For the Good of the Puzzle, Sometimes Rules Must Be Broken

·2 min read
Rebecca Tulis
Rebecca Tulis

The black-square pattern of most American crossword puzzles features something called "180-degree rotational symmetry," meaning that, if you turn the puzzle upside-down, the pattern of those black squares is unchanged.

For the first time in the Daily Beast Crossword's history, though, I said "ah, to hell with" it last Monday, and used an asymmetric black square pattern.

What a rebel, right? What reason would cause me to throw caution to the wind like this?

Answer: the two theme entries I had were so perfect that I decided to go for it, even if their differing lengths required bending the symmetry rules a wee bit.

What happened was: scientists in Warsaw had recently run tests on embalmed bodies from ancient Egyptian tombs, and, for the first time, had discovered an embalmed woman who had been pregnant at the time of her passing, some 2,500 years ago. It was the first ever such find -- and what better term for her than the MUMMY MOMMY?

This phrase wasn't in the article I read; I thought of it myself. Imagine the dork pride I felt!

One problem: PREGNANT was only 8 letters long, so not quite enough to balance out MUMMY MOMMY in the grid. I looked for a work-around, but the first entry really did need to be PREGNANT, and the second of course had to be our 10-letter punch line.

So I was left with two choices: ditch the idea altogether, or be a total crossword outlaw and go for it with the asymmetric grid. You know which one I chose; I shall spend the remainder of my days on this Earth pondering the correctness of my decision.

Was it worth it to break the rules of crossword symmetry here? Tweet me your harsh but fair criticisms to #beastcrossword.

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