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Author Topic: Obscure geographic names  (Read 2842 times)


  • Guest
Obscure geographic names
« on: July 23, 2009, 02:32:22 AM »
Hi all,

I'd appreciate some feedback from all you seasoned constructors out there.

I have just completed construction of a themed 15x15 with an eye towards submission to the NYT. I'm a little worried, however, about two of my answers which are fairly obscure place names.

The first is NANAN - Nan'an could be either a district or city in China. I'd never heard of it until I chanced upon the name, which fits nicely across several 6- & 7-letter answers. I sweated blood to finish this area of the puzzle and would rather leave it unless it will seriously reduce my chances of acceptance. Any thoughts?

The second is LAE, which is the second largest city in Papua New Guinea. I could feasibly change this (e.g., perhaps LAE to LAI) but again it was a struggle to find a workable answer.

(I also have POA, which is a place in Burkina Faso, but I am considering clueing it as the abbreviation of "Power of Attorney" - dumb idea?)

If anyone can suggest better, non-geographic clues I would be extremely grateful!

As a general comment, one reason I enjoy completing crosswords is to learn new words and facts, and these difficult words often fall out when the cross answers are completed. I'd hope that a few obscure answers wouldn't lead to rejection.



  • Newbie
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  • Posts: 9
Re: Obscure geographic names
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2009, 10:59:47 AM »
First off -- I'm not a seasoned constructor, still an aspiring one like yourself.

LAE has appeared in NYT puzzles several times before (most recently June 13, 2009), usually clued as a Papau New Guinean port involved in WWII. NANAN has not. It's certainly not a delightful answer, but I can think of some redeeming features for it (it's literally southern shore/bank in Chinese, so may be inferrable from more famous place names with those characters, i.e. Nanking/Xi'an). My feel is that if it's supporting some really gorgeous (and gettable) crossings, and if the rest of your fill is soild, go for it. However, if the big names reply and beg to differ, I'll humbly stand down :)
« Last Edit: July 23, 2009, 11:01:35 AM by colincorgi »


  • Guest
Re: Obscure geographic names
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2009, 08:49:31 PM »
If you are trying to get away from geo-references, you could try "Bluegrass genus" for Poa.  It's a bit obscure, but worth a shot perhaps.


  • Jr. Member
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  • Posts: 70
Re: Obscure geographic names
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2009, 10:45:12 AM »
What level of difficulty and market are you aiming for? 

If the puzzle is a 78- 76-word puzzle, easy theme, aimed at a Monday / Tuesday audience (using the NYT as a standard), then I think none of these would fly. 

If you're working on a 70- 72- word unthemed puzzle intended for a Friday / Saturday audience, then I think LAE would be fine.  POA might fly, if you could clue it so that the solver would understand the initialism once it is revealed (or maybe if the target audience consists of lawyers or doctors).

I'm not sure that NANAN would work anywhere.  It's not just an obscure place, it's an obscure district of an rather obscure place.


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