Huron High School math teacher Peter Collins has written yet another crossword puzzle for The New York Times.
That makes an even 100.
And if you know how tough it is to get even one puzzle accepted by The Grey Lady, you understand what a feat that is.
“I still enjoy the creative process of writing crossword puzzles,” says Collins, who has worked for AAPS since he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1980, and has been the math department chair at Huron High for 17 years. “I only wish I’d started earlier.”
Collins’ puzzle composition was featured in a 2015 story in the AAPS District News when he was only up to 85 in The NYT.
He says his pace of writing puzzles has slowed considerably since then.
But nobody’s calling him a slacker quite yet.
In fact, in addition to the Times puzzle to be published Aug. 17, Collins has four or five other puzzles that have been accepted by the Times and will run eventually.
For the last year and a half, he’s written the crossword puzzle for the local monthly “Groundcover News.”
He had a puzzle in last Saturday’s LA Times.
And a Peter Collins puzzle will appear in The Wall Street Journal this Thursday (Aug. 10).
Brian Cox of Ypsilanti was thrilled to see his own crossword puzzle published for the first time in the NYT on July 26.
“When I decided to construct my first crossword puzzle, I greatly underestimated how difficult it was to create something simple and beautiful,” says Cox, who considers Collins a local celebrity. “What Collins does is not merely crossword construction; it is art. And it is art at a level that you may only be able to fully appreciate after trying to do what he does. Which I can’t.”
To see where Collins stands among constructors in terms of the number of puzzles published in the “Shortz era” (that is, since 1993), consider this table.
It says he is currently in 14th place.
“Puzzle construction is a lot more enjoyable than one of my old hobbies — golf,” says Collins. “I get to share my finished product with tens of thousands of people around the county, and I don’t end up with burrs in my socks.”
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Wow. I can’t even solve a full puzzle, let alone submit one. But the idea of replacing golf with puzzle construction … intriguing. Great story!
As a former colleague, it is a special treat to be able to congratulate Pete on this incredible accomplishment and to thank the AAPS for an outstanding article.
Hats off to Pete Collins! Years ago, he gave me some pointers that helped me get my first crossword puzzle accepted into the NY Times. What’s also impressive is that he can solve a Monday crossword puzzle (i.e. the easiest day for NY Times) in like 3 minutes — I timed him!