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EugeneT.

Maleska'sLastWill andTestament
PlusAmerica'sMostCreativeCrosswords
By the Nation'sTopConstructors

OT

CouldDo ThisIndefinitely'
JohnSamson
by HeleneHovanec

:." iji/5t:'*ihis is so tenible,neversendme Farrar.Samsonis now sole editor of ttrese wasn't picked up." Without the necessary
,r anyttringagain."With theseharsh books, the longest-runningpuzzle
series hnancing,Samsonhad todrop theproject.He
:'
wordsEugeneT. Maleskastarted (startedby S&S in 1924as ttreir lust book hopes to write a screenplayor otler hctional
his relationstrip
with JohnSamson,the man ever).Samson's
hrstpuzzlewaspublished
in work "someday."
who would laterbe his co-editor,friend and Series137;atpresstimehewaseditingSeries
Nowadayshis l2-hour workdaysarehlled
heirapparent.
r83.
to thebrim. Seatedbetween
his"twin towers."
ldaleskawas referring to an unsolicited
Samson's
metamorphosis
fromamateur
to two state-of-the-art specially constructed
crossword
hehadreceivedfromSamson.
The professional
constructorandeditorevolved multimedia computers,Samsonruns his emfledgling consfructorhad beena New York over a periodof yearsashe honedhis skills pire from an aerie in a small village in upstate
Il'mrs crossword
solversince
hewas16.Not underthetutelageof Maleska.Heconstructed New York. He's responsible for 600 puzzles
knowing that therewere any rules, he con- afewmorepuzzles
withPohlbutstarted
asolo ayeat.
sfucted a puzile and mailed it off to editor stint shortlythereafter.Samsonnow derives
For S&S he produceseight books a year
Maleska.It includedttretypicalmistakesneo- his entireincomefrompuzzles.
(six for the original Farrar series and two
phytesmake--a non-symmetrical
diagram
The 41-yearold Samsonis a quiet,self- large-type books). When he co-edited with
containing
two-letterwordsandunkeyedlet- effacingpersonwith a pleasantdemeanor, Maleska he would edit half the puzzlesand
ters.
low-keyedstyle and soft voice.He's very takecareof the pay list while Maleskaedited
After receivingMaleska'sletterSamson mucha family man,devotedto his wife and the other half and wrote the foreword. Each
took a closerlook at crosswordsand found two children.
wrote his own blurbs. "It was a collaborative
that they did indeedhavea logical order to
THE1993WYNNERWINNERS
them.So,he decidedto give it anothershot.
In
the
January/February
1994issueof cRossw RD,weleatured
MelRosenasthe
Workingwiti afriend,DavidPohl,heobeyed
1993Crossword
Personol theYear,andthewinnerof the l ggSWynnerAward.Weare
the rules and constructeda new crossword. pleased
to present
therestof the 1g93Wynners:
IgnoringMaleska'sorder,Samsonsenthim
Johnsamson,for hisworkas long-time
co-editor,
andnowsoleeditor,of thesimon
puzzle.Thistimetheretumenve- andschuster
thissecond
crossword
series,
thelongest-running
seriesin crossword
hlstory.
lopeincludedanacceptance
letteranda style
to thaareaofcrypticcrosswords.
_ EmilyCoxandHenryRathvon,lortheircontribu-tion
Emilyand Henryarecontributing
sheetindicating what Maleskawantedin a
editorsto CROSSW RD and we havefealuredtheir
crossword-symmetry,
lowwordcount,fresh crypticsin everysingleoneof our issues.EmilyandHenryarewidelyacknowledged
as
in America.
cluingandinteresting
themes.
Andheadvised thetoremostcrypticconstructors
Harvey Eiies, as best new conslructor. Harvey'spuzzlesare featuredin
Samson
to studytheTimespuzzles.
CROSSW RD,GamesMagazine,andTheNewyork Times,to namea few.
Maleskahad also returned the puzzle
EricAlbert,lorhisinnovationsinbringingcrosswordsintothecomputerage.
Crossword
showingthetyroshow he hadchangedtheir expertsagreethatEric'scomputer
program
lor fillingcrossword
gridsisf ar andawaythe
clues.Maleska'smodusoperandi
wastocross bestin existence.
outa constructor's
clueandwritea newdefrnitionaboveit. Sincehehadchangedgg%o
of
A college dropout (He attendedVirginia effort."All puzzles
weresubmitred
toMaleska
theclues
heaskedSamson
toretypethepuzzle. Tech for one and a halfyears. "I didn't know whowouldputthemfacedownona tableand
"He said his
typesettersneededa break." whatl wantedto do,andIdidn't wantto waste dividethemintotwopiles.Theireditingstyles
Eighteen
yearslalerSamson
canstillrecallthe my parents' money."), Samson held many weresocompatible
that"aftera whilesolvers
difference
betweenthe two ses of clues."I different jobs before settling into his current couldn't tell who did what," Samsonsaid.
hadclued'hoses'
as'socks.'Maleskachangedposition.He wasa self-taughtpainter,special- "My clueswereshorter.I don'tlikerambling
itto 'Theygo0oblazes.'
I remember
thinking, izing in portraits.His last work, a six-foot by clues."Samsonworkedon 50 bookswith
'How
clever!I didn't knowyoucouldbethis seven-footpainting hangs in a local church Maleskaand "inherited" the serieswhen
clever."'
and was createdas a memorial to his mother. Maleskadiedin 1993.
Samson
becamea diligentstudent-ana- He wrote poery and published a book, "A
Constructors
now sendpuzzlesdirectlyto
"These
lyzingthe crosswordsin the Times and the SomberNight in June." He alsosold vacuum Samson.
arsusuallypeoplewhohave
(S&S)books,constructing cleaners, wrote newspaper advertisements, submittedpuzzles
Simon& Schuster
before."Helooksforclever
newpuzzlesandrevisingthemaccordingto calledin theresultsat a hamessracetrack,and themesand clues,rejectingthosewittr disMaleska's
suggestions.
wrote thebook andsongsfora play.The latter, tastefultopics."For example,I don't want
Perhapsas a harbingerof ttringsto come a musicalcomedytitled "Lorna in theLand of puzzleswilh unsavorytopics,e.g.murderers,
Maleska
hadacreptedSamson'sfirstpuzzle, Time," was showcasedby Samsonfor pro- drugdealers,
etc."Samson
mightchange
five
notfortheTimes,
butfor inclusionin theS&S ducersand backersin an off-Broadway lhe- ta 90Voof theclues."I don't havea formula.
Crossword
Seriesheco-editedwith Margaret ater. However, "it wasn't properly seenand
(Continued
on Page7)
Seotember/October
1994

CROSSWRD

Page5

Samson(from Page5)

LASTWILLANDTE$TAMENT

SometimesI alsoreconstructthegrid."
Samsonis a prolific consfuctor,creating
almost200 puzzlesa year.For Tlu Globe,a
tabloidnewspaper,
hedoesa 33 x 33 weekly,
billed as "the world's largest crossword."
Whenthismammothpuzzle
wasreplacedby
asmallervenionin oneissuesomanyreaders
protestedthe changethat the editorsquickly
returnedto theoriginal format.
Samson's
otherweeklyassignmentis
a 3l
x 31 crosswordcalled"SuperCross"which
appearsn Tlu National Exanniner,sister
tabloidto The Globe.Embeddedwithin ttre
gnd arepicturesof movie stan, entertainers
andothercelebrities.
Hismontlly crossword
gigsincludettremed
ptl;izzles
for Cable Guide, Total TV, Hemisphere
s (UnitedAirlines' in-fl ightm agazine)
andHBO.ThislastpuzzlehighlightsHBO's
current films and is disseminatedro local
cablecompaniesfor theirmagazines.
Heconstructsvariety puzzles(Jumblesand word
frrds) for MasterCardand doesa quarterly
puzzlefor CamivalCruise'sshipboardmagazine.Whentimepermitsheconstructs
cross(Continuedon Page9)

Itwasa widely-held
beliefamonglhe crossword
cugnoscenli
thatJohnSamsonwould
srcceedEugeneT. Maleskaascrosswordeditorof TheNewYo* Times.After
all,hewas
Maleska'sstarpupil.
Heco-editedtheSimon
& Schusterbooks.
Heoftenmannedthe
Imes
"New
boothat the
Yorkis BookCountry"fair.Heconstructed
specialpuzzlesforthe limes
when Maleskawanteda themedcrosswordto mark an occasion-Christmas,Frank
sinatra'sbirthday,MartinLutherKing,Jr. day,etc.Hisedhorialstylewas on thi same
wavelength
as Maleska's
atthouoh
. ButSamsonisquic*to pointoutthathe neverreallyeditedthe Timespuzzles
hesometimes
subbedforMaleskawhen
thelatterwas
unabletowork.
Severalvears
befo-re
"When
hisdeathMaleska
wroteto Samsonandtoldhim,
thetimecomeshewasqoinqto
recommend
meandBillLutwiniak
(forthejob)andthatthe limaswouldprobabksJlect-me
bscauseI m younger.But we neverreallydiscussedit." (Note:WilliamLutwiniak
predeceasedMaleska.)
(lna 1990interview
whhMaleskaI askedhimwhowouldsumeedhim.Inthepast.the
editorhad.named.h.is
or her replacemenr.
Mateskasaid he had c'hosena
9:p31]"s
su@essor
butwouldn'trevealthename.)
Samsonstress€s
that"l wasnevertoldI'd havetheiob.I wastoldit wasa oossibilitv.
I
spoketo Mrs..MaleskaafterGene'sdeathand she said Mel raub and i rradbeen
recommended
forthe|ob."(Wordon thecrossword
gossiplinewasthatMaleska
wanted
twopeople-to
succeedhim-Samsonas editorof the dailyandSundaycrosswords
and

n:*ffi: iffi lji"TrtT:.i'

* "r puzz
re-{oubre-crosiic,
punsandi nasram
s,crypr
ic

Samson was interviewedfor the position by Jack Rosenthal,editor of the Sundav
magazine. As part of the selectionprocesshe-submittedpuzzles he had edited.Whei
Rosenthal'sassistantcalledto tell him he didn't get the job, he admitsto ,'beinga little
disappoinled."But his childrenwere happy,"becauselcould spend moretime wiih them.
r ne , rmes wanled me lo come down lo New york City to correct oroofs."
Samson'snot vindictiveabout not gettingthe job everyoneels6 thought he'd qet. He
harborsno illfeelingtowardthe new editor."lwish Will Shortzthe best. ld6n't reseit him."
And he means it.
- H.H.

EnloyTheFunandChallenge

CROSSWORDS
OI{THEPC!
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LYRIQ
crosswordsrM
ThePlayer's
choiceisconsidered
the mostuserfrienory
producti.n,its
class,Toolbar'buttons
letyouverifyiiJ tetieroi'woroiscorrect
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vrsua,t
andsoundiiints.,,cFecks-n-Xrs,;
urtoraiiiur'fy
fllq-qigyi9ign-going
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rndrcates
whrchclueshavebeensolved
correctly
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l el a y esru p p o rat ,n da t o u r n a m em
n to d ef o r a
untque
crosswords
expeIence.

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September/October
1994

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CROSSWRD

puter. His "Crossdown"programfor cross_ ing specialist
who polishestlre materialand
word constructon automatically makes a printsout theproofs.
wordsfor corporatectents.
symmefical diagram,numbersthe grid and
. Theseproofsare
senttoS&Swherethey're
Samson'stypicalworkdaybeginsatnoon. prints out the clue words to the right
of the rechecked.
Any
final
corrections
arethenmade
Hespendsthemorninghoursathomewith his numbers."The programis fmlproof;
it can't on thedisk by Bellottoor his assistant
six-year-oldson.When his son goesoff to leave out cluesand it can't misnumber
. Thedisk is sentto theprinter.
the
kindergartenSamsonstrollsacrossthe sfeet grid." The progarn also scans grid
ttre
for
Samsonhasbeenusingthis systemfor the
to his fatler's house,wherehe hasconverted repeatedwords(a no-noin puzzles).
pastyearandfinds it enor-free...It eliminat€s
theentireupstain
. BellottosendsSamsonall thecrosswords
floorintohisoffice.There's
alotof drudgery."With thisprocedure
Samson
noroom for him to work at homeand,.there on disk.
cansendall his cliens camera-ready
puzzles.
arc too many dishactions"therefor him o
. Usingthe"Crosdown"prrogram,samson
The ottrer half of Samson's..twin_tower
functionproperly.Hetakestimeoff fordinner editsall thepuzzleson computer.
This time- system"is a virhrallibraryon computerwhere
andretumsto hisoffrceuntil midnighr Thisis consumingtaskwasformerly
doneby hand. hecancombthroughdictionariesandencyclo_
hisroutineeveryday,weekendsincluded.He
. Samsonprintsoutall 50puzzlesin manu_
pedias,scanningthelibraryo comeupwiththe
hasn'thada vacationin yean.
scriptform.Thereareapproximately
sixpages perfectcluefor his puzzles.He canalsostore
Samsonhas a sophisticatedediting and to eachpuzzle--solvinggrid,answergrid
and clueson thecomputerandcheckto seethathe
productionsyst€musingnvo 486DX IBM_ clues.
doesn'treusea clue.
clonecomputers.
. The manuscriptis sent to S&S,
Foreachof theS&Sbooks
where
Samsonisn't pluggedinto the crossword
Samsonusesthefollowing procedures:
copy editorsreadover everyclue and fact_ hotlineto socialize
with othereditorsandcon_
. Hechooses
SOpuzzles
forthebook.Most checkeverything.They mark up the pages
structorsasmanyof theNewyorkCity-based
constuctorssubmit their puzzleson paper with correctionsand queries
and return ttre puzzlersdo.He leadsanisolatedlife in asmall
('onlyonepercentsendmematerialondisk"). manuscriptto Samson.
communityandthatsuitshimjust fine..,I'm a
He mailsthemto SamBellottoJr.,his com. He makestheappropriatechanges(if
he reclusebecauseof my demandingschedule.I
puter partner. Samsonfound Bellotto on agreeswith thecopy
editors;he hasthefinal love what I do and can go on doing
this in_
AmericaOnline when he was searchingfor say) on the computerand
sendsttre revised definitely."
different pazzle progams on shareware. diskto Bellono.
And hejusr mighr.
Belloto hadaprogramthathecustomizedfor
. BelloEoconvertstlre diagramsto
.EpS
Samson.
graphics
formatandpus thecluesintoatextfrle. HELENE HOVANEC is a New york City_
. Bellotto keys everythinginto the com. Thesefiles aresentto a desktoppublish_ basedwriter/edimr.

Samson(from PageT)

tr

CROSSWRD

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