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New York Times, Friday, October 16, 2015

Author: Joe Krozel
Editor: Will Shortz
Joe Krozel
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857/7/20069/28/201715
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1.48056

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 56, Blocks: 47 Missing: none – this is a pangram Spans: 4 There are unchecked squares This is puzzle # 82 for Mr. Krozel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: We asked some favorite Times crossword contributors, "What would you like to do in a daily Times crossword that has never been done before?" This week's puzzles, Monday to Saturday, are the result.

Note: When completed, the outer squares in this puzzle will contain each of the 26 letters of the alphabet exactly once.
Joe Krozel notes: It seemed natural to build a puzzle with 26 unchecked squares — given my checkered past in the crossword world — so I ... more
Joe Krozel notes:

It seemed natural to build a puzzle with 26 unchecked squares — given my checkered past in the crossword world — so I did. (And in case some solvers didn't count the unchecked squares, the notepad made their significance clear.)

A key constructing challenge for me was ensuring that the short entries with the unchecked letters were fair. Hence, I did not allow acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations, Roman numerals, partials nor propers. Okay, so I eventually caved on that last one and allowed SAM and MENOTTI to creep in. Not too obscure.

Overall the fill turned out really clean, and I'm quite happy with the whole puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes: Note anything unusual about all those unchecked letters around the perimeter? Not surprisingly, this puzzle is a pangram! At first, I ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Note anything unusual about all those unchecked letters around the perimeter? Not surprisingly, this puzzle is a pangram! At first, I wasn't sure why so many single letters were strewn around the perimeter, but the concept finally dawned on me, helping me to fill in the M of MENOTTI and the J of JAR. Neat idea to make it seem like there are 26 unchecked squares, while secretly tying them together.

Menotti

All those black squares around the perimeter cut down the average word length of the puzzle. Usually this statistic is not something I care about, but here, it means that there are very few entries of 8+ letters — the ones I usually look forward to cracking the most. Some of these feature entries were great — OPEN PRIMARIES, RAISING THE BAR, AS A LAST RESORT I really liked — but others like FAILING STUDENTS and QUEENS OF ENGLAND didn't seem as in-the-language. The latter seems more like a Jeopardy! category rather than a phrase people say.

And even this investment manager doesn't get super excited by ROLL OVER AN IRA. Yes, it can be a wise action within retirement planning, but it's not an aspect that tickles me. (Yes, there are many aspects of money management that do tickle me. Weird, I know.) And PROCEDURE MANUAL reminds me too much of long orientation days at a new job. It actually has a lot of potential to be saved with a great wordplay clue, but the straightforward [How-to guide at an office] doesn't do a lot for me.

There are a bunch of 7-letter entries which do add a little spice, like EYE TEST. Others like EMERITA and GEMINIS are pretty good too.

I always appreciate how Joe pushes the envelope with almost every new construction. He's a natural selection for this theme week, and this idea is pretty cool. I would have liked some indication of the idea — PANGRAM or THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG or something — but there's already a lot of constraint put on the grid. Already with some LENOS, SAY SOS, MOANER kind of stuff, I wouldn't want to force much more.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1016 ( 24,083 )
Across Down
8. Do some financial planning for old age : ROLLOVERANIRA
15. 2000 Britney Spears hit : OOPSIDIDITAGAIN
16. Board hirees : CEOS
17. Take a load off : SIT
18. One of the Everly Brothers : PHIL
19. Means of enlightenment : ZEN
20. Some Mexican beers : TECATES
23. Big roll? : SIX
24. Vaccine letters : DPT
26. 2000s teen idol, to fans : MILEY
27. Justin who directed four of the "Fast and the Furious" films : LIN
28. Like museum exhibits : CURATED
30. Payback : REVENGE
32. Ohio or Illinois, but not Indiana : RIVER
33. Sharp tastes : TANGS
34. Some June arrivals : GEMINIS
36. Italian-American composer who won a Pulitzer Prize for "The Saint of Bleecker Street" : MENOTTI
37. Postgrad degrees : MAS
38. Cantina order : TACOS
40. Moo ___ pork : SHU
41. Shake : JAR
42. Certain hotel fee : DAYRATE
44. School extension? : EDU
45. Long-leaved palm : NIPA
47. Introduction for Pedro or Diego? : SAN
48. One of the officemates on "The Office" : GABE
50. Anne and Victoria : QUEENSOFENGLAND
53. If absolutely necessary : ASALASTRESORT
1. How-to guide at an office : PROCEDUREMANUAL
2. Adding to that : ALSO
3. Dad ___ (not exactly a male ideal) : BOD
4. Phone button : REDIAL
5. Factory container : VAT
6. What you might microwave something on : HIGH
7. One measure of a school's success : FAILINGSTUDENTS
9. Events with crossover voters : OPENPRIMARIES
10. Not be upright : LIST
11. Sticky : VISCID
12. John of old sitcoms : RITTER
13. Preschool breaks : NAPS
14. Setting increased standards : RAISINGTHEBAR
21. Many a retired academic : EMERITA
22. Series of letters to read? : EYETEST
25. First name on PBS : TAVIS
27. "Jay ___ Garage" (Emmy-winning auto series) : LENOS
29. Hamilton's place : TEN
31. Purchase for many a church or motel : VAN
35. Final approvals : SAYSOS
36. Clearly unhappy person : MOANER
39. Working with subterfuge : CRAFTY
42. Frontiersman Boone, informally : DANL
43. Quiche needs : EGGS
46. Where people are drawn to scale? : PEAK
49. Abundantly : ALOT
51. "Cheers" role : SAM
52. Not previously seen : NEW

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?