58D. “Keydets’ sch.” VMI stands for Virginia Military Institute. I’ve tried to understand what a “keydet” is to you, Failure.
The first thing you’ll probably notice when starting this puzzle is a set of four diagonal circles running southwest to northeast across the grid. I don’t know the words spelled out by the letters that fall into those circles, but there is a Revealer in the middle-lower position that runs from the top to the bottom of the grid. …or hints to the circled letters in this puzzle.” STEPS UP ONE’S GAME is a 15-letter phrase that means “improve by challenging”.
As the second half of the clue suggests, each set of circled letters spells out the name of a board game that is “stepping up” the grid. In the Northwest, the game in question is SCRABBLE, a favorite game of word nerds around the world. Beneath that, in the southwest corner, is RISK, a game I’ve never actually played all the way through.we also have chess Northeast and finally southeast Monopoly.
As a board game lover, I really enjoyed this puzzle! The diagonal theme “entry” was unknown, so the puzzle was solved more or less like an unthemed grid, but the circled letters kept this puzzle firmly in the territory of Tuesday. I was impressed with how Silveira and Shephard managed to squeeze two 8-character game names into the grid. Besides, they cross both of his 8-letter game names with Revealer. good stuff! Ask them how they completed this puzzle.
Notes on constructors
Ashley Silveira: I started solving crosswords regularly about 4 years ago. After being (obviously) stumped by a puzzle I attempted on a whim during my flight, I downloaded the New York Times crossword app. After about six months of solving it, I wrote the puzzle as a Valentine’s Day gift for her husband.
i really loved “Highway to Hell” and “Stairway to Heaven” I saw a step-style puzzle in the New York Times a while ago that got me thinking about other things that could work as steps. The phrase “Step your game up” came to mind. I love board games so I was very excited. I tried a few different games and sorted out the grid. I then gave the puzzle to Nick Shephard, one of my best friends and a crossword aficionado, to write the clues on.
Nick Shepard: I’m a software developer who loves wordplay. I spend most of my time in coding matrices or edit my emails and use a few periods instead of every exclamation point to keep me from going crazy. My friend and co-contributor Ashleigh and I are big board game fans, so a puzzle featuring some classic her games seemed like a fitting nod. My favorite clue in the puzzle is “inner ear?” Because I’m originally from Indiana and forever a sucker for corny puns. I hope you all enjoy my first published crossword — there will be more fun in the future.
Want to submit a crossword to The New York Times?
The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system, You can submit your puzzles online.
For tips on how to get started, see the series “How to make a crossword puzzle“
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