Just finished this week’s Listener puzzle, “Contractions”, lying in bed on Sunday morning. A clean, simple, straightforward theme, yet surprisingly difficult — I saw what the idea was within ten minutes of starting it on Friday, after solving just six clues, but the grid filled in only slowly. I worked on it intermittently on Saturday in between other things, completing a little more each time, and the last part, the upper right corner, didn’t fall till this morning.

Lots of good, elegant, but tricky clues, and quite a few that had me metaphorically slapping my forehead once I’d solved them, wondering how I’d failed to figure them out for long (in a few cases even after I’d figured out what the answer had to be from the crossing letters): 18A, 28A, 38A, 4D, 7D, 25D, 26D, and 34D, for example. No jaw-dropping surprises along the way, just a really well-crafted and well-executed puzzle. Very enjoyable.

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