Crossword rockstar Merl Reagle has died

Appreciation article.

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.

Sad loss. I do remember seeing him in the movie Wordplay. I think I’ve done some of his puzzles in the SF Chron.

Whoa. I had to find this puzzle. Here it is for those interested.

That must be a different one, as it only has 8 full-length answers. That, or bup was mistaken.

And I can’t remember if it’s his puzzles or Will Shortz’s that I prefer (I’d have to double-check the Sunday comics to be sure), but either way, he was unquestionably one of the two best.

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.

Will is a crossword editor, but he very, very rarely constructs crosswords. Merl was a prolific constructor It’s not easy to produce so MANY good puzzles.

Hm, the Plain Dealer runs a pair of puzzles on Sundays, one each credited to Reagle and Shortz. If Shortz is just the editor, then someone’s not getting the credit they deserve.

I misremembered. Still, that construction inspires feelings of awe.

In the NY Times, you’ll usually see the constructor’s name below he puzzle, in small print. I used to construct puzzles, and got a few into the Times, so I know.

Not sure if all the newspapers that RE-publish the Times puzzle a few weeks later print the author’s name.

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.