New York Times, Friday, July 7, 2006

Author: Joe Krozel
Editor: Will Shortz
Joe Krozel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
817/7/20067/18/201514
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4147202421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.47054

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15, Words: 76, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQWX} Spans: 5, (1 triple stack) This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Krozel. NYT links: Across Lite

Joe Krozel notes: I constructed the middle stack of this puzzle by developing an algorithm in an Excel spreadsheet. First, I created a list of hundreds of 15-letter movie titles in Excel with one letter to each column. Above that list I had a working area to build a hypothetical triple stack. For the sake of brevity here, I entered good candidates for the top two movies in the stack and evaluated the goodness of fit for all the remaining movies as the third in the stack.

The evaluation was to determine whether the 3-letter combinations of each column could produce viable (vertical) entries. For instance, in the solution grid the successive letter triples which cross the middle stack are: ERE, VEN, ITE, LUM, URY, etc. These were assigned numbers from 0 (= worst) to 9 (= best) for their capacity to form numerous words ... ERE = 8, VEN = 7, ITE = 9, LUM = 4, URY = 3, etc. The net score for the word ENEMY AT THE GATES was assigned the lowest of these values, 3. A non-zero net score meant that the stack was worth transferring to graph paper to build a puzzle with.

For constructors interested in more details, I eyeballed numerical values for all 17676 (=26x26x26) 3-letter combinations ... which include the numbers mentioned above. (This wasn't such an insurmountable task since over 90% of them are 0 anyway). I placed these numbers in a 676 x 26 table which could be accessed with the VLOOKUP function in Excel. I configured this function to use the first two letters (ER, VE, IT, LU, UR, etc.) as the Lookup_value and the third letter (E, N, E, M, Y, etc.) as the Col_index_num ... Enough already!

So, that's what I did before I owned a copy of Crossword Compiler software. Today, I could build the same puzzle quite trivially by removing all the 15-letter entries from my word list except for the movie titles!

1
A
2
T
3
A
4
U
5
S
6
A
7
F
8
S
9
H
10
A
11
N
12
I
13
A
14
G
O
D
15
S
P
E
L
L
16
R
E
C
O
I
L
17
A
P
A
S
S
A
G
E
18
T
O
I
N
D
I
A
19
N
A
P
E
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I
D
O
21
S
E
E
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A
Z
T
23
M
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B
A
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E
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M
T
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P
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P
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S
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S
A
O
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L
A
O
32
B
O
R
O
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E
34
V
35
I
L
U
N
36
D
E
R
T
37
H
E
S
U
N
38
R
E
T
U
R
N
O
F
T
H
E
K
I
N
G
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E
N
E
M
Y
A
T
T
H
E
G
A
T
E
S
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C
A
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P
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R
D
S
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R
E
A
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T
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F
D
A
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E
S
L
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S
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H
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E
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T
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I
E
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P
A
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R
O
A
M
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R
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A
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S
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T
H
E
T
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I
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T
A
N
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C
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A
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L
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S
U
R
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H
O
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A
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E
© 2006, The New York Times
Across Down
1. ___ minimum … : ATA
4. Thunderbird grp. : USAF
8. First name in country music : SHANIA
14. 1971 musical based on the Bible : GODSPELL
16. Rifle effect : RECOIL
17. 1984 David Lean film : APASSAGETOINDIA
19. Place to be picked up? : NAPE
20. Inaugural oath starter : IDO
21. Match, in a way : SEE
22. Zidovudine, familiarly : AZT
23. W has one : MBA
25. Responder in a van: Abbr. : EMT
27. Letter abbr. : PPS
30. ___ Jorge, part of the Azores : SAO
31. Language that is mostly monosyllabic : LAO
32. Queens, e.g., informally : BORO
33. 1982 Inspector Poirot movie : EVILUNDERTHESUN
38. 2003 trilogy completer, with "The" : RETURNOFTHEKING
39. W.W. II action film of 2001 : ENEMYATTHEGATES
40. Nitpick : CARP
41. Rtes. : RDS
42. Mens ___ (criminal intent) : REA
43. Something overthrown shortly before the American Revolution : TEA
44. Kind of approval : FDA
45. Alien subject?: Abbr. : ESL
46. ___-bear : SHE
49. Davis Cup match-up : TIE
51. Place to relax : SPA
53. Wayfare : ROAM
54. 1980 film based on a Clive Cussler best seller : RAISETHETITANIC
59. Subject of a temple at Delphi : APOLLO
60. Guaranteed : SUREFIRE
61. "No lie" : HONEST
62. Welcoming : OPEN
63. When doubled, a familiar cry : AYE
1. Capital of Guam, old-style : AGANA
2. Old Mercury : TOPAZ
3. Not stand still : ADAPT
4. Brown letters : UPS
5. Mermaid setting : SEA
6. Painful ending? : ALGIA
7. Cut out : FLED
8. Box office sign : SRO
9. Bad job? : HEIST
10. Bad spots? : ACNE
11. Good news on an apartment rental : NODEPOSIT
12. The last King Richard : III
13. ___ king : ALA
15. From Omaha to K.C. : SSE
18. How some meteors fall : TOEARTH
23. Five-time baseball All-Star ___ Wills : MAURY
24. French artist Pierre : BONNARD
26. Many Little League spectators : MOTHERS
28. Cut back : PRUNE
29. Numbers : SONGS
30. Dry spell : SLUMP
31. Some hooks : LEFTS
32. Lebanese valley : BEKAA
33. Like squirrels' ears : ERECT
34. ___ cavae : VENAE
35. Yadda, yadda, yadda, e.g. : ITERATION
36. A, to Samuel Morse : DOTDASH
37. He purportedly said "Only one man ever understood me, and he didn't understand me" : HEGEL
44. Bleeds (for) : FEELS
45. Start-of-meal urging : EATUP
46. Poet Sanchez of the Black Arts Movement : SONIA
47. Like a 100-mile-an-hour taxi ride? : HAIRY
48. Mike holder : EMCEE
50. ___ Royale : ISLE
52. 100 centavos : PESO
53. Heroic W.W. II grp. : RAF
54. Bowl sound : RAH
55. How to address a sgt.? : APO
56. "Sesame Street" watcher : TOT
57. Burning sensation? : IRE
58. Hottie, perhaps : TEN

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