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New York Times, Monday, January 16, 2017

Author:
John Wrenholt
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
11/16/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68000
John Wrenholt

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 2 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Wrenholt. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Wrenholt notes:
When I told my wife that I was going to attempt to construct a puzzle for publication in the New York Times newspaper, I'm sure she ... read more

When I told my wife that I was going to attempt to construct a puzzle for publication in the New York Times newspaper, I'm sure she thought "No WAY." But I was determined and even after some rejections, I tried every WAY I could think of to come up with a creative and original theme. Can you believe that I submitted a puzzle that incorporated a haiku about poison ivy? It was rejected (rightfully so) with a note that read: "We thought the idea was interesting and different, but we ultimately felt that having a whole theme based on a malady like poison ivy would be a little too unpleasant."

It was time to try a new WAY of thinking. I got the idea for this theme when a game of cards ended in a THREE-WAY TIE. It seemed like it would be a good seed word to build a theme around. First, I checked the database on XWord Info to see if it had ever appeared in a New York Times puzzle before. It had not, although THREE-WAY TIE does appear on Jeff Chen's supplemental word list.

Looking through the same database turned up TWO-WAY RADIO and I knew a bunch of ONE WAY phrases so now I needed to find an interesting 4-WAY word. The only option seemed to be FOUR WAY STOP SIGN. Then an "aha" moment occurred, and I realized that 1 + 2 + 3 = SIX WAYS TO SUNDAY would work and also act as a revealer.

I hope that everyone is able to find a WAY to enjoy this puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! John goes out of his WAY to give us a sequence from ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, TWO WAY RADIO, THREE WAY TIE, to … SIX WAYS TO ... read more

Debut! John goes out of his WAY to give us a sequence from ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, TWO WAY RADIO, THREE WAY TIE, to … SIX WAYS TO SUNDAY? I thought long and hard about this one. I wondered, is 1, 2, 3, 6 a real sequence? It is cool that it describes the first perfect number, i.e. a number that equals the sum of its factors (1 + 2 + 3 = 6). Let's just go with that.

John's explanation of 1 + 2 + 3 = 6 does make sense, but I wish it had been more clearly spelled out somehow in the puzzle.

Nice gridwork, especially for a debut. It's hard to work in so much bonus material — WALLSAFE, PINGPONG, TOP SECRET (at the TOP of the grid!) and TREESTUMP with a funny beaver-related clue.

Usually, bonus fill is incorporated in the vertical direction, since this allows for more freedom and flexibility. TEABAGS and GET BUSY (admit it, you thought of the euphemism, didn't you? No? Oh. I didn't either.) are relatively easy to work into the grid, for example. Even though they each intersect two themers, there are a good number of black squares breaking things up in those regions. Easy peasy.

But look up at TOP SECRET. Stacking a long answer on top of a themer is not often done, because it forces so many sets of paired letters you have to work with: TO of STOP, ON of HONE, PE of OPEC, etc. It's true that you can put just about anything in that TOP SECRET slot, but you'll always have all those parallel constraints to work around. So it's great execution up there, what with nary a gluey bit.

The bottom does force the ugly EDUC, but what are you gonna do. It's the price of this sort of layout. Given that there were only a few other gluey bits in TYRE, OTRA, SEL, the overall result was pretty good.

The logic of the progression still doesn't sit quite right with me, but overall, I did like the gridwork execution. Neat to see a noob stretch to spruce up a grid like this, while still keeping all the short fill reasonably smooth.

1
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0116 ( 24,541 )
Across
1. "Penny Dreadful" channel, for short : SHO
4. ___ Longstocking, girl of children's literature : PIPPI
9. Poet Robert who spoke at J.F.K.'s inauguration : FROST
14. Highly classified : TOPSECRET
16. Like four-leaf clovers, supposedly : LUCKY
17. Somehow : ONEWAYORANOTHER
19. Nut popular in ice cream : PECAN
20. Apparatus pulled by oxen : PLOW
21. Have a mortgage, e.g. : OWE
22. Intestinal fortitude, informally : GUTS
25. "Ah, now it's clear" : ISEE
27. Play about Capote : TRU
30. Walkie-talkie : TWOWAYRADIO
35. Something that may be hidden behind a framed picture : WALLSAFE
37. Mixes : STIRS
38. Ancient Peruvian : INCA
39. Stairs : STEPS
42. Eye part with the iris : UVEA
43. Odor : SCENT
45. Table tennis : PINGPONG
47. Rare occurrence on "Jeopardy!" : THREEWAYTIE
50. Prop for a golf ball : TEE
51. Sheet on a mast : SAIL
52. Co-ops, maybe: Abbr. : APTS
54. Abbr. before an alias : AKA
57. Pizazz : BRIO
59. Nut-bearing tree : BEECH
63. Completely ... with a summation of 17-, 30- and 47-Across : SIXWAYSTOSUNDAY
67. Larsson who wrote "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" : STIEG
68. Sign of a beaver's activity, maybe : TREESTUMP
69. Exams : TESTS
70. "Alas ..." : SADLY
71. Dove's sound : COO
Down
1. "Halt!" : STOP
2. Sharpen, as skills : HONE
3. Grp. that includes Iraq and Qatar : OPEC
4. Alternative to bubble wrap : PEANUTS
5. Slippery, as winter roads : ICY
6. One who gives tips (and gets tips?) at a country club : PRO
7. Arrested suspect, informally : PERP
8. Roma's country : ITALIA
9. Daisies and dahlias : FLOWERS
10. Sign of a well-worn trail : RUT
11. Eight: Sp. : OCHO
12. Polling bias : SKEW
13. Lebanese city that was once the center of Phoenician civilization : TYRE
15. Lavish party favors : SWAG
18. Inquisitive : NOSY
23. "___ the night before Christmas ..." : TWAS
24. Cushiony : SOFT
26. Readily accept : EATUP
27. 1960s dance craze : TWIST
28. Cowboy's workplace : RANCH
29. Stomach woe : ULCER
31. Given to crying : WEEPY
32. Golfer's gouge : DIVOT
33. "Goodnight" girl of song : IRENE
34. Missouri river or tribe : OSAGE
36. 10 things in an Olympic swimming pool : LANES
40. Falafel bread : PITA
41. Scissor cut : SNIP
44. Lipton products : TEABAGS
46. "Hop to it!" : GETBUSY
48. Thin but strong : WIRY
49. Most-wanted groups for parties : ALISTS
53. Transmitted : SENT
54. Aide: Abbr. : ASST
55. Toy on a string : KITE
56. W.W. II foe : AXIS
58. Other: Sp. : OTRA
60. Common Core dept. : EDUC
61. Duck-hunting attire, informally : CAMO
62. Syringe, for short : HYPO
64. Freshly painted : WET
65. British ref. work : OED
66. French seasoning : SEL

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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