New York Times, Friday, November 28, 2008

Author: Joe Krozel
Editor: Will Shortz
Joe Krozel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
747/7/20062/3/201512
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3146172320
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.47044

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15, Words: 70, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JKQWXZ} Spans: 10 This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Krozel. NYT links: Across Lite

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Joe Krozel notes: Here's a puzzle I devised an Excel algorithm to build ... though could be built more easily today with direct use of Crossword Compiler.

As a launching point, I first draw attention to the intersection points of the 5 horizontal and 5 vertical 15's:


IREIE
EIEIN
ESOLI
NTNCA
IOEAO

Reading horizontally, these are the letters that appear in positions 3, 6, 8, 10, 13 of their corresponding 15-letter words. Reading vertically, the positions are 3, 5, 8, 11, 13. Note, for instance, that the last row IOEAO represents STING OPERATIONS in the puzzle, but also fits the pattern for JOINT OPERATIONS.

A key feature of the matrix is the heavy use of common letters R ,S, T ,L, N, A, E, I, O. (The letter C is the one outlier). The common letters would assist my algorithm below since slight variations often represent other words. For instance, if IOEAO is changed to IOIAO, I find that the latter represents OBIE NOMINATIONS.

So now, the basic notion of the algorithm was this: I would build the matrix from the top down and maximize my chances of completing rows and columns based on shear numbers. I started off with "good guesses" for the top two rows like this:


IREIE
EIEIN
?????
?????
?????

Examining the individual columns... I have 379 15-letter words in my word list that follow the (abbreviated) pattern IE???; 469 for RI???; 326 for EE???; 255 for II???; 217 for EN???. All very plentiful. Then, for each of these sets I looked at what letters are most common as the third letter ... while limiting myself to only those which would successfully complete the third row: (ESOLI — as a horizontal entry — gives me THE COST OF LIVING).

The matrix now grows to:


IREIE
EIEIN
ESOLI
?????
?????

and the next iteration focuses on the columns again; The number of 15-letter entries with the pattern IEE?? is 50; There are 30 for RIS??; 38 for EEO??; 42 for IIL??; 12 for ENI??. The main thing to note is that the choices are quickly dwindling, and the iteration could easy have halted with the completion of row 4. If that had been the case, I'd go back to the top with fresh choices for row 1 and 2 and repeat the above algorithm.

But the matrix filled up, and the corresponding 15-letter entries were transferred onto a blank grid, and the black squares were tossed in (with some leeway). Unfortunately, the Scrabbly letters now came out of the woodwork, but the challenge was a manageable one.

1
O
2
C
3
H
4
O
5
S
6
T
7
H
8
C
9
I
10
D
11
O
12
L
13
U
N
R
O
B
E
14
H
U
R
15
M
O
R
E
16
S
H
I
V
E
R
17
M
E
T
I
18
M
B
E
R
S
19
M
E
M
20
V
C
R
21
T
A
U
S
22
C
R
E
23
A
24
T
I
V
E
25
L
I
C
E
N
26
S
27
E
28
P
S
E
C
29
S
E
C
Y
30
T
A
M
31
I
R
E
N
E
32
N
I
A
33
G
O
A
34
T
H
E
C
O
S
35
T
O
F
L
36
I
37
V
I
N
G
38
T
O
V
39
T
A
I
40
A
T
I
V
E
41
O
P
E
42
S
A
R
I
43
C
A
S
E
44
P
E
N
45
T
A
T
O
N
46
I
C
S
C
A
47
L
48
E
49
T
O
N
I
50
T
E
L
51
H
E
S
52
S
53
T
I
N
G
O
54
P
E
R
A
55
T
56
I
O
N
S
57
R
I
O
T
58
N
E
A
59
I
M
G
O
N
E
60
A
N
N
O
61
S
A
M
62
M
I
N
T
Y
© 2008, The New York Times
Across Down
1. Spanish figure eights : OCHOS
6. It makes pot potent: Abbr. : THC
9. Fan favorite : IDOL
13. Strip : UNROBE
14. Judah's house, in a Lew Wallace title : HUR
15. Thirds, e.g. : MORE
16. Cry on a corsair : SHIVERMETIMBERS
19. Part of a grp. : MEM
20. Camcorder component : VCR
21. St. Anthony's crosses : TAUS
22. Something exercised by artists : CREATIVELICENSE
28. Tiny fraction of a min. : PSEC
29. Dept. head : SECY
30. Topper around a loch : TAM
31. Ryan of "Pippin" : IRENE
32. Actress Peeples : NIA
33. State whose capital is Panaji : GOA
34. It's high in Manhattan : THECOSTOFLIVING
38. Yom ___ : TOV
39. Laotian language group : TAI
40. Talk ender : ATIVE
41. Expos'd : OPE
42. Bollywood cover-up : SARI
43. Look over before holding up : CASE
44. Music theory subject : PENTATONICSCALE
49. ___ Twins (pair in old ads for home perm kits) : TONI
50. Rolodex abbr. : TEL
51. Gents : HES
52. Plans to nail suspects : STINGOPERATIONS
57. Potential lockdown preceder : RIOT
58. Classy org.? : NEA
59. "Later!" : IMGONE
60. 365 giorni : ANNO
61. Friend of Frodo : SAM
62. Like some toothpaste : MINTY
1. Part of O.H.M.S. : ONHER
2. Goal of a neighborhood watch : CRIMEPREVENTION
3. ___ lane : HOV
4. Honour for J. K. Rowling : OBE
5. Island locales : SERVICESTATIONS
6. Coaching cliché : THERESNOIINTEAM
7. Rough housing : HUT
8. Great all-around reviews : CRITICALACCLAIM
9. Fill (with) : IMBUE
10. Is totally apathetic : DOESNTGIVEAHOOT
11. His #4 was retired : ORR
12. "___ Sylphides" (ballet) : LES
13. Commandant's outfit: Abbr. : USMC
17. Year Emperor Henry IV was dethroned : MCV
18. Department store chain founder : MACY
23. "Be there in ___" : ASEC
24. ___'clock : TENO
25. First name in New World exploration : LEIF
26. River through Mâcon : SAONE
27. Hi-tech read : EMAG
31. Wishful thinking? : IHOPE
34. Sports car option : TTOP
35. Hawaiian staple : TARO
36. "But I must also feel ___ a man": Macduff : ITAS
37. Baron's superior: Abbr. : VISC
42. Ratted : SANG
45. Fictional faithful friend : TONTO
46. Occupational suffix : IER
47. Montana who played Luca Brasi in "The Godfather" : LENNY
48. Verb from which "sum" is derived : ESSE
52. Tabasco title: Abbr. : SRA
53. Plate material : TIN
54. Part of a shell game : PEA
55. 1979 nuclear accident site: Abbr. : TMI
56. Engine starter: Abbr. : IGN

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