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New York Times, Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Author: Mark MacLachlan
Editor: Will Shortz
Mark MacLachlan
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1.53010

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 35 Missing: {Q} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. MacLachlan. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mark MacLachlan notes: I thought it would be interesting to make a puzzle where the entry numbers corresponded to the atomic numbers of elements. I ... more
Mark MacLachlan notes:

I thought it would be interesting to make a puzzle where the entry numbers corresponded to the atomic numbers of elements. I played around with this concept for a while and realized that I could fit some of the noble gases into a grid in this way. I thought it would be cute if I could get all of the stable noble gases to fit (not radon, which is unstable and has an atomic number too high to fit into a 15x15 grid this way). This turned out to be very challenging, but I found a grid that worked and obeyed the usual symmetry and word count of the NYT. I'm not sure that this grid is unique, but I couldn't come up with any other sensible ones that work.

The grid is pretty restrictive in where I could place the revealer (initially "NOBLEGAS ELEMENT"), but I was able to get it into the grid without too much of a mess. In addition I could put the revealer ATNO in the lower right corner. Filling the grid was a bit challenging because of the asymmetric arrangement of theme words and I couldn't add any cheater squares as that would disrupt where the noble gas elements were placed. I originally had the theme words clued differently, but thanks to Will for the way he decided to present it — it's better than the way that I submitted it.

Hope you enjoy the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes: I'm a chemistry wonk. Dunno why I loved chemistry so much in school. Or why I bombarded our chemists with so many curious questions ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I'm a chemistry wonk. Dunno why I loved chemistry so much in school. Or why I bombarded our chemists with so many curious questions at our pharma startup. (Some advice: don't bug people with easy access to strong acids and bases.) Cool to get some chemistry love today, the puzzle featuring the NOBLE GASes … each positioned at its proper atomic number! HELIUM at 2-Down, NEON at 10-Across, etc.

It would have been jump-out-of-my-seat-worthy if each had also been placed to the right of the grid, as the NOBLE GASes are in the periodic table (in light blue in the pic). The periodic table is all about proper organization, positioning elements in columns that make sense, ordering elements into families. So the chem nerd in me frowny-faced at the haphazard-feeling placements.

It's impossible to put HELIUM both at 2-Across (or 2-Down) AND put it on the right side of the grid. But a guy can wish.

It was also weird to omit radon. I can understand not giving oganesson any love — sorry Og, your atomic number of 118 is way too high — but radon at 86 might just have been possible.

Okay, it's mathematically impossible in a 15x15 grid, considering that the max number of words is usually 78. Harrumph. Fine! But the omission of radon feels so notable, like naming six of the seven dwarfs, and pretending Doc doesn't exist.

Laying out the five NOBLE GASes so that they sit at the proper numbers, plus the inclusion of NOBLE GAS and ELEMENT and ATNO = tough task. With so many themers fixed into place all over the grid, it's tough to avoid some REVE, MTN, ERGOT, STA, etc. crossword glue to hold everything together. Along with the oddball AGGRESS, the grid left me with an impression of inelegance. I'm not sure ATNO added much, and it's a piece of crossword glue in itself.

But taking a second look, I am impressed that Mark managed to get the NOBLE GAS / ELEMENT region pretty darn clean, especially considering KRYPTON and XENON are packed right in there.

Tough to balance so many constraints and demands. Audacious thinking, but it didn't all come together for this annoyingly OCD chem nerd.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1010 ( 24,808 )
Across Down
1. "___: Ragnarok" (2017 Marvel film) : THOR
5. Give new weapons to : REARM
10. <--, on the periodic table : NEON
14. Dream: Fr. : REVE
15. Grain disease : ERGOT
16. 1967 Montreal event : EXPO
17. Specks in la mer : ILES
18. <--, on the periodic table : ARGON
19. Carefully examines : VETS
20. Evacuation notice? : FIREALARM
22. Ventura who was governor of Minnesota : JESSE
23. Hungers (for) : LUSTS
24. You might lose yours in an argument : TEMPER
26. 911 responder, for short : EMT
27. Gourmet food additive : SEASALT
29. Lout : OAF
32. Highest point : APEX
34. Place to buy tickets: Abbr. : STA
35. Medical research goal : CURE
36. <--, on the periodic table : KRYPTON
39. Passed, as a law : ENACTED
41. Gets into the weeds? : HOES
42. One might be around a buck or two : DOE
44. Canadian gas brand : ESSO
45. End of the British alphabet : ZED
46. Perish alternative : PUBLISH
48. Abbr. in an email header : FWD
51. Sent astray : MISLED
52. Person making introductions : EMCEE
54. <--, on the periodic table : XENON
57. Opaque liquids such as milk : EMULSIONS
59. Minnesota's ___ Clinic : MAYO
60. Ticket ___ : AGENT
61. Modern prefix with complete or correct : AUTO
62. Well-matched : EVEN
63. Au pair, often : NANNY
64. Turkey ___ (annual event) : TROT
65. Makes after taxes : NETS
66. Fur trader John Jacob : ASTOR
67. What each arrow in a clue points to, for its answer: Abbr. : ATNO
1. Unimportant thing : TRIFLE
2. <--, on the periodic table : HELIUM
3. Wore out, as one's welcome : OVERSTAYED
4. Bowling alley button : RESET
5. Not made up : REAL
6. Printing goofs : ERRATA
7. Act hostilely : AGGRESS
8. Apartment sharer : ROOMMATE
9. Denali, e.g.: Abbr. : MTN
10. "When pigs fly!" : NEVER
11. Opponents in custody cases : EXES
12. Picks, with "for" : OPTS
13. Elephant's trunk, basically : NOSE
21. Balance sheet plus : ASSET
22. With 25-Down, 727 and 747 : JET
25. See 22-Down : PLANES
28. Book that describes the crossing of the Red Sea : EXODUS
29. How some legal disputes get settled : OUTOFCOURT
30. "The British ___ coming!" : ARE
31. Stuck coins into : FED
33. Additional afterthought, for short : PPS
35. Includes when sending an email : CCS
36. Radio freq. unit : KHZ
37. Wade's opponent in legal history : ROE
38. The answer to each clue with an arrow : NOBLEGAS
40. BBQ leftovers? : ASHES
43. The answer to each clue with an arrow : ELEMENT
46. Wrestling win : PIN
47. "Uh, no idea" : IDUNNO
49. Continued talking : WENTON
50. Mississippi River explorer : DESOTO
51. Blue Lucky Charms marshmallows : MOONS
53. Mazda roadster : MIATA
54. Superhero group including Beast and Cyclops : XMEN
55. Icicle's place : EAVE
56. Kremlin rejection : NYET
58. Astronomer's unit: Abbr. : LTYR
60. Southern California's Santa ___ Freeway : ANA

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

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