New York Times, Monday, July 21, 2014

Author: Matt Fuchs
Editor: Will Shortz
Matt Fuchs
TotalDebutCollabs
17/21/20140
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.52000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 37 Missing: {QXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Fuchs NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Matt Fuchs notes: I am a sixteen-year-old student from Bethesda, Maryland. Even though I am young, I have loved solving crosswords for a long time. In ... more
Matt Fuchs notes: I am a sixteen-year-old student from Bethesda, Maryland. Even though I am young, I have loved solving crosswords for a long time. In the past couple years, I became interested in making my own crosswords, and I have been the puzzlemaker for my high school newspaper since then.

This puzzle, which marks my debut in The New York Times, was a total adventure and learning experience for me. It started when I met Ian Livengood, an alumnus of my school and a prolific Times crossword contributor, at my school's career day. I told him about my love of crosswords, and he encouraged me to submit one of my puzzles to The Times.

I had constructed the earliest version of this puzzle to be used in my school's newspaper. Bringing the puzzle up to Times quality, however, required me to rework and refine both the theme and the fill. Though the original theme stayed the same, some of the original theme words, such as UNKNOWN QUANTITY, and HIDDEN TALENTS, didn't make it through the editing process. It took me a while to refine the theme, with phrases such as VICTORIAS SECRET and LA CONFIDENTIAL tossed around, but eventually the puzzle all came together, and PRIVATE PARTS and its double meaning came to be.

Some of my favorite words in this puzzle that came from all the reworking and the many drafts include CLAM BAKE, JOURNAL, FIVE AM, and my hometown shout-out, DC AREA. Unfortunately, some of my other favorite words such as EXLAX (I really like Scrabble-y letters) and SINATRA didn't make it, but hopefully they will make it into my next Times puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes: Debut! And we add another constructor to the youngest constructors list. I think about what I was doing at age 16: watching 'Three's ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Debut! And we add another constructor to the youngest constructors list. I think about what I was doing at age 16: watching "Three's Company," eating Cheez Balls, attempting to solve "Zork"... sigh. Pretty darn impressive to see young go-getters spending their time more wisely than I did. Although knowing Mr. ROPER does come in handy with crosswords at times.

Synonym type theme today, with PRIVATE PARTS being a neat revealer. A bit risqué, but again, when I think about my interests when I was 16… ahem. What I really liked about the theme was that PRIVATE PARTS not only defined HIDDEN, SECRET, and CLASSIFIED, but it actually described the whole first two themers! HIDDEN VALLEY is a "private part" (maybe a "private place" more accurately, but let's just go with it). And SECRET GARDEN also fits that pattern!

It was a bit of a disappointment that CLASSIFIED AD wasn't something like CLASSIFIED ROOM. Or CLASSIFIED JACUZZI. If only that were a thing.

A nice construction, especially for a debut. PRIVATE PARTS is a tough revealer to work with, since a 12-letter word forces cramped spacing of the themers. But Matt handles this constraint pretty well. The tricky parts are usually going to be where the themers are closest to each other — note where VALLEY and SECRET are above each other? A five-letter word sitting in between them makes it a tough fill to execute. It's no surprise that I found the roughest parts of the puzzle to be the DOA / EIN north area, and the FIVE AM (seems arbitrary to me — funny how much difference of opinion there is among constructors!) / MAS south.

But look how well the big NW and SE corners came out. Not easy to fill those chunks, and Matt even tosses in a V of AVRIL to spice up a silky smooth section. The SE corner does have ARHAT, which some will carp about. It's certainly not a common word in American usage, but all the crossings are fair, and it's a principle that NYT readers ought to know. Why not learn something new, yeah?

And finally, I appreciate the effort to work in longer quality fill. CREW CUT is a nice find in that little seven-letter space. It does force some compromises with EDUCE and ERG and ENS, but those feel like minor costs to me. It could be argued that the EDUCE / ERG crossing is unfair to beginning solvers… hmm, that's a tough call. I find the ERG pretty esoteric even as a mechanical engineer, and EDUCE is not commonly used in everyday conversation. The constructor always faces tough trade-offs.

Congrats again on the debut!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,631
Across Down
1. Counterparts of sirs : MADAMS
7. ___ number on : DOA
10. $2.50 per 1/5 mile, e.g. : RATE
14. Street : AVENUE
15. "Ich bin ___ Berliner" : EIN
16. Khrushchev's land, for short : USSR
17. Louisiana language : CREOLE
18. New England cookout : CLAMBAKE
20. Big name in ranch dressing : HIDDENVALLEY
22. "So what ___ is new?" : ELSE
23. Dumb ox : IDIOT
24. Unit of work, in physics : ERG
27. Classic of English children's literature, with "The" : SECRETGARDEN
31. When a plane is due to take off: Abbr. : ETD
34. Narrow inlets : RIAS
35. Mystical glow : AURA
36. Diary : JOURNAL
38. Military hairstyle : CREWCUT
41. The Emerald Isle : EIRE
42. California ballot measure, informally : PROP
43. Nav. rank : ENS
44. Small paid item in the back of a newspaper : CLASSIFIEDAD
49. Start of many a countdown : TEN
50. Running shoe brand : ASICS
51. 24 bottles of beer : CASE
55. What unmentionables cover ... or what 20-, 27- and 44-Across all begin with? : PRIVATEPARTS
58. YouTube and Yahoo! : WEBSITES
61. Go from pub to pub : BARHOP
62. With warts and all : ASIS
63. "No ___!" (Spanish surrender) : MAS
64. Like the eyes just after waking : BLEARY
65. "See ___ run" : SPOT
66. Punk rock subgenre : EMO
67. Schedules : SLATES
1. Papier-___ : MACHE
2. "Sk8er Boi" singer Lavigne : AVRIL
3. Real estate documents : DEEDS
4. Battery ends : ANODES
5. Stubborn animal : MULE
6. "As ___ on TV" : SEEN
7. Divisions of a century : DECADES
8. Like many old lanterns : OILLIT
9. Not digital, as a clock : ANALOG
10. Color of Dorothy's slippers : RUBY
11. Flat ___ pancake : ASA
12. "Naughty, naughty!" : TSK
13. Before, to poets : ERE
19. Prefix with physics : META
21. Like the "Gangnam Style" video : VIRAL
24. Bring out : EDUCE
25. Many a showing on TV Land : RERUN
26. Flying pests : GNATS
28. Suffix with east or west : ERN
29. Spy org. : CIA
30. Like most sushi : RAW
31. Emergency function on a fighter plane : EJECT
32. Decorative cotton fabric : TOILE
33. When doubled, "Hungry Like the Wolf" band : DURAN
37. ___ ipsa loquitur : RES
38. Top of a wave : CREST
39. Fishing stick : ROD
40. Org. tasked with enforcing the Clean Air Act : EPA
42. Painter with a Blue Period : PICASSO
45. Delhi dress : SARI
46. Self-conscious question : ISITME
47. When some morning news programs begin : FIVEAM
48. Bethesda, Md., is in it : DCAREA
52. Enlightened Buddhist : ARHAT
53. Boutique : STORE
54. Annual awards for athletes : ESPYS
55. [Hey, buddy!] : PSST
56. ___ and flows : EBBS
57. Funeral drape : PALL
58. Used to be : WAS
59. Mind reading, for short : ESP
60. Prefix with physics : BIO

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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