Riddle-me THIS!

The crossword puzzle printed in this issue is dedicated to emeritus professor of mathematics Jeremiah Farrell.

In addition to his current position as an adjunct professor of mathematics and actuarial science, Farrell is also an accomplished creator of crossword puzzles.

His most famous puzzle may be the most well-known crossword puzzle today, which ran in The New York Times on election day in 1996.

The controversial and clever clue: “Lead story in tomorrow’s newspaper.”

The answer?

Well, there were two. Farrell crafted the puzzle such that either “CLINTON ELECTED” or “BOB DOLE ELECTED” would fit.

This impressed professional puzzlers because Farrell had to craft every single intersecting clue to have two answers.

For example, “Black Halloween animal” could be “Cat” (the C in “Clinton”) or “Bat” (the B in “Bob Dole”).

Will Shortz, crossword editor for The New York Times and the leading figure in American crossword puzzlers, called Farrell’s crossword puzzle “one of the most amazing crosswords ever created” in an interview with the Indianapolis Star in 1996.

He still talks about it. When Shortz came to Butler University’s campus last spring, he used the puzzle as an example of the creativity he looks for when selecting puzzles for the Times.

The puzzle is also featured in the 2006 documentary “Wordplay,” which follows Shortz and the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

Farrell in 2006 was the first person to decode cryptograms in author Dennis E. Shasha’s book “Puzzling Adventures.”

According to the New York Sun, which covered the story in 2006, Farrell made sense of clues that were sprinkled throughout the book, like:

“R’X W7g7Y5 dZ 4yc z3AZY2 XA 7Y1ZX3 e6ye h3 XyA yWXZde z3 dy7 2 eZ z3 W7g7Y5 yayce.” – 3 3 1fXX7Y5d (CJKF-CKHD)

The clues led to a meeting with the author in Washington Square Park in New York City.

And Farrell was there.

He had gotten on a plane the night before and did what he knew the codes told him to do—look for two men in yellow accompanied by two women in blue just south of Washington Square Park.

Just in the knick of time, he spotted Sasha and his companions.

Sasha called Farrell a “particularly talented natural decoder” in an interview with the NY Sun.

Farrell is also the editor of WORDWAYS, a journal that publishes “word play of all kinds: puzzles, novel poems, palindromes, games, magic, unusual lists, etc.”

WORDWAYS is available to the Butler community via the Digital Commons at digitalcommons.butler.edu/wordways.

Farrell has been a professor at Butler for almost half a century.

In celebration of Farrell’s service to the university and its students, William Johnston has appropriately crafted a Butler-themed crossword. Johnston is chair of the mathematics and actuarial science department.

The answers will be printed in our next issue on Oct. 30, in the midst of exhibition games for the Butler men’s basketball team.


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