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New York Times, Friday, January 10, 2014

Author: Patrick Berry
Editor: Will Shortz
Patrick Berry
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2197/11/19992/4/20172
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
711241672512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 183 for Mr. Berry. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes: I hold Patrick Berry in such awe that (I hope he doesn't mind my telling you this) I was flabbergasted to find he'd misspelled the ... more
Will Shortz notes: I hold Patrick Berry in such awe that (I hope he doesn't mind my telling you this) I was flabbergasted to find he'd misspelled the answer at 7D. The 1990s rap duo, known for wearing their clothing backward, is spelled Kris Kross. KRISS KROSS, with two doubled S's, is the name of the skeleton/fill-in puzzle in Dell puzzle magazines, popular since the 1930s. I'm glad I was able to save this answer with a new clue, because the middle area of the grid was not going to be "fixed"!
Jeff Chen notes: Patrick Berry earns his second POW! with this beaut. Why do I have a feeling that I'll be handing out many more POWs to him in the ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Patrick Berry earns his second POW! with this beaut. Why do I have a feeling that I'll be handing out many more POWs to him in the future? Given his propensity to make innovative grids incorporating very nice fill and little to no dreck, I'm looking forward to it. And when POWs rise to be worth one beeeellion lek (I'll pay everyone when we meet up in Albania), he'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

At XWord Info we have a page displaying common grid patterns. Scrolling down, you'll see that several of them are of the themeless variety. It's totally fine for a constructor to take a grid from a grid library and fill it, but there's an artfulness, a higher skill to crafting a grid from scratch. That might sound hoity-toity, but the big advantage it brings to the table is the ability to fit in exactly the lengths of entries you desire. Not only that, but you can adjust block placement as you construct, allowing for snappier or smooth fill. Often times I find moving a few blocks here or there solves a lot of problems.

There's something awesome about hugely wide-open grids with patterns I've never seen before. I had a moment of awe with my first glance of the giant tilted football in the middle of the grid. You might ask, why don't more constructors attempt grids like this? Having tried it myself, I can answer that: because it's insanely hard to do with beautiful execution. There are so many pitfalls, so many times when you work yourself into an ugly entry and have to reboot ad nauseam.

As with every puzzle, not everything came up roses. I wasn't a fan of THENCEFORTH, which at the best felt like a "glue" entry to hold things together, and MACHOS feels iffy. Also, today's Scrabble score is pretty low, just counting one V and a smattering of Ks. But that's all a very small price to pay for the amazing nature of today's grid.

Yadda yadda yadda great entries like CRACK SHOT, CHEAT SHEETS, SCRATCH PADS, COPACABANA, BATH PILLOW (all in the center section!) blah blah blah nary a bad entry etc etc etc wonderful clues like "Cribs" for CHEAT SHEETS and "One who wants in on the deal" for CARD PLAYER. Seriously though, I joke to assuage my grief that I'll likely never be as good as Patrick. But that's okay; being around greatness inspires me to work harder. I'll be studying this one further to see what I can learn.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,439
Across Down
1. Attaché feature? : ACCENT
7. Lawrence who co-wrote "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" : KASDAN
13. Seat of Ireland's County Kerry : TRALEE
14. One of the former Barbary States : TRIPOLI
15. Pride : lions :: ___ : crows : MURDER
16. "Don't get so worked up!" : CHILLOUT
17. Ordered pair? : SIDEDISHES
19. ___ running : ARMS
20. Moving briskly : SPRY
21. Public record? : CENSUS
23. Not down with anything : WELL
24. Deadeye : CRACKSHOT
27. Surprised expression : ISAY
28. Many old B films : OATERS
29. Constant critic : NAG
31. Leery of being noticed, maybe : SHY
32. Decides on : OPTSFOR
33. Symbol of liberty in the French Revolution : ELM
34. Last course, often : PIE
35. Domineering men : MACHOS
36. Gridiron cry : HIKE
37. They deliver on Sunday : PREACHERS
39. Ideal world? : EDEN
40. Sulking peevishly : INAPET
41. Underattended, say : DEAD
42. Grocery staple : EGGS
45. Tub accessory for the head : BATHPILLOW
48. Old-fashioned promotions : PRINTADS
50. La to la, e.g. : OCTAVE
51. Common gathering in a public square : PIGEONS
52. Bet : STAKED
53. Menelaus' kingdom : SPARTA
54. Menorah inserts : TAPERS
1. Bread boxes? : ATMS
2. Common casino locale : CRUISESHIP
3. One who wants in on the deal : CARDPLAYER
4. Aged : ELDERLY
5. Emotionally demanding : NEEDY
6. Dean's "Lois & Clark" co-star : TERI
7. Word puzzle popular since the 1930s : KRISSKROSS
8. Bother : AIL
9. Unspecific recipe quantity : SPLASH
10. "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a ___": Milton Berle : DOOR
11. Diploma holder, for short : ALUM
12. Tiny criticisms : NITS
14. Ever since that time : THENCEFORTH
16. Cribs : CHEATSHEETS
18. Brainstorming session aids : SCRATCHPADS
22. Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signatory, briefly : USSR
23. Flimsy lock : WISP
24. 1978 disco hit featuring the warning "Don't fall in love" : COPACABANA
25. Body of water belatedly added to the course of the Erie Canal : ONEIDALAKE
26. Discussed : TALKEDOVER
30. Mafioso foes : GMEN
32. Bahla Fort site : OMAN
36. Clicker, of a sort : HEELTAP
38. Michael who once led Disney : EISNER
41. Decrees : DICTA
42. Omar of TV and film : EPPS
43. Clutch : GRIP
44. Memory unit prefix : GIGA
46. Diplomatic assignment : POST
47. Joins : WEDS
49. Unsteady walker, maybe : TOT

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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