62 Word Stackup
"Midrash" by Martin Ashwood-Smith / Edited by George Barany (June 2014)

Welcome to another installment of my "near miss" crosswords. Featured is a themeless 62-word puzzle with two sets of quadstacked 15-letter entries.

I sent this puzzle to Will Shortz early last year (2013). Unfortunately, he rejected it, saying that while he "admired the construction," there were a few too many tough 4-letter words going down through the quadstacks.  In particular: LITD, SIMA and ENNS. [Although, ENNS, a Danube tributary or Austrian town, was the only word that had not appeared in a puzzle under his editorship.]

I suspect that if this puzzle had been constructed and submitted a few years earlier, Will may have accepted it. However, back then, quadstack crosswords were rare beasts indeed. So rare, in fact that double-quadstack crosswords were unknown in the puzzle world prior to 2010. However, since then, the novelty has worn off somewhat, and an Austrian River or two can make or break a puzzle like this.

Lest you get too hot under the collar about obscure Austrian rivers, let me just say in my somewhat shabby defence (sic), that ENNS has appeared a few times before in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe crosswords. And, oh yes, the New York Times, on an almost daily basis under Dr. Maleska's editorship ... but you probably knew that anyway!

Another word that may raise eyebrows on this side of the pond is INTELLIGENCE_MEN. However, as George pointed out to me, it has already been sanctioned by Will for puzzles by Patrick Berry and Patrick Merrell, so much so that I'm considering changing my own initials to PAS.

This is my lowest word count ever (62-words) for a double quad. To the best of my knowledge, it is the lowest ever for any double quad.

Postscript from GB: This puzzle marks the fifth time that our website has had the privilege to post one of Martin's "near-miss" puzzles in synchrony with a regular New York Times puzzle publication. Click here, here, here, and here for earlier examples (listed starting with most recent).

If you want to tell others about this particular page, refer them to http://tinyurl.com/62wordstackmidrash

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