XW Info

Saturday, July 26, 2014
by Julian Lim
Sat 7/26/2014
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Nice construction from Julian today, one that features the "stair step" pattern of black squares that we've seen more of these days. You can browse themeless patterns on our Calendar page, hovering over the Fridays and Saturdays to see the thumbnails. Neat way of perusing the archives, yeah? Note that Patrick Berry had a similar type of arrangement on July 4th, Peter Wentz had one on May 24th, Patrick had another one on February 21, etc.

Why? Because this arrangement offers a nice bonus: the potential of three additional snazzy long entries. Many constructors use a basic pattern of four triple-stacked 8's or 9's (one in each corner), which allows for TWELVE marquee answers. But if you choose your central entries wisely, this type of stair step arrangement gets you not only the usual triple-stacks of answers in each corner, but an additional three in the center for a total of FIFTEEN slots. Harder to execute on of course, but it's well worth the extra effort if you can get an extra POSTER CHILD entry worked into your grid.

Julian also adds in a layer of difficulty Kevin Der pointed out in his January 17 puzzle of this year. It's common to see three 8's or 9's stacked atop each other, but to have four of them is something entirely different. Quad-stacking 15's has become a more common sight these days in the NYT crossword, but those usually come with (expected) compromises in the crossings. The real trick of what Julian (and Kevin) attempt, is to pull off quadruple-stacks of longer answers without compromise.

The SE corner is pretty nice, with some beautiful answers. Even the single-word entry, ATOMIZES, sizzles. KNOW BEST felt a bit off to me (KNEW BEST seeming more in-the-language and less partial-like) but still, it worked. SMEW isn't most constructor's preference, but it's a legit entry. And although COSSET isn't a word most people run across in everyday usage, it's definitely legit. It's a reasonable set of trade-offs.

And I quite liked the NW corner, with all its Scrabbly goodness. Julian eased that J in there so smoothly. I did frown a bit at the ST MORITZ / LAZIO crossing (I had a moment wondering whether it was ST MORITS, and LAZIO did nothing to help me figure it out), but ultimately, ST MORITZ ought to be well within an NYT reader's bailiwick.

Smooth solve today, a beautiful grid building off of new developments in xw construction.

1.Faces facts : GETSREAL
9.Cruise vehicle : MOVIE
14.Airline relaunched in 2009 : ALITALIA
15.A Ryder : WINONA
16.Resort town near Piz Bernina : STMORITZ
17.Like some migraines : OCULAR
18."Home Alone" actor : JOEPESCI
19.Hot stuff : WASABI
20.Schubert's "The ___ King" : ERL
21.Place for a shoe : HOOF
23.Star material, maybe : TIN
24.Highlander, e.g. : TOYOTA
28.Taking five : PAUSING
31.Public face : POSTERCHILD
34.Scylla in Homer's "Odyssey," e.g. : SEACREATURE
35.Former hit TV show with the theme song "Get Crazy" : JERSEYSHORE
36.Eliza in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," e.g. : MULATTO
37."Raising Hell" rappers : RUNDMC
41.___ de la RĂ©union : ILE
42.Phila.'s Franklin ___ : INST
45.Queenside castle indicator, in chess : OOO
46.Zigzag ribbon : RICRAC
49.Change for a C-note, maybe : TENSPOTS
53.Tops : RATEDA
54.Smashes to smithereens : ATOMIZES
55.Narrow soccer victory : ONENIL
56.Mark of affection : LOVEBITE
57.Undesirable element in the home : RADON
58.Deserve to be listened to, say : KNOWBEST
1.Fixture in a chemistry lab : GASJET
2.Las Ventas combatant : ELTORO
3.Opportune : TIMELY
4.Cry to a tickler : STOP
5.___ bird : RARE
6.Whiffenpoofs, e.g. : ELIS
7.Common aspiration? : AITCH
8.Region of Italy that includes Rome : LAZIO
9.Material also known as cat-gold or glimmer : MICA
10.___ probandi (legal term) : ONUS
11.Set off easily : VOLATILE
12.Caught : INABIND
13.Bringing forth fruit, as corn : EARING
15.Provider of "!!!" : WOWFACTOR
22.Voice actress in Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" : OPRAH
25.Horse ___ : OPERA
26.Feature of breakfast ... or dinner? : TOAST
27.Like the lifestyle of many a monk : ASCETICAL
29.African political movement : UHURU
30.Fire sign? : SIREN
32.Check for size, say : TRYON
33.Some semiconductor experts: Abbr. : EES
34.Set apart : SELECTED
35.Dutch queen until 1980 : JULIANA
36.Reflect : MIRROR
38.Beaut : DOOZIE
39.Some Renaissance music : MOTETS
40.Baby : COSSET
43.Follow too closely : STALK
44.Siouan tongue : TETON
47.Subject of a Will Ferrell "S.N.L." impersonation : RENO
48.Court edge : ADIN
50.Porto-___, Benin : NOVO
51.Cousin of a goldeneye : SMEW
52.Mr. ___ : PIBB

© 2014, Jim Horne