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I believe the NYT puzzle has a vastly broader audience than that many of the other puzzles preferred by the bloggers, put together. By necessity the audience is different from those of the other puzzles. So it seems difficult to compare quality, or call one set of standards "higher." (It's not as simple as all the thousands of other solvers having lower standards: they value different criteria.) It's tempting to believe that the attributes we value are objective indicators of quality, but I think there always are a variety of ways of judging any given puzzle. People can differ in judging a puzzle that has several wonderful parts but a few other parts that some people find boring or obscure. It boils down to personal preferences. So the bloggers have every right to share their negative views. I have no problem at all when the bloggers hate a puzzle, even day after day, but I do question the belief that the judgments are absolute or objective. I've read a lot of criticisms that, to me, seemed to show that belief, or outrage that the puzzle was allowed to be published. I can't share that particular attitude, even for puzzles I don't enjoy. In one of those Joe Krozel stacked fifteens, I may not admire a given specific "sacrifice" or four, but I still can admire the puzzle as a whole. They typically present a different solving experience from the typical puzzle, still challenging and yet solvable. There are 365 NYT puzzles a year, and there should be room for the kinds of puzzles that aren't in our sweet spot or don't meet all the criteria that we value most highly. It's not as simple as a reduction of quality, but rather a choice to produce a different kind of challenge that otherwise would never be seen. It seems to me that adhering rigorously to a certain set of standard aesthetic criteria makes a puzzle more predictable. A few entries that may seem "ugly" serve as surprises, and it's reasonable to feel that a puzzle with some of them can still be worthwhile, especially if the compromises facilitate some other feature that can make a puzzle interesting.
Danchall is now following Wayne Eastman
Nov 20, 2012
Danchall is now following The Typepad Team
Nov 20, 2012