It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

New York Times, Friday, October 25, 2013

Author:
Martin Ashwood-Smith
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
866/5/19913/29/201910
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
000246416
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.520017
Martin Ashwood-Smith

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 28 Missing: {QYZ} Spans: 9, (2 quad stacks) This is puzzle # 70 for Mr. Ashwood-Smith. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Martin Ashwood-Smith notes:
Joe Krozel mentioned recently that the whole trick of constructing quad-stack grids was to create as many independent mini 15x4 stacks ... read more

Joe Krozel mentioned recently that the whole trick of constructing quad-stack grids was to create as many independent mini 15x4 stacks as possible. And from them, try to build larger 15x15 puzzles if possible. However, he was not talking about complete mini 15x4 puzzles, rather he was referring to 15x4 units that have some legit 4-letter crossers mixed with 4-letter sequences that look like they have the potential to get extended into real words. This is why computers (and the dreaded autofill) play a smaller role in constructing these puzzles than many solvers may think.

For example, if you look closely at the top stack in today's grid, you find some good complete 4-letter words (MELS, DOSE, TAME, ORES) along with some non-words: ENAC, IMGA, AFIR, and MONI. So this top stack can only work, if a grid pattern can be found that extends those non-words into real words (for example: ENACT-, I'M GAME, AFIRE/AFIRST/MONIED, etc.

Usually at this point, the puzzle goes in my unfinished "scrap heap" pile, because a (good) matching bottom stack is next to impossible to find. However, in this case I got very, very lucky and found an earlier orphaned lower 15x4 set that fit quite nicely. So I sent a 66-word version off to Will, who rejected it saying that the stacks were "lovely", but he felt the central area of the grid was too blocky-looking and closed off. Luckily I found a solution, and an extra 15-letter entry to boot as you can see in the final puzzle.

Finally, I know there are a few too many partials in the lower half of the grid, and the "ME AT"/"MINCEMEAT" dupe sucks. But, on the plus side the 15s are reasonably lively... and there are none of those dreaded "ONES" phrases... for a change!

Will Shortz notes:
Any crossword with a 'quad-stack' is impressive, and this one has two. Amazing! On the downside, MEAT at 50D duplicates part of 1A, ... read more

Any crossword with a "quad-stack" is impressive, and this one has two. Amazing! On the downside, MEAT at 50D duplicates part of 1A, and ODE (21A) really shouldn't appear in the same puzzle as ODIST (47D). But I clued the short words carefully. And overall the construction was too nice not to say yes to.

Jeff Chen notes:
A couple of months ago, a non-crossword friend of mine pulled me aside and said I had to see something. He took out a newspaper he had ... read more

A couple of months ago, a non-crossword friend of mine pulled me aside and said I had to see something. He took out a newspaper he had saved and held up a NYT crossword, a themeless with two triple-stacks and very few black squares. "This is the coolest thing ever," he said. That's a pretty powerful statement from someone who doesn't even like crosswords.

I realize some people are going to hate today's crossword, but I say, haters gonna hate. I'm not a fan of construction feats for the sake of record-breaking, but I was so wowed by the visual of today's puzzle, with those wide-open spaces, that I had to give it the POW. Well done, MAS!

The usual knock on triple-stacks is two-fold (and these apply even more strongly for quad-stacks). First, because of their construction difficulty, they tend to use phrases which aren't very snappy, use too many common letters (RSTLN E), or incorporate ONES (A LOT ON ONES PLATE being the most notorious). MAS shines here, using eight really nice entries. At first I was put off by CHANSONS DE GESTE, but after looking it up, I decided I enjoyed learning about a term that's gridworthy; a deficiency in my knowledge base. It's just amazing that MAS managed to find two separate sets of four good entries for his stacks.

The second knock is that the crossing down entries tend to be tortured, giving the solver an equally tortured solving experience filled with a gamut of partials, abbreviations, esoteric names, roll-your-own words, etc. On this front MAS doesn't do quite as well. In general, there are a reasonable number of ugly entries, but there are so many of one type, partials, that it was noticeable during my solve. It's unfortunate that ME AT had to be clued as a partial to avoid the dupe with MADE MINCEMEAT OF, as that would have helped the issue. Should we give constructors a break, allowing for extra ugly fill when a feat is as cool as clean quad stacks? I think a little leeway is reasonable to expect, but the high number of partials did detract from my personal solve today.

So overall, very impressive work and an enjoyable puzzle. I'm usually dead set against stunt grids for their own sake, but in my e-mail exchange with MAS, I really appreciated hearing how he tossed out a whole bunch of triple and quad-stacks before settling on something he thought solvers would enjoy. Solver first, constructor second, that's what I love to hear.

1
M
2
A
3
D
4
E
5
M
6
I
7
N
8
C
9
E
10
M
11
E
12
A
13
T
14
O
15
F
16
E
C
O
N
O
M
I
C
W
A
R
F
A
R
E
17
L
O
S
A
N
G
E
L
E
S
T
I
M
E
S
18
S
P
E
C
I
A
L
I
N
T
E
R
E
S
T
19
S
T
E
M
S
20
I
S
S
21
O
D
E
22
F
23
F
F
24
T
25
R
26
E
27
E
28
S
29
T
30
U
R
M
31
B
E
E
F
32
S
33
A
X
L
34
M
O
R
S
E
35
C
O
D
E
S
I
36
G
N
A
L
37
O
J
S
38
N
I
L
E
S
39
L
A
K
M
E
40
G
O
A
41
L
42
M
A
X
43
T
V
S
44
U
45
G
A
46
P
I
E
R
47
O
48
C
49
O
50
M
M
E
R
51
C
52
I
A
L
R
A
D
53
I
54
O
55
F
R
E
E
T
R
A
N
S
L
A
T
I
O
N
56
C
H
A
N
S
O
N
S
D
E
G
E
S
T
E
57
S
E
T
S
O
N
A
P
E
D
E
S
T
A
L
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1025 ( 23,362 )
Across
1
Wiped the floor with : MADEMINCEMEATOF
16
Use of blockades, say : ECONOMICWARFARE
17
Western daily : LOSANGELESTIMES
18
Lobby : SPECIALINTEREST
19
Watch things : STEMS
20
Limited edition? : ISS
21
Suffix with electr- : ODE
22
Blasting, musically : FFF
24
Bay, say ... or bring to bay : TREE
28
Tempest, to Theodor : STURM
31
Bellyaches : BEEFS
33
___ Rose : AXL
34
One may be tapped out : MORSECODESIGNAL
37
Brunch orders, briefly : OJS
38
McKinley's Ohio birthplace : NILES
39
Title priestess of opera : LAKME
40
Aim : GOAL
42
Setting of 10, maybe : MAX
43
Sony output : TVS
44
Bulldogs' sch. : UGA
46
Painter ___ della Francesca : PIERO
48
Certain advertising medium : COMMERCIALRADIO
55
It's not word-for-word : FREETRANSLATION
56
Old French epics : CHANSONSDEGESTE
57
Idolizes : SETSONAPEDESTAL
Down
1
1970s-'80s sitcom setting : MELS
2
"I'm ___" (Friday declaration) : ACOP
3
Doctor's orders : DOSES
4
Passing people : ENACTORS
5
What Hamilton called the wealthy : MONIEDMEN
6
"Sure, let's try" : IMGAME
7
___ Arden Oplev, director of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" : NIELS
8
Mid third-century year : CCLI
9
Gershwin biographer David : EWEN
10
Guarders with droopy ears and pendulous lips : MASTIFFS
11
Some collectible lithographs : ERTES
12
It hasn't happened before : AFIRST
13
Sans spice : TAME
14
Sought-after rock group? : ORES
15
Fun or laugh follower : FEST
22
Send quickly, in a way : FEDEX
23
Finders' keepers? : FEES
25
What stars may indicate : RANK
26
Cause of a class struggle? : EXAM
27
Allure alternative : ELLE
28
Sun blocker : SMOG
29
Pearl Harbor attack initiator : TOJO
30
Polaris bear : URSA
31
Limb-entangling weapon : BOLA
32
Second-greatest period in the history of something : SILVERAGE
35
1931 Best Picture : CIMARRON
36
Utility bill details : GASRATES
41
Light measures : LUMENS
43
Like much arable land : TILLED
45
"I ___ Lonely" (1954 hit for the Four Knights) : GETSO
46
Lead-in to deux or trois : PASDE
47
Particular paean penner : ODIST
48
Ozone destroyers, for short : CFCS
49
"What's Hecuba to him, ___ to Hecuba": Hamlet : ORHE
50
Sinatra's "Meet ___ the Copa" : MEAT
51
Biblical miracle setting : CANA
52
Police dept. personage : INSP
53
Touch : IOTA
54
Law school newbie : ONEL

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?