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Crossword Example

Given crossword contains two examples of these clues. This crossword is complete and correct.

43 Across reads:

Component of a teacher's interview (... includes part of 28-Down)

Clue for 28 down:

Certain upscale notebooks

69 Across reads:

Either lead spy in "The Americans" (... includes part of 38-Down)

Clue for 38 down:

Spread that often costs extra at Chipotle

I understand how KGB can be the answer to 69 across whilst ignoring the E as it is part of GUACOMOLE for 38 down; however I cannot understand DEESSON as an answer. Maybe it's Lesson.

Either way I still do not understand the idea behind this crossword clue pattern.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget the crossword's theme of "Bop it": this is an important hint that goes a long way toward solving these ostensibly strange clues. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2021 at 2:27

2 Answers 2

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This is not a typical construction - part of the solving process of this crossword is figuring out what that means.

Some signs that this is part of the "theme" of the puzzle:

  • Theme entries are typically long Across entries; there aren't any extremely long Across entries, and all the clues that have that are Across entries.
  • These entries don't make sense as answers to their clues (or at all, for that matter).
  • Clue 11-Down says "Carnival game represented in this puzzle". Clues referencing "this puzzle" typically imply that there is something unusual going on in the puzzle (likely multiple instances of it!), where the answers to clues are entered in unusual ways.

Here, 11-Down is WHACK-A-MOLE. So you're likely looking for things representing "moles" in the grid. Hey, the referenced Down entries all have MOLE in them as a substring!

grid from question, with other confusing clue and MOLEs highlighted

And not only that, each of them is "sticking up" from its corresponding confusing Across clue!

So, if you "whack" those MOLEs back down into their lowest square, the Across entries make much more sense - they're DNA MOLECULE, DEMO LESSON, and KGB MOLE.


These types of themes appear often in crosswords - in daily publications like the New York Times, they're particularly common in Thursday and Sunday puzzles. The puzzle "Magic Tricks" by Eric Berlin, reviewed here, shows off some other somewhat common gimmicks (a rebus square, missing letters, and letters extending outside of the grid).

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Haven't seen this before, but it looks like the answer is supposed to be read in a weird way that includes some letters from the crossing answer. So 43-across would be DEMO LESSON with some letters from MOLESKINE and 69-across would be KGB MOLE with some letters (in fact, MOLE again) from GUACAMOLE.

(There's also 20-across which is DNA MOLECULE, with again MOLE taken from the crossing entry.)

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    $\begingroup$ Just a minor comment: the "borrowed" letters are only MOL, with the E being already present in all three of "DNA ...ECULE", "DE.. .ESSON", and "KGB ...E". Though given the name of the theme, probably we are meant to think of this as "whacking" every instance of MOLE. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2021 at 2:59

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