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GAME HUNTING

New York Times, Sunday, October 14, 2018

Author:
Ross Trudeau
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
102/9/201710/14/20181
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4130200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65011
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.

JimH 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
53. Blandishment : CAJOLERY
55. Actor's honor, informally : NOM
56. Rigid : HARDSET
59. Attacked : HADAT
60. They're shared among friends : INJOKES
63. Whiz : MAESTRO
64. 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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