Marquee Mix-Up

Posted by Andrew on October 13, 2016

Hello everyone! Today I’m happy to present my second crossword creation. After fielding ideas from the crowd and countless iterations, it’s finally complete.

The puzzle is named “Marquee Mix-Up”, and is sized as a weekday NYT puzzle (15x15). After the link to the puzzle, there is a small write-up about the construction, what I like, and what can be improved next time around. This one may prove more difficult than my first (sorry in advance!) so I have included some hints as well to help everyone along.


Without further ado, here is the puzzle!

Hints & Solution

When constructing this puzzle, the majority of my time was spent filling the grid with entries. My main objective was to provide a bit of a challenge, but not exclude too many people. You should have to work for it a little bit! Throughout that process, there was a lot of back-tracking, and I probably had about three times as many entries that I couldn’t fit in. To complete the puzzle, I had to include some jargon that not everyone might know. Because of this, I have provided some clues to the more obscure entries. Try to wait until you really need them!

Mouse over each clue to reveal the hint. If the hint is not helpful enough, mouse over the “Answer:” text to reveal the answer.

15 Across
This refers to the composition of the soil, and this type of soil is considered ideal for farming and gardening. This soil contains approximately equal amounts of sand and silt, and slightly less clay.

20 Across
This hat is often topped with a pom-pom or tassle and is often seen on ski slopes. This term is French Canadian in origin.

49 Across
Air is typically refered to as being 'handled' when being circulated. This 'handling' is part of the acronym that I'm looking for.

4 Down
Flax (also linseed) is a crop grown around the world, used in linens and oils. This clue is looking for the Genus, which I don't really have a way to clue if you don't know it.

12 Down
A popular Q&A format on the website reddit is for a person to introduce themselves in the following way: "I am a commercial pilot, AMA!" AMA stands for "Ask Me Anything", but this clue is asking for the start of that statement.

24 Down
This professional organization consists primarily of electrical, electronics, and computer engineers.

51 Down
This agency of the U.S. Department of Defense is responsible for the development of new technologies for military use. This agency was launched in response to the surprise Sputnik in 1957.

54 Down
This is a share index of the largest 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (by market cap). It is informally called the "footise".

Here is the full solution.

Construction Notes

I don’t remember exactly how I thought of this theme, but I thought it had enough appeal to follow through on, so I decided to come up with some possible theme entries. The other theme entries that I brainstormed are lost somewhere, but I did manage to remember a few:


I settled on the entries I used for a few reasons:

  • The actors are fairly well-known, which makes the puzzle accessible for more solvers.
  • There are two pairs of names. This allows the solver to reason some information about the other clues, rather than 4 unconnected names.
  • The combination of 10/11 is more flexbile when laying out the grid, because a 15 letter clue takes up the entire grid.

As far as the clues go, I am fond of:

  • FATTONY This one happened to fit nicely, and I really like the level of obscurity. For Simpsons fans, it shouldn’t be too bad and for others, a potential light bulb moment.
  • PIMLICO Again, I think this entry is an appropriate level of obscure. Some might know it right away, but I think a lot of people will need a few letters.
  • KUBIAK Gary Kubiak brings current events into the mix, and the Super Bowl connection makes it a bit more accessible.
  • DYNAMO I just like this word quite a bit, it’s interesting and not seen very often.

Next Time

All-in-all, I’m pretty happy with the result. If I had to pick some areas that I’d like to improve the next time around, I’d start with the acronym clues. By the time I had finally finished the fill, I had spent so much time trying to get it perfect that I just wanted to be done with this one and start a fresh one. As I was working, I remembered this post, and tried not to spend too much time trying to get everything perfect.

This time around, I didn’t think everything was quite up to snuff to submit for potential publication, but my goal is to get something published in 2017.


Thanks to Nancy Salomon and Jeff Chen, two experienced constructors who gave me very helpful feedback. Thanks to everyone who submitted words. I’ll try to squeeze them in future puzzles.

Header image by By Kamranki (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons