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New York Times, Saturday, August 9, 2014

Author: Josh Knapp
Editor: Will Shortz
Josh Knapp
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
212/26/20107/9/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
10102710
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.70002
One of the many extraordinary paintings in the cave at LASCAUX.

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 28 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Knapp. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jeff Chen notes: A well-constructed but incredibly difficult puzzle for me today. Josh ventures outside his usual oeuvre with a relatively low ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A well-constructed but incredibly difficult puzzle for me today. Josh ventures outside his usual oeuvre with a relatively low word-count grid. Sixty-four words is a tough, tough task. It's nowhere near the record for fewest words, but it's verging on it. The huge challenge for these types of puzzles is making them work without too many glue entries while still incorporating a lot of snazzy stuff. Often times you can make one or more subsections sing, but another area gets so constrained that you have to lean on a piece of crosswordese to get the full grid to knit together.

The right half of the puzzle is just amazing. I love how Josh fills such goodness as VOODOO DOLL and ROBERT E LEE and the bizarre GLASS ONION, and yet manages to escape with virtually no ugliness. I bet he tested out using cheater squares, not using them, moving them around, using extra pairs, etc. to figure out how to make the grid more fillable even before starting. The end result is fantastic.

The left half is also quite good, but it doesn't look as nice when held up to the right. I can just see the filling process in the SW, coming in with such cleanliness and even the jazzy HOT TUBS… and then running into the very last bit. AWHIRL is a real word, but I imagine some solvers will see it as unsightly. I'm perfectly fine with it by itself, as it gets over a million hits on Google, and I can imagine older-style writers utilizing it. But when combined with the awkward O WOE partial, it doesn't hold up to the rest of the super-solid puzzle.

A similar result happens in the north section, where everything works so beautifully... until you run into the awkward DELS. A perfectly fine piece of glue, as is SSN, but both in conjunction stand out amid the rest of the super-clean work. Themeless construction can be so frustrating when one corner turns out beautifully but the symmetrical corner refuses to cooperate to the same level.

Overall, a really hard workout — puzzles with longer-than-average words tend to be harder to find toeholds to start the solving process — and great execution, with just a couple of tiny flaws.

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K
2
F
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C
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D
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E
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L
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S
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S
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W
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A
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M
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P
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N
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T
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15
S
H
A
V
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A
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B
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P
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P
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P
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S
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D
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A
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C
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G
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B
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R
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G
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C
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27
V
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28
L
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K
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G
30
L
A
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C
A
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X
31
B
A
A
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S
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S
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P
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H
E
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P
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F
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C
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H
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M
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D
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,650
Across Down
1. Colonel's charge, once : KFC
4. Conventioneers: Abbr. : DELS
8. Washington, once, so they say : SWAMP
13. Creature that moves by jet propulsion : NAUTILUS
15. Loses one's shadow, say : SHAVES
16. Like John Belushi, ethnically : ALBANIAN
17. Spelunking supply : PITONS
18. High level : PLATEAU
19. Couscous ingredient : PINENUT
20. Ones working over the holidays? : SANTAS
21. Try to stop : DETER
22. Part of Austin Powers's attire : ASCOT
23. Big beat? : GINSBERG
26. "Mad Men" award : CLIO
27. One getting stuck in a horror movie : VOODOODOLL
29. Powder holder : KEG
30. French locale of prehistoric cave paintings : LASCAUX
31. Bellwether sound : BAA
32. Image on many an old map : SEASERPENT
34. ConocoPhillips competitor : HESS
35. Like top-shelf liquor : PRICIEST
36. Place to walk to : FIRST
37. Tired : STALE
38. "The Divine Comedy" has 100 of them : CANTOS
39. Ski lodge fixtures : HOTTUBS
42. Digression : TANGENT
43. Going in circles : AWHIRL
44. Lear's youngest : CORDELIA
45. British footballer Wayne ___ : ROONEY
46. Inconvenience : IMPOSEON
47. Some modern fads : MEMES
48. Reckon : DEEM
49. Curtains : END
1. Contents of some lockers : KNAPSACKS
2. Drop off : FALLASLEEP
3. Bolívar, Cohiba or Juan López : CUBANCIGAR
4. Patronize, in a way : DINEAT
5. Mount St. ___ (Alaska/Canada border peak) : ELIAS
6. Common dance theme : LUAU
7. Fig. on some shredded documents : SSN
8. Case for a bootblack : SHINEBOX
9. Weak, with "down" : WATERED
10. Drug dealer on "The Wire" : AVON
11. Many a flier under a door : MENU
12. Alternative to an elbow : PSST
14. Tomahawk for Andrew Jackson, surprisingly : TATTOO
15. Quickly produces in great quantity : SPITSOUT
19. One might have a cameo at the end : PENDANT
21. Bishop's place : DIOCESE
23. Biblical quartet : GOSPELS
24. Arlington House is his memorial : ROBERTELEE
25. Monocle, in British slang : GLASSONION
27. How Mount Etna erupts : VARIABLY
28. The Battle of Thermopylae, for the Spartans : LASTSTAND
30. Some gatherings in halls : LECTURES
33. Raphael's "___ Madonna" : SISTINE
34. Swinging joints : HINGES
36. Group of lovers, collectively : FANDOM
38. "___ mañana" (procrastinator's jokey motto) : CARPE
39. "What's the ___?" : HARM
40. Shakespearean lament : OWOE
41. Fashion designer Browne : THOM
42. A-F or G-K, maybe : TOME
44. Conqueror of Valencia, with "the" : CID

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

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