I'd like to just say that Manny is a-ok in my book. I'd be raving about him more on this blog if we saw his stuff more often. So it was great (no, euphoric) to his name again in today's New York Times. He's always made puzzles with a great sense of grace, intellegence, and "how'd-he-do-that?" artistry that hardly ever looks like he's showing-off-for-showing-off's-sake. I think the last bit is the most impressive. Typically the more ambitious the grid (whether it's an overabundance of theme, lower word count, etc.) the greater the odds that some kind of bullshit enters the grid. A great example is Manny's former record-setting 19-black squares gid (since beat by Kevin Der). Jesus, did he make that look easy. Frankly, if you have some time, I'd take a quick gander at Manny's body of work here, and prepare to be blown away. Especially the very-forward-thinking themeless puzzles from the early 90s. Compare those to some of the other puzzles that Will was running in 1993 (ones that would have zero chance of being published today, I might add. That's how much the game has changed in 15 years). Manny was unbelievably ahead of the game back then. Again, wow.
Manny's the Hank Aaron in the puzzle biz, at least in the New York Times segment (Yeah, I know some guy called Barry Bonds "broke" the record, but he probably cheated). The 243 appearances might be an untouchable record, but I could see a couple people giving that a run for the money. Rich is probably out as he's busy with the L.A. Times, but his name appears now and again. Liz Gorski is within striking distance at 165, but it seems she's only doing WTFF? pieces-of-art Sunday puzzles lately. Fewer Sundays are run, so she's got her work cut out for her. David Kahn is in the mix, still doing amazing work, but he seems to be slowing down. I'd say your best bet to overtake Manny is (who else?) Patrick Berry. In ten years of puzzlemaking, he's got slightly less than half of Manny's total. And Pat's a young 'un who's on fucking fire! So barring an unforseen accident to either Patrick or the New York Times crossword, he's the man.
(Of course, if we find out Patrick's been using puzzle steroids, and his puzzlemaking prowess gets tainted A-Rod-style, I could sneak in there. I have a three puzzle lead, you know.)UPDATE: Jim Horne alerted me that his database had some errors in it, for example, Manny has only made 243 puzzles versus the previously reported 263. (Only 243, Jesus. Still an insane figure.) Jim has since fixed his website, and I have reflected those changes in the post. Thanks!