A Certain Clue Can Reveal More Than You Think

·2 min read
Rebecca Tulis
Rebecca Tulis

Some crossword puzzles have a "revealer" entry, which is usually the across entry in the lower right of the grid. This is the entry that explains the theme to solvers; for instance, a grid with the theme entries ICE CAPADES, IRON CURTAIN, IRISH COFFEE and INDEX CARDS, you might have the revealer I SEE in the bottom-right, clued as ["What you might say to yourself when you finally understand a crossword's theme...and what the initials of the four theme entries sound like."]

The revealer usually goes in the bottom-right corner of the grid so the solver reaches it late in the game. They're supposed to get a few minutes of mystery wondering what the puzzle's theme could possibly be until the "aha!" moment arrives with the revealer's explanation.

In recent years, crossword writers have been experimenting with putting the revealer in the middle of the grid, with mixed results. The idea is to give the solver a little bit of mystery with the first few theme entries, but then have a helping hint for the last few by already knowing what ties them together. Some solvers like the revealer appearing unexpectedly in the center, while others think the gimmick gets old quickly and that revealers belong at the very end to maximize the mystery.

In Wednesday's puzzle, I went to the other extreme, putting the reveal entry, HUGS, right at 1-Across! So rebellious.

This puzzle's theme was the hugs that people in the U.K. are now legally permitted to give each other since some Covid restrictions have been eased, with two British-y entries, HUGH GRANT and HUGUENOTS, each starting with a big HUG. I figured, who wouldn't want a big hug right away after all that's gone on?

Where do you prefer your revealers in a grid? Get the debate going by tweeting it to #beastxword.

Play today’s puzzle and sign up for our weekly crossword newsletter on the bottom of the puzzle page.

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