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New York Times, Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Author:
Todd Gross
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
179/13/20097/23/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4211513
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54130
Todd Gross

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQZ} This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Gross. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Todd Gross notes:
Pardon my crucinerdism, but I'm totally psyched to have my 10th NYT crossword, which means I get to be on those awesome XWordInfo ... read more

Pardon my crucinerdism, but I'm totally psyched to have my 10th NYT crossword, which means I get to be on those awesome XWordInfo lists with the cool constructors. WE MADE IT! Squee!!! (uh, I mean WOOT!!!)

Oh, right, the puzzle... I submitted it in April of 2011. Will accepted the puzzle in September, but didn't publish it until now because, well, I'll let Will tell you. (I believe the reason for the long delay is he has a lot of word ladder puzzles waiting to be published, and he wants to space them out. Makes me curious what all those other puzzles are like.) Note: I created this WORD LOOP puzzle well before Ms. Gorski's EDGINESS puzzle was published, so I couldn't LISTEN TO her (and Jeff's) advice. I don't remember pulling my hair out, but I did need to use A TRIP and ADRIP as crossing entries. Sorry about that.

Did you notice that O is the only vowel along the perimeter, and that there are no O's in the rest of the grid? Indeed, if you connect the O's, so to speak, you'll get a shape that looks a lot like an O. And since O is the only vowel in my name, it seems fitting that I would be this puzzle's constructor.

Will Shortz notes:
Todd's grid ended up with a lot more crossword-y stuff than I like — especially WILE E, OBER, OR ME, ORNE, UP AS, AGRO, A-WEE, ... read more

Todd's grid ended up with a lot more crossword-y stuff than I like — especially WILE E, OBER, OR ME, ORNE, UP AS, AGRO, A-WEE, ISE, ADRIP, and A TRIP. But a theme like this, with fixed answers around the perimeter, is difficult to pull off, and I think the result here is worth the compromises. On the plus side, I like KEY WEST, CAR WAX, NEWSWEEK, and especially WE MADE IT.

Jeff Chen notes:
Clever idea today. Word ladders, which connect a starting word to an ending word using intermediates where only letter has changed, ... read more

Clever idea today. Word ladders, which connect a starting word to an ending word using intermediates where only letter has changed, have become a little overdone in crosswords, so these days it's important to have some new aspect. I really like Todd's idea here, calling it a WORD LOOP, and actually progressing from WORD to LOOP and back, forming a complete circle around the perimeter.

As with most perimeter puzzles, the fill suffers because of the high constraints. Each corner presents its own problem to the constructor, and even if he/she can get all the corners to fill decently, there's still the huge problem of getting everything to knit together. Typically puzzles can be filled from the center toward the edges, and usually each little edge area is not very constrained, so they're not that difficult to fill out. Trying to get four subsections to mesh together cleanly is a head-banging problem.

I do like how Todd's arranged his black squares to help ameliorate this issue. Notice how the grid is sort of cordoned off, forming a SW and a NE region, along with a barbell connecting the NW and SE? Very smart to do so, and it makes his middle region quite nice. Kudos for working in SVELTE and KEY WEST into a tough-to-fill area.

Due to the requirement of each perimeter answer being four letters, there are cheater squares in the NW and SE. That makes filling much easier. In the NW, Todd does a great job. Yes, there are a lot of RSTLNE letters, but I'm okay with that considering the cleanliness of the fill. The SE is a different story, with A DRIP and A TRIP crossing each other. Typically those are reasonable (if not pretty) answers, but crossing each other draws extra attention.

And the other corners, so carefully cordoned off as best as possible, also suffer. I love WE MADE IT! but not at the price of EBRO, OR ME, OBER all in that single corner. Same goes for NEWSWEEK and CARWAX, two great answers in the SW which bring the very heavy price of OGEE, ORNE, and AGRO all in one tiny space. It makes me wonder if Todd started in the middle and worked his way out, sort of painting himself into those corners.

All in all, an innovative puzzle, one I appreciated for its novelty, but also one so constrained that the trade-off felt a little shaky.

1
W
2
O
3
R
4
D
5
W
6
O
7
O
8
D
9
W
10
O
11
O
12
T
13
C
I
D
E
R
14
A
B
L
E
15
E
B
R
O
16
O
L
D
I
E
17
T
E
E
M
18
M
E
M
O
19
R
E
E
N
A
20
C
T
S
21
I
22
M
A
R
E
T
23
D
E
R
I
D
E
24
E
25
A
S
E
D
26
N
E
D
27
S
28
B
E
N
E
29
A
30
T
31
H
32
C
33
A
34
B
35
D
A
V
36
I
S
37
S
I
C
K
O
38
O
W
E
39
N
40
R
E
S
E
41
T
42
T
I
T
O
43
R
E
V
E
44
L
45
L
E
N
I
46
N
47
D
S
T
48
K
E
Y
W
E
49
S
T
50
T
E
E
51
S
52
S
T
E
E
53
P
54
R
U
P
55
I
56
A
57
H
58
C
59
A
60
R
W
A
X
61
L
62
I
S
T
E
N
T
O
63
O
G
E
E
64
U
65
P
A
S
66
R
E
T
R
O
67
O
R
N
E
68
A
L
T
A
69
A
D
R
I
P
70
K
O
O
K
71
L
O
O
K
72
L
O
O
P
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0121 ( 23,450 )
Across
1
With 72-Across, what the answers on this puzzle's perimeter form : WORD
5
Beech and birch : WOOD
9
"Yay!," in a text message : WOOT
13
Drink served either hot or cold : CIDER
14
Qualified : ABLE
15
Iberian river : EBRO
16
Any hit by the Everly Brothers, e.g. : OLDIE
17
Swarm (with) : TEEM
18
Brief reminder : MEMO
19
Performs, as historical scenes : REENACTS
21
Turkish hospice : IMARET
23
Taunt : DERIDE
24
Moved smoothly : EASED
26
Fictional Flanders and Plimpton : NEDS
28
Not worthy of : BENEATH
32
Hack's vehicle : CAB
35
Nancy Reagan's maiden name : DAVIS
37
2007 documentary about the health care system : SICKO
38
Wilson of "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" : OWEN
40
Put back to zero, say : RESET
42
Latin musician Puente : TITO
43
Celebrate noisily : REVEL
45
Inspiration for Old Major of "Animal Farm" : LENIN
47
Summer clock observance: Abbr. : DST
48
Florida home for Hemingway : KEYWEST
50
Caddie's pocketful : TEES
52
Brew, as tea : STEEP
54
Indonesian currency : RUPIAH
58
Certain paint protector : CARWAX
61
Heed : LISTENTO
63
Curve in a crown molding : OGEE
64
Dress ___ (impersonate) : UPAS
66
Nostalgic style : RETRO
67
Writer Sarah ___ Jewett : ORNE
68
Ski resort in Salt Lake County : ALTA
69
Leaking, as a faucet : ADRIP
70
Nutcase : KOOK
71
Take a gander : LOOK
72
See 1-Across : LOOP
Down
1
___ Coyote (toon) : WILEE
2
More bizarre : ODDER
3
Control, as costs : REININ
4
Like calls from bill collectors, typically : DREADED
5
Unit of power : WATT
6
Way overweight : OBESE
7
Cheer in Chihuahua : OLE
8
Death : DEMISE
9
Cry upon arrival : WEMADEIT
10
High, in German names : OBER
11
"Coffee, Tea ___?" (1960s best seller) : ORME
12
Beep : TOOT
13
Telephone attachment : CORD
20
Chest material : CEDAR
22
___ Health magazine : MENS
25
Part of AWOL : ABSENT
27
Gracefully thin : SVELTE
29
___ wash jeans : ACID
30
Times Square booth sign : TKTS
31
Knee-slapper : HOOT
32
One may pop on New Year's Eve : CORK
33
Bide-___ : AWEE
34
Group of beauties : BEVY
36
Ending with advert : ISE
39
Magazine launch of 1933 with a hyphen in its name : NEWSWEEK
41
Wedding cake parts : TIERS
44
"___ thousand flowers bloom" : LETA
46
Car gear : NEUTRAL
49
___ relations : SEXUAL
51
Suit company founded in Australia : SPEEDO
53
Student of Socrates : PLATO
55
Emcee's delivery : INTRO
56
Take ___ (travel) : ATRIP
57
Basketball target : HOOP
58
Diner employee : COOK
59
Farming: Prefix : AGRO
60
City NNE of Tahoe : RENO
62
"Babette's Feast" author Dinesen : ISAK
65
Mideast grp. : PLO

Answer summary:

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