STAR T/W R/A E/R K/S

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Fun little trick in the Sunday New York Times crossword yesterday: the central theme clue was “The better of two sci-fi franchises”, and regardless of whether you put Star Wars or Star Trek, the crossing clues worked

Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in which the answer to 70 across can be answered in two different ways.

Matt Tomic

This is a (snippet of an) excellent New York Times crossword puzzle, but the true genius of it in my mind is that 71 down can be answered using iconic Star Wars line “It’s a trap!” only if the player puts Star Trek, rather than Star Wars, as the answer to 70 across (“The better of two sci-fi franchises”). If they answer with Star Wars, they instead must answer “It’s a wrap!”.

Matt goes on to try to make his own which pairs 1954 novel Lord of the Rings against Lord of the Flies, which is pretty good but I’m not convinced he can get away with the crosswise “ulne” as a word (contrast e.g. “rise” in the example above).

Of course, neither are quite as clever as the New York Timespuzzle on the eve of the 1996 presidential election whose clue “Lead story in tomorrow’s newspaper(!)” could be answered either “Clinton elected” or “Bob Dole elected” and the words crossing each of “Clinton” or “Bob Dole” would still fit the clues (despite being modified by only a single letter).

If you’re looking to lose some time, here’s some further reading on so-called “Schrödinger puzzles”, and several  more crosswords that achieve the same feat.

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