New York Times, Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Author: Zhouqin Burnikel and Don Gagliardo
Editor: Will Shortz
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3311/13/20129/19/201614
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
41295210
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56151
Don Gagliardo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1011/13/20128/8/201610
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3141100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60121

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Ms. Burnikel. This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Gagliardo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: Don: I heard the name Abner Doubleday and thought it was interesting. Knowing how CC feels about baseball, I thought she would enjoy it.
Jeff Chen notes: A goal of the early-week puzzles is to make crosswords widely accessible, thus drawing newer solvers into the fold. So I think a ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A goal of the early-week puzzles is to make crosswords widely accessible, thus drawing newer solvers into the fold. So I think a Monday or Tuesday puzzle should have little to no "crosswordese" entries (words that are rarely seen/used outside of crosswords), and if it contains esoteric answers, the crossings ought to all be fair. An amazingly difficult task considering there are usually 74-78 answers to squeeze in.

Making an early-week, beginner-level puzzle is one of the toughest challenges in crossword construction, and CC and Don have largely succeeded here. The "word that can follow both halves of the theme phrases" theme type has been done many times before, but the addition of the clever revealer really adds to the puzzle. DOUBLEDAY is a perfect last theme entry to the puzzle.

Plus, I absolutely love their long fill: MR HYDE, LAB COATS, SNIPED AT, ABS SYSTEM, PATTY DUKE. These sparkly answers spice up the puzzle, increasing the chance that a solver will smile or be wowed during his/her experience.

But there's a price to pay for all the great long fill: the PBA/ASSAM/KUNTA crossings. While none of these entries are "crosswordese", if the solver isn't a bowler and isn't up on their Indian geography, will they fill that square in with an "I"? If a beginning solver ends up with KUNTE and ASSEM or (KUNTO and ASSOM), they may learn something useful and/or interesting from their mistake, but will it sour their feelings about crosswords?

So even though PATTY DUKE and ABS SYSTEM are fantastic answers, I might have broken them up, putting black squares at the "D" of THE ROD and at the "S" of SONNET. This would result in 78 words instead of 76, with less sparkly long downs, but would also allow for a cleaner southwest area, thus increasing a novice solver's chance to finish accurately and with satisfaction.

Just this constructor's opinion; there is no right or wrong answer. Difficult trade-offs! ADDED NOTE: thanks to Will for his thoughtful response (below)!

Will Shortz notes: (In response to Jeff's comments): What percentage of solvers are tackling a Tuesday puzzle for the first time? It must be a ... more
Will Shortz notes: (In response to Jeff's comments): What percentage of solvers are tackling a Tuesday puzzle for the first time? It must be a fraction of a fraction of 1%. While I do keep beginners in mind, I'm most mindful of the fact that the vast majority of Times solvers are regulars. That's who I'm trying to entertain.

The real question regarding the KUNTA/ASSAM crossing is...is it fair? For a Times audience, I think yes. Kunta Kinte was the lead character in the most popular TV miniseries of all time — he's a cultural icon — and Assam is a celebrated state of India, with a rich history, famous for its tea and silk. These are things Times readers should know, in my opinion. And if they don't, they have failed the test. I'm not editing crosswords for supermarket tabloid readers. I'm editing for a sophisticated, educated Times audience.

My goal is not to guarantee readers error-free solutions. The Times crossword is supposed to be a challenge. That's part of what makes it interesting. I don't think watering down Tuesday's grid with more of the standard 3-, 4- and 5-letter words — with the loss of ABS SYSTEM, LAB COATS, PATTY DUKE, etc. — would have been an improvement. Easier, maybe. But better? No. Well, (as Jeff says), there's no right or wrong opinion.

1
I
2
N
3
T
4
O
5
R
6
O
7
S
8
A
9
P
10
A
11
S
12
T
13
A
14
N
O
R
I
15
O
B
I
S
16
A
R
N
E
L
17
F
I
E
L
18
D
W
O
R
K
19
T
R
I
N
I
20
A
D
A
21
U
S
E
22
F
23
S
T
O
P
S
24
M
E
T
25
O
O
26
H
O
L
Y
W
E
E
27
K
28
Y
A
Y
S
29
T
30
H
E
R
O
D
31
D
U
I
32
K
33
A
S
E
M
34
U
35
N
A
P
T
36
L
A
B
O
R
M
37
A
38
R
K
E
T
39
S
40
T
A
R
S
41
I
C
E
E
S
42
N
O
B
43
S
44
O
45
N
N
E
T
46
T
47
E
48
R
49
M
50
L
U
C
51
K
Y
D
O
G
52
A
S
T
E
R
53
S
O
U
S
E
D
54
R
55
A
T
56
U
G
H
57
P
L
A
N
T
58
D
59
O
U
B
L
60
E
D
A
Y
61
B
E
T
T
E
62
E
V
I
L
63
M
E
L
D
64
A
S
S
A
M
65
D
O
N
E
66
I
S
E
E
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,296
Across Down
1. Digging ... or word after "digging" : INTO
5. Santa ___, Calif. : ROSA
9. Penne, e.g. : PASTA
14. "Me neither" : NORI
15. Geishas' wear : OBIS
16. Synthetic fiber : ARNEL
17. Research that may be outdoors : FIELDWORK
19. "Lemon Tree" singer Lopez : TRINI
20. Org. recommending regular checkups : ADA
21. Function : USE
22. Camera adjustments : FSTOPS
24. "I'm with you!" : METOO
26. Variable spring period : HOLYWEEK
28. Some cheers : YAYS
29. Something not to be spared, in a saying : THEROD
31. A .08% reading may lead to it, for short : DUI
32. Casey with a radio countdown : KASEM
34. Not suitable : UNAPT
36. What employers tap to get employees : LABORMARKET
39. There are five on China's flag : STARS
41. Alternatives to Slurpees : ICEES
42. San Francisco's ___ Hill : NOB
43. One of 154 for Shakespeare : SONNET
46. Prisoner's sentence : TERM
50. Fortunate sort : LUCKYDOG
52. Late bloomer : ASTER
53. Lit : SOUSED
54. Fink : RAT
56. "Yuck!" : UGH
57. Magician's assistant in an audience, say : PLANT
58. Supposed inventor of baseball ... or a hint to 17-, 26-, 36- and 50-Across : DOUBLEDAY
61. Hollywood's Davis : BETTE
62. Wicked : EVIL
63. Vulcan mind ___ : MELD
64. Source of Indian black tea : ASSAM
65. Ready to come off the stove : DONE
66. "Got it" : ISEE
1. Severe disrepute : INFAMY
2. "I haven't the foggiest" : NOIDEA
3. Bringer of peace : TREATY
4. Medium for Van Dyck or van Gogh : OIL
5. Counterparts of columns : ROWS
6. High wind? : OBOE
7. Word said with a salute : SIR
8. Request : ASKFOR
9. Helen Keller's portrayer in "The Miracle Worker" : PATTYDUKE
10. "This way" indicator : ARROW
11. Attacked anonymously : SNIPEDAT
12. Stiffen through nervousness : TENSEUP
13. Ring king : ALI
18. Couple : DUO
23. ___ Poke (candy) : SLO
25. Holocaust hero Schindler : OSKAR
26. Fixing, as the bottom of a skirt : HEMMING
27. Press ___ (media packet) : KIT
29. General on Chinese menus : TSO
30. Part of H.M.S. : HER
33. Auto safety feature, redundantly : ABSSYSTEM
35. Flight destinations : NESTS
36. Attire for scientists : LABCOATS
37. Bandage brand : ACE
38. Like some mil. officers : RET
39. NBC show since '75 : SNL
40. Messes up, as the hair : TOUSLES
44. "___ to Joy" : ODE
45. Dozed (off) : NODDED
47. 27 Chopin works : ETUDES
48. Entertain lavishly : REGALE
49. Half of Stevenson's "strange case" : MRHYDE
51. ___ Kinte of "Roots" : KUNTA
52. The Braves, on scoreboards : ATL
54. Many an archaeological site : RUIN
55. Like Napoleon, before Elba? : ABLE
57. Org. with balls and strikes : PBA
59. ___-lacto-vegetarian : OVO
60. Big inits. in music : EMI

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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