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New York Times, Saturday, October 13, 2018

Author:
Kevin G. Der
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
413/12/200712/7/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
122124119
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65865
Kevin G. Der

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 29 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 40 for Mr. Der. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kevin G. Der notes:
This grid is actually a revision. The top right was the same, as CHEAT DAY / ROGUE ONE / ALAN ALDA was too good to let go. But ZOE ... read more

This grid is actually a revision. The top right was the same, as CHEAT DAY / ROGUE ONE / ALAN ALDA was too good to let go. But ZOE KAZAN used to be in the bottom left, which created a corner filled with so many proper nouns and difficult words (e.g. ENFILADE) that I was asked to redo it. So ZOE KAZAN moved up to the middle area - I simply could not pass on those Z's - and finding a quad stack that connected with it was very time consuming. Discovering that delicious combination of LIMEADES / MAGRITTE / PLAYTEST, the last of which could pass as a seed entry, was pure luck. Overall, my notes grew to over 250 partial fills that were good enough to consider submitting, an indicator of how stubbornly I clung to my seed entries.

For the clues, I decided to forgo a self-imposed deadline for finishing them, and instead simply selected a few unclued entries at random each day to clue and only finalized something if it was really good. Only about a third of them ended up being changed whereas in the past it's been half or more, which is encouraging. For instance, I'm pleased with 26-A, 1-D, and 32-D. One category of clues that tended to be changed were tricky clues for entries that are less well-known. For example, I had "Fast break?" for CHEAT DAY, which would be quite difficult for a person who's never heard of the term; the same is true of "They're related to hobbies" for KESTRELS. To me these are fair for, say, a tournament final, but it seems that they're too hard even for a Saturday.

Jeff Chen notes:
Technically superb puzzle. Kevin is one of the few constructors dipping into quad-stack corners, and for good reason – they're ... read more

Technically superb puzzle. Kevin is one of the few constructors dipping into quad-stack corners, and for good reason – they're one of the toughest challenges in themeless grids. That NE corner is so well done – CHEAT DAY is a great way to anchor it, ROGUE ONE is contemporary, TEA TASTER runs through it for even more color. Some might complain about Jennifer EGAN, but "A Visit From the Goon Squad" won the Pulitzer.

We constructors love it when people with grid-friendly names become crossworthy!

Nice work in the opposite corner, too. I do love me some PLAYTESTing, Kevin and I both deep into Mystery Hunt-style puzzles. (He's roughly ninety-wajillion times as skilled as me, though.) MAGRITTE and KATY PERRY added a lot, too.

Although the technical merits are strong, I had a bit of DOLOR as a solver. That's exaggerating, but these types of wide-open grids tend to suffer from lack of snazziness. I felt like there was so much prepositional addition – TOP OUT, CRAWL IN, HOLE UP, BLEW APART, DISHED OUT. Left me with a feeling of too many precious long slots not pulling their weight.

I didn't love ADEPTS, either. Yes, it's dictionary supported, but it's so odd in the plural.

And the PIMAS / MURANO cross nearly did me in. Ultimately though, I think PIMAS is something educated solvers ought to have at least heard of.

Kevin could have made his life a lot easier by moving a black square to where the P of PIMAS is. That would have dead-ended the SE corner, making filling easier, probably making it possible to replace some of those prepositionals with more pizzazz. But I applaud his decision to go the tough road, which allows for a more open grid and thus better solving flow.

Overall, a solid, if not super-sparkly, low-word-count puzzle.

1
S
2
H
3
O
4
N
5
D
6
A
7
C
8
H
9
E
10
A
11
T
12
D
13
A
14
Y
15
T
O
P
O
U
T
16
R
O
G
U
E
O
N
E
17
A
M
E
N
D
S
18
A
L
A
N
A
L
D
A
19
R
E
D
O
S
E
20
W
E
N
T
T
O
I
T
21
G
A
P
S
22
A
23
C
L
U
24
A
R
E
S
25
A
L
I
26
P
I
P
27
E
28
T
S
29
Z
O
E
30
K
31
A
32
Z
A
N
33
N
O
T
34
B
35
A
36
D
37
E
N
C
A
S
E
S
38
C
O
R
E
L
L
I
39
S
E
E
T
H
E
40
K
E
S
T
R
E
L
S
41
Y
E
S
42
A
N
D
43
W
A
H
44
C
45
R
46
O
P
47
D
E
E
48
P
49
F
A
T
E
50
L
I
M
E
51
A
52
D
E
S
53
I
54
S
O
P
O
D
55
O
V
E
R
L
A
P
S
56
M
U
R
A
N
O
57
M
A
G
R
I
T
T
E
58
A
P
E
R
C
U
59
P
L
A
Y
T
E
S
T
60
S
E
X
T
E
T
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1013 ( 25,176 )
Across
1
Rhimes who created "Grey's Anatomy" : SHONDA
7
Dieter's time of indulgence : CHEATDAY
15
Reach the limit : TOPOUT
16
2016 film whose climax is on the planet Scarif : ROGUEONE
17
They might be made to reconcile : AMENDS
18
2006 Emmy winner for "The West Wing" : ALANALDA
19
Give extra medication : REDOSE
20
Got cracking : WENTTOIT
21
Problems with a collection : GAPS
22
Org. that might take the government to court : ACLU
24
Symbol of militarism : ARES
25
Women's soccer star Krieger : ALI
26
Means of drawing up solutions : PIPETS
29
Lead actress in 2017's "The Big Sick" : ZOEKAZAN
33
Fair : NOTBAD
37
Wraps up : ENCASES
38
Composer Arcangelo who inspired a set of Rachmaninoff variations : CORELLI
39
Not quite blow : SEETHE
40
Small falcons : KESTRELS
41
Collaborative principle in improv comedy : YESAND
43
Nursery cry : WAH
44
Take the edge off? : CROP
47
Like discussions of metaphysics : DEEP
49
Theme in some time travel fiction : FATE
50
Green refreshers : LIMEADES
53
Pill bug, for one : ISOPOD
55
Isn't discrete : OVERLAPS
56
Nissan crossover named for an Italian city : MURANO
57
"The Son of Man" artist : MAGRITTE
58
Illuminating comment : APERCU
59
Try out, as a game : PLAYTEST
60
Volleyball team, e.g. : SEXTET
Down
1
Gets a twinkle in one's eyes? : STARGAZES
2
Hit movie with the tagline "A family comedy without the family" : HOMEALONE
3
Leaning column? : OPEDPIECE
4
Texting while driving, and others : NONOS
5
Hardly smashes : DUDS
6
Flummoxed : ATSEA
7
Come home after a night of heavy drinking, say : CRAWLIN
8
Go into seclusion : HOLEUP
9
Jennifer who wrote the Pulitzer-winning "A Visit From the Goon Squad" : EGAN
10
Title for Princess Anne beginning in 1982 : AUNT
11
Leaves work? : TEATASTER
12
Sadness : DOLOR
13
Actress MacDowell : ANDIE
14
First Nobel laureate from Ireland : YEATS
23
Big Four workers, for short : CPAS
27
Ancestor of Methuselah : ENOS
28
One might result from negligence : TORT
30
World's most-followed Twitter user, as of 2018 : KATYPERRY
31
Trailblazing athlete of the 1970s : ASHE
32
Cartoonist's indicator of nodding : ZEES
34
Exploded : BLEWAPART
35
In the blink of an eye : ALLATONCE
36
Served : DISHEDOUT
38
Let go of : CEDE
40
Diet in the Mideast : KNESSET
42
Virtuosi : ADEPTS
44
Fail to tread lightly : CLOMP
45
#2, to #1 : RIVAL
46
Lowercase letter resembling a "w" : OMEGA
48
Members of an Arizona tribe : PIMAS
49
Global currency market with a portmanteau name : FOREX
51
Came to roost : ALIT
52
Good Tinder outcome : DATE
54
Dweller in Apt. 1-A, say : SUPE

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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