Today’s New York Times crossword puzzle is a special one. Sure, it was created by the man who holds the record for fewest black squares in a NYT puzzle, Quora engineer Kevin Der. With that in mind, that’s not what makes todays puzzle special, it’s the fact that the entire thing is a tribute to the late Steve Jobs. Der posted on Quora:
“By now I’ve seen many ways people have chosen to remember Steve Jobs – posting his amazing Stanford commencement speech, describing how Steve inspired them personally, etc. Thinking about it now, I most admired the way Steve’s drive for perfection and willingness to boldly critique led to world changing products. It seemed like I might be able to honor Steve in a small but unique way – creating a tribute in the New York Times crossword puzzle.”
It should be noted that another puzzle was scheduled to run today, and was already set up. Will Shortz, crossword puzzle editor for the New York Times, was sent the tribute puzzle at 11:21 last night, and after thinking about it overnight, decided to run with Der’s puzzle. Here is Shortz’s account of how it went down:
“Making a last-minute change like this isn’t easy. The puzzle that had been previously scheduled for tomorrow was already at The Times, laid out on the page, ready to be printed. The Arts section closes at 5 p.m., so the new puzzle needed to be edited, typeset, test-solved by three people, polished, and then sent to The Times before then.
In addition, the old puzzle that was scheduled for AcrossLite and the puzzle applet both had to be replaced with the new puzzle — and the latter is handled in the Netherlands, which is six hours ahead of New York. Also, the “Wordplay” blog entry for tomorrow’s puzzle needed to be replaced, as did the file on XwordInfo.
Unfortunately, it was too late to replace the old 10/7 crossword in tomorrow’s International Herald Tribune, which publishes the Times crosswords on the same day they appear in The Times itself. So I.H.T. readers will get a sneak peek at a crossword that now won’t appear in The Times for several more weeks.
When all is said and done, I think the extra effort was worth it. Kevin made an outstanding puzzle honoring a truly great man.”
If you’d like to give the puzzle a try, you can obtain a PDF version here.