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OVER/UNDER

New York Times, Sunday, October 23, 2016

Author:
Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
87/11/201110/23/20167
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3210200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53010
Ellen Leuschner
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1027/5/20108/29/201961
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2678182698
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.637222
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 79 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Ms. Leuschner. This is puzzle # 59 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
ELLEN: Ohhh this puzzle was a bear! It started off last July with the phrase JUMP THE GUN. I wondered if we could somehow make an entry 'jump' over another entry. We tried several ... read more

ELLEN: Ohhh this puzzle was a bear! It started off last July with the phrase JUMP THE GUN. I wondered if we could somehow make an entry "jump" over another entry. We tried several variations from shaded squares to stair-steps to vertical entries. Nothing seemed to work. In order to fit everything in cleanly, we needed a much larger grid. I think we even tried to toss the whole idea in the trash a time or two along the way. Jeff ultimately came up with this iteration. It's a variation on puzzles with stacked theme entries, but I like the clever way these entries relate to each other.

In the end, it took us almost 100 emails and 40 versions of the grid before we had something to submit. I appreciate Jeff's approach to puzzle creation. Good ideas take time. Have a great Sunday!

JEFF: Tough grid to create. I swore off themes with stacked entries after my last one. What with each pair taking away so much flexibility, they're just irritatingly difficult to build a smooth, interesting grid around.

(Apparently I have a short memory. Or I'm not very smart. Probably both.)

As a solver, vivid bonus fill can help keep my attention through an entire Sunday puzzle. I do like some of the longer stuff we incorporated: DAD-BLASTED OPERACOATS, O CANADA, David/Amy SEDARIS, even TWOFER and GABFEST, but I aim to have at least ten really nice bonus entries strewn about a Sunday grid, so this didn't quite hit the mark. It's so tough to do when you have so much more theme material to incorporate than usual.

Answers like CATBOATS, SUSTAINS, STOREOWNER are fine, but they don't excite me much. There were (many) other options we looked at for every part of the grid, but this final product felt overall like the best trade-off between sparkly long fill and relatively smooth short stuff.

Jeff Chen notes:
As we always do, Ellen and I brainstormed for weeks for this one, eventually landing at a spot very different than where we started. The concept of OVER and UNDER phrases, sitting ... read more

As we always do, Ellen and I brainstormed for weeks for this one, eventually landing at a spot very different than where we started. The concept of OVER and UNDER phrases, sitting literally over or under their target thing, is a little straightforward for my taste, but Will reminded me last year that a huge chunk of his solvers tend to prefer fairly straightforward themes (read: ones that don't mystify them).

That comment caught me completely off-guard back then. Personally, the NYT crossword first grabbed my attention when someone showed me all the crazy, creative ideas constructors incorporated. But as I thought more and more about Will's comment, I started recalling some of the feedback I've gotten over the years. I've heard from a good number of solvers who finished some of my puzzles — without ever understanding what was going on!

It serves as a healthy reminder that I sometimes try to be too clever for my own good. When more than just a handful of solvers don't figure out what the theme is, that's on me, not on them.

Here's hoping that this one walks the fine line between cleverness and allowing the solver to emerge victorious, with a warm glow of satisfaction.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1023 ( 24,456 )
Across
1
Take on : ADOPT
6
Some subjects in Scheherazade's stories : ARABS
11
Humbled : ABASED
17
Playful leap : CAPER
18
Mother-of-pearl source : ABALONE
20
Words preceding "We stand on guard for thee" : OCANADA
21
"Skyfall" singer : ADELE
22
Over the 27-Across : NOSPRINGCHICKEN
24
In low spirits : BROKENUP
26
Guarantee that one will : VOWTO
27
Rise : HILL
28
Sighed line : ALAS
29
Rev : GUN
30
Obsessed with fantasy role-playing games, say : GEEKY
32
"What have we here?!" : OHO
34
Under the 29-Across : FACINGADEADLINE
38
Certain swinger, informally : ORANG
42
Spanish bear : OSO
43
Castor ___ ("Popeye" guy) : OYL
44
Balance sheet abbr. : YTD
45
Friday, on old TV: Abbr. : SGT
47
Olympics venue between London and Tokyo : RIO
48
Many a Jazz fan : UTAHN
50
Preserver of bugs : RESIN
52
Caffè ___ : ITALIANO
54
"Thinking ..." : LETMESEE
57
Over the 62-Across : BEYONDBELIEF
59
Prestigious mil. award : DSM
60
International observance in 20-Down, informally : UNDAY
62
Dreidel, e.g. : TOP
63
Cataract : FALLS
64
Parisian sibling : FRERE
65
Exerted : PLIED
67
Put on the back burner : TABLE
70
Verizon subsidiary : AOL
72
Old line in Russia : TSARS
73
___ Victory (tourist attraction in Portsmouth, England) : HMS
76
Under the 67-Across : ONTHEDOWNLOW
79
Single-masted pleasure craft : CATBOATS
82
Keeps up : SUSTAINS
83
Neck and neck : CLOSE
85
Luminous : AGLOW
86
Abbr. in many Québec city names : STE
87
Potus #34 : DDE
88
Conditionals : IFS
89
Melodramatic response : SOB
91
Reagan has one named for him : ERA
92
Competitor of Sapporo and Kirin : ASAHI
94
Over the 104-Across : INSEVENTHHEAVEN
100
Commercial prefix with Pen : EPI
102
With 109-Down, cochlea's place : INNER
103
[snort] : HAH
104
Sky light : MOON
105
Sculpture medium for Calder : WIRE
108
Print tint : SEPIA
110
University of Washington logo : CAPITALW
112
Under the 105-Across : ATTHELASTMINUTE
116
John Paul's successor : ELENA
118
Increasing in pitch : STEEPER
119
"Me Talk Pretty One Day" humorist : SEDARIS
120
One who can pick his work? : MINER
121
Impersonate : POSEAS
122
Places for studs : LOBES
123
___ dish : PETRI
Down
1
Signature Obama legislation, for short : ACA
2
Gosh-darn : DADBLASTED
3
Floor-length formalwear : OPERACOATS
4
House member from the Bay Area beginning in 1987 : PELOSI
5
Quite the hike : TREK
6
Be plentiful : ABOUND
7
Louis Armstrong vocal feature : RASP
8
High point of a European vacation? : ALP
9
N.Y.C. div. : BOR
10
Cry annoyingly : SNIVEL
11
Cause for a blessing : ACHOO
12
Political columnist Matt : BAI
13
Debate moderator's day job, typically : ANCHOR
14
H. H. Munro's pen name : SAKI
15
Leon ___, Henry James biographer : EDEL
16
Twain's "celebrated jumping frog" : DANL
18
Crabgrass, e.g. : ANNUAL
19
Mushroom variety : ENOKI
20
Start of the fourth qtr. : OCT
23
Early British actress Nell : GWYN
25
Like quiche : EGGY
28
In conflict : AFOUL
30
Title fictional character who "sprang from his Platonic conception of himself" : GATSBY
31
Clothier Bauer : EDDIE
33
Fired bullets, informally : HOTLEAD
35
___ too happy : NONE
36
Blinker : EYE
37
Abbr. on a company's sign : ESTD
39
Thin as ___ : ARAIL
40
Front and back, at a golf course : NINES
41
Silly billy : GOOF
46
Bull session : GABFEST
49
"Thinking ..." : HMM
50
Gerrymanders, say : REDRAWS
51
Big Apple paper, for short : NYT
52
Situated : INPLACE
53
Badly : ILL
55
Informal acknowledgment of responsibility : SUREDID
56
Portland-to-Spokane dir. : ENE
58
"That was dumb of me" : OOPS
61
"___ Flux" (Charlize Theron film) : AEON
64
Debugger : FLEADIP
66
Man's name that's the reverse of 117-Down : IRA
67
Woodworking fasteners : TNUTS
68
Clueless : ATSEA
69
Food preservative abbr. : BHT
71
Letters ending a business name : LLC
72
Buy-one-get-one-free deal : TWOFER
73
Selfish sort : HOG
74
Villainous : MALEVOLENT
75
Target customer of Yelp : STOREOWNER
76
Mount of Greek myth : OSSA
77
R.E.M.'s "The ___ Love" : ONEI
78
Kind of branch : OLIVE
80
Sweets : BABE
81
Lynn in the Pro Football Hall of Fame : SWANN
84
Application datum: Abbr. : SSN
89
Fashions : SHAPES
90
"Um ... fancy meeting you here" : OHHI
93
[Look what I got away with!] : HEEHEE
95
Small swigs : NIPS
96
Huffs : SNITS
97
Coat for a dentist : ENAMEL
98
What "i.e." means : THATIS
99
Charlotte ___, V.I. : AMALIE
101
British ___ : ISLES
105
Female W.W. II enlistee : WASP
106
Stick ___ : ITTO
107
Some P.O. plans : RTES
109
See 102-Across : EAR
110
Antidote : CURE
111
Bank clock info : TEMP
113
Clean energy grp. : EPA
114
Ringing words? : IDO
115
Catch : NAB
117
Man's name that's the reverse of 66-Down : ARI

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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