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New York Times, Thursday, April 26, 2018

Author: Alex Eaton-Salners
Editor: Will Shortz
Alex Eaton-Salners
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
82/2/20174/26/20180
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0011600
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55100

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JXZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Eaton-Salners. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Eaton-Salners notes: Puzzles with answers that must appear with specific clue numbers are challenging to construct because they require precise ... more
Alex Eaton-Salners notes:

Puzzles with answers that must appear with specific clue numbers are challenging to construct because they require precise gridwork. One way to control which clue numbers correspond to which answers is to use "cheater" squares (black squares that don't change the puzzle's word count). For instance, the black square before 10-Across reduces all subsequent clue numbers by one. Without that square, the answer SEVEN would be at 25-Across instead of 24-Across.

Other cheater squares may have different effects on numbering. For example, the black square before 28-Across doesn't affect the clue numbering at all, but its symmetric counterpart after 41-Across changes what would have been 44-Down into 49-Down and decreases the clue numbering for the intervening clues by one (after 49-Down the numbering is unchanged).

Generally speaking, cheater squares in the upper-left corner of a region reduce all subsequent clue numbering by one, cheater squares in the upper right reduce the numbering of clues by one until the shortened down entry, whose clue number is increased by the number of intervening clue numbers, and cheater squares in the lower left and lower right leave clue numbering unchanged.

The unedited version of this puzzle clued the gimmick in the opposite direction. 5-Across and 41-Across were clued as "See previous answer" and 22-Across and 46-Across were clued as "See next answer." The words OVER, SEVEN, WINKS, and FIFTY were clued without any reference to their clue numbers or the combined meaning. Perhaps that cluing approach is too difficult, and many solvers wouldn't realize that reading the numbers in the grid in combination with the answers creates a new meaning (i.e., 1 OVER or 40 WINKS). I miss the elegance of the original approach, but if the change improves the solving experience, then I'm all in favor.

Jeff Chen notes: I think Alex has one of the best minds in the business for interesting, twisty crosswords. The clue wording confused the heck out of ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I think Alex has one of the best minds in the business for interesting, twisty crosswords. The clue wording confused the heck out of me (it still does), so let's ignore it. Simple example: a BOGEY is one OVER (par) and OVER is at slot number one, i.e., ONE-Across.

ENDLESSLY isn't SEVEN, but (24)SEVEN — the number at 24-Across comes into play.

A NAP is (40) WINKS, and EQUALLY is (50) FIFTY. Good stuff!

I particularly appreciated how Alex placed the definitional entry right next to the gimmick entry, minimizing the need for cross-referencing. I don't mind so much when I just have to jump to the next (or previous) entry.

It would have been much easier for Alex if he could have placed BOGEY wherever he wanted in the grid – much more flexibility to find the best spot for ease of filling – but then you'd force the solver to jump all tarnation.

These heavy constraints did mean that there had to be some heavy compromises. Four pairs of words — some long — and each pair placed sequentially? Yikes! The only place I minded was the NW, with ONAGER / ANSE / GTE. It's so tough – that big corner, constrained by OVER and ENDLESSLY – was bound to have problems. But I don't think those crossings are fair, and that's perhaps the biggest no-no in the biz. Why not add some cheater squares to smoothify?

Oh, of course you can't — each themer had to be at a specific number. That makes grid design even tougher, as you can't just place extra black squares here and there to facilitate filling. Kind of mind-boggling that Alex made it all happen.

Okay, I'll try harder to ignore RYN LENE GO ALL, etc.

Still, those ONAGER / ANSE / GTE crossings ... I might have preferred to take out the definitional entries and add in a few more, like 7-ELEVEN, 10-FOUR, etc.

I like puzzles where the clue number is tricksily part of the clue. The first time I encountered it BLEW MY MIND! It's not as novel now, but I enjoyed the additional layer Alex put on the concept.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0426 ( 25,006 )
Across Down
1. 5-Across, with respect to this answer's location : OVER
5. Golf score : BOGEY
10. "Eww! That's quite enough!" : TMI
13. Trim : NEAT
14. Speed skater Ohno : APOLO
15. Oviform : egg :: pyriform : ___ : PEAR
16. Father in "As I Lay Dying" : ANSE
17. Classic catalog provider : SEARS
18. Pool growth : ALGA
19. Bell Atlantic merger partner of 2000 : GTE
20. ___ Park, site of experimental lighting : MENLO
21. ___ Bator, Mongolia : ULAN
22. Without stopping : ENDLESSLY
24. 22-Across, with respect to this answer's location : SEVEN
26. Father of William the Conqueror : ROBERTI
27. Airport serving greater Tokyo : NARITA
28. Rembrandt van ___ : RYN
29. Large, gray rain clouds : NIMBI
32. "I shall return," say : VOW
33. Citizens of the only country that relies significantly on online voting in elections : ESTONIANS
37. Prefix with law or label : ECO
40. 41-Across, with respect to this answer's location : WINKS
41. Time out? : NAP
44. ___ Brothers (onetime investment giant) : LEHMAN
46. In fairness : EQUALLY
50. 46-Across, with respect to this answer's location : FIFTY
51. Tugs of war : STRUGGLES
53. San ___ Obispo, Calif. : LUIS
54. Bond portrayer after Brosnan : CRAIG
55. "In your dreams!" : HAH
56. Pirate captain whose treasure was thought to be buried on Oak Island : KIDD
57. Close-knit group : TRIBE
58. Canyonlands National Park sight : MESA
59. Swenson of "Benson" : INGA
60. Decked out? : DEALT
61. Prestigious school, for short : PREP
62. Ever-rising number : AGE
63. Monica on the court : SELES
64. "Pretty Woman" co-star : GERE
1. Asiatic animal with a mane : ONAGER
2. Yellow Monopoly avenue : VENTNOR
3. Carefully got around : EASEDBY
4. A.A.A. suggestion: Abbr. : RTE
5. Least honorable : BASEST
6. Leads to, as one room to another : OPENSINON
7. ___ out (try one's best) : GOALL
8. Jetson boy : ELROY
9. Casual greetings : YOS
10. Mideast city with a stock exchange : TELAVIV
11. Villain in the "X-Men" movies : MAGNETO
12. Good name for a banker : IRA
15. Less tanned : PALER
20. Debussy's "La ___" : MER
21. Bolt of lightning speed : USAIN
23. ___ Hau, pioneering physicist from Denmark : LENE
25. Backwoods turndown : NAW
27. Jordan joined it in 1984, for short : NBA
30. Tats : INK
31. Woeful : MISERABLE
34. Changes the opinion of : SWAYS
35. ___ ear : TIN
36. Stumbling block : SNAG
37. Legolas in "The Lord of the Rings," e.g. : ELF
38. Maximum amount : CEILING
39. "Dagnabbit!" : OHFUDGE
42. "Everyone's arrived now" : ALLHERE
43. One who does what people want them to do : PLEASER
45. Greek peak on which Zeus was hidden as an infant : MTIDA
47. Calms down : QUIETS
48. Australian boot brand : UGG
49. Wishbone feature : YSHAPE
51. Patch of loose rocks at the base of a cliff : SCREE
52. What might follow suit? : TRIAL
56. Rio producer : KIA
57. QB stat : TDS
58. Dismal fig. for a gas guzzler : MPG

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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