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New York Times, Friday, August 30, 2013

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
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576/16/201112/7/20168
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3556716141
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1.642103

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 25 Missing: {JKQ} Spans: 6, (2 triple stacks) This is puzzle # 16 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes: PEER ASSESSMENTS running across the bottom row is a little cheap, and I didn't care much for ATTS and EGERIA. Still, overall this is a pretty spectacular construction. I'm impressed.
David Steinberg notes: I submitted the original version of this puzzle in October 2011, when I was 14. Will rejected it in January 2012 because of a ... more
David Steinberg notes: I submitted the original version of this puzzle in October 2011, when I was 14. Will rejected it in January 2012 because of a few pieces of ugly short fill (RALE, STG, USAR, and MUSTA), though he liked the 15-letter entries. I couldn't salvage the bottom stack because of STG, though I was able to keep the top one; after many hours of grid wrangling, I came up with a new bottom stack, which I felt contained stronger short fill than the original did. I sent Will the current version of this puzzle in February 2012. Although he wasn't fond of the columns of three-letter entries along the sides and the un-Scrabbly PEER ASSESSMENTS at the bottom, he accepted the puzzle in June 2012.

Will did an excellent job of editing my clues — I particularly like the brilliant "Formula one?" and "Modern mouse hole?"! Also, I'm glad he made my original MICHELE BACHMANN clue ("Candidate who called 'The Lion King' gay propaganda") less controversial. I hope you enjoy solving this one as much as I enjoyed constructing it!

Jeff Chen notes: '...when I was 14' What more is there to say? I appreciate how much Will values both younger constructors and older constructors, ... more
Jeff Chen notes: "...when I was 14" What more is there to say?

I appreciate how much Will values both younger constructors and older constructors, realizing that encouraging youth to construct is a great way to build the long-term future for crosswords. Young 'uns, bring the heat! If you know of precocious teens let us know and we'll connect them with experienced constructors who can help smooth their path to NYT publication.

15-letter triple stacks are tough to pull off. And when you have two sets of them, that's 15x2 sets of parallel constraints. My experience with triple stacks often involves finding 14 crossings that work great...and a hair-pulling, vitriol spewing 15th crossing. Once I worked on a triple stack for ten+ hours before stuffing it into a place the sun rarely shines.

David does an admirable job with his stacks. Having four sparkly 15's out of six is no easy feat, and generally his crossings are nice. I would disagree with Will on EGERIA if this were a Saturday puzzle, because I liked looking up EGERIA and learning something new about Roman legends. But on a Friday, having something so esoteric felt out of place, especially considering how accessible David's other answers are.

One drawback to grid-spanning triple-stacks is that it often means that there will be many three-letter words in the puzzle (unless the constructor tries to go for a super-low word count), and having too many of these can break a puzzle's flow. This grid contains 20 3-letter words (data shown below grid), which is much higher than the typical 10-12 in a themeless. It didn't really bother me during the solve, but I did notice it.

Here's hoping I'll achieve as much in my life as David already has (fat chance of that).

1
M
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I
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C
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H
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E
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L
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B
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A
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C
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M
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A
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N
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,306
Across Down
1. First female candidate to win the Ames Straw Poll : MICHELEBACHMANN
16. War paths : STRATEGICROUTES
17. It airs in the morning, ironically : THELATELATESHOW
18. Case builders: Abbr. : ATTS
19. Copy from a CD : RIP
20. Understood : SEEN
21. Show featuring special agents : NCIS
22. Red Cloud, e.g. : SIOUX
24. Player of the bad teacher in "Bad Teacher" : DIAZ
26. Rear : CAN
27. Possible rank indicator : EPAULET
29. Overseas relig. title : STE
30. Big name in car monitors : ONSTAR
32. Beat it : SCRAMMED
34. "Keep dreaming!" : ASIF
36. Word after a splat : OOPS
37. Like some lovers' hearts : AFLUTTER
41. Strikes : XESOUT
45. She may be fawning : DOE
46. Colorful cover-ups : SERAPES
48. Brandy letters : VSO
49. Grilling test : ORAL
51. Misses abroad: Abbr. : SRTAS
52. Newborn abroad : BEBE
53. ___ Hedin, discoverer of the Trans-Himalaya : SVEN
55. Folman who directed the 2013 film "The Congress" : ARI
56. Comcast Center hoopster : TERP
57. Alternative to a breakfast burrito : HUEVOSRANCHEROS
61. Big source for modern slang : URBANDICTIONARY
62. Some critical comments from co-workers : PEERASSESSMENTS
1. Yellowstone setting: Abbr. : MST
2. Odysseus, e.g. : ITHACAN
3. Dopes : CRETINS
4. Knocks off : HALTS
5. Control tower info : ETAS
6. Re-serve judgment? : LET
7. Female adviser : EGERIA
8. Ill-humored : BILIOUS
9. Norwegian Star port of call : ACAPULCO
10. Old oscilloscope part, briefly : CRT
11. Turns over in one's plot? : HOES
12. Was reflective : MUSED
13. Its adherents are in disbelief : ATHEISM
14. Formula one? : NEONATE
15. Neighbor of Victoria: Abbr. : NSW
21. Top kick, for one: Abbr. : NCO
22. Puck and others : SPRITES
23. Some exact likenesses : XEROXES
25. Part of Queen Elizabeth's makeup? : ZED
27. Certain league divisions : EASTS
28. Forerunners of discs : TAPES
31. Kind of cross : TAU
33. They may be returned with regrets: Abbr. : MSS
35. 458 Spider and F12 Berlinetta : FERRARIS
37. Production : ADO
38. Definitely : FORSURE
39. Give some space, say : LEAVEBE
40. Grind : RATRACE
42. Stormed : OVERRAN
43. Modern mouse hole? : USBPORT
44. Ring bearer, maybe : TOE
47. Emulates Homer : PAINTS
50. Actor Burton : LEVAR
52. Competitor of Lauren and Klein : BEENE
54. Numerical prefix : NONA
56. First name in footwear : THOM
57. "Two, three, four" lead-in : HUP
58. Org. with a clenched fist logo : SDS
59. Org. created right after the cold war : CIS
60. MS-DOS component: Abbr. : SYS

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 4 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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