Did you know the name EMMA CORRIN from Wednesday's puzzle? She's the 24-year-old actress who's playing Princess Diana on Season 4 of The Crown, which starts today.
This is by far her biggest role to date, so many solvers won't know her name yet. Does that make her fair game for a puzzle? The answer is: "Yes, if the crossings are fair."
EMMA is a common name, so even solvers unfamiliar with her won't have a tough time getting that from the crossing words. But CORRIN is an uncommon name, so it's especially important for the constructor to make sure that all six clues and answers crossing it are unambiguous and easy. There are lots of last names out there, so one mystery letter could leave a solver with, say, DORRIN, CORBIN, or CORREN.
The answers crossing CORRIN in this puzzle were ACID, WHO, RBG, AMORAL, DE NIRO, and IT'S NEW -- all familiar words and phrases, and none clued in a difficult way. High-five for this guy! That's how it's supposed to work.
As a last resort on a mystery square, solvers will often "run the alphabet" to get it -- that is, mentally put each letter from A to Z in the square, and see which one looks or sounds the best. This doesn't always work, though —sometimes, seeing the word on the page (or saying it out loud) will draw out a vaguely familiar memory of it from deep inside your mind. It'll just "look right" -- and running the alphabet will chalk up another victory.
But rest assured that we crossword writers don't want you to have to resort to such drastic tactics! We're on your side, really.
Got an "unfair crossing" you ran the alphabet on but still couldn't get? Share the unfair by tweeting it to #beastxword.
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