What's with those "With..." clues you often see in crosswords? You know, the ones that say something like: "With 37-Across, actress seen in..." etc. How do they work, and why do crossword writers use them?
Let's take a look at an example from Monday's puzzle, where at 1-Across we have the clue [With 14-Across, Joe Biden debated him when running for the Democratic nomination in 1988 (and had a photo-op with him earlier this year)]. The answer to 1-A is JESSE, and the answer to 14-A is JACKSON, so you have to use both entries to get the full answer to the clue, JESSE JACKSON.
Why would a crossword writer break clues up like this? Sometimes it's to link two related words that just happen to appear in the grid, like SAN and JUAN, which you might as well link up as one clue indicating that they form Puerto Rico's capital when read together.
The other reason is, as with our example here, because the length of the entry they want to use is easier to handle when split apart. So when looking for a puzzle idea for debate night, I thought: let's use two people that Biden and Trump have debated in the past. TED CRUZ was a good entry for Trump since they had some highly quotable exchanges I could choose from in 2016. For Biden, I wanted to pick a famous name from the past to counterbalance the sitting Senator Cruz, and there was a prominent name from Biden's 1988 run: JESSE JACKSON.
One problem: JESSE JACKSON is 12 letters, too long for our 10x10 grid. JACKSON alone would be 7 letters, which balances out TED CRUZ nicely, but then it looks weird to use just a surname for the first entry but both first and last name for the second.
To our rescue comes: the split "With..." clue! I put the Rev. Jackson's first name at 1-Across, and then his surname opposite TED CRUZ further down in the grid. Does it look weird not having anything to balance out JESSE in the 5-letter entry in the bottom row? A little, but not as weird as just using a Jesse-less JACKSON and TED CRUZ.
Got a problem with a "With..." clue? Tweet it to #beastxword and we'll work with...you on a solution.
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