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

New York Times, Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Author: Andrew Reynolds
Editor: Will Shortz
Andrew Reynolds
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
59/18/20123/30/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1021100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53050
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQWZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Reynolds. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Reynolds notes: Since I expect a lot of XWord Info's avid readers are puzzle constructors, I'll limit my comments here to my quest to wrestle ... more
Andrew Reynolds notes: Since I expect a lot of XWord Info's avid readers are puzzle constructors, I'll limit my comments here to my quest to wrestle this puzzle into shape, but I'll include some other notes on the Wordplay blog.

The grid layout you see here is the 3rd iteration of this puzzle, and by that I mean the 3rd grid I filled completely. According to my Crossword Compiler folder there were 43 versions that crashed and burned. A quick glance at the theme answers and you might think that an infinite number of grids could have accommodated all those short H/T words, but the fact that those words had to be paired with one another (across and down) put significant constraints on a symmetrical 15x15 grid. Tense was also limiting; BASHED and BASTED work in the past tense, but BASH and BASTE don't have the same number of letters. I added the additional constraint on myself to try* and space the theme answers out into different sections of the grid as much as possible.

Things were further complicated when I got Will's comments back after my first submission. He said he really liked the concept, but wasn't sure about a few of the H/T theme words. For example, I tried to use "Flag" as a clue for HIRE (as a cab) & TIRE, and "Turn" for SHEER & STEER. Looking back, Will's feedback vastly improved the puzzle. So even if some folks take issue with the clues for some of the theme answers... it could have been worse! Once a few of my theme H/T words were tossed out, the whole grid had to be scrapped to accommodate the constraints I mentioned above. Will also had to change the majority of my clues to get this puzzle in on a Tuesday; my favorite clue that was victimized by early-week editing was "Yankee's lineup?" for SCENTS, and the clunky but imagination-triggering "It's only legal if you're shorthanded" for ICING.

I am absurdly excited and honored to be the newest member of XWord Info's Schrödinger puzzles page. I'd put the odds at me attempting another one of these puzzles at no less than 50/50.

Jeff Chen notes: I cannot resist the allure of the Schrodinger puzzle. It's so cool when there are two answers which work equally well. Sometimes one ... more
Jeff Chen notes: I cannot resist the allure of the Schrodinger puzzle. It's so cool when there are two answers which work equally well. Sometimes one answer is more tortured than the other, but most all of them today are very nice. A prime example of a home run is FISH and FIST, both of which are landed by a hook (a FISH by a fishhook and a FIST by a right hook). Very clever clue for both!

These types of squares are very difficult to pull off, so it's even more impressive that Andrew was able to incorporate so many of them. Thirteen answers are affected, with eight squares needing to work with duality. Just getting one or two to work well is hard enough, so tossing in a huge handful is incredibly impressive.

And given the theme density, I would expect the fill to suffer greatly. Not only does Andrew need to work around the themers BEST THREE / OUT OF FIVE, but he has to place five "coins" throughout the grid. Each of those "coins" requires two answers to be placed (one across, one down), and a set of intersecting across/down answers generally makes for tough constraints. When you have five of them, you're asking for trouble.

As if that wasn't enough, there's the HEADS/TAILS in the center, making the entire puzzle heavily constrained. Sure, there are a few bits like AMBI, SKAT, and OST (all in the NW area), but the grid is remarkably clean. I wondered if Andrew could have gotten rid of the OST and AMI by placing the first coin in the SW corner instead of the NW? That SW corner feels much less constrained and ripe for a "coin," although this would require a different set of dual-working answers than ISH/IST and GUSH/GUST due to length requirements.

And yes, the grid is too segmented for my taste (the entire NW and SE can be sectioned off by adding just one set of black squares, which breaks up the flow of the puzzle), but I'll happily take that sort of thing when the payoff is good enough.

My final reaction: at first I felt like there was almost a little too much going on. What with all the coins and the answer in the middle and the theme answer telling me BEST THREE OF FIVE, I wasn't sure what to look at first. I started to overthink it all, brainstorming how nice it would have been to make it some sort of predictive magic trick, or to tie the central answer to the coins themselves somehow. And then I decided to just sit back and enjoy it.

Neat idea, and a grid executed with obvious care and devotion to clean fill. Much appreciated by this solver!

JimH notes: The 13 multi-answer clues is a Schrödinger record. April 1 is a special day. See all the April Fools puzzles. I list some favorites here.
1
A
2
R
3
G
4
O
5
S
6
K
7
A
8
T
9
R
10
I
11
F
12
L
13
E
14
M
O
U
S
15
E
P
A
D
S
16
O
R
I
O
N
17
B
E
S
T
T
H
R
E
E
18
M
I
S
D
O
19
I
S
HT
20
H
E
M
P
21
B
A
S
HT
E
S
22
E
R
A
T
23
E
N
E
24
HT
25
U
26
M
27
B
L
E
28
R
A
I
S
29
I
30
N
31
I
V
I
E
S
32
M
33
T
I
D
A
34
C
O
35
B
36
N
E
X
T
37
HT
EA
AI
DL
S
38
L
I
R
A
39
T
A
U
40
N
O
L
T
E
41
M
O
N
T
Y
42
S
P
43
R
I
N
T
44
C
O
U
G
H
S
45
A
T
E
46
HT
47
O
O
T
48
S
49
C
50
E
N
T
S
51
A
U
D
I
52
S
53
E
54
C
55
T
O
S
C
A
56
O
U
T
O
F
57
F
I
V
E
58
U
N
P
I
N
59
U
N
I
N
S
U
R
E
D
60
B
E
N
D
Y
61
R
T
E
S
62
N
I
N
E
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,520
Across Down
1. Award-winning 2012 film about a fake film : ARGO
5. Game with a 32-card deck : SKAT
9. AK-47, e.g. : RIFLE
14. Desktops' desktop accessories : MOUSEPADS
16. The Hunter constellation : ORION
17. With 56-Across, common format for a wager : BESTTHREE
18. Handle wrongly : MISDO
19. Suffix with cartoon : ISH
20. Marijuana plant : HEMP
21. Clobbers : BASHES
22. The "E" of Q.E.D. : ERAT
23. Opposite of WSW : ENE
24. Bring down : HUMBLE
28. Sun-Maid dried fruit : RAISIN
31. Princeton and Yale : IVIES
32. Peak in Greek myth : MTIDA
34. Holder of corn kernels : COB
36. Queue cue : NEXT
37. Winner of the wager in 17-/56-Across, depending on how you fill the circled squares in this puzzle : HEADS
38. Old Italian money : LIRA
39. Upsilon preceder : TAU
40. Nick who was named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 1992 : NOLTE
41. ___ Python : MONTY
42. AT&T competitor : SPRINT
44. Throat clearers : COUGHS
45. Had a bite : ATE
46. Blast : HOOT
48. What scratch-and-sniff stickers emit : SCENTS
51. German automaker : AUDI
52. Jiffy : SEC
55. Opera singer in an opera : TOSCA
56. See 17-Across : OUTOFFIVE
58. Remove, as a boutonniere : UNPIN
59. Not using Obamacare, say : UNINSURED
60. Like some straws : BENDY
61. GPS recommendations: Abbr. : RTES
62. Number of holes in a half-round of golf : NINE
1. Prefix with -dextrous : AMBI
2. Caviars : ROES
3. Sudden outburst : GUSH
4. German direction : OST
5. Globe : SPHERE
6. "Instant ___!" (John Lennon hit) : KARMA
7. Highly capable : ADEPT
8. Mao ___-tung : TSE
9. Bucharest's land : ROMANIA
10. Eye parts : IRISES
11. It may be landed with a hook : FISH
12. It may have gold in them thar hills : LODE
13. Officer on TV's "The Dukes of Hazzard" : ENOS
15. Roosevelt and Kennedy : ETHELS
21. Abacus row : BEADS
24. Bit of color : HINT
25. Eye parts : UVEAS
26. Shuffle : MIXUP
27. Wager : BET
28. Antagonize : RIDE
29. It might read "Happy Birthday!" : ICING
30. Robb Stark's realm in "Game of Thrones," with "the" : NORTH
32. Diner menu item : MELT
33. Part of retribution, in a phrase : TAT
35. Howls at the moon : BAYS
37. Improves, in a way : HONES
38. "Skip to My ___" : LOU
40. Penn State's ___ Lions : NITTANY
41. Recurring themes : MOTIFS
43. Nasty-smelling : RANCID
44. Genetic sequence groups : CODONS
46. Plague : HAUNT
47. Certain navel : OUTIE
48. Concert souvenir : STUB
49. Dunce cap shape : CONE
50. Channel with postgame analysis : ESPN
52. Apple genius? : SIRI
53. Equitable : EVEN
54. Surrender : CEDE
56. The "O" of S O S, supposedly : OUR
57. Band with the 2012 #1 hit "We Are Young" : FUN

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?

Previous puzzle | Next puzzle