XW Info

Friday, November 8, 2013
by Alan Arbesfeld
Fri 11/8/2013
DARESSALAAM
CONTACTLENSES
WHATSTHEBIGDEAL
ROSHANTEFRIA
ALIENTOINFKNT
PEDROOSTEOPATH
SRONUKEARETES
TOPSECRET
SARDISTOSSOYE
PRESSESONERTES
EFSETOCHEETOS
NATEBREATAMA
TRYTOSEEITMYWAY
FLASHINTHEPAN
ESTATESALES
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: What a challenge today! Themeless puzzles utilizing grid-spanning entries are sometimes super-easy, as a single long answer dropped into place can break the puzzle wide open. Not so today for me, as the tricky cluing and the very difficult crossing words made it a workout.

This is a quasi-triple stack; the 11/13/15 arrangement bringing similar constructing challenges to a 15/15/15. As with most triple-stacks, it's very important to pick spicy long answers, as these will typically be the majority of a grid's feature answers. Alan does very well today in that regard, headlined by CONTACT LENSES and its fantastic clue. Beautiful example of misdirection! Each of his six long answers are solid to snazzy, my favorite being DAR ES SALAAM which I could not parse for the longest time. I knew SALAAM from "salaam alaikum", the Muslim greeting meaning "peace to you", but trying to suss out what might mean "haven" was a tough (but fun) task. Excellent work here.

As with many triple-stack creations, one or more crossings tend to be less than stellar. It's simply near impossible to come up with six snappy long entries and have each of the 30 crossings be perfectly clean. Today is no exception, with entries such as ASDF, CHOLER, OST, and the REs (RETYPE/RESTYLE) rearing their heads.

I admire the construction challenge. A 66-word puzzle using two sets of triple-stacks is no mean feat. The upside is that having more good long answers enhances the solving experience. I smiled at SCHNOOKS, OSTEOPATHS, PRESSES ON and TOP SECRET, amazed at the amount of nice long fill Alan squeezed in. The price to pay for those extra long answers was high though, forcing a mashup of FRIA/LATHS/SAINTE/KNT in the NE. MEERKAT is a lovely piece of fill there, but overall, that region made my solving experience less enjoyable.

As always, themeless puzzles demand trade-offs. Beautiful long answers today with some great clues, but the quality of short fill dragged things down. Still, I was glad to learn a few new words.

Will Shortz notes: All the long answers in this puzzle are quite nice. I wish, though, that some of the shorter answers (like KNT, RTS, EFS, and especially ASDF) hadn't appeared. And it's not so elegant that the grid has three SEEs. Overall, though, I hope this is fun to solve.
1.African city of 4+ million whose name means, literally, "haven of peace" : DARESSALAAM
12.Seeing things : CONTACTLENSES
14."Why such a fuss?" : WHATSTHEBIGDEAL
16.Start of a Jewish holiday? : ROSH
17.Put one's two cents in? : ANTE
18.Arizona's Agua ___ River : FRIA
19.Not natural for : ALIENTO
21.Like Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 6 or 22 : INF
24.Tilting figure: Abbr. : KNT
25.___ Ximénez (dessert sherry) : PEDRO
26.Manipulative health care worker : OSTEOPATH
29.Smash letters : SRO
30.Destroy, informally : NUKE
32.Range ridges : ARETES
33.Classified : TOPSECRET
35.Eatery where the Tony Award was born : SARDIS
38.Pitch : TOSS
39.Juan's "Hey!" : OYE
42.Perseveres : PRESSESON
44.Some Deco pieces : ERTES
46.Lead film festival characters? : EFS
47.Rhineland Campaign's arena: Abbr. : ETO
48.Frito-Lay snack : CHEETOS
50.Silver of fivethirtyeight.com : NATE
52.California city near Fullerton : BREA
54.Author Janowitz : TAMA
55.Opening line of a 1966 #1 Beatles hit : TRYTOSEEITMYWAY
59.One-hit wonder : FLASHINTHEPAN
60.Events for some antiquers : ESTATESALES
1.Demonstration exhortation : DOASIDO
2.A bee might light on it : ANTHER
3.Some N.F.L.'ers : RTS
4.Irritate : EATAT
5.Dopes : SCHNOOKS
6.Restoration notation : STET
7.Even though : ALBEIT
8.Polynesian island chain? : LEI
9.Lee with an Oscar : ANG
10.Home row sequence : ASDF
11.Kalahari Desert dweller : MEERKAT
12.Irritability : CHOLER
13.Femme canonisée : SAINTE
14.Deli menu subheading : WRAPS
15.Foundation for some roofing : LATHS
20.Silence : NONOISE
22.Verges on : NEARS
23.Anticipate : FORESEE
27.Mind : SEETO
28.Irritable state : PET
31.Election surprise : UPSET
33.What some bombs result in, in brief : TDS
34.Fanciful notions : CONCEITS
35.Dead : SPENT
36.Pair of boxers? : ARFARF
37.Give a makeover : RESTYLE
39.Pontiac and others : OTTAWAS
40."Star Trek" extra : YEOMAN
41.It's definitely not the short answer : ESSAY
43."That's that" : SOBEIT
45.Fix a key problem? : RETYPE
49.Kind of yoga : HATHA
51.Important info for people with connections : ETAS
53.Clément with two Oscar-winning films : RENE
56.Düsseldorf direction : OST
57.La la lead-in : SHA
58.Allen of play-by-play : MEL

© 2014, Jim Horne