From Crosswords

Crossword #7: Escalation

Soldiers on escalatorMy crossword puzzle #8 was posted here more than a month ago. The mathematical savants who make up much of the Bachblog readership were thrown for a loop. Based on the publication history of my cruciverbial gems, they expected puzzle #7 to follow puzzle #6.

There was, however, a hint to be found buried in the text accompanying the intriguingly-numbered puzzle #8 (“Meet in the Middle’):

Those of you scoring along at home might wonder, “What happened to puzzle #7?” All I can say is that it has gone missing. It may sit hopefully in a tall stack of paper somewhere. It may be shimming the wobbly leg of a ping-pong table.

Checkmark iconThe solution to this puzzle was published on Saturday, August 2.

Some of you were in on the secret and understood this mysterious twaddle. Most of you did not. Well, the secret can now be revealed. Buoyed by some flattering feedback and encouraged by a few to offer my puzzle to a prestigious East Coast editor of some note, I submitted it and a cover letter on May 1. Alas and alack, I received the following rejection email on June 26 (names redacted to protect the unimpressed):

Hi Steve,

This is J——— F——— writing on behalf of W———.

W——— says thanks but must send his regrets on your ESCALATION 15x, whose theme, while ingenious, is a near miss for him.

Sorry about that! He did really appreciate seeing this, though.

Keep up the good constructing and we look forward to seeing more of your puzzles in the future.


Could have been worse. He might have written “whose trite theme, while amusing, is an easy rejection for him.”

Though I am sure my rejection is simply boilerplate stuff, and that any puzzle which manages to meet the basic criteria for consideration is called “ingenious” or better, I will accept the compliment at face value. Why not? I should have asked for my response by US mail instead of email and framed my rejection letter.[1]

Puzzle thumbnailAt any rate, the Gray Lady’s prestigious East Coast newspaper’s loss is Bachblog’s gain. You will enjoy it. Here, for your amusement and edification is a puzzle with a theme recently called “ingenious” by W——— S———.

Download the puzzle
PDF copy to print
Puzzle file for AcrossLite[2]
Solve online at


I owe many thanks to George Barany and his network of talented and generous proofreaders.[3] I received much valuable feedback on my puzzle and on the format of my submission. It is even possible that had I followed every recommendation I received, my rejection might have included the line “a very near miss” instead of “a near miss.” George has published my puzzle on his George Barany and Friends website. If you have already completed it, you may wish to read the “midrash” there.

Recent Crosswords:
06/20/2018 #22: Northern Dialect
01/30/2018 #21: Special Editions
10/10/2017 #20: Saints We’d Like to See
02/13/2017 #19: Themeless, but Dark
10/03/2016 #18: Shady Business
07/11/2016 #17: Ars Poetica

   Complete Crosswords


  1. Subsequent to writing this paragraph, I spoke with someone who has seen rejection emails from W——— S———. He assures me that not all contain such encouragements as “ingenious,” “near-miss” and an invitation to submit more puzzles. [^]
  2. The Across Lite program can be downloaded for free at and runs on Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X. I can recommend it unreservedly. It is easy to install and use, and is free of any of the malware garbage that commonly plagues freeware. [^]
  3. George and I thank these beta-testers by name on my puzzle’s page on his website: Escalation. Members of the crossword cognosenti will recognize and be very impressed by several of the names there. [^]