Man, that guy could create insanely good crosswords. For a crossword tournament once, he created a 21x21 grid that had 18 answers of length 21. They were in sets of 3 - that is, 3 consecutive rows of the crossword would have no black squares. He did that 3 times 3 going east-west, and 3 times going north-south. (The crossword was called “Gridlock.”)
Having even 3 consecutive entries of length 15 in a 15x15 is crazy hard.
Anyway, it’s a sad day for crossword fans. He was only 65.
I just heard about this from friends who are still heavily involved in the puzzling world.
Merl was my favorite constructor ever. And decades ago, when I was a much more active puzzler, I got to meet him a few times. He actually played in a trivia game that I wrote; I kept thinking, “I’m not worthy!”
He couldn’t have been nicer or more fun company. I haven’t seen him in over a decade, but I think I may still miss him.
IIRC, it was Will Shortz who made sure the NY Times started showing the constructor’s name.
But if another paper isn’t going to do that, they should at least put ‘edited by Will Shortz.’ That’s what the Chicago Tribune did (does?) for its crossword (Tribune Media Syndicate), while the Washington Post, which carries the same daily (not Sunday) puts the constructor’s name.