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New York Times, Monday, September 14, 2015

Author: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Will Shortz
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3911/13/20122/27/201715
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51595311
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1.56261
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry This is puzzle # 21 for Ms. Burnikel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Zhouqin Burnikel notes: Joel said, 'We're interested in your CROWN puzzle if you can revise the fill a bit. In particular, we'd really prefer if the ... more
Zhouqin Burnikel notes:

Joel said, "We're interested in your CROWN puzzle if you can revise the fill a bit. In particular, we'd really prefer if the weirdly spelled TFAL could be removed. Aim for Monday-level vocabulary, as that's probably what this would be."

I removed T-FAL, then decided to add a cheater to remove NE-YO (65-Across) as well. I was concerned that his name was not Monday-friendly either.

I love Will's USGA clue. I had a boring "121-year-old course server: Abbr." there. Will changed a ton of my clues. I just don't seem to get better as my clues.

And I'm a HAN (28-Across), like over 92% of the Chinese. I'm guessing Jeff Chen is a Han too. Maybe Kevin Der as well.

Jeff Chen notes: It's always a pleasure when a puzzle surprises me, doubly so when it happens on a Monday. I couldn't even tell what was a themer and ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

It's always a pleasure when a puzzle surprises me, doubly so when it happens on a Monday. I couldn't even tell what was a themer and what wasn't until I hit CROWN at the very bottom, pulling it all together — the LOS ANGELES KINGS, BUDWEISER, ROLEX, and HALLMARK CARDS all having a CROWN in their logo. Really fun idea.

The "king" of beers (emphasis on the air quotes)

Neat layout, too. I like mirror symmetry, and CC's design reminds me of a Space Invader or the TiVo logo. Mirror symmetry can be really useful, like in this case where the themers don't pair up in lengths, but they all have an odd number of letters: 15, 9, 5, and 11. That's perfect for mirror symmetry.

One of CC's trademarks is to include some snazzy long fill, no matter how difficult the layout. I have a feeling CC keeps a running list of strong fill, incorporating it at every opportunity. US MARSHALS, an emphatic THAT IS A LIE, ANDROID ONE, and LEO TOLSTOY are all beautiful. And even with the difficult parallel down layout of those four answers, there's barely a gluey bit to be seen, just an ESE. It's such fine work.

Although it's minor, IDE up in the north section is easy to polish out. The bigger issue for me is the south, with REY, ERATO, and ADANO. They're all fair(ish), but that pile-up could be very frustrating for a novice solver. It's a tough section to fill — that M??C slot at 54-Down takes away a lot of flexibility.

One option that would have helped is to place CROWN one row higher, at 61-Across. M?C? gives much more flexibility with MICE, MACE, MICA, MACH, MUCH, etc. But having a revealer not at the very end is inelegant. The option I like better is to place CROWN vertically at 50-Down, intersecting HALLMARK CARDS. It would likely require another set of cheater squares (where the C and N of CROWN are now), but that doesn't bother me personally.

A neat Monday theme which kept me guessing until the end.

1
M
2
A
3
P
4
O
5
N
6
A
7
I
8
R
9
R
10
U
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B
12
A
R
A
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B
14
H
E
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D
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15
C
A
S
E
16
L
O
S
A
17
N
G
E
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18
K
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S
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K
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A
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B
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D
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W
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E
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P
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U
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H
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V
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A
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L
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S
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A
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H
Y
34
F
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T
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E
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C
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37
G
M
A
38
R
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L
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X
39
D
O
E
40
O
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S
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D
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M
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C
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A
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R
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E
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Y
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C
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H
A
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L
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M
A
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K
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C
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S
A
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A
D
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E
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S
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W
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C
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65
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 24,051
Across Down
1. Hiking trail reference : MAP
4. Sign in a radio studio : ONAIR
9. Massage : RUB
12. Like most Jordanians : ARAB
14. Klum of "Project Runway" : HEIDI
15. Lawyer's assignment : CASE
16. Hockey team that plays at Staples Center : LOSANGELESKINGS
19. "Same here!" : IDOTOO
20. Chocolate wafer bar in a red wrapper : KITKAT
21. Super Bowl advertiser with Clydesdale horses : BUDWEISER
25. Don : PUTON
28. ___ Solo of "Star Wars" : HAN
29. Lab glasses : VIALS
33. Pale-faced : ASHY
34. What someone's best at : FORTE
36. Online tech review site : CNET
37. ABC a.m. show, for short : GMA
38. Luxury watch brand : ROLEX
39. What a fawn might grow into : DOE
40. Food in a feedbag : OATS
42. "Don Giovanni" or "Don Pasquale" : OPERA
43. Spanish miss: Abbr. : SRTA
44. Golf shots off tees : DRIVES
46. Hip guy : MRCOOL
48. Donkeys : ASSES
49. Lana Del ___, singer with the 2014 #1 album "Ultraviolence" : REY
52. Gets ready to strike, as a snake : COILS
53. Busy company around Mother's Day and Valentine's Day : HALLMARKCARDS
56. "S" on the dinner table : SALT
57. Hersey's "A Bell for ___" : ADANO
58. Memorandum : NOTE
60. 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wiesel : ELIE
61. Betray, as a naughty sibling : RATON
62. Frequent Arctic forecast : SNOW
63. Suffix with Vietnam : ESE
64. Royal topper ... or part of the logos of 16-, 21-, 38- and 53-Across : CROWN
65. Lens of a camera, essentially : EYE
1. Niger's western neighbor : MALI
2. Yankee slugger with the most M.L.B. career grand slams, informally : AROD
3. El ___, Tex. : PASO
4. "Good heavens!" : OHGOD
5. Word before a maiden name : NEE
6. Have a bug : AIL
7. Suffix with cyan- : IDE
8. Insurers assume them : RISKS
9. Captain or major : RANK
10. Org. whose website has many links? : USGA
11. Cream of the crop : BEST
13. Dugout figure : BATBOY
15. ___ acid (part of lemons and oranges) : CITRIC
17. Follower of "a" or "the," often : NOUN
18. Ukraine's capital : KIEV
22. "Big ___" ("Who cares?") : WHOOP
23. Three-time Grammy winner Steve : EARLE
24. Encrypt? : INTER
25. Where Buddhists worship : PAGODA
26. Fed. fugitive hunters : USMARSHALS
27. "NOT true!" : THATISALIE
30. Google smartphone released in 2014 : ANDROIDONE
31. "War and Peace" author : LEOTOLSTOY
32. Thieves : STEALS
34. Bushy dos, informally : FROS
35. SAT, e.g. : EXAM
41. Gracefully thin : SVELTE
43. Looks down on : SCORNS
45. Course for many immigrants, for short : ESL
47. ___ Victrola : RCA
49. Control tower device : RADAR
50. Muse for Lord Byron : ERATO
51. "Get what I mean?," informally : YKNOW
54. "WTF With ___ Maron" (popular podcast) : MARC
55. Hartford's state: Abbr. : CONN
56. "Get what I mean?" : SEE
59. Woolly mama : EWE

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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