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New York Times, Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Author:
Trenton Charlson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
124/26/20175/3/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
11021421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.80011
Trenton Charlson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 46 Missing: {AEJOQUVY} This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Charlson. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Trenton Charlson notes:
When I first started solving the Times crossword, I was fascinated by some of the stunt puzzles. I remember being amazed by the ... read more

When I first started solving the Times crossword, I was fascinated by some of the stunt puzzles. I remember being amazed by the puzzles with no vowels except for ‘A', E', or ‘O', and making a mental note to my aspiring constructor self that ‘I' was still on the table. It turns out that this probably should have been a warning sign — that and the fact that any Scrabble player can attest to the abject horrors of a rack laden with I's.

Still, I was undeterred — until I tried grid layout after grid layout with no luck. Most of them wouldn't fill at all, let alone even remotely well. I began to accept that my odyssey was doomed to failure and set the puzzle aside. A few months later, I had the idea of using a grid layout similar to the one you see today. Though finding a suitable grid was half the battle, there was still the other half left to go. The process took much trial and error, and dupes seemed determined to do me in. Eventually, though, I managed to emerge (mostly) unscathed.

Overall, I'm really proud of how this puzzle turned out. There are a few more abbreviations than I would normally use, but I much prefer them to egregious obscurities, and feel they are more than offset by the good stuff here. In addition to longer fill like TIGHT-KNIT, MINISKI and "BRING IT!", I'm glad I was able to include the cross-referenced WII / FIT and GIN / SLING.

I also really like the vibe of the cluing here, and am pleased that most of my clues survived. I'm rather partial to those for 20-Across, 43-Across, 44-Across, and 47-Down, as well as the clue echo between 45-Across and 51-Across. I also included the clue for 39-Down to showcase the fact that I somehow managed to avoid having to use any random Roman numerals (but for some reason still felt compelled to reference one in the clues).

This puzzle has a special place in my heart, and I hope that it appeals to those of you who delight in this sort of thing, as I do. Happy solving!

(And by the way, for anyone who can't get enough of univocalic wordplay, Christian Bök's Eunoia is an excellent read.)

Jeff Chen notes:
I appreciated the excellent craftsmanship today. Jim and I did one with no vowels except I way back in 2014, but Trenton took it a ... read more

I appreciated the excellent craftsmanship today. Jim and I did one with no vowels except I way back in 2014, but Trenton took it a step further – not only are there no A, E, O, U, Y, but every single entry contains an I!

(The difference is that an entry like PSST wouldn't fly for today's puzzle.)

Having gone through the construction challenge, I can sympathize with how tough it is. Your word list gets cut down tremendously, to the point where you'd think you'd have to make serious compromises – perhaps use a ton of crossword glue, some oddball long entries guaranteed to cause head-scratching, or maybe even go up to 80 words.

Super impressive that Trenton made it all happen so smoothly. If INDS is your worst entry, man oh man is that a tremendous success.

I don't mind at all that he was liberal with his use of cheater squares (like the two black squares under BRING IT). There are a lot (12 in total), but I'm fine with that in the service of smooth gridwork.

I hesitated on PRII, but I think I love that one. One Prius, two Prii? Sure, why not!

I've seen enough gimmicks like this that it didn't have much impact on me. But many of my friends have joyfully related their experience with similar trick puzzles, some going as far as to cite them as some of their favorites. I can certainly understand that perspective — the first time I saw something like this I was wowed.

Trenton earns himself another POW! in recognition of his stellar gridsmanship today.

Jim Horne notes:
This puzzle nearly doubles the number of I's in the previous record. I particularly admire WILD THING and TIGHT KNIT; two 9-letter ... read more

This puzzle nearly doubles the number of I's in the previous record. I particularly admire WILD THING and TIGHT KNIT; two 9-letter entries with 7 consonants and 2 I's.

We're running out of unique single-vowel possibilities. Patrick Berry had 69 A's in 2002. J. R. Bender had 71 E's in 1996. In 2012, Steve Riley managed 69 O's. U, anyone?

In 1994, Cathy Allis went big, accomplishing this single-vowel feat in a memorable E-only Sunday puzzle called, of course, ELAND.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0109 ( 25,264 )

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Across
1
Gold, frankincense and myrrh, famously : GIFTS
6
Fleet of foot : SWIFT
11
Bit of bunny slope gear : MINISKI
13
Pop music's ___ Vanilli : MILLI
14
#1 hit for the Troggs : WILDTHING
16
Finalize, as comic art : INKIN
17
Pandora released them : ILLS
18
Pupil's place : IRIS
19
Speaks like Sylvester : LISPS
20
Face cards, informally? : IDS
21
N.Y.C. subway line : IRT
22
Bed size : TWIN
24
Bad outcome for a QB: Abbr. : INT
25
Reacting to an awkward moment, perhaps : CRINGING
29
Jazz improvisations : RIFFS
32
Flashy accessories : BLING
33
Aperitif with black currant liqueur : KIR
34
Mother of Horus : ISIS
35
Threshold : BRINK
36
Pasta choice : ZITI
37
With 38-Across, cocktail with lemon or lime : GIN
38
See 37-Across : SLING
39
Center : MIDST
40
Oppressive : STIFLING
42
Removable locks : WIG
43
What Gollum calls "my precious" : RING
44
Number of suspects in Clue : SIX
45
J. Edgar Hoover's org. : FBI
48
Parsley portion : SPRIG
51
J. Edgar Hoover used one: Abbr. : INIT
53
Formal letter opener : SIRS
54
Source of the word "whiskey" : IRISH
55
Close, as a community : TIGHTKNIT
57
Touch of color : TINCT
58
Sounding like Big Ben : CHIMING
59
Many Punjabis : SIKHS
60
Quick cuts : SNIPS
Down
1
Breathers? : GILLS
2
Unaffiliated voters: Abbr. : INDS
3
See 14-Down : FIT
4
Item shot out of a cannon at an arena : TSHIRT
5
Evade : SKIRT
6
Like the Cheshire cat : SMILING
7
Entertaining, in a way : WINING
8
Sorts : ILKS
9
Go gaga (over) : FLIP
10
Spam holders : TINS
11
Not so hot : MILD
12
Reggae singer ___ Kamoze : INI
14
With 3-Down, Nintendo exercise offering : WII
15
Part of a guitar that also names something you can wear : GSTRING
21
Stand-___ : INS
23
Instant : WINK
24
Possibilities : IFS
25
Static ___ : CLING
26
"It's a joke" : IKID
27
Petty criticisms : NITS
28
Moxie : GRIT
29
Oil machinery : RIGS
30
"Oh, really?" : ISIT
31
Over, to Odette : FINI
32
"Show me your worst!" : BRINGIT
35
Russian pancake : BLIN
36
Start of some evasive maneuvering : ZIG
38
Deliberate discourtesies : SLIGHTS
39
Verb that's also a Roman numeral : MIX
41
Otto who worked on the Manhattan Project : FRISCH
42
Word before reach or reason : WITHIN
44
Venice's Bridge of ___ : SIGHS
45
Original sauna users : FINNS
46
Water cooler? : BRIG
47
Loyal follower? : IST
48
Gathers dust : SITS
49
Toyota hybrids, jocularly : PRII
50
Zamboni site : RINK
52
Actor Cage, to friends : NIC
53
Pass on : SKIP
56
"Didn't need to know that!" : TMI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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