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Puzzle of the Week

WISE MOVE

New York Times, Sunday, October 15, 2017

Author: John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2010/9/20129/14/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1322453
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63100
John Guzzetta
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
131/23/20147/11/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1214131
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64100
Michael Hawkins

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 69 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Guzzetta. This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Hawkins. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: JOHN: A few years ago, Michael and I decided to start a friendly competition, a race to see who could hit for the cycle first. I'm thrilled to say that it's a tie! We worked for a few weeks on compiling a list ... more
Constructor notes:

JOHN: A few years ago, Michael and I decided to start a friendly competition, a race to see who could hit for the cycle first. I'm thrilled to say that it's a tie! We worked for a few weeks on compiling a list of themers. I've gotten rejections on similar puzzles because the themers just weren't funny enough. So, we waited until Michael was back in Florida and basically focus-grouped the list to both our families at a July 4th picnic, calling them out to kids and adults and seniors alike, to see which got good groans and which got bad groans.

MICHAEL: We trashed many drafts of the layout before we arrived at this one. I'm pleased with how much bonus content we managed to pack into the fill, so that even if the theme isn't your cup of tea, there's plenty to keep you interested. Many of the theme clues were edited for style or space. We had some colorful entries, like "Results of fire hydrant negotiations" for 61-Across and "They might automatically ease out after a big meal" for 98-Across and "Collection featuring 'It Came from the Deli' and 'Clean Up on Aisle Two'" for 114-Across.

Jeff Chen notes: WISE MOVEs indeed, two-word phrases where the Y sound is moved from the end of the first word to the end of the second. Some great results, doggy treats to DOG TREATIES my favorite. Such an amusing visual of dogs ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

WISE MOVEs indeed, two-word phrases where the Y sound is moved from the end of the first word to the end of the second. Some great results, doggy treats to DOG TREATIES my favorite. Such an amusing visual of dogs sitting around discussing settlement terms (maybe while playing poker?). Gravy train to GRAVE TRAINEES also worked well for me, as 1.) the base phrase is great, and 2.) cemetery interns, now that's something I'd write a book about! Great stuff.

Most of the others worked decently well, too. County fair to COUNT FAIRIES gave me a fun visual of census takers doing their darndest to get an accurate count while all the fairies flit about. Smartypants to SMART PANTIES made me laugh, too — not exactly sure what data a pair of SMART PANTIES collects. Probably don't want to know.

The only one that I was plus minus on was GROCER STORIES, which seemed duller than the others. A little too close to the base phrase of "grocery stores." YMMV.

Mostly strong work in the grid. Loved CHEEZ IT, EASY NOW, EVEN STEVEN, MAIN MAN, MEDIA STORM, NOSE JOB, OLD SALT, POWER NAP, SOUR MASH, and more. It's rare to get this much bonus material in a Sunday grid — four-ish bonuses is passable for me, so this is well above and beyond. Even if the theme didn't amuse solvers, all these great bonuses provide entertainment.

Not that many blips in the short fill, too — ETTES, IN AS, SDS, etc. is overlookable. Didn't bug me as I went.

The only sticking point for me: the oddballs in NEEDER and TUYERES. That first one is hard to imagine ever using in real life. The second … this mechanical engineer didn't recognize the term. It is a real thing, but it's not the type of mid-length word I'd strive to debut in the NYT crossword. Thankfully, John and Mike made the crossings fair. And I did like learning what a TUYERE is.

I liked this twist on the standard "sound change" type of theme. Done consistently, with a bunch of nice bonuses, and the grid mostly executed well. A nice example of a Sunday that can cater well to a wide audience.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1015 ( 24,813 )
Across Down
1. M.I.T. Sloan grad, often : MBA
4. Raven's cry : CAW
7. Steal, slangily : JACK
11. Bridge work? : NOSEJOB
18. Office restoration : POWERNAP
21. "Didn't expect to see you here!" : OHHI
22. Generally : ASARULE
23. Interns at a cemetery? : GRAVETRAINEES
25. Start of a class field trip, maybe : BUSRIDE
26. Had a bead on : EYED
27. New Left org. : SDS
28. Features of Utah's Capitol Reef National Park : MESAS
30. Instants : SECS
31. Endorse : SIGN
32. ___ Court (London district) : EARLS
34. Series ender in London : ZED
35. Start over in cards : REDEAL
37. Lead-in to much : INAS
38. Take to social media following a good round of golf? : TWEETBIRDIES
41. Work at, as a trade : PLY
42. Chickadee, e.g. : TOMTIT
44. Brown ermine : STOAT
45. Ready-to-___ : EAT
46. Crown : PATE
47. Have-not : NEEDER
49. Emmy-winning show of both 1976 and 2017, in brief : SNL
50. One sending flowers, say : ADMIRER
52. One holding flowers : VASE
53. Brain readings, for short : EEGS
55. Sounded sheepish? : BLEATED
58. Speed demon : RACER
61. Pacts between packs? : DOGTREATIES
65. Rage : IRE
66. Does penance : ATONES
68. Corp. manager : COO
69. "More than I wanted to hear!" : TMI
70. "Not nice!" : SOMEAN
72. Original Beatle Sutcliffe : STU
73. Ones sharing quarters at the most macho fraternity? : STUDROOMIES
77. Aviary parts : NESTS
78. Places to cool one's jets? : HANGARS
80. Adventurer in Grouchland : ELMO
81. Big tablet : IPAD
83. Nozzles into blast furnaces : TUYERES
85. One of 17 on a Monopoly board: Abbr. : AVE
87. Policy at a wedding's open bar, maybe : NOTIPS
90. Switch on the radio : AMFM
92. Nabokov novel : ADA
93. Excel : SHINE
95. It led to a 1773 protest : TEAACT
97. Amazon peril : BOA
98. Stylish underwear? : SMARTPANTIES
101. Mess maker : SLOB
102. Ill feeling : ANIMUS
104. It doesn't mean "lots of love" : LOL
105. Euphoric : GIDDY
106. Smears, as a reputation : TARS
107. Svelte : TRIM
108. Excite : KEYUP
110. Camping gear retailer : REI
111. See 48-Down : HOTS
112. Homie : MAINMAN
114. Things swapped at a convention of supermarket owners? : GROCERSTORIES
118. "Just about done" : ONETOGO
119. Citrus hybrid : UGLI
120. Starter supply for making bourbon : SOURMASH
121. "Slow down, tiger!" : EASYNOW
122. Fifth-most abundant element in the universe : NEON
123. Court org. : NBA
124. Director Ang : LEE
1. It decreases with acceleration, for short : MPG
2. Get closer to, as the heart of the matter : BOREINON
3. It's played on the road : AWAYGAME
4. Rep : CRED
5. A myrmeke of Greek myth is a giant one : ANT
6. City near where Chopin was born : WARSAW
7. Actor Hamm of "Mad Men" : JON
8. *cough* : AHEM
9. Bit from Sunshine Biscuits : CHEEZIT
10. Yap : KISSER
11. Catches : NABS
12. Big Ten powerhouse, for short : OSU
13. Mouths off to : SASSES
14. Slipped up : ERRED
15. Social gatherings where fruit drinks are served? : JUICEPARTIES
16. Bluejacket : OLDSALT
17. Samantha of 96-Down : BEE
19. Drawn : EVENSTEVEN
20. California ball club : PADRES
24. Some bars in the Caribbean : ISLETS
29. Over-and-above : ADDED
31. "Park it!" : SIT
32. Diminutive suffixes : ETTES
33. Paleolith : STONETOOL
35. Fixes, as a bath area : RETILES
36. Caustic soda : LYE
39. Haymaker? : BALER
40. Some feet : IAMBI
43. Presumptive assertion : IDARESAY
46. Something a shooter shoots : PEA
48. With 111-Across, cinnamon candy : RED
50. "Same here" : ASAMI
51. Speak to, with "with" : RESONATE
54. "Hurry up!" : GETMOVING
56. Q.E.D. part : ERAT
57. Places to hibernate : DENS
58. Unconsidered : RASH
59. Kofi Annan's middle name : ATTA
60. Take attendance in a magical forest? : COUNTFAIRIES
62. Routine problem, for short : OCD
63. Horns in on? : GORES
64. Something kept close to the chest : TIE
67. Watches via Netflix, say : STREAMS
71. Modern-day circus : MEDIASTORM
74. Onetime govt.-prescribed nutritional figure : USRDA
75. Home of Berkshire Hathaway : OMAHA
76. Sloth, for one : SIN
79. Extra product : GUM
82. Another name for hopscotch : POTSY
84. Country rocker Steve : EARLE
86. Complete : ENTIRE
88. Spacious and splendid : PALATIAL
89. "The Departed" director : SCORSESE
90. Court org. : ABA
91. Where the Missouri River begins : MONTANA
93. Be extravagant : SPLURGE
94. Ones holding down things? : EIDERS
96. Station for 17-Down : TBS
98. Call for : SUMMON
99. Cork popper : TOYGUN
100. Early record label : EDISON
103. Like much mouthwash : MINTY
108. Not just think : KNOW
109. ___ grounds : POLO
111. Part of un día : HORA
112. Bully in "Calvin and Hobbes" : MOE
113. Long ___ : AGO
115. The Bengals, on scoreboards : CIN
116. Place to soak : TUB
117. "That's all ___ wrote" : SHE

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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