Puzzler’s Wednesday – Todd McClary


Happy December Puzzlers! We begin our month by welcoming fellow puzzler and blogger Todd McClary.

  1. How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

Todd McClary is a person who cannot be adequately described in a single sentence, so I’m glad there are more questions to answer.

  1. When did you start solving and making puzzles?

I grew up in a family that enjoyed all kinds of games — bridge, charades, Clue, lawn darts, you name it. I discovered Games Magazine as a teenager and encountered the innovative puzzle types that heralded the “new wave” movement. I submitted my own puzzles to Games and succeeded in getting some of them published as well as making the acquaintance of the editorial staff, particularly Fraser Simpson. He introduced me to the international community of puzzle constructors and I suddenly had a second family.

  1. What is your favorite kind of puzzle to solve/create?

I love solving Rows Garden and Marching Bands puzzles. They have an elegance of structure that makes me want to savor the solving experience rather than speed through. While I enjoy constructing crosswords and other puzzles I have a greater passion for creating parlor games. One of my favorites is the classic groupthink game in which players try to choose a member of a category that few other players will choose. I call it an “Anti-match” game and have run several iterations of this game type online.

(I’ve participated in several of Todd’s Anti-Match games and can vouch that they’re a whole lot of fun – DMK)

  1. Tell us a little bit about latest (or upcoming) puzzle projects?

I am proud to be a member of the program committee for the annual convention of the National Puzzlers’ League. Our 2016 convention will be held in July in Salt Lake City and we are looking forward to marvelous and varied program of group games and puzzles, along with the unofficial offerings that attendees bring to present in the after hours. I’ve just completed a book of themeless crossword puzzles for Puzzlewright Press. Fresh Freestyle Crosswords will appear in bookstores sometime next year. I’m also constructing meta crosswords that will appear in the Wall Street Journal over the next few months.

  1. A clue (cryptic or otherwise) that always stayed with you?

Many years ago a friend of mine was given a job proofreading a book of crosswords. The constructor featured in the book was previously unknown to me but after my friend shared some of the unedited clues and entries I realized that this constructor had no business writing a postcard let alone a crossword puzzle — let alone an entire book of them. The representative clue/entry pair I remember from this book is: {“This Is See ___”} / ENEN. The book was full of similar “gems,” and as I laughed along with my colleagues at the misfires of this hapless constructor I also reflected on the dangers of relaxing good editorial standards just to accomplish an impressive crossword feat or even just to finish a grid.

  1. Favorite constructor?

Peter Gordon. Many people tout Peter as an editor (by the way, Peter is also my favorite editor) and overlook his talents as a constructor. Peter has such a thoughtful touch with clues. He makes an effort to find new and interesting ways to clue repeaters. His clue sets balance levity with gravitas. I find his approach to puzzle constructing highly influential.

  1. What do you like to do when you’re not doing puzzles?

I enjoy cycling quite a bit and I can get adventurous in the kitchen on occasion. It’s rare that I’m not thinking about puzzles in one form or another. My life experiences often call for problem-solving strategies or inspire puzzle ideas. That’s why I titled my blog Life as a Puzzle.

  1. If you could have dinner with one famous person who would choose?

Stephen Sondheim is a musician and puzzle maker that I have admired for many years. I think after my initial star struck reaction we would have delightful dinner conversation.

  1. If you had a superpower what would it be?

I would like to have the time management skills that Peter Gordon has. That’s a superpower, right, Peter?

  1. What’s your personal motto?

The principal motto that I use when creating puzzles and games is to be observant of what other puzzle constructors are doing, and then do something else. If you want to stand out in a crowd of prodigious puzzle makers you have to be innovative.

  1. Links you’d like to share (website, puzzle, etc.)

I maintain a list of puzzle links on my blog Life as a Puzzle (tmcaylifeasapuzzle.wordpress.com). I mentioned the National Puzzlers’ League earlier so I will single out the organization’s website: www.puzzlers.org. The NPL is a must-join organization for any serious puzzle maker and the annual NPL convention is, with all due respect to ACPT advocates, the greatest bang-for-the-buck puzzle event in the country.


About paws4puzzles

I'm a writer and puzzle maker. I am the author of a YA fantasy series, P.A.W.S. and my puzzles have been published in many magazines from Dell and Penny Press and on the walls of the Eltana cafe in Seattle. My most recent release is a book of logic problems, Paws4Logic which I wrote together with my son, Joey.
This entry was posted in Interviews, Puzzler's Wednesday, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Puzzler’s Wednesday – Todd McClary

  1. paws4puzzles says:

    Reblogged this on Paws4Thought and commented:

    Over on my sister site it’s Puzzler’s Wednesday!


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