Game Over – The New York Times

Chess Puzzles

You will also notice that each of these clues runs through the final letter of one of the kings, a critical connection. On its own, that realization can actually turn you around a bit; at least thats what happened to me. My first sortie with this theme combination was at the top of the puzzle, at 4-Down: Quick to fall asleep, in a way. I got N-A-R- and T-I-C on crosses, and assumed that narcotic must be the answer here (a bit off grammatically, but acceptable to me at this point). I figured that 26-Across was Old King COLE, the jolly old soul, so I shrugged and wrote him in backward. Yeah E-L-O-C allowed narcotic to work at 4-Down, but little else made sense in this corner, so I looked elsewhere for confirmation.

I didnt recognize the literary work at 28-Down No Future Without Forgiveness but 69-Across had to be the Egyptian boy king, TUT, and enough crosses nearby convinced me that the down entry passing through the T had to be DESMOND TUTU. Still stumped!

Finally and fittingly, it took a humble root vegetable to help me dig up the trick. At 106-Down, after a brief dalliance with Russet as a potato (from Russia? From red, en franais?) I realized that YUKON GOLD was perfect for this clue. (Have you had these popular pommes de terre? They are golden, and really buttery and good named for the Yukon River, where people pan for gold.) Not only that, but we know that Skull Island, at 118-Across, is King KONG country.

The order of operations snapped into focus: Read that down entry to the point where the king crosses Y - U then move your eyes to the front of the kings entry K - O - N - G before finishing your down entry O - L - D. Following these rules, that first example, the down entry that intersects with COLE, becomes a much better answer to its clue: N - A - R - C - O - L - E - P - T - I - C.

So were going down and across a king, using the letters from a king, cats looking at kings what do these horizontal kings have to do with these vertical entries?

I think my mental coronation happened at about this point, and it did involve that revealer at 47-Down, which may have been clued too obviously for some people (the people who play the classic board game, and therefore know immediately what it means when a player resigns). I do not fall into that camp, so CHECKMATE didnt happen for me right away.

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Game Over - The New York Times

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