailed it with today’s 15×15 version. You included some hEAVy hitters in today’s line-up! Wish we could see Tom Seaver and Bryce Harper in a matchup. Guessing that Harper would be rung up after 3 pitches without moving the bat from his shoulder. But maybe not – Bryce is capable of taking anyone deep…. Sorry, I digress.
    And yes – bring on the indies!

    • FIFA has made a couple of really good commercials where computer generated Maradonas and Ronaldhinos go head-to-head with Mbappe and Marta etc. Would be pretty cool to see MLB greats get that treatment…

  5. Heck yes, Ross, plz expand your website to a “multi-day per week” where we can get more indie puzzles online. (But they must meet your high-quality levels, of course!)

  6. I loved the smaller puzzle. It was a great solve. Just the perfect size for me. It was one of the more clever puzzles I have solved lately. And yes the more puzzles the better. I do hope you can work out all the logistics.

  7. This puzzle (unlike last week’s) was a Wi for me….and though I ‘got’ the EAVE drop, I did not fully appreciate it until I hit the Reveal. This is a thing of beauty! (I spent some time tryiing to think of ‘The Beav’s’ given name…
    And since we’re all pretty outdone with the NYT right now, there’s an opening for some other sorts of puzzles (hint, hint.)
    I don’t get 1A. I didn’t know the 1D character and the phrase “Ten/ten, no notes” means nothing to me, though it’s an assessment of some kind. (I loathe Roald Dahl’s stuff, along with RLStine’s dreck…so never watched the movie.)
    P.S. wanted BEREFT even though BEREAVED is a perfectly good word..

    • You’re very kind, Elaine! Yeah, 1A is for the young and very online. “10 out of 10, no notes” is a ubiquitous Twitter/TikTok phrase that just means, “Perfect execution.” No to go look up whether “bereft” and “bereaved” share an etymological root…

  8. Thanks. This puzzle was 10/10 no notes. (Just trying to use what I learned today.) I can’t see a downside in you offering more puzzles.

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