MATCHING WITS

New York Times, Sunday, June 30, 2013

 Author: Alex Vratsanos and Jeff Chen Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
126/13/201111/29/20153
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3112212
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61010
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
517/5/20103/31/201628
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
154481352
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633102

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21, Words: 134, Blocks: 92 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Vratsanos. This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

Constructor notes: Jeff: Alex came to me with the idea of a giant M and W made of black squares, and I thought it was clever. However, he had been working with a 15x grid which made for an extremely challenging layout. After playing with it for a while, I felt like it was going to result in too many three-letter words and too much compromise in the fill.

I suggested going to a 21x which would be somewhat more flexible plus it would give us a bigger palette with which to work. It proved to be slightly easier than a 15x but was still extremely challenging. The biggest difficulty was finding a way to place enough M-W theme answers without constraining the grid so much that the surrounding fill would be badly compromised. Luckily, we came upon the crossing pattern of MINUTE WALTZ, MIRACLE WORKER, MONEYS WORTH, and MINIMUM WAGE; a small miracle.

It ended up taking us several months of back and forth iterations before we settled upon the final grid. There were many places we had to work and rework in order to attain a reasonable fill we were both happy with. Quite a challenge!

JimH notes: Vertical theme answers are each two words starting with M and W. Blocks form an M at the top of the grid and a W at the bottom.
 1G 2M 3A 4T 5G 6M 7C 8S 9H E U R E 10E 11R 12M 13A 14T 15H 16O 17M 18L O O T 19S 20A N D R E 21S O O T 22R E P O 23A D L E R 24M O D E S 25P L U S 26I R A N 27M E D E A 28S A Y A H 29T O T E 30M P O L E 31O R A L S 32W R I 33T E 34H A I L E 35Y 36A R N S 37A 38B A 39R O S 40S I 41R E S 42I S T 43W I 44K 45I 46M O T 47T O T H E 48M A X 49T W O 50F A C E D 51P O E 52M S 53E R I C 54A D O 55A R E N A 56E Z R A 57M 58M E 59S L 60A V 61R 62O O F 63D E S K 64M I N 65U T E W A 66L T Z 67A 68M 69A 70S 71I 72M I N 73K I W I 74E H S 75R A R E 76C 77H 78I N A 79I 80T E 81O N 82T O 83S E L M A 84T A N G R 85A M S 86A R G O N 87A 88U T 89T O M 90S T E W 91M U K 92L U K 93B E T T E 94W R Y 95C H 96A S M 97E N E 98R O 99H E A 100T H 101P 102E S O S 103W 104E N T R O G 105U E 106M O I 107S 108T 109O T T O S 110A L T I 111A G R A 112B O S O M 113S H A P E 114G A T E 115S A D R 116A N K L E 117T A S E R 118E N O S 119T N U T 120T I E O N 121N Y E T 122H E Y S
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