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GAME HUNTING

New York Times, Sunday, October 14, 2018

Author:
Ross Trudeau
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
182/9/20177/16/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
5262300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58021
Ross Trudeau

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 134, Blocks: 69 Missing: {QWZ} This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Trudeau. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ross Trudeau notes:
My original title for this puzzle was 'I'm Not Playing Around!,' and the final theme answer was GUESS WHO IT IS. Much credit is due to the editorial team, who massaged the idea into its ... read more

My original title for this puzzle was "I'm Not Playing Around!," and the final theme answer was GUESS WHO IT IS. Much credit is due to the editorial team, who massaged the idea into its present form.

6 theme answers is low for Sunday, so I tried to keep the word count low as well. IS I, GTOS, INT, TSO'S were the compromises that yielded a glut of longer bonus material. I personally dig: GENDER FLUIDITY, TRUE COLORS, MERE MORTALS, NEED A RIDE, FATHER TIME, MARGINS OF ERROR, SPICE RUB, MONOMANIA, SADDLE JOINT, ULTRA MAN, CAJOLERY, TURTLE DOVE.

Jeff Chen notes:
Plays on games – you might even describe it as plays on plays! (sorry) Nope, I'm sorry, NOT SORRY! SORRY NOT SORRY is still a little new to me. Feels petty to use in ... read more

Plays on games – you might even describe it as plays on plays!

(sorry)

Nope, I'm sorry, NOT SORRY!

SORRY NOT SORRY is still a little new to me. Feels petty to use in actual conversation, but apparently people say it? I enjoyed Ross's take on it, adding crazy punctuation: "Sorry!? Not Sorry!!"

(SORRY has an exclamation point on its official title.)

LIFE'S TOO SHORT amused me because the game of LIFE takes forever to play. I always wanted to flick my stupid car to the end and go watch "Gilligan's Island" already.

I wasn't as much of a fan of PLEASE, DON'T … GO? It's so grammatically tortured. Wouldn't someone ask "please, not Go!"

Similar issue for the A in I HAVEN'T A CLUE — "I haven't got CLUE" is what someone might say if they didn't want to play the game. Yes, I know I'm being pedantic. It is just A little word in there — who cares?

(Sadly, me.)

These days I've been thinking more and more that six long themers is a pretty good compromise for Sunday puzzles. Too often, a seventh themer jammed into the middle row causes filling problems. As long as all six long themers are solid to great, I'm good with that.

I'm not a fan of Ross's decision to go down to 134 words (to help make up for not having as much theme as usual?), though. I like the idea of my Sunday puzzle feeling a bit themeless in nature, such big open spaces everywhere. And great fill like MARGINS OF ERROR, FATHER TIME, TRUE COLORS, GENDER FLUIDITY? Yes!

CAJOLERY? Gotta disagree with Ross on this one.

And HARD SET? Plural UNISONS? REGLUE? ENHALO? Not so much.

Crosswords have riffed on board game titles many times over the years. I liked Ross's take on this theme type, but I wish all six themers had been as strong as SORRY NOT SORRY. And that Ross hadn't been drawn to the ultra-low-word-count Dark Side of the Force. A handful of great fill entries like MERE MORTALS and SPICE RUB, along with smoother mid-length fill, would have given me much more solving pleasure.

Jim Horne notes:

The theme works for me. I don't understand Jeff's objections.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1014 ( 25,177 )
Across
1
___ Page, the Queen of Pinups : BETTIE
7
Flavorful meat coating : SPICERUB
15
End-of-week cry : TGIF
19
O.K. to play, in a way : UNHURT
20
Obsession with a single subject : MONOMANIA
22
Country's McEntire : REBA
23
"We can't play that game - I can't reach it on our shelf!" : THERISKISTOOHIGH
25
Operating system developed at Bell Labs : UNIX
26
Onetime White House family : TAFTS
27
Corroded : ATE
28
Sunken ship sites : SEABEDS
30
Travel option for Birthright trips : ELAL
31
Natural gas component : ETHANE
34
Dress (up) : TOG
35
Standout : ACE
36
Turning point in history : ONEBC
38
"My sincerest apologies, but that game is off the table" : SORRYNOTSORRY
43
Unearth : DIGUP
46
Bills : BEAKS
47
Many a Snapchat posting : SELFIE
48
Suit that's hard to get into : ARMOR
51
Old Buick : LESABRE
53
What's plucked in "she loves me, she loves me not" : COROLLA
54
"We can't play that game unless we borrow someone else's" : IHAVENTACLUE
56
Laughs and laughs : HAS
57
French city grid : RUES
58
People vis-à-vis gods : MEREMORTALS
59
It's a trek : HAJ
60
"It ___" ("Who's there?" reply) : ISI
61
Show overuse, as a sofa : SAG
62
They may have attachments : EMAILS
63
Strand : MAROON
65
Hammarskjöld once of the U.N. : DAG
68
Provisions : IFS
70
___ school : MED
71
Bone connection with convex and concave fittings : SADDLEJOINT
73
___ Mode, woman in "The Incredibles" : EDNA
75
Word repeated in the openings of "Star Wars" movies : FAR
76
"I'm begging you, let's not play that game!" : PLEASEDONTGO
77
Antinuclear treaty topic : TESTBAN
79
Pop-up site : TOASTER
80
Daniel who wrote "Flowers for Algernon" : KEYES
81
Island greetings : ALOHAS
82
Take over : COOPT
83
Info in dating profiles : TYPES
85
"No, that game would be over in a flash" : LIFESTOOSHORT
88
One of 26 for Walt Disney : OSCAR
91
Common filler words : ERS
92
Common filler words : UMS
93
"If you are always trying to be ___, you will never know how amazing you can be": Maya Angelou : NORMAL
96
Praise for a picador : OLES
98
Frida Kahlo, por ejemplo : ARTISTA
100
Novelist McEwan : IAN
101
Grammy winner Mary J. ___ : BLIGE
102
Cosmonaut Gagarin : YURI
103
"I've finally decided! I'm ..." : ASKINGFORTROUBLE
109
Small matter : ATOM
110
"Looking to go somewhere?" : NEEDARIDE
111
Densest natural element : OSMIUM
112
Bead source : PORE
113
Officials in ancient Rome : TRIBUNES
114
They vary from past to present : TENSES
Down
1
Isolated hill : BUTTE
2
Surround with light : ENHALO
3
1996 Robert De Niro/Wesley Snipes psychological thriller : THEFAN
4
Bird in a holiday song : TURTLEDOVE
5
"Black ___," Georgia O'Keeffe painting at the Met : IRIS
6
Ewoks or Jawas, in brief : ETS
7
One of academia's Seven Sisters : SMITH
8
Impersonate : POSEAS
9
It might result in a defensive TD : INT
10
Aviary sound : COO
11
Full of broodiness, say : EMO
12
Cheerleader's cheer : RAH
13
Synchronized states : UNISONS
14
Narcissist's quality : BIGEGO
15
Who you really are : TRUECOLORS
16
M->F->M, e.g. : GENDERFLUIDITY
17
One of the first birds released by Noah after the flood, in legend : IBIS
18
Kind of number not much seen nowadays : FAX
21
"Of course!" : AHA
24
Krazy ___ of the comics : KAT
29
More villainous : BASER
31
Hosp. readout : ECG
32
Penalties for illegal bowls in cricket : NOBALLS
33
Largest active Antarctic volcano : EREBUS
34
Little 'un : TYKE
37
Vessels seen in 2004's "Troy" : BIREMES
39
Like albino alligators : RARE
40
General ___ chicken : TSOS
41
Work (up) : RILE
42
Things needed in passing? : YEAS
44
Supervillain in DC Comics : ULTRAMAN
45
More smoky, as Scotch : PEATIER
48
Goals : AIMS
49
Bird named for a Titan : RHEA
50
Polling calculations : MARGINSOFERROR
52
Spill coffee on, maybe : SCALD
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Blandishment : CAJOLERY
55
Actor's honor, informally : NOM
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Rigid : HARDSET
59
Attacked : HADAT
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They're shared among friends : INJOKES
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Whiz : MAESTRO
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Classic work whose "shorter" version comes in two vols. : OED
66
Image on the ceiling of la chapelle Sixtine : ANGE
67
Classic Pontiacs : GTOS
69
He's often pictured carrying an hourglass : FATHERTIME
71
Apply haphazardly : SLAPON
72
It comes just before a period : ONESCOLUMN
73
List-ending abbr. : ETAL
74
Scale site : DELI
75
Fleet : FAST
76
When doubled, dismiss out of hand : POOH
78
Low voices : BASSI
79
Turn's partner : TOSS
82
Secondary loan signer : COMAKER
84
D.C. insider : POL
86
Get-go : OUTSET
87
Old vacuum tube : TRIODE
89
Suspect statements? : ALIBIS
90
Fix, as a model plane : REGLUE
94
___-nest : MARES
95
Aesop's "The ___ and the Grasshopper" : ANT
97
Is for all intents and purposes : SEEMS
98
Taurus or Touareg : AUTO
99
___ Marino : SAN
101
Big name in speakers : BOSE
102
Go on and on : YAP
104
Tyrant Amin : IDI
105
Catch : NAB
106
"Despicable Me" protagonist : GRU
107
Ominous sight at a beach : FIN
108
Go bad : ROT

Answer summary: 16 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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