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New York Times, Thursday, January 17, 2019

Author:
Ross Trudeau
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
132/9/20171/17/20191
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5140300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62011
Ross Trudeau

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 28 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Trudeau. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ross Trudeau notes:
If you identify as LGBT and/or POC and/or non-male, and you're looking to get into crossword constructing, I'd be thrilled to offer ... read more

If you identify as LGBT and/or POC and/or non-male, and you're looking to get into crossword constructing, I'd be thrilled to offer whatever assistance I can to help you get your puzzles published. Contact me via Instagram: @rosstrudeau

This puzzle takes an old idea (backward answers) and solves a problem that some such puzzles face: elegantly demarcating which answers follow the gimmick. The only nit I could pick with this ingenious Kevin G. Der puzzle was that the puzzle didn't try to rationalize which rows/columns moved backward.

For me, THE LOOKING GLASS was both a neat revealer and a good solution to the above problem. Once Alice (that's you, solver--you're Alice) passes through THE LOOKING GLASS, she's in backwards territory. And any answers passing through the boundary are palindromes that get "reflected" by the mirror.

Jim Horne notes:
This is the 39th NYT crossword that requires entering at least one answer backward. Here are the rest: list or thumbnails. My ... read more

This is the 39th NYT crossword that requires entering at least one answer backward. Here are the rest: list or thumbnails.

My favorite "mirror" puzzle didn't exactly require entering answers backward. Check out this Joe Krozel gimmick from 2008.

Jeff Chen notes:
Loved this one. Loved, loved, loved. As Ross points out, the palindromes in the middle – SOLOS, SOS, REVIVER, etc. – make ... read more

Loved this one. Loved, loved, loved. As Ross points out, the palindromes in the middle – SOLOS, SOS, REVIVER, etc. – make a perfect transition zone into the mirror world. I've seen many mirror puzzles, including one that stands out with its amazing craftsmanship, but today's has such a fantastic story behind it. Alice going through THE LOOKING GLASS is spot on.

So well executed today. It would have been much easier to stick to a higher word count, but that wouldn't have allowed for so much goodness. JAMPACKS is right! SPLIT RUN, COMO ESTA, AVENGERS, LOL CAT, HAEY LLEH! Er, HELL YEAH!

The right side is easier to construct than you might think because you can create a separate file containing the middle palindrome linkages, and work on it as if it were your left side. Then, you flip the grid along a vertical axis.

Right, you've stopped listening. Anyhoo, unmasking the technical tricks doesn't make the result any less impressive.

A couple of missed opportunities in ELEANORS ESCORTEE. That might argue for putting a black square at the P of JAM PACKS and the U of DISGUSTS, to see if you could get those two corners smoother while keeping up the snazziness. But since the rest of the puzzle has so little by way of crossword glue (just EER) or oddball words, I'm fine with Ross's decision.

I was so confused by KUEHT, especially since it was one of the first backward answers I uncovered. THEUK = THE UK, such a nice piece of fill, resulting in a delightful mini a-ha.

This one will stick in my mind as strongly as Jason's. Maybe even more so.

P.S. Ross told me that he's gotten dozens of requests for help from budding constructors with diverse backgrounds! It's great to see Ross take this initiative. Let Jim or me know if we can help as well (email us through the home page).

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0117 ( 25,272 )
Across
1. Made jokes : JESTED
7. Slim amphibian : NEWT
11. Genre for Jay-Z and Master P : RAP
14. Relative of a llama : ALPACA
15. "Damn right!" : HELLYEAH
17. Carnegie ___ : MELLON
18. Two tablespoons : ONEOUNCE
19. Shovel's go-with : PAIL
20. Performances with no accompaniment : SOLOS
22. Mostly bygone airline amenity : MEAL
23. Many a Clint Eastwood role : ANTIHERO
25. Bay of ___, body separating Spain and France : BISCAY
27. Chick of jazz : COREA
28. Plea at sea : SOS
30. Jumping-off points? : IDEAS
31. "The Simpsons" clown : KRUSTY
33. Brexit land : THEUK
35. Govt. ID : SSN
36. E.M.T., at times : REVIVER
38. Dict. listing : DEF
41. One interred in Red Square : LENIN
42. Line on a weather map : ISOBAR
44. Sated for now, with "over" : TIDED
47. "Thelma & Louise" studio : MGM
49. "Scat!" : SCRAM
50. Disquiet : UNEASE
52. Attends without a date : GOESSTAG
54. Toboggan, e.g. : SLED
55. Yugoslav-American tennis great : SELES
57. ___ Major : URSA
58. Question that might be answered "Muy bien, y usted?" : COMOESTA
60. Belgian brew, familiarly : STELLA
62. Movie franchise that set a record opening weekend gross in 2018 ($640 million) : AVENGERS
63. Be visibly precarious : TEETER
64. Neighbor of Homer : NED
65. Dumb ___ (oafs) : OXES
66. Feels : SENSES
Down
1. Fills to the gills : JAMPACKS
2. Some Nellies and Noras, formally : ELEANORS
3. Printing of a magazine with two different covers, e.g. : SPLITRUN
4. Counts : TALLIES
5. Green prefix : ECO
6. Matisse's "La ___" : DANSE
7. What Alice goes through to find "Jabberwocky" printed backward : THELOOKINGGLASS
8. Baylor's home : WACO
9. Quite wee : EENSY
10. Home of the Tisch Sch. of the Arts : NYU
11. "The magic word" : PLEASE
12. Epic that opens "Of arms and the man I sing ..." : AENEID
13. Geometric diamonds : RHOMBI
16. Meme feline : LOLCAT
21. Hosp. areas : ORS
24. Animosities : HATREDS
26. Hindu retreats : ASHRAMS
29. Aspen or Tahoe : SUV
32. Urge : YEN
34. Always, to a bard : EER
37. Pep : VIM
38. Prognosticated : FORESEEN
39. One taken by the arm : ESCORTEE
40. Grosses out : DISGUSTS
41. Entice : LEADON
43. Volcanic rocks : BASALTS
44. Native of Florence, e.g. : TUSCAN
45. Head over heels : INLOVE
46. Judged : DEEMED
48. Ending with Fannie or Ginnie : MAE
51. County in England or New Jersey : ESSEX
53. Leaders before 41-Across : TSARS
56. French "to be" : ETRE
59. Maniacal leader? : EGO
61. Big name in denim : LEE

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?