Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 4

A Coupleof FloppySolutions PlusAmerica'sMostGreativeCrosswords BytheNation'sTopGonstructors

flrances

ff.r"n"

L

Hansenenteredthecrossword

inaBIGwaynearly30years

avid solvers,addictedto thecrosswordin theSundayTimes.Intentonfilling in every blank "they spot in the grid by early afternoon, wouldtelephoneeachotherfuriously Sundaymorningsuntil theyall completed thepuzzle." Hansencouldn'tunderstandherfriends'

thetorpedoes"insteadof "damn thetorpe- does." Hansen'seggpuzzlecreatelastir.While "rotten most solversenjoyedtle gimmick, one egg" complainedbitterly to editor

havebeena cross-

word puzzlefan for almost50 years.But whathashappenedto theoncegeat Sun- dayNewYorkTimespuzzles distressesme. The'gimmicks'areridiculousandtoday's istheworst.Howaboutgoingbacktogood, regular,challenging,intelligentpuzzles?"

This wasa minority opinion,for other solverssentappreciativenotesto Maleska alongwith completedpuzzles thathadall theeggsdrawnneatlyin thegrid;onesolver evenuseda setof coloredpencilsto deco- rateeveryegg.FarrarcongratulatedHansen "I'm

with a postcard:

eggs,butsofar thereisnoneonyourface.,' Whenthelimes recentlycelebratedits50th

anniversaryof the Sundaycrossword, Hansen'seggpuzzlewasreproducedin the specialsupplement.

agowhenshecreateda Sundaysize (23 x 23) crossword,typed it on custom printedoversizedpaper,packedit in alarge envelope,andmailedit toNewYorkTimes editorMargaretFarrar.

mittingrules,Hansentloughtthiswouldbe

anappropriateway to gainFarrar'satten- tion. Shewas right; the p:uzzlecouldn't

possiblybe ignoredasit coveredFarrar's entiredeskandspilledoverontothefloor. Unfortunately,theoversizedpaperwas merelyHansen'ssmallestsubmissionerror. Shehadbeensolvingcrosswordsfor onlya "had

yearat this time and

thatconstructinghadto be easierbecause

youknewall "I theanswersbeforehand." madeeverymislakein thebook,"she

recalls. "I

veryhighwordcount."Hansennowadmits

thatshehadnever

(themaximumnumberof wordspermitted in thegrid). I did know rhoughthat the puzzlehadto besymmetrical." Farrarrejectedthepuzzle,sentHansen a two-pagesheetof puzzle-constructing rules,and encouragedher to rework the gdd. If she followed theserules, Farrar promisedtolookatthepuzzleagain.Hansen wassufficientlyencouragedto acceptthe

challengeand had the unenviabletaskof fixingthepuzzle.In retrospectshesays, "I shouldhavestartedoverfrom scratch;in- steadI cut and pasted and reworkedthe puzzle." Theenergyexpendedwasworth it for

Farrarpublished "Ykcowrebbaj"

uy 96a. Solvershadtolookatcrosswords

inanewdirectionwhentheyansweredthe

clue, "Well-known partof ' Ykcowrebbaj "'

bywritingin thegrid backwards:

"ebarg tuoshtaremomehtdna" Alwaysfacile with words,Hansenhad honedherskillsby readingvoraciouslyas a childandin her adult yearsby playing Scrabbleand creatinglight verse,which shesold to Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping magazines. Most of Hansen'sadult friends were

EugeneT. Maleska: "I

Not knowinganyof thecrossword-sub- obsessionwithcrosswords;norhadshethe

time to solveon Sundaymorningbecause shewasbusyteachingSundayschool.When

she"retired"af.teral2-yearstintshejoined

her friendsin theircrosswordpursuis. A yearlatershesentthatfirstpuzzletoFarrar.

this crazyidea

usedtwo-letterwordsandhada

"heard

of a word count

in Janu-

Mary hada little lamb Shesaidit gavehergrief If shehadhada little ham WouldMary havea beefr

After her puzzle debutedflansen sent

Farrar a puzzle that would become her

trademark.It was basedon

poetryandsimplytitled,

her original

"Limerick":

"Sald W. SomersetMaugham shallvisit thelslandof Guam., I find lt lshot,

I shallleaveon thespot.

I detestfeellngoverlywaugham."

If

'I

Farrar was reluctant to use the p:uzzle becauseshehadneverpublished a cross- wordbasedonoriginalverse(manypuzzles hadbeenbasedon quotedverse)andshe neededconvincingthatFlansenhadcreated thelimerick.WhenHansensentcopiesof her publishedversefrom the women's magazines,Farraracceptedthepuzzleand

paved the way for what would become

Hansen'strademark---originallimericksin crosswords. OvertheyearsFlansendevelopedanother speciality-rebuspuzzles,whereafamiliar symbolis substitutedfor ananswerword. Shehasconstructedpuzzlesusingmusical symbols(Becky#); blant<s("_check', and

"point

("Wall Streetlaysan 0

structeda

wordswerechangedto

_");

arrows("Mia F+ "); eggs

").

Shealsocon-

puzzlewhereoffensive

"bleep," e.g.,

bleep

"bleep"

still missinga few

Flansenis alsorecognizedfor herwitty

answeredby

Hansen'swork appearsin

numerous

ptzzle on snake

punst}teclue, "Why did the snakesbreak

and punny clues.For a

their engagement?"was

"Anaconda theyhada fight."

publications. "My biggestmarketistheZos

AngelesTimessyndicate,edited by Jim

BoldL"BecauseHansenconstructssomany

of thesyndicate'sSundaypuzzles sheuses

the pseudonyms of Letitia Luxton and

Franny Bancroft. She also contributes regularly to The CrosswordsClub, Dell

ChampionCrosswordPuzzles,TheWash-

ington Post, The New York Times, CROSSW RD Magazine,andtheSimon

& Schusterbooks.Sheconstructsabout50

puzzles ayear,preferring to workin the2l

x 2l

required. Someof Hansen'sotherassignmentsin- cludecreatingcustompuzzlesfor corpora- tions.She'sconstructedpuzzlesforRandom

Houseto usein its in-housemagazineand for amajorcarcompanyto usein itsshow- rooms.

size,but creatingsmalleronesas

(Continued on page 7)

July/August1992

CROSSWRD

Page5

Hansen (from Page5)

amassing all the

words,sentences,andphrases shecanfind

tofit thetheme. ,,I aboutthetleme."

tingpairsof entriesof

two l0-letterphrases ata time,for symmi_

try.

Sheconcentrates onget-

lookin booksandI think

andthenconcentrates on

Now a 72-year-old widow, with grown sonsandpreteengrandchildren, Hansen,s life revolvesaroundpuzzles, exercise,mu_ sic,family, andfriends.Her daily routine startswith breakfast and The New york

I

solvetheTimes

secondcup

of coffee; that's part of my waking ui

process. It's agood wayto getmyselfinto

a working frame of mind becauseI'm thinkingwordsat thatpoint.,' llansenthenretreatsto herofficeonthe first floor of her homein Metuchen, New

Jersey.The l2-by - l2bookcase_lined room

is filled to the brim with reference books

and file cabinets.Formerly dubbed

lorturechamber,"Hansenhasrechristened

theroom "the escapehatch.',Sheworksfor

severalhoursatatimeonhercommissioned

work.

puzzleeverymorningwith my

the

Her extensivereferences include two

completeencyclopedia sets,atleastl0

un_

abridgeddictionaries,including all l3 vol_

umesof the Oxford English Dictionary, Benet'sReader'sEncyclopedia,six books

of quotes, andreferences onfilms, comics, songs,sports, literary characlers, etc.

Hansenadmitstobeing.,hopeless insports,,,

buttriesto include themin her work. Her

favoritereferenceis

mousPeople," which gives information aboutfamousfolks from all areas_film. "comprehensive theater,politics, music,etc.Hansenfindsii andhandy.', Claimingtogetherinspiration from,,the ideafairy," Hansenfirst thinksof a theme

.,The

Almanac of Fa_

thesamelength,ig.,

Sheplacestheentrythemesintothegrid

part is the construction of the

andthendiagramsaroundthem.Herfavor_

ite

puzzle

itself. Shetriesnot to repeat definitions. but.will writedownfavorite cluesif she feelstheybearrepeating. Ifshe's stuckin a

cornerduringtheconstructionphase, she'd ratherusefamiliar wordsthantry to use termsthatthesolvercan't possibly know. "have

Her goal is to

pluzzle. If the solver can't

pluzzle, theconstructor hasfailed."

thesolverfinish the

complete the

working than

I

,

grocery

At

it,s

Hansenworks steadilyfor four to five

I

hoursand really almost think I'd ratherbe

doinganythingelse.', Shetakesa break

aroundmid-afternoon when she heads

outsidefor a long

usuallyhavea

destination-thepost office,library

store,etc.,andif I don't I'll walk for a

while."

night if I'm homealoneandwarcningiV t'tt tite myworkinwithme.I can'tjust lookatTV.

If theprogram isgoodI'll watchTV; if

mediocreI'll probablygetmoreinterested in what'sonmy lap." Hansen'sroutine varieswhensheattends exerciseclassesat thelocal yMCA in the

morning. Shethendeferspuzzling untilthe

afternoons buther

"preferred workingtime

is themorning." SeveraltimesamonthHansenjourneys intoManhattan toattendoperasunO.turri_ calconcerts.AlthoughHansenisextremelv knowledgeable in classicalmusic.shl doesn'tbombardsolverswith obscure If

I canuseanariathat I knowinsteadof anoverworked entryI,ll

useit,

arias." Many of her puzzles are basedon

original five-line limericks or four_line

verses(seesamplesonpage9).Hansenfirst

createsaversecomposedof 2I or23letters

in eachline. Shehasto

keep the beat.

relinquish

causeit won'tfit." Althoughthemajorityof

formsto the2l-letterlimit, someeditors

haveallowedhertobreakwordsin unusual

places. Unsuspecting solversmightbecon_

fusedwhentheycompletealineln

andseean "With unfinished wordastheydid in MaliceToward None":

butI don,tgooutof thewayto use

her

be carefulalsoto

you have to

"sometimes

a muchmoreapt wordjust be_

herversecon_

thegrid

ATOI.ERJA}TNNNOFTABRT ZE.OU NDSE\ERAI.ELIESONHTSCXIEE

SEWIIEI|ToI.DIE!4USTS:I{ATHEs

ATDNOTflIIIN TUIEY?REI{EL @METOEATIiITATNIEYPI.EJASE

IlansenhaslivedinMetuchen almostall

of her life; her family movedtherewhen shewastwoyears old.Shemetherhusband_

to-bewhenshewas

packed heroff tohermother'sfamilyin the

Southwhenshewaslg

16,but her parents

to makeherdebut

(Continued on page 9)

THEMES ANDCLUESFROMTHEHANSENFILE

example of what Hansen

calls an

|

Bunyen,splckrxcutout?,,

,,il;::::ilfil;::'=

,mnd(.rno^,

ff;l#;,T;*,

"Into the Woods" - an

nll,.3{"'n"ouzzlewhichshederinesas"""6p;;;;l;;;;;|

"How the tree grew greenertt

"VYhy the tree'swlfe berked"

"How the tree's wlfe wes uprmtedrt

"I{ow the tree kept her plantedr,

"How they burled the hatchet"

"Quiptic Comments":

He

opened another brench, Shecalled

lta shedy deat,,

She

started to pack her trunk, Crooned

she

don,t ev€r leafme,,

sald baby take e bough'

"Any compllment from 8rlch?"

"Why wemissedMark's arrlval?"

('Poet John'slastwords?"

A

pleasant Remarque,, .iDldn,t meettheTwaln, What

ls doneis Donnel

"Bunyanesque" anexampleof athemecarriedto

-

exFemes,,:

"Malapropisms"

"X.rated fllm?"

"Advlce to the uptight?" 'rDon Julnts concern?tt

"On

"Phonographlc

movls',

"Sit back and relapse',

'"The erroneous zones"

TheLinks" wasostensiblyagolf

puzzle, buthadnothing

to do with tlwt

followed thecluewords:

game.Rather, the;.gine',-wlls to find wordsthat

"Lookworkprsslapdoturn

"Avanctevionval

ueterrdt

tt

"Stetem Inegraduatehandrt "Pourrlghttroddenstage',

"6 over?t,

,aPr,r 4?rt

"4 under?r,

"4 down?"

"Bunyan's san{}9altt

"Bunyan's lceculslrt

'Eunyan's daily constltutional?rt 's barbecueplt?',

"The Palnted Desert"

ttMulr Glaclertt

"Oregon Trall,t

Jackson

Holert

anda "trap" at 3-Down:

*

tt5 uPTt

'dTooretadtsecraordlarbr'*

Hinc to bereadbackward

CROSSW RD

Page 7

Hansen(from PageT)

andeditorswhomeetregularlyfor lunchat aManhattanrestauranttosocializeandtalk

shop.Theluncheonsstartedabout25years

agowhenanavidsolver,aMr. Morgan(his

first namehasbeenforgotten),nradelunch dateswithMargaretFarrar,WillWeng,and "He

theHansenssimultaneously.

and told me he was havinglunch with MargaretandWill; thenhecalledMargaret andtoldherhewashavinglunchwithWill

and me and could we join him? We all

agreed,not knowing, of course,that the

into a dozeandcrashedthroughthepaper

into Crosswordland."He

"recognized it

and spenda yearwith relatives.(Hansen

was presentedto

parties,dances,andsocialevents. "It

highspotofmylife,"recallsHansen.)When shereturned,her future husband @rnest Hansen)proposed;however,her father

wouldn't let them marry until Ernie was earningat least $50a week.Thatgoalwas

reachedwhenHansenwas21.

immediately,for admisweregrazingunder a dhavaandanai hungfromatondoin one of the salas."He encounteredfamiliar

crossworddeni2sn5-"[ya

Evita (_ Peron),and Monk (Iazzman

(Miss Gardner),

society via a seriesof

wasa

calledme

Thelonius)

who wereired(angry) about

beingtrite(overworked)." Bakercontinued

in this mannerand managedto include morethan60 itemsof Crosswordeseinto

thepiece. WhenHansenwrotetocomplimenthim

The couplehad two sonsand Hansen playedtheroleofa typicalsuburbanhouse-

wife-caring

and furthering her husband'scareer(he becamea bank president).During those dayshermainoutletforintellectualpursuits

consistedof afternoonroundsof Scrabble

withtwoclosefriends. "Our

to the local elementaryschool,just two blocksawayandcamehomefor lunchev- eryday.As soonastheyreturnedto school wegottogetherat oneof our housesand playedfurious gamos of Scrabble. We wereruthlessin ourpursuit of filling in the

childrenwent

"

othershadn'tagreed.

for her home and children

HANSENVERSE

A defiantoldmaid,praylorgiveher Remarkedwitha bitof a quiver

"Tonight I

AnddrinktillI choke Andnutsto mylungsandmyliver,,

Maryhada litiletamb Shesaiditgave hergrief lf shehadhada litileham WouldMaryhavea beef?

shallsmoke

Anunladylikelassof Montana

Wasseenina

Whentheyhollered "Unclean!,'

Shesaidsomethingobscene Andleltina huffforHavana

TomThumbwashightypaid

Buthere'sthegrimreport

Despitethedoughhemade

PoorTomwasalwaysshort

dirtybandana

grid and amassingthe most points.,, Knowingthat they hadonly two hoursto pursuethis hobbymadethe friendsultra- competitive,and they dubbedtheir game "killer

Scrabble."

No onein Hansen'simmediatefamilv

sharesher love of

husband "wouldn't do the crosswordsin the newspaperbecauseanswersweren,t

there.However,he did solve puzzlesin booksbecausethey had the answersin back." Hansen,awarethatherhusbandwould lookuptheanswers,alwayspretended not tonotice.WhenErniewassolvingshewould

clearherthroatandstampherfeetto warn himofherimpendingentranceintoaroom; thatwouldgivehimtimeto turnthepages backsoshewouldn'tcatchhimlookingat

theanswers. "I

lookedattheanswers,"recallsHansen.Her

sonsdon'tsolvepuzzles

theirthing."

. Like mostpeoplein the .,biz," Hansen hastwosetsof friends-those who create crosswordsand thoseinvolved in other pursuits.Herlocalfriendsconsistmainlyof atight-knitgroupof widowswhosocialize

frequently. "If

movieswecallupanotherandsay uptheusualsuspects'and we all go to- gether." Hansenvisitsoftenwith hercrossword friends,especiallyformerTimeseditorWill

Weng.She'soneof a dozenconsructors

crosswords.tter htl

didn't carehow muchhe

It,s

not

oneof uswantsto go to

the

.round

Anaestheticotdmanof Duluth

Wentto liveina telephonebooth Onedayfeelinghot Heabandonedthespot

'To

Thedooriswideopen Whileyoupratile on Yousayyou aregoing Willyoueverbegone?

perspire,"

heremarked,

,ls urmuth.,'

lree

SomePersiansflewintoa pet Withsomepeople namedMedes whomlheymet; Whatthefusswasabout Orhowitturnedout

I reallycan'tsay;Iforget

TwoANTAowlssatina

Thesheowlsaid, "We're onTV" "Aha!" theowlsaid,ashoot "l geta grand to give a hoot."

Anuxoriousmanwassolight Hewascaniedawaybya kite Heflewoverthecity Crying, "Lord, whata pity, lwon'tseemymissustonight!',

Hersmilemightbebolder

Andlongsincetorgotten

lf shehadn'tbeentotdher

Bicuspidslookedrotten

on the columnhe senther the

Hansenmet MargaretFarrarand Will Wengthroughthisfirstluncheonruse.And

it becamethestartof amonthlyroutinethat continuestoday.At first, theluncheswere attendedonly by Farrar,Weng, and the

Hansens.Later,othereditorsandconstruc-

torsjoined. Thegroupformerlymetat the CafedeFrance,butnowlunchesatanother restaurantonthewestsideof Manhattan.A coreof 15peopleattendregularly.

OneofHansen'smostmemorablecross-

wordexperiencesoccurredwhenherpuzzle

servedastheinspirationforhumoristRussell

Baker's classic

Crosswordland" columnof January19,

"Crashing

Into

1975.Baker,thwartedin

his efforts to

fell

"determine whetherDr.Dolittle'sduckwas

namedDabbab,Dabnabor Dabrab

original

illustration that accompanied the article.

Shehadit framedandithasaplaceofhonor in herhallway. llansenestimatesthatshehassoldseveral thousandpuzzlesin hercareer,andwhilenot becomingrich from hereamings(,,asfar as time goesyou'reverypoorlypaid"), she's usedher crosswordmoney to buy henelf luxuriesshenormallywouldn'thavehad. Self-effacing and modestabout her achievements,Hansenis in thebusinesbe-

causesheloveswhatshedoes

besensibleaboutanything.All I wanttodois

havefunwithcrosswords." tr

Ireallyhateto

HELENE HOVANEC is editorandpub- lisherof Kids, PuzzleExpress.

July/August1992

CROSSWRD

Page 9