If you have a loved one who’s a crossword puzzle fan and they’ve been surprisingly quiet this weekend, there may be a good reason: They’re probably in puzzle paradise, toiling away at the New York Times Magazine’s gargantuan 738-clue Sunday crossword.
The 50×50 puzzle — the biggest in Times’ NYT, +0.74% history — spans two broadsheet pages inside the magazine’s “Puzzle Mania” special section, which hit newsstands Friday. It’s about five times as large as a typical Sunday crossword, Times puzzle editor Will Shortz said. Two of the answers span a mind-boggling 49 characters.
Puzzle fans appeared to be delighted.
Largest crossword in history of NYT, now loose in the wild (shown with clementine for scale). pic.twitter.com/h6TuIjilIc
— Jake Silverstein (@jakesilverstein) December 17, 2016
— Diana Cox-Monnette (@DianaMonnette) December 19, 2016
— Laura Meacham Keane (@lauramkeane) December 18, 2016
— Mat Batts (@LexDispatchMB) December 18, 2016
This goddamned thing will be my death. (And cancer or heart disease, probably.) pic.twitter.com/ijrezHgj3h
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) December 19, 2016
Puzzle-maker Frank Longo was the creative mind behind the crossword, which, despite appearing on a Sunday — traditionally the day for the toughest puzzle of the week — has a difficulty level on par with a Tuesday or Wednesday, the Times said. Still, thanks to its sheer size, it will likely take most people a day or two to complete.
“We didn’t want it to be impossible to finish,” New York Times Magazine editor Jake Silverstein told The Verge. “We had this vision that people would — in the way some families will put out a jigsaw puzzle for the holidays — we thought some families would put out this big crossword.”
Silverstein’s family-friendly vision isn’t the only thing about the puzzle that harkens to years past: It’s also only available in print. Sorry, digital subscribers. Gotta go pencil (or pen!)-and-paper for this one.
Sharpen your pencils, people: Our special puzzle section is in the paper this Sunday, 12/18, featuring the BIGGEST NYT CROSSWORD ever! pic.twitter.com/heTEjRxv8c
— NYT Magazine (@NYTmag) December 16, 2016