A few weeks back, we were pleasantly surprised to discover Jacobs Camp referenced in the Jerusalem Post’s crossword puzzle. (We were One Across.) We were wondering “How did we make the puzzle?” So, we reached out to the Post’s puzzle editor David Benkof to find out. We expected to learn of some unique HSJ connection; instead, we learned one of the secrets of puzzle-making.
Here’s what David Benkof shared with us:
I’m so glad someone found your camp in my puzzle and it tickled their fancy!
The answer to your question is actually pretty complicated and relates to the nature of crossword puzzle-making.
The best entries for crossword puzzles are made up of words that go consonant-vowel-consonant (or vowel-consonant-vowel), because that makes it much easier to interlock entries both across and down. Further, the ideal (at least as far as ease of construction is concerned) entry is made up of letters that have low Scrabble values (E, S, T, A, O, etc.).
So you can see how UTICA is a pretty helpful word to be able to use in a puzzle. Now, once I realized that the upper left-hand corner worked well with UTICA as one-across, I had to find a way to clue it. My main choices were the coastal city in North Africa, the city in New York, and the city in Mississippi. New York clues show up all the time in my puzzle, so I was looking at the other two, and when I realized there was a URJ Camp in Utica, MS (thanks, Google!) I pretty much had my answer.