So, how does this theme work? The revealer here, at 64-Across, is FLIPSIDES, with the clue “Opposites … or instructions for answering this puzzle’s starred clues.” Essentially, you take the two “sides” of the word divided by the thick line and “flip” them the other way.
For example, at 45-Across we have the answer WINGBACKS with the clue “*Start of a golfer’s action.” Now, I’m no golf expert, but I know that chairs aren’t a vital part of the game. If you flip the sides of the word, you get BACKSWING, which feels much more like it has to do with the sport.
I’m a big fan of themes like this. I’ve solved a number of Mr. Seigel’s other puzzles, and this one is definitely my favorite of his. I am certainly looking forward to his next one, and I hope you all enjoyed solving this as much as I did.
Tons of compound words can be “flipped” to make a new unrelated term. HANGOVER flips to become OVERHANG, say. The components, HANG and OVER, are unchanged, so it’s not super interesting. I went looking for terms where the space between the components has to shift for the flip to work, so that one of the components is brand-new to the equation. Adding an “s” turned out to be the most reliable, consistent approach: TOOLBARS flips to BARSTOOL, and I liked how “stool” just shows up unexpectedly. I was surprised at how few good candidates I could find with this property. Some from the discard pile included: HOTPOTS, HOTBLOODS, WAYSIDES, PACEMAKERS and WINGCHAIRS. Sometimes an extra “s” suffix is needed to make a grid work; too many can feel like extra fluff in lieu of meatier vocabulary. For this puzzle I liked how the added “s” is the key to the gimmick.
My original submittal shaded one side of each compound answer, as an option to make it easier to see the “sides.” The editors went with no shaded squares; a bit harder, but hopefully fun and not frustrating.
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