New York Times, Thursday, August 29, 2013

Author: Timothy Polin
Editor: Will Shortz
Timothy Polin
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1.61450

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 2 There are unchecked squares This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: A certain three-letter word, appropriate to this puzzle's theme, goes in the unnumbered center square.
Timothy Polin notes: The original (rejected) version had THE PERFECT STORM at 55a, crossing OF NEWT. Having found a way to thread two EYE extensions ... more
Timothy Polin notes: The original (rejected) version had THE PERFECT STORM at 55a, crossing OF NEWT. Having found a way to thread two EYE extensions (of which there were precious few) through two theme answers apiece, I was sure no other suitable 15-letter entries existed and so stopped looking. I felt fortunate to have those entries and was convinced the puzzle's constraints all but precluded alternatives. There must have been 30 ways to fill the lower middle, none of which was more than marginally acceptable. Every attempt included at least two of the following: TMAC, NOTCHY, OEUF, EFOR, NTS, PUNTO. Discouraged, I began researching again.

As soon as BROOKLYN CYCLONE materialized I thought I might have hit the jackpot. The new entry filled the un-fillable section cleanly and improved half the grid. The rush of such an aha moment during construction, when a seemingly intractable grid or fill problem resolves itself, dwarfs all the happy epiphanies I've experienced while solving.

From a practical standpoint the hardest parts to fill were where entries ran in only one wrong direction and crossed three themers (the ROLE PLAYS/LEERING AT sections), and the transition areas where abutting entries ran in opposite directions. These sections required spacial gymnastics that are difficult to describe but involved rotations about axes and bizarre, walled-in grid patterns. (I'm hopeless at filling by hand). Strangely enough, finishing the NE corner was a simple matter of filling a modified SW corner and reverse-transposing the fill back to the NE.

Thank you for reading and solving!

Will Shortz notes: A longtime solver told me recently that his all-time most-hated New York Times crossword was the one by Elizabeth Long on April 1, ... more
Will Shortz notes: A longtime solver told me recently that his all-time most-hated New York Times crossword was the one by Elizabeth Long on April 1, 2011, in which all the vertical answers on the right side of the grid ran upward. Of course, at the time he solved it, he didn't realize it was an April Fool's puzzle. I'm thinking he's going to hate this puzzle by Timothy Polin even more.
Jeff Chen notes: A construction feat! These days many (most?) constructors use software, either Crossword Compiler or Crossfire, which helps automate ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A construction feat! These days many (most?) constructors use software, either Crossword Compiler or Crossfire, which helps automate the process and eliminate symmetry errors. I personally use a word list I've built up, and the "auto-fill" feature helps me determine if the black square pattern I've arranged will be fillable or not (I don't use auto-fills though, since I think step-by-step filling gives me better results). But a construction like today's requires graph paper and pencil, specialty software written to handle the crazy constraints, or ways of tricking software to do what you want. Impressive what Tim's pulled off!

I enjoyed this puzzle, but even knowing many of the answers in advance (I had to fix up about half the grid answers for the xwordinfo database) it was still a bear to solve. Note that the puzzle is not totally symmetrical, in that the answers are reversed only above row 7 and right of column 9. It's a WITT of a puzzle (Wish I'd Thought of That), but that asymmetry felt inelegant. I likely would have given it the POW! (Puzzle of the Week) if exactly half the answers had been reversed.

I don't envy Will for the mail he's going to get on this one. Devious. =]

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,305
Across Down
1. Fig. mentioned in Miranda warnings : ATT
4. Feudal V.I.P. : LORD
8. Made ends meet? : RHYMED
14. Your substitute? : THY
15. Arabian Peninsula land : OMAN
16. Lead dancer in a ballet company : ETOILE
17. Exonerated boxer who is the subject of a Bob Dylan song : HURRICANECARTER
20. Exceedingly : OHSO
21. Tennis's Agassi : ANDRE
22. Capt. : Navy :: ___ : Army : COL
23. Grazeland? : LEA
24. Young 'uns : TOTS
25. Drops : OMITS
27. Transition : SEGUE
29. ___ and the Waves ("Walking on Sunshine" band) : KATRINA
31. Superman's dog : KRYPTO
33. 2008 recipient of govt. largesse : AIG
34. Piercing gaze : GIMLETEYE
35. Ingredient in a witch's potion : EYEOFNEWT
39. Address for a G.I. : APO
40. Weighted fishing nets : SEINES
41. Walt Disney World's ___ Lagoon : TYPHOON
45. Name dropper, often? : BRIDE
46. Get extra value from : REUSE
48. "___ a Spell on You" (1956 hit) : IPUT
50. Nevada birthplace of Pat Nixon : ELY
51. Resident of an elaborate underground "city" : ANT
52. Hidden valleys : GLENS
53. Farm females : EWES
55. Minor-leaguer whose team is named after a Coney Island roller coaster : BROOKLYNCYCLONE
59. Orangutan locale : BORNEO
60. Land with a harp on its coat of arms : EIRE
61. ___ lane : HOV
62. Measure of a man? : INSEAM
63. Falls into decay : ROTS
64. Revolutionary icon : CHE
1. Tenderfoot : TYRO
2. Hustling is the same as cheating, according to these authorities : THESAURI
3. Where to work out : ATTHEGYM
4. Its code uses just G, T, A and C : DNA
5. Four of a decathlon's 10 events : RACES
6. Enforced silence : OMERTA
7. Giant Ferris wheel on the Thames : LONDONEYE
8. Easily passed : ACED
9. Terre in the eau zone? : ILE
10. Border : RIM
11. Name in old graffiti : KILROY
12. Be sassy, with "off' : MOUTH
13. Autumnal hue : OCHER
18. Uses sock puppets to talk to a therapist, say : ROLEPLAYS
19. Voting against : ANTI
25. Is suitable for : BEFITS
26. Ogling wolfishly : LEERINGAT
27. Med. readout : EKG
28. Vast treeless area : STEPPE
30. Go up, up, up : SOAR
32. "That being said," in textspeak : OTOH
36. Mess hall queue : CHOWLINE
37. Green, juicy fruit : HONEYDEW
38. Ending for a record-breaker : EST
41. Certain teachers : TUTORS
42. Unctuous : OILY
43. Enlightening experience : EYEOPENER
44. Ambassador from the Holy See : NUNCIO
46. Certain teacher : RABBI
47. Onetime sponsor of what is now Minute Maid Park : ENRON
49. Part of an affair to remember? : TRYST
52. Latch (onto) : GLOM
54. Portentous nights : EVES
56. Air Force ___ : ONE
57. It means "white" in Hawaiian : KEA
58. Instant : SEC

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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