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New York Times, Saturday, August 17, 2013

Author: Ed Sessa
Editor: Will Shortz
Edward Sessa
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
339/10/200712/6/20160
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3857352
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64251

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 28 Missing: {GJQXZ} Spans: 4 This is puzzle # 18 for Mr. Sessa. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Edward Sessa notes: The starting point for this puzzle was actually the symmetrical interlocking design (and 'smiley face'), followed by my trying to ... more
Edward Sessa notes: The starting point for this puzzle was actually the symmetrical interlocking design (and "smiley face"), followed by my trying to fit in some conversational phrases. I was concerned that TYPEWRITER STAND would be a bit dated as well as any reference to the "Brothers" brand but, heck, there are quite a few of us older solvers out there.

Writing themeless puzzles, like solving them, is still a work in progress for me, a learning experience: firstly, to be able to fill the grid with words/phrases that as much as possible allow for inventive cluing. Secondly, this puzzle showed me how Will Shortz can take a potential Saturday puzzle and alter its clues in an astonishingly inventive way to increase both challenge and interest, with a lot of humor thrown in as well.

Jeff Chen notes: A main criteria I use in assessing a themeless puzzle is cleverness in cluing. 'Brother's keeper?' was fantastic, totally misdirected ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A main criteria I use in assessing a themeless puzzle is cleverness in cluing. "Brother's keeper?" was fantastic, totally misdirected me and then provided an "aha" moment when I finally pieced it together. Wonderful wordplay. And of course my immature self giggled when I read "Drawers hitting the pavement?", one of my favorite clues for the week.

Note the extremely difficult grid arrangement allowing for interlock of four marquee 15's and two 11's. This makes it extremely challenging to fill the surrounding spaces, especially the wide-open corners constrained by three long answers apiece. Interesting that Ed chose to put MAKE MINE A DOUBLE (love that answer; I will be using it after babysitting my niece and nephew tonight) where he did, since it necessitates 3-down and 11-down ending in a K and a B, elevating his difficulty level in those corners. I'd say he had great success in those areas; very impressive work.

The southwest corner seemed to me a little weaker that the rest of the puzzle, so I wanted to figure out why. I thought it should be less difficult to fill given the more common letters in place, but quickly realized that once the northwest corner is filled as it is, the 24-down NEEDE?? pattern can only be filled with NEEDERS (can anyone think of anything else that would fit?). At that point, MESSRS is the only entry that can satisfy the 45-across ???SR? pattern. The corner is thus heavily constrained with only a few possible ways to fill it.

OTERO, EME, and NEEDERS all together aren't ideal, but I'd say the shininess of the northwest corner makes for a good trade-off.

1
A
2
B
3
L
4
E
5
M
6
S
7
N
8
B
9
C
10
A
11
B
12
R
13
A
14
N
A
A
N
15
I
L
I
E
D
16
M
E
A
N
17
T
Y
P
E
18
W
R
I
T
E
R
19
S
T
A
N
D
20
F
A
D
21
H
O
T
S
P
O
T
22
R
D
A
23
A
R
E
24
N
A
S
25
M
E
26
C
C
A
N
27
R
E
S
E
T
28
A
29
N
30
N
31
P
O
U
L
T
32
M
A
K
E
M
33
I
N
E
A
34
D
O
U
B
L
E
35
D
E
L
I
C
I
O
U
S
36
S
37
I
38
D
E
W
A
L
K
A
R
T
I
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S
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T
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S
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O
T
E
R
O
43
L
S
D
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S
N
A
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45
M
E
S
S
R
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S
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M
I
S
L
E
D
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E
M
E
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R
A
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D
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I
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O
A
D
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T
V
A
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S
O
R
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R
Y
F
O
R
T
H
E
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W
A
I
T
57
A
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T
I
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E
L
A
T
E
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T
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O
D
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,293
Across Down
1. Baker's predecessor : ABLE
5. "The Daily Rundown" carrier : MSNBC
10. Steinbeck siren : ABRA
14. Vindaloo accompaniment : NAAN
15. Admission about a story : ILIED
16. Skillful, slangily : MEAN
17. Brother's keeper? : TYPEWRITERSTAND
20. In thing : FAD
21. In place : HOTSPOT
22. What one should take in: Abbr. : RDA
23. Engagement rings? : ARENAS
25. Muhammad, e.g. : MECCAN
27. Ready for another round : RESET
28. Packer in a bookstore : ANN
31. Young turkey : POULT
32. Strong order? : MAKEMINEADOUBLE
35. Compliment to the chef : DELICIOUS
36. Drawers hitting the pavement? : SIDEWALKARTISTS
42. County whose seat is La Junta : OTERO
43. Means of changing one's mind : LSD
44. One way to catch the game : SNARE
45. Quaint letter-opening abbr. : MESSRS
47. Took the wrong way : MISLED
48. 13th Spanish letter : EME
49. Ear plug? : RADIOAD
53. Big inits. in power : TVA
54. Remark after holding someone up : SORRYFORTHEWAIT
57. War head? : ANTI
58. Thrill : ELATE
59. Strauss's "Tausend und ___ Nacht" : EINE
60. Backwoods agreement : YESM
61. Many a Madrileño : SENOR
62. Walked all over : TROD
1. Where to observe some workers : ANTFARM
2. Napa Valley setting : BAYAREA
3. Clipboard's relative : LAPDESK
4. One way to fly: Abbr. : ENE
5. "Carota" and "Blue II," for two : MIROS
6. Start of many an operation : SLIT
7. Trivial objections : NITS
8. Blast from the passed? : BEEP
9. Software box item : CDROM
10. Peck, e.g.: Abbr. : AMT
11. Den mother's charge : BEARCUB
12. Tony with an Emmy : RANDALL
13. Like many sonatas' second movements : ANDANTE
18. Mad person's question : WHATMEWORRY
19. Leave to scrap, maybe : STEPOUTSIDE
24. Indigent individuals : NEEDERS
26. Numbered relations : COUSINS
28. "___ wind that bloweth ..." : ANILL
29. Bass parts : NECKS
30. Legendary spring figure : NAIAD
33. Pier grp. : ILA
34. Bras ___ Lake (Canadian inland sea) : DOR
36. Rumor opener : SOMESAY
37. Agenda opener : ITEMONE
38. They're thirsty much of the time : DESERTS
39. What gobs take in : SALTAIR
40. The Merry Mex of golf : TREVINO
41. Feeling no pain : SEDATED
46. Jewel cases? : SAFES
47. Bill with barbs : MAHER
50. Fruit giant : DOLE
51. Home of the daily Hamshahri : IRAN
52. Raiders Hall-of-Famer Jim : OTTO
55. Coin feature : RIM
56. Unlike 38-Down : WET

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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