It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.

New York Times, Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Author: David Poole
Editor: Will Shortz
David Poole
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
98/9/20101/10/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0213300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59101

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQUXZ} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Poole. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

Support XWord Info

Donation Amount

XWord Info is only possible when people like you choose to support it through donations.

Donate to get access to XWord Info for a year.

Benefits vary by donation level. Thank you!

David Poole notes: This puzzle grew out of a failed attempt to construct a different puzzle. Beginning with the not-exactly-earth-shattering ... more
David Poole notes:

This puzzle grew out of a failed attempt to construct a different puzzle. Beginning with the not-exactly-earth-shattering observation that BLACK and WHITE have the same number of letters, I spent some time trying to create a "Schrödinger puzzle" in which the central 5-letter entry could be either BLACK or WHITE with the crosses using the same clues either way. It didn't take too long for me to realize that my constructing chops aren't good enough to pull this off.

So Plan B: construct a puzzle around a word ladder BLACK -> WHITE. There are lots of possible ladders for this, but I settled on the one I used in today's puzzle. However, the puzzle still seemed to be lacking a raison d'être, something that changes from black to white. The discs in the game Othello! OK, now we're getting somewhere but just sticking OTHELLO into the grid as a revealer of sorts seemed inelegant. Then the crossword gods smiled on me: the game Reversi, on which OthelloTM is based, also has seven letters! So I could put both OTHELLO and REVERSI into the grid symmetrically.

On to construction. With a ladder of nine 5-letter words needing to be placed in a particular order, along with OTHELLO and REVERSI, there are some serious constraints on the grid. I had wanted the ladder to flow downwards, for example with SLACK at 15-Across and WHILE at 63-Across. However, I couldn't get decent fill with this placement. So I settled for the grid you now see and, all in all, I'm pretty happy with it.

Will and Joel tweaked some of the clues to make the puzzle Tuesday-friendly but, for the most part, they either kept the spirit of my original clues or improved upon them. For example, at 15-Across, I had [Actress Melanie's actress mom] for TIPPI which is now [Hedren of "The Birds"]. I like that change for a Tuesday puzzle. I'd say the only changed clue that I don't like is for 60-Down: MII [The year 1002]. I had [Personal avatar in Super Mario Galaxy]. Maybe that's not a good for a Tuesday, but I have an aversion to random Roman numeral clues. Minor quibble. I have to say that Will and Joel did such a good job with the clues that I had to go back and look at my original puzzle to know which clues they changed. Thanks!

I hope the solving experience is enjoyable.

Jeff Chen notes: Word ladder going from BLACK to WHITE, illustrating an incredibly slow game of OTHELLO / REVERSI. (I can just feel the irritation of ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Word ladder going from BLACK to WHITE, illustrating an incredibly slow game of OTHELLO / REVERSI. (I can just feel the irritation of the other player as I turn a piece over at a rate of one degree per second!) Neat that OTHELLO and REVERSI have matching word lengths — I had completely forgotten that latter name for the game.

I've highlighted the themers below to show how incredibly constrained the grid is. Eleven (!) entries to work around is no joke. They are all short, but this fact doesn't make the gridwork any easier.

Almost every 78-word crossword has some longer answers (otherwise, you'd go above that max of 78), and usually those longer answers are the themers. So when your theme relies on a bunch of shorties, your fill has to be long. David does well to work in some goodies like CAL STATE and BANK NOTE. EMBASSIES and GENTLEMEN are fine, although they're more filler than assets to me.

But given all these constraints and challenges, it's not surprising to see globs of crossword glue holding the puzzle together. There are just so many places where so many words --either themers or long fill — are fixed into place.

I don't personally mind a LEK (I like my foreign currencies!) or a REBAG (although Trader Joe's checkers do an incredibly good job bagging the first time) or an ENT (huge Lord of the Rings fan here). Throw in a KGS though (kg, not kgs), some EPH(esians), an ERN, a SEV (what? "several" has an abbreviation?), and an AMERCES, and it makes for a less-than-elegant solve.

I don't mind MII at all, even given my shivers at RRNs (random Roman numerals). The fact that personal WII characters are called MIIs … this amuses me probably more than it should. Neat to be on David's wavelength there.

Since word ladders have been done a lot over the years, it's important for me to get a little something extra, and the OTHELLO reminder was nice. It would have been even nicer if there was some game or process involving a much slower BLACK to WHITE morph, as OTHELLO's quick flips felt out of sync with this word ladder.

1
B
2
L
3
A
4
C
5
K
6
S
7
L
8
A
9
C
10
K
11
E
12
N
13
T
14
R
E
B
A
G
15
T
I
P
P
I
16
N
I
A
17
A
M
A
S
S
18
E
M
B
A
S
19
S
I
E
S
20
V
A
S
T
21
A
N
O
22
S
T
A
C
K
23
O
T
H
E
24
L
L
O
25
A
26
M
E
R
C
E
S
27
E
L
S
28
I
N
O
R
E
29
S
30
T
31
A
32
L
K
33
C
A
L
S
T
34
A
35
T
36
E
37
R
I
G
A
38
S
39
T
A
L
E
40
C
H
E
W
41
S
L
A
P
42
D
A
S
H
43
S
H
A
L
E
44
B
A
N
K
N
45
O
46
T
E
47
A
48
S
49
C
E
N
D
S
50
R
E
V
51
E
52
R
53
S
54
I
55
W
H
A
L
E
56
G
A
Y
57
P
I
T
T
58
G
E
N
T
L
59
E
60
M
E
N
61
L
O
C
O
S
62
E
E
O
63
A
P
I
N
G
64
O
C
C
A
M
65
E
R
N
66
W
H
I
L
E
67
W
H
I
T
E
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 24,535
Across Down
1. *One side of a 23-Across piece : BLACK
6. *Leeway : SLACK
11. Tolkien's Treebeard, e.g. : ENT
14. Switch from plastic to paper, say : REBAG
15. Hedren of "The Birds" : TIPPI
16. Actress Vardalos : NIA
17. Aggregate : AMASS
18. Buildings in a Washington, D.C., "row" : EMBASSIES
20. Widespread : VAST
21. Julio is part of it : ANO
22. *Formation of poker chips : STACK
23. Disc-flipping board game hinted at by a word ladder formed by the answers to the nine starred clues : OTHELLO
25. Slaps with a court fine : AMERCES
27. Where "Hamlet" opens : ELSINORE
29. *Celery unit : STALK
33. Largest U.S. univ. system : CALSTATE
37. Baltic capital : RIGA
38. *Hackneyed : STALE
40. Not just bite and swallow : CHEW
41. Haphazard : SLAPDASH
43. *Sedimentary rock : SHALE
44. Dollar bill, e.g. : BANKNOTE
47. Moves heavenward : ASCENDS
50. Another name for 23-Across : REVERSI
55. *Pinocchio swallower : WHALE
56. Part of L.G.B.T. : GAY
57. The Panthers of the A.C.C. : PITT
58. Twosome in a Shakespeare title : GENTLEMEN
61. Nut jobs : LOCOS
62. Fair-hiring letters : EEO
63. Mimic's ability : APING
64. Creator of a logical "razor" : OCCAM
65. Coastal raptor : ERN
66. *"___ England Slept" (1938 Churchill book) : WHILE
67. *Other side of a 23-Across piece : WHITE
1. "Congratulations!" : BRAVO
2. Actor Paul of "American Graffiti" : LEMAT
3. Embarrass : ABASH
4. Social standing : CASTE
5. Metric measures: Abbr. : KGS
6. Trial figures : STENOS
7. Prom night rental : LIMO
8. Police dept. alert : APB
9. H&R Block V.I.P. : CPA
10. Mouths, slangily : KISSERS
11. Pioneering computer of the 1940s : ENIAC
12. Eleanor Roosevelt, to Theodore : NIECE
13. Items on a to-do list : TASKS
19. Something to do immediately after waking up : STRETCH
21. The whole ball of wax : ALL
24. Albanian currency : LEK
25. Way too uptight : ANAL
26. Insider informant : MOLE
28. Corporate raider Carl : ICAHN
29. H.S. students getting ready for college : SRS
30. Up to, informally : TIL
31. ___ Khan : AGA
32. Airplane seat restraint : LAPBELT
34. "Now I get it!" : AHA
35. ___ Aviv : TEL
36. Farm female : EWE
38. Composition of dunes : SAND
39. Sounds of disapproval : TSKS
42. Rules in force in England before the Norman conquest : DANELAW
43. A few: Abbr. : SEV
45. Grand Marnier flavor : ORANGE
46. Josephine who wrote "The Daughter of Time" : TEY
47. "Shucks!" : AWGEE
48. See-through : SHEER
49. Big name in cameras and copiers : CANON
51. Notable time period : EPOCH
52. Perfumer Nina : RICCI
53. Brown ermine : STOAT
54. "Who's there?" response : ITSME
56. Robt. E. Lee, e.g. : GENL
59. Book between Galatians and Philippians: Abbr. : EPH
60. The year 1002 : MII
61. Setting for simmering : LOW

Answer summary: 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?

|