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Solving Beings At 40 [May 30-June 4]

30 May, 2011

Buckle up people, as you’re in for a Natick. That’s a bit of crossword slang, sparked by a nasty 2008 puzzle from American wunderkind, Brendan Emmett Quigley. The term relates to a crossing of two obscure terms, giving the solver little chance to pick up that pivotal letter in common.

In BEQ’s case, supply a puzzle to The New York Times, the bad boy wove NATICK, a small town just out of Boston, across the opening N of NC WYETH, the illustrator of Treasure Island. Boo, bayed the solvers. Unfair! Give us a chance! If one entry is esoteric, then at least give us a fighting chance to nail some letters in the opposite direction.

The ruckus gave rise to the Natick Principle. Or just plain Natick, no doubt destined to be a verb. “Damn,” stormed the commuter, a crossword in her lap. “I’ve just been Naticked.”

And with Times 9016, the first in a cluster of six we’ll be confronting this week, the Natick lies at the junction of 4dn and 12ac. Two rare words, both steeped in UK geography, giving the faint-hearted no chance. Though my heart’s been around a bit, weathering one nasty Natick to register Crossword #40 in a row.

To revel in some spoil-free encouragement, or to find your next Natick satnav, then why not join the solving spree?

Welcome to the new forum. Looks scary? It’s not. Feels iffy? It ain’t. The DisQus platform is here to block spam and lend us more chat options. That’s all. Please note, you don’t have to create a DisQus account to make a comment. If you do, however, it will speed your future visits. Be assured no details are abused, misused or reused. Let’s fight spam as one, and get back to the grand conversation. Thanks, DA

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