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New York Times, Monday, October 13, 2014

Author: Greg Johnson
Editor: Will Shortz
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Greg Johnson
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FJZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Johnson. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Greg Johnson notes: Coming up with suitable 7-letter games to fit this theme left me some interesting choices. I left out YAHTZEE because the ... more
Greg Johnson notes: Coming up with suitable 7-letter games to fit this theme left me some interesting choices. I left out YAHTZEE because the surrounding fill was not what I wanted ... SCRABBLE, because it seemed obvious ... and OLD MAID for consistency's sake. Also, I wanted to include a variety of options, not just board games or card games.

It's not the usual theme density, but 7-letter games (and the fact there are 7 of them) seemed like a good idea after thinking of TWISTER to accompany the center revealer. I don't have my old notes, but I'm hard pressed to think of another option with an S in the middle at this moment. All those 7s forced me to down to 34 blocks and that was a challenge in itself.

Hope you enjoy...

Will Shortz notes: I've been saving this puzzle for about a year, to run around the time of the baseball playoffs and the World Series. The double ... more
Will Shortz notes: I've been saving this puzzle for about a year, to run around the time of the baseball playoffs and the World Series. The double nature of the theme — that the grid contains seven games and they're all seven letters long — is what sold me on this. Simple and elegant, with a funny reveal, perfect for a Monday.
Jeff Chen notes: Delightful offering from Greg today, a listing of seven common games, all with seven letters, thus GAME SEVEN. Fun interpretation of ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Delightful offering from Greg today, a listing of seven common games, all with seven letters, thus GAME SEVEN. Fun interpretation of a timely phrase. I always loved Reggie Jackson's "Mr. October" moniker. I only get called "Mr. Denny," as in "Dr. and Mr. Denny." Harrumph.

What most impressed me was how smooth Greg managed to get this puzzle. I think Mondays ought to be accessible to newcomers — not necessarily easy, though. That's a big difference. I didn't see any little bits that an outsider would scratch their head at, and that's such an huge accomplishment in a Monday puzzle. Extremely tough to achieve, as so often a constructor must rely on a little glue to hold the grid together.

Okapi

Some people are going to cry foul at OKAPIS, and I agree that it's a tough entry to figure out. But as much as I think the Monday puzzle should be accessible, I don't want it to be palp, either. Each of the crossings is fair, and it reminds me of a story about a guy I met in El Salvador. He was from South Africa and had recently traveled to America for the first time. When I asked him what the highlight of trip was, he said "seeing those funny animals, with the cute little noses, and the fuzzy tails… you know..." (He couldn't pull the name out after five minutes of trying, and it took me forever to figure out to what he was referring.) I'm sure OKAPIS are as well-known to him as SQUIRRELS are to us. I like Monday crosswords that expand one's world view, as long as they do so in a fair way.

I wondered why the six themers around the perimeter weren't all the way on the edge. Seems to me that would be a more elegant way to execute this idea. I can see that the V of REVERSI is much easier to use in the ????V? pattern than the horribly constrained ?????V pattern though. I almost always prefer themers in elegant spots, but if it's a choice between elegant spots or clean fill, I'll almost always opt for the latter.

Interesting idea, well executed. So hard to make those 7x3 chunks smooth, but Greg did it six times around the perimeter with nary a hiccup.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1013 ( 23,715 )
Across Down
1. German auto whose logo depicts a rearing horse : PORSCHE
8. ___ Sprockets, George Jetson's employer : SPACELY
15. It's played with mallets and wickets ... : CROQUET
16. ... with 108 cards : CANASTA
17. Fastened : SECURED
18. Six years, in the U.S. Senate : ONETERM
19. Reply ___ (email option) : ALL
20. Chews like a beaver : GNAWS
21. Exams for H.S. juniors : PSATS
24. Frilly, as lingerie : LACY
25. Autos : CARS
29. No ifs, ___ or buts : ANDS
30. "Here, boy!" : COME
31. One whose job is to park 25-Across : VALET
32. Silent "yes" : NOD
33. Japanese rice wine : SAKE
34. Swiss watch city : GENEVA
35. ___ and don'ts : DOS
36. ... with a mat with colored circles : TWISTER
38. Like one after work?: Abbr. : RET
39. Cousins of giraffes : OKAPIS
41. Slippery : EELY
42. Prefix with cycle : TRI
43. "Don't worry about it!" : RELAX
44. Infomercial, e.g. : TVAD
45. Additionally : ALSO
46. ___ and sciences : ARTS
47. Chaz Bono's mom : CHER
48. Enter, as data : KEYIN
49. Place to get a perm : SALON
51. Counterpart of his : HER
52. Test taker going "Psst!," say : CHEATER
55. Brave deeds : HEROICS
59. ... with dashes on paper : HANGMAN
60. ... with steelies and aggies : MARBLES
61. Plays the market : INVESTS
62. Watches secretly : SPIESON
1. Dell and HP products : PCS
2. Mined rocks : ORE
3. Bird in "Arabian Nights" : ROC
4. Leg-building exercises : SQUATS
5. Biceps-building exercises : CURLS
6. Achilles' weak spot : HEEL
7. When to expect takeoff, for short : ETD
8. Ornamental light fixture : SCONCE
9. Philippine island in W.W. II fighting : PANAY
10. From square one : ANEW
11. X-ray type : CATSCAN
12. WNW's opposite : ESE
13. 8 1/2" x 11" paper size: Abbr. : LTR
14. Candied Thanksgiving food : YAM
20. Playoff series finale ... or an apt title for this puzzle considering the number and length of its theme entries : GAMESEVEN
21. Box opener of myth : PANDORA
22. ... with cues and 22 balls : SNOOKER
23. Season to taste, in a certain way : ADDSALT
24. Trickster of myth : LOKI
26. With attentiveness : ALERTLY
27. ... with black-and-white disks : REVERSI
28. Depot : STATION
30. Crows' cries : CAWS
31. Extremely : VERY
33. Pixy ___ (candy) : STIX
34. Neuter, as a male horse : GELD
37. Rip : TEAR
40. Book excerpt : PASSAGE
44. Roses' defenses : THORNS
45. Oxygen-needing bacterium : AEROBE
47. Baseball shoe feature : CLEAT
48. ___ Walsh, three-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist : KERRI
50. Convenience store conveniences : ATMS
51. Pile : HEAP
52. White Sox home, for short : CHI
53. ___ Solo of "Star Wars" : HAN
54. It's stamped at the P.O. : ENV
55. "___ Pinafore" : HMS
56. They, in Paris : ILS
57. Corp. bigwig : CEO
58. Fig. in the form XXX-XX-XXXX : SSN

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle.

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