Bad Sports

December 17, 2023

After a run of themeless puzzles — many of them minis or midis — I decided it was time for a straight down the middle themed 15x. This one started with 44-Across and developed slowly from there. Although I have yet to ask ChatGPT to suggest a complete theme, I will admit that that site is great for generating possible answers to fit a certain formula once you have landed on a general idea and at least one possible answer yourself. It is still incapable of sticking to requests like “make all the answers 12 letters” so I just use it to generate a long list of possibilities that I then sort through to find a final set that works both thematically and can be turned into a grid.

While I was developing this idea, I went back and forth on whether it was worth submitting to a publisher. I have been trying to set the bar higher and higher on what I think is worth trying to get published, which is to say I am submitting fewer and fewer puzzles these days. I ultimately thought this theme wasn’t tight enough to warrant an attempt but, more importantly, I just enjoy cluing puzzles that I know are going direct because I can have a lot more fun than I would if the ultimate goal is a mainstream publication. In particular, I was pretty happy with the clues to 56-Across, 12-Down and 35-Down.

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