He was less a combatant in the internal struggle than an instrument of reconciliation among accomplished Crossword Puzzle makers, who number less than 100 nationally and who call themselves constructors or cruciverbalists. The two sides are the old school, which hews to traditions it believes to be inviolable, like the prohibition against brand names in puzzles, and a self-proclaimed ''new wave,'' which thinks crosswords should reflect the ''living language'' of most Americans.
The dispute is exemplified by the ''oreo war.'' Old school constructors insist that if the puzzle demands the four letters o-r-e-o, then the clue should be ''mountain: prefix,'' as in ''oreortyx,'' or mountain quail. The new wave believes that if ''Oreo'' is the answer, ''cookie'' should be the clue.
The battleground is a 15- by 15-square daily grid (larger on Sundays) that celebrates its 75th birthday on Dec. 21, the date, most Crossword Puzzle historians say, on which The New York World published the first word puzzle with answers running horizontally and vertically. 27 Million Do Puzzles While Mr. Guilbert thought that after 75 years it was high time for a crossword hall of fame, some people wanted to make sure it would not turn out to be a mausoleum. A survey conducted last year for the Newspaper Advertising Bureau found that more than 27 million newspaper readers regularly do crosswords, but new-wave constructors contend that archaic language and irrelevant clues are alienating younger readers.
''There's a whole audience of smart, literate people who don't do puzzles anymore because there's nothing of interest to them in it,'' said Stanley Newman, the president of the American Crossword Federation and a leader of the new-wave school of constructors, speaking by telephone recently from Bermuda, where a ''crossword cruise'' he was conducting had put into port.
William Lutwiniak, a traditionalist and the co-editor of The Washington Post Magazine's Sunday puzzle, said he had eliminated much crossword arcana, including the clues ''Anglo-Saxon serf'' and ''bacchanalian cry.'' (Answers: ''esne'' and ''evoe.'') But evolution, he added, cannot move too quickly. ''There's a sizable fraction of people who are lost without these words,'' he said.
Mr. Guilbert, a former advertising copywriter, was ignorant of the dispute two years ago when he developed a competitive crossword game called Pago Pago and first became aware of crossword fans' passion for the pastime. He got in touch with three dozen of the nation's top constructors to discuss starting a hall of fame and museum that might display famous past puzzles and other memorabilia and, not incidentally, sell a hall of fame trophy to avid puzzlers. 'Close-Knit Fraternity'
Mr. Guilbert said he had discovered that ''while these constructors are a close-knit fraternity, there's not much unanimity there.''
The purists consist of the editors of most of the country's prestigious newspaper and magazine puzzles, which bring $100 to $200 on Sunday and $25 to $50 for the smaller weekday versions. They are led by Eugene T. Maleska, The New York Times's Crossword Puzzle editor. Other prominent members include Mr. Lutwiniak, who is known for his use of ''stair-step'' puzzle construction in which the black squares run in diagonal series from the upper-right corner to the lower-left corner of the grid; and Maura B. Jacobson, New York magazine's resident constructor, who is called the queen of puns because she riddles her puzzles with clues like ''What results from embassy vaccinations?'' (Answer: ''diplomatic immunity.'') Mr. Newman, who edits the Newsday Magazine puzzle, is one of the most outspoken new-wave constructors. Henry Hook, who creates puzzles for The Boston Globe, is also prominent because of his use of contemporary clues like ''bet middler.'' (Answer: ''bookie.'') Merl H. Reagle, who creates crosswords for The San Francisco Examiner's Sunday magazine, is known for wide-open puzzles, which have a minimum of black squares. Considered among the most avant-garde of revisionist constructors, Mr. Reagle recently created a puzzle that had the letters s-e-x embedded in the answers, as in the solution to the clue ''expensive job for Jimmy Durante.'' (Answer: ''nose X-ray.'') Use of Brand Names Purists consider such solutions contrived because they cannot be found in standard lexicons. ''The old guard, like me, say, 'Thou shalt not coin,' '' said Mr. Lutwiniak, a 78-year-old former cryptologist with the National Security Agency. ''But these guys go their merry way.''
By far the greatest difference is over the use of brand names. Mr. Lutwiniak said that while he has no objection to brand names that can be found in dictionaries, like ''Xerox,'' in recent months he has received puzzles containing the names ''Acura'' and ''BOAC.''
''I'm afraid that once you open the door to this kind of thing, you can't stop it,'' he said.
New-wave cruciverbalists complain that old-school puzzle makers depend too heavily on what Will Shortz, a senior editor of Games magazine in New York, calls ''obscure words from the depths of the dictionary.'' The revisionist constructors, many of whom are in their 30's, consider Games their house organ. Mr. Newman, who is 36, complained about the solutions to such common crossword clues as ''sea bird,'' ''Indonesian ox'' and ''Malaysian boat.'' (Answers, respectively: ''erne,'' ''anoa'' and ''proa.'') Other new-wave innovations include a willingness to put two letters in a single square and to use answers that have no clues. Mutual Reverence
Determined to heal the breach, Mr. Guilbert invited a half-dozen of the best-known constructors from both factions to a meeting in May at the Harvard Club in New York to discuss the formation of a hall of fame. United by their Mutual Reverence for such past greats as the late Margaret Farrar, who for 27 years was the editor of The New York Times crossword, the two sides created a board of directors that includes not only two members of the old school, Mr. Maleska as president and Will Weng, a former Times crossword editor, as chairman, but also two from the new wave, Mr. Shortz as first vice president and Stanley Newman as secretary.
The board even agreed to allow Mr. Shortz to select a ''Pantheon of Immortals,'' who will be immediately inducted into the hall of fame once a home is found for it in New York or Washington. The immortals will be profiled in a special edition of Games magazine in October that will be devoted to the crossword's anniversary.
Both factions appear to be mellowing. Mr. Newman insisted that he was not out to undermine tradition. ''It is not my aim to make the contemporary crossword full of references to music videos and current movies,'' he said. ''It is my intention to create a balance, where opera and soap opera have equal value.''
Mr. Maleska, for his part, said he had learned from the new wave and more willingly accepts brand names in puzzles. In a future crossword, he said, the three-letter answer to one clue will be ''Duz.''
Diagram-an example of a new type of Crossword Puzzle (Copyright 1982 Games Magazine; reprinted by permission) (p. C17); answer to previous puzzle (p. C25)
Source : http://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/10/arts/puzzle-makers-exchange-cross-words.html