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OVER/UNDER

New York Times, Sunday, October 23, 2016

Author: Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Ellen Leuschner
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
87/11/201110/23/20167
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3210200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53010
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
777/5/201011/26/201745
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2267111768
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633162

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 variations from shaded squares ... more
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 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 literally over or under their ... more
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 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 Down
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
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: 7 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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