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Happy New Year! | The Nation

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Word Salad

Kosman and Picciotto on their Nation puzzle, cryptic crosswords, wordplay and puzzles in general.

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Click here for Kosman and Picciotto’s tips on how to work their puzzles116.49 KB

Happy New Year!

With 2014 now well under way and the effects of Tuesday night’s Champagne wearing off at last, this is the traditional time to talk about resolutions. As we do every year, we re-solve to do better. Even though most of the crosswords we tackled this year have been filled in accurately, there are always a few grids left incomplete—and searching one more time for the answers can often yield improvement.

Oh, sorry—did you think we were talking about losing weight?

At this or any time of year, resolving a puzzle—re-solving it, if you prefer—is a good way to wring a few more drops of pleasure out of what may seem like an expended resource. If you’re like us, there may well be clues that eluded you on the first pass, but that will give up their answers on reacquaintance. There may be clues that you solved without quite noticing some witticism or touch of ingenuity in their construction. And failing that, there is often satisfaction to be had merely from revisiting a completed puzzle. Some solvers, in fact, make a clean copy of a puzzle before tackling it, just in case it turns out to be keeper. For some of us, the rewards of returning to an old puzzle are almost as great as those of rereading a favorite novel.

Additionally, of course, we do have a few resolutions to make as constructors.

• We resolve to strive harder for basic accuracy. Just last week, one of the clues from Puzzle 3307 (CHADORS: Leader of caliphate slyly hoards head coverings worn by women in Iraq) was revealed to be suffering from not one but two inaccuracies: As correspondent Bart Laws of Scotland, Connecticut, pointed out, chadors are Iranian, not Iraqi, and they cover the full body, not just the head. Nostra culpa; we’re going to make an extra push to be sure that doesn’t happen again.

• We resolve to renew our efforts to avoid the overused tropes of cryptic clueing—the tired anagram indicators, the standard reversals, the familiar homophones. Or at least, not to use them too often.

• We resolve that no part of human knowledge or English vocabulary should be assumed to be off-limits and excluded from our puzzles.

• We resolve to keep trying to bring you the freshest, most challenging and most varied puzzles we can create.

Here’s wishing an enigmatic and rewarding 2014 to all our solvers!

What are your puzzle resolutions for the new year? Please share here, along with any quibbles, questions, kudos or complaints about the current puzzle or any previous puzzle. To comment (and see other readers’ comments), please click on this post’s title and scroll to the bottom of the resulting screen.

And here are three links:
• The current puzzle
* Our puzzle-solving guidelines | PDF
• A Nation puzzle solver’s blog where you can ask for and offer hints, and where every one of our clues is explained in detail.

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