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X. Hardest NYT Crossword Puzzle

I regard this particular puzzle, which ran in The Kansas City Star on December 26, 1987, as a standout of the first order, possibly never equaled for sheer difficulty in the long history and eternal future of New York Times crossword puzzles.

The puzzle (NYT No. 1114-87) was constructed by Daniel Girardi (1920 - 2005) and edited by the redoubtable Eugene T. Maleska (1916 - 1993).

It was a Saturday puzzle, which means it was supposed to be the hardest one of the week, but let me tell you just how hard I found it: I started it at around nine in the morning and I worked on it continuously, literally without stopping to consume any solid sustenance orally, until after dark.

From here you can

  • See the Hardest NYT puzzle and then, optionally,
         -- print the puzzle on paper or
         -- work or print it using special software.
  • See or print the answer grid to the Hardest NYT puzzle.
  • Read more about the Hardest NYT puzzle, and from there solve a new version online.
  • Read about Trilbies, the single hardest clue, the one that kept me at it so long.
  • Read about the 48 obscurest clues in this puzzle, which is why this puzzle is, as I claim, the Hardest NYT crossword ever.



Question from a random visitor:  If I do download and install right now the free Across Lite software that everyone right here has been using so successfully for so long with so few problems, are there any PUZ files, i.e., regular interactive crossword puzzles, that I could play right here from this site right now?

Answer: Why yes, there are, and thanks for asking.  There are four such files, as you will see if you read all of what little I have to say about crossword puzzle software, in the sidebar at right.  They are

the original hardest puzzle,
the reworked version,
the Election Day puzzle, and
my own first puzzle.


Crossword software


For playing puzzles . . .

. . . you should probably use Across Lite by Literate Software Systems (Litsoft).  It is easy to install, it is easy to use, it's full of features, and it works.  And it's free.  Lots of crosswords, including those on paper, get "Litzed," which means they get translated into the Litsoft format for your downloading pleasure.  The three crosswords available for play right now on my own site use the Across Lite format, as does every other legitimate crossword file out there on the Internet with a PUZ extension.

  • Take me to the Litsoft FAQ.  You should probably go here first, because the Litsoft Web site -- unlike their Across Lite software -- is a disappointment.

  • I prefer to ignore your advice above.  Take me directly to the Litsoft HOME PAGE.

  • OK, I've downloaded and installed Across Lite.  I want to try it out right now.  Show me the Hardest NYT puzzle (1,812 bytes) and Hardy's new version (1,848 bytes).

  • No, first I'd like to play the famous Election Day puzzle.

  • No, wait, first I want to play your own puzzle (1,100 bytes).  I realize it's your first effort, but I still have high expectations, and afterwards I'll what I thought.


For constructing puzzles . . .

. . . you should probably first consider Crossword Compiler 8, which costs $49 as of April 2010.  It does more than you might think (but it doesn't yet replace human ingenuity).

Take me to the Crossword Compiler HOME PAGE.

. . . you should also check out Crossdown 6, which is $59.95 as of March 2010 and serves the same purpose.

Take me to the Crossdown HOME PAGE.


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