New York Times, Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Author: Daniel Raymon
Editor: Will Shortz
Daniel Raymon
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179/23/20078/28/20160
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02331107
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1.59110

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 77, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JKVZ} Grid has mirror symmetry This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Raymon. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Daniel Raymon notes: I'm a math guy (it was my major and I do math tutoring), so one day this theme idea dawned on me. It worked out perfectly that ... more
Daniel Raymon notes: I'm a math guy (it was my major and I do math tutoring), so one day this theme idea dawned on me. It worked out perfectly that TRIANGLES has nine letters, which can be grouped into three sets of three, which can then form the three types of triangles shown in the puzzle. I originally had one circle in a different square: the circle on the I in ELITISM was on the I in IAN. I liked it there because then all three triangles had the same base length and their placement was more symmetrical. It was pointed out to me, though, that the top left triangle wouldn't look scalene — at least with the square dimensions published in the NYT. So that had to be changed, unfortunately.

Another thing I like about this puzzle is that it has left-right symmetry. It's always nice to be able to do something different.

I was happy to get in some nice longer fill, though nothing too exciting. I think my favorites are ROMNEY and TEXTERS because of their relative currentness. I also like the clue for 3-Down, which survived the editing process.

Jeff Chen notes: Neat idea today, an elegance to the word TRIANGLES breaking perfectly into three groups of three. There's something so pretty to ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Neat idea today, an elegance to the word TRIANGLES breaking perfectly into three groups of three. There's something so pretty to that. I also liked Dani's natural progression, from a SCALENE (no sides of equal length) to ISOCELES (two sides of equal length) to EQUILATERAL (all three sides of equal length). I really enjoy seeing constructor's background shine through in a puzzle.

It took me a while to figure out what the circled letters were spelling, because I have a propensity to read in a clockwise fashion. I found it to be a bit odd that the TRI / ANG / LES go counterclockwise. Perhaps that's a cultural difference? In any case, I did appreciate the extra layer. Three themers + three triangles + TRI ANG LES fixed into place = a lot of depth.

Speaking of extra layers, I would have loved to see a triangle hinted at in the black squares. If you squint really hard, you can almost see the start of a triangle in the "hill" of black squares (above FLO). It would be very hard to do, especially at the tips of the triangles, but what a neat effect that could be.

Mirror symmetry can be a great tool to have in your arsenal. It's really the only way to pull off today's puzzle, because SCALENE 7 / ISOSCELES 9 / EQUILATERAL 11 can't work with regular crossword symmetry. What a fortuitous coincidence that they're all of odd length, allowing mirror symmetry to work! Another progression that would have worked: SCALENE 7 / RIGHT 5 / EQUILATERAL 11. Hard to leave out the poor right triangle in all its Pythagorean glory, but what can you do.

Quite a few constraints today, and they force a few compromises. Rich Norris at the LAT limits partials to a maximum of two, so A TAB / OH TO / OF A is an unfortunate way to open the puzzle. I understand the constraints of the EQUILATERAL triangle — you can't move around just one of the three vertices — but the SCALENE and ISOSCELES both have enough flexibility that it feels like some of the partials plus the PSAS / ARIS / OST stuff could have been cleaned up by shifting the position of circles.

All in all, an elegant idea with some compromises in execution.

ADDED NOTE: an astute reader, Jean Cranmer, was confused because the bottom triangle didn't look equilateral to her. I smugly sent her definitions of "isosceles" and "equilateral" and then... realized that the sides of the bottom triangle are 5.83 (using the Pythagorean theorem to calculate) whereas the base is 6. I imagine this is the closest Dani could come to an approximate equilateral triangle in a 15x square grid. Thanks for the catch, Jean! (And a good reminder that I'm frequently wrong.)

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,626
Across Down
1. Run up ___ : ATAB
5. Marks for life : SCARS
10. "___ be in England" : OHTO
14. Big shot : NAME
15. Also-ran of 1992 and 1996 : PEROT
16. Frond bearer : FERN
17. Bootleggers' foes : TMEN
18. Begin to correct, maybe : ERASE
19. "Exodus" hero and others : ARIS
20. Cabinet department until 1947 : WAR
21. Like the figure formed by the three circled letters in the upper left : SCALENE
23. East of Germany? : OST
24. Snobbishness : ELITISM
26. 1996 Olympics city : ATLANTA
28. Highlights show : RECAP
29. Somerhalder of "The Vampire Diaries" : IAN
31. Skin-and-bones sort : SCRAG
32. Anti-D.U.I. ads, e.g. : PSAS
33. A dog might catch one : SCENT
35. Newcastle's river : TYNE
36. Like the figure formed by the three circled letters in the upper right : ISOSCELES
39. He tapped Ryan in 2012 : ROMNEY
42. Something to lean on : CRUTCH
46. "If the shoe fits, wear it," e.g. : ADAGE
47. "Alice" waitress : FLO
50. Shopaholic's binge : SPREE
51. "Alice" diner owner : MEL
52. Traffic problem : TIEUP
54. 1936 opponent of Franklin D. : ALF
55. Like the figure formed by the three circled letters at the bottom : EQUILATERAL
60. Make a comeback : RESURGE
62. Overlay material : ACETATE
65. "In the Heat of the Night" Oscar winner : STEIGER
66. Rules for hunters to follow : GAMELAW
67. Some distracted drivers : TEXTERS
68. Sucker in : ENSNARE
1. Belgian seaport : ANTWERP
2. Wrapped Tex-Mex fare : TAMALES
3. Stephen Colbert's "I Am ___ (And So Can You!)" : AMERICA
4. Football's Roethlisberger : BEN
5. Blueprint details, in brief : SPECS
6. Ming vases, e.g. : CERAMICS
7. ___ Sea (Asian body) : ARAL
8. Comic with a "domestic goddess" persona : ROSEANNE
9. Artery implant : STENT
10. All ___ sudden : OFA
11. Nesting area for wading birds : HERONRY
12. Isolde's beloved : TRISTAN
13. Treading the boards : ONSTAGE
21. Nurse at a bar : SIP
22. N.Y.C.'s Third and Ninth Avenue lines, e.g. : ELS
25. Zapping, in a way : TASING
27. Starts malfunctioning : ACTSUP
30. Early nuclear org. : AEC
33. Kind of milk : SOY
34. Special attention, briefly : TLC
37. Get the idea : SEE
38. Triage spots, for short : ERS
39. Flock member : RAM
40. Horatian work : ODE
41. The symbol for the Roman god Mars represents it : MALESEX
43. Refrain syllables : TRALALA
44. Disney collectible : CEL
45. Playboy nickname : HEF
47. Manicurists, at times : FILERS
48. Grazing area : LEA
49. Loss of power : OUTAGE
52. Ty Cobb, for most of his career : TIGER
53. Praline nut : PECAN
56. Conk out : QUIT
57. The munchies, e.g. : URGE
58. Dream states, for short : REMS
59. "... ___-foot pole!" : ATEN
60. Queue after Q : RST
61. Season after printemps : ETE
63. La Brea gunk : TAR
64. 39-Down's mate : EWE

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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