Deconstructing Constructing


“My goal as a constructor is always to take the solver on a journey. I don’t want my puzzles to feel like academic exercises. They should make the solver laugh a bit, reminisce a bit, imagine a bit. Entries like MRGOODBAR or LIMESHERBET leave a taste in the mouth; phrases like YOADRIAN (‘Rocky exhortation’) and YOUDAMAN (‘Right on, bro!’) beg to be spoken aloud.”—David Quarfoot

New York Times’ cruciverbalist David Quarfoot offers his take on the ins and outs—and the Downs and Acrosses—of crossword-puzzle construction, walking readers through his creation of a themeless puzzle (one of two he constructed especially for the issue) from the first entry to the last clue.

Crossword enthusiasts applaud David Quarfoot for his elegant and eclectic New York Times puzzles. Quarfoot, who graduated from Ohio State University, constructs grids incorporating everything from slang to obscure information gleaned from word databases. His innovative techniques and high standards earned him the 2007 Presidential Scholar teacher award selection for the state of Connecticut. He is an Associate Teaching Professor at UC San Diego, where he received his Ph.D. in Mathematics and Science Education.