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New York Times, Thursday, July 31, 2014

Author: Jill Denny and Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Jill Denny
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
57/5/20107/4/20165
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0200300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68200
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
627/5/201011/19/201637
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
195491564
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633122

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 42 Missing: {F} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry This is puzzle # 3 for Ms. Denny. This is puzzle # 29 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: JILL: This crossword was born on Camano Island during a rainy weekend getaway back in 2010. Jeff and I often brainstorm crossword ... more
Constructor notes:

JILL: This crossword was born on Camano Island during a rainy weekend getaway back in 2010. Jeff and I often brainstorm crossword ideas while travelling, and this particular theme came to us at the breakfast table. Pancakes and crosswords, what could be better? I tend to admire constructions that have a visual element to the theme, like Jeremy Newton's brilliant "Ode to Joy" puzzle or so many of Liz Gorski's creations.

The original vision was that the squares containing SPACE at the bottom of the puzzle would be merged into a single rectangle resembling the spacebar on a keyboard, but there are understandably limitations on how much the grid can be altered in print. As for the construction process, collaborating with Jeff is always a delight. That's why I married him.

JEFF: Wait. It wasn't my dashing good looks?

Jeff Chen notes: Today on XWord Info: a colossal clash, a fiery fight, it's... MAN VS. MACHINE! In the red corner, we have one of the puzzle's ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Today on XWord Info: a colossal clash, a fiery fight, it's...

MAN VS. MACHINE!

In the red corner, we have one of the puzzle's constructors. The Brawn from Taiwan, the Absurd Nerd of Crossword, he'll punch in those squares (along with a bunch of swears). Representing the human race… Jeff "THE BIG BOSSMAN" Chen (if I say if often enough, maybe it'll stick). Since he hasn't seen this puzzle in over three years, it seemed only fair to allow him to study and memorize the answer grid for 24 hours before solving. Fair is fair, after all.

In the blue corner: the upstart challenger, an artificial intelligence program which has worked its way into the top 100 finishers at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Armed with a database of answers, clues, and puzzles from throughout the ages, it employs an arsenal of pattern matching algorithms stemming from the mind of the brilliant but nefarious Matt Ginsberg. Introducing… Dr. Fill!

Who will win in this epic engagement? Will the human race come out swinging against its cunning creation? Or will the progeny punch out its pugnacious producer, making men mewl "Mercy!" to their mechanical masters?

Jeff's time: 3 minutes, 3 seconds.

Dr. Fill's time: 5 seconds flat.

Thankfully for humanity (collectively shaking their heads at my slowness), Dr. Fill came up with a few errors. Matt mentioned that his program was unable to see that SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE was an actual word. I declare victory on the basis of nonsensicality! Cue the music:

Seriously though, I'm fascinated by Matt's efforts toward building crossword AI, and by man's attempts to keep one step ahead. I'm practicing communicating in binary code for the near future. Beep boop.

1
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SPACE
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,641
Across Down
1. Financial writer Marshall : LOEB
5. Girl of Guatemala : CHICA
10. Captain played by Patrick Stewart : AHAB
14. Shade provider : EAVE
15. Chinese province known for its spicy cuisine : HUNAN
16. Plumb crazy : LOCO
17. Be long and boring : DRAG
18. Prayer starter : OLORD
19. Ruined, in a way : BLEW
20. 55-Across, e.g. : COMPUTERKEY
23. Shark : USURER
25. Dangling piece of jewelry : EARBOB
28. 55-Across, e.g.? : STARWARSCANTINA
32. Come to : TOTAL
33. "Amazing!" : OOH
34. Antipolio pioneer : SABIN
35. Second of all? : EVE
36. Sardonic Larry : DAVID
38. Journal : LOG
39. Low state : DESPAIR
42. Drops : LESSENS
45. Lender's assessment : RISK
46. Mars, e.g. : DEUS
47. Edit : REWORK
50. Easily prepared lunch item, informally : PBANDJ
54. Fire truck item : AXE
55. Visual representation of this puzzle's theme : SPACESPACESPACESPACESPACESPACESPACE
59. Jackie's #2 : ARI
60. Insults : ZINGS
62. Left or right : JAB
63. Short news item : SQUIB
65. Sign word after "Ye" : OLDE
66. Ottoman V.I.P. : AGA
67. ___ rings : TREE
68. One with a staff position? : REST
69. ___ Noire (Russie borderer) : MER
70. Lather : SUDS
1. Trailblazed : LED
2. Stroke, in a way : OAR
3. Empties : EVACUATES
4. Irish oath : BEGORRA
5. Who said "The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers" : CHOPRA
6. Alternative to standard TV : HULU
7. "How could ___?" : INOT
8. Attention to detail : CARE
9. Bargnani of the N.B.A. : ANDREA
10. Home of Banff National Park : ALBERTA
11. People swear by it : HOLYBIBLE
12. Strikeout star : ACE
13. Where the nose is : BOW
21. Whimper : MEWL
22. Nebr. neighbor : KANS
23. You, on the Yucatán : USTED
24. Pilot's place : STOVE
26. ___ rings : ONION
27. Feature of some cuts : BANGS
29. Howard of Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" : ROARK
30. Part of U.S.S.R.: Abbr. : SOV
31. Word with honey or flower : CHILD
36. You might need a lot of it for your files : DISKSPACE
37. It's far out : DEEPSPACE
40. Master : PRO
41. Areas that may be protected by military jets : AIRSPACES
43. Regions within regions : SUBSPACES
44. Nine-digit no. issuer : SSA
47. It might make one's shadow disappear : RAZOR
48. The Roman dramatist Seneca, once : EXILE
49. Proceeds indirectly : WENDS
51. Pacific nation once known as Pleasant Island : NAURU
52. Like prunes : DRIED
53. Agrees : JIBES
56. Hit 1996 live-action/animated film : SPACEJAM
57. We're living in it : SPACEAGE
58. Name for 55-Across : SPACEBAR
61. Fetch : GET
64. Bev. units : QTS

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

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