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INNER WORKINGS

New York Times, Sunday, October 12, 2014

Author: Pawel Fludzinski
Editor: Will Shortz
Pawel Fludzinski
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77/12/20127/19/20171
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1.53000

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 70 Missing: {JXZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Fludzinski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Pawel Fludzinski notes: My first Sunday puzzle in the NY Times! The inspiration for this puzzle came from my daughter's first day in second grade. She came home that day with a variety of word puzzles, including words within ... more
Pawel Fludzinski notes: My first Sunday puzzle in the NY Times! The inspiration for this puzzle came from my daughter's first day in second grade. She came home that day with a variety of word puzzles, including words within words, e.g. THODEEPUGHT. Her schoolwork got me thinking about short phrases containing "in" that could work in a puzzle, rather than just a word within a word, like her example. From that moment of inspiration, the creation of this puzzle became a tutorial in how to create a consistent, tight-knit set of theme entries. Indeed, the published version is the fourth iteration of the puzzle. (My daughter is now in third grade, so you can get a sense of the gestation period for this puzzle!)

In the first version, I had many interesting theme entries, but they were inconsistent in whether or not an article was dropped — e.g. HIGHFRIENDSPLACES, CHINABULLSHOP and NEWRINGYEAR — all nice entries, but the second drops an "a", the third a "the", whereas the first does not drop an article at all. In hindsight, this should have been an obvious consideration in the selection of my theme entries. I went back to my list of over 50 possible theme entries and sorted for grammatical consistency. The selection process became much more difficult because no group of possible theme entries had more than 10-12 members. As if that wasn't enough, I added the additional constraint to the selection process of having crossing theme entries — both versions 2 and 3 had 8 entries, with 2 in the down orientation.

Both the second and third versions of the puzzle were grammatically consistent, but some of the entries were weak. Hence, the tutorial concluded with the valuable lesson of not compromising the selection of theme entries for the sake of having them cross. Everything finally came together in the fourth and final version, which is the result you see today. As a new constructor, it was a real education. (I got started in crossword creation about 4 years ago after seeing Will Shortz give a talk in Indianapolis — I caught the cruciverbalist bug).

My other passion, time permitting (and it is tough with an 8 year old) is large format photography. It has occurred to me on more than one occasion that spatial relationships — be they black squares on a crossword grid or subject elements on the ground glass of a large format camera (viewed upside and in reverse) — are something of great interest to me. The rest, as they say, is "history", although in my case, a very thin one! I definitely want to extend a tremendous thanks to Will for his continued encouragement and assistance in finalizing the theme set for this puzzle.

Will Shortz notes: This puzzle has an interesting history. Pawel and I went back and forth on the theme many times, as he progressively refined the idea and got better examples. In the end I thought it turned out great — ... more
Will Shortz notes: This puzzle has an interesting history. Pawel and I went back and forth on the theme many times, as he progressively refined the idea and got better examples. In the end I thought it turned out great — very tight, with all familiar, lively phrases. He constructed the grid, I edited it, the puzzle-testers did their thing, etc. And after the puzzle went to the Times and was all set to be published ... I learned from a solver who got an advance copy that I ran a puzzle with the same theme, using two-and-a-half of the same theme entries, three years ago. :-(

Well, at least I'm consistent in what I like!

It's still a fine puzzle, with an expanded theme (Sunday-size rather than daily), and a solid construction besides. Still worth doing, I think, despite the accidental theme duplication. I hope you agree.

Jeff Chen notes: Nice wordplay theme today, literal interpretations of 'X in a Y' phrases, CANARY IN A COAL MINE transmogrifying into COAL CANARY MINE. This is a theme type that hasn't been done too many times before, my LAT ... more
Jeff Chen notes: The Burghers of Calais by Rodin Nice wordplay theme today, literal interpretations of "X in a Y" phrases, CANARY IN A COAL MINE transmogrifying into COAL CANARY MINE. This is a theme type that hasn't been done too many times before, my LAT debut and Parker's weekday puzzle coming to mind. I like that Pawel tried to do something different with it, expanding to a Sunday-size puzzle. He sent me a shorter version of his notes, but I asked if I could run the longer version — I liked reading about his entire process.

I like the balance Pawel struck today. There's not huge amount of sparkling fill — FAT CHANCE, MT EVEREST, PARODIST, RAW DEAL, CADDIES — but it was enough to add zest to my solving experience. And I appreciate how I didn't run into too much glue. I hitched when I got to SONDE, an odd little bit, but that fell pretty quickly. Some might have trouble with CALAIS, but that town does have historical importance so I think it's fine. Keeping things to a smattering of CPO, EIN, NNE, OON, SFC, OESTE, etc. isn't too shabby.

Since three of the theme entries are essentially identical to Parker's 2011 puzzle, I would have liked more time between the two. How much is enough? For a crossword-OCD person like myself, Parker's puzzle came to mind immediately, so perhaps something more like five years? Of course, most people will have long forgotten even things like their ... their... (well, I forget) over the course of three years.

Anyway, a fun puzzle with some nice long themers.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1012 ( 23,714 )
Across Down
1. Short end of the stick : RAWDEAL
8. 1960s dance : WATUSI
14. French port just up the coast from Boulogne : CALAIS
20. Speedily : INHASTE
21. Key of Grieg's only piano concerto : AMINOR
22. Belabor, say : OVERDO
23. Leading indicator? : COALCANARYMINE
25. Spruce up : NEATEN
26. Sinus specialist, succinctly : ENT
27. Zest : RIND
28. Bacalao and boquerones : TAPAS
30. Ugly one : TOAD
31. Misfit : ROUNDSQUAREPEGHOLE
36. "American Pie" songwriter : MCLEAN
39. Boosts : UPS
40. "___ Grows in Brooklyn" : ATREE
41. Shakespearean lament : ALACK
42. Like a pilot that's working again : RELIT
45. Locale that made Hillary famous : MTEVEREST
49. One who's enthralled, metaphorically : CANDYKIDSTORE
52. French possessive : SES
53. Response to a 26-Across, perhaps : AAH
54. Botanist Gray : ASA
55. Dedicated : AVID
56. Quod ___ demonstrandum : ERAT
58. First steamship with a planned circumnavigation of the globe : ARGO
59. Something on a hero, maybe : WHITEHAT
62. Greeted and seated : SAWIN
64. Pitbull or Snoop Dogg : RAPPER
66. Never : MILLIONNOTYEARS
69. 1998 Winter Olympics host : NAGANO
72. Studio behind "Amadeus" and "Platoon" : ORION
73. Winning an Oscar, Emmy and Tony, e.g. : TRIFECTA
77. Activist Brockovich : ERIN
78. Hypnotist's signal : SNAP
79. One of a dozen popes : PIUS
80. Suffix with ball : OON
81. Game warden? : REF
82. U.S.N. rank : CPO
84. Much ado about nothing : TEATEMPESTPOT
89. "I wouldn't bet on it!" : FATCHANCE
92. Top of the Eiffel Tower? : BERET
93. Honduras-to-Guatemala dirección : OESTE
94. Hearing-related : AURAL
95. Blues rocker Chris : REA
96. Become fixated : OBSESS
97. Deteriorate rapidly : HANDGOTOHELLBASKET
104. Make ___ dash for : AMAD
105. Went out with : DATED
106. Actress Falco : EDIE
107. Neutrinos, symbolically : NUS
110. Broccoli-like vegetable : RAPINI
112. It's hard to find : HAYNEEDLESTACK
117. Directs, as a conversation : STEERS
118. True : EVENUP
119. Transgression : OFFENSE
120. Show disdain for, in a way : HISSAT
121. Dinners at which people read at the table : SEDERS
122. Hide : SECLUDE
1. Sake source : RICE
2. Like most graffiti, for short : ANON
3. "Come again?" : WHAT
4. AT&T Stadium team, on scoreboards : DAL
5. Corner key : ESC
6. Speedily : ATARUN
7. ___ Peace Prize (award discontinued in 1990) : LENIN
8. Charges : WARDS
9. Girl's name that becomes a different girl's name if you switch the first two letters : AMY
10. Goalie Howard of U.S.A.'s 2010 and '14 World Cup teams : TIM
11. QB Johnny : UNITAS
12. Ping maker : SONAR
13. "To reiterate ..." : IREPEAT
14. Opposite of waste : CONSERVE
15. Michigan, in Chicago: Abbr. : AVE
16. Hide stuff : LEATHER
17. ___-Detoo ("Star Wars" droid) : ARTOO
18. World peace, e.g. : IDEAL
19. Atmospheric probe : SONDE
24. "But wait, there's more ..." : AND
29. Best suited : APTEST
31. Mailroom stamp : RECD
32. Like some chardonnays : OAKY
33. Relinquish : QUIT
34. Plotting : UPTO
35. Thousands, in slang : GEES
36. Avian mimic : MACAW
37. What stripes and polka dots do : CLASH
38. Luau locale : LANAI
42. Lakers, to Celtics, e.g. : RIVAL
43. It may be limited or late : EDITION
44. Subject of some '50s-'60s experiments : LSD
45. Excellence : MERIT
46. Tombstone figure : EARP
47. Brush material : SAGE
48. Two-time title role for Chris Hemsworth : THOR
50. Artist Frida renowned for her self-portraits : KAHLO
51. Took back, as lost territory : REWON
57. 24/7 : ANYTIME
58. Sunday recess? : APSE
60. Untouchable, e.g. : TMAN
61. Viennese one : EIN
62. Long-billed wading bird : SNIPE
63. 12 months, in Rio : ANO
64. Hike : RAISE
65. Chihuahua cry : ARF
67. Preach, e.g. : ORATE
68. Go off : ERUPT
69. Gun brand not endorsed by the 111-Down : NERF
70. Play ___ : AREA
71. Photographic memory, e.g. : GIFT
74. Thicket : COPSE
75. Sweetie pie : TOOTS
76. Gets in the game : ANTES
78. Beethoven's "Hammerklavier," e.g. : SONATA
79. ___ curiam decision : PER
82. When repeated, party cry : CHUG
83. Weird Al Yankovic, e.g. : PARODIST
85. Third person masculine? : ABEL
86. Relative of turquoise : TEAL
87. "___ it!" : SOBE
88. International cricket match : TEST
90. Ones left holding the bag? : CADDIES
91. Gaps are filled with them : CLOTHES
95. Fixed, as Easter eggs : REDYED
96. Michael of "The Great Santini" : OKEEFE
97. Like some truths : HARSH
98. Andrea or Nicolò, in the music world : AMATI
99. Scruffs : NAPES
100. Ho preceder : HEAVE
101. Gentle alarms : BEEPS
102. Go on to say : ADD
103. Some launch sites : SILOS
107. Half of Mork's farewell : NANU
108. La Jolla campus, briefly : UCSD
109. ___-Ball : SKEE
111. See 69-Down : NRA
113. Vane dir. : NNE
114. It. is there : EUR
115. Army E-7: Abbr. : SFC
116. Contact info abbr. : TEL

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

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