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New York Times, Saturday, October 28, 2017

Author:
Roland Huget
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
123/20/201511/5/20180
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0110028
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.52012
Roland Huget

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 60, Blocks: 29 Missing: {HJQZ} Grid has both 90- and 180-degree symmetry. Average word length: 6.53 This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Huget. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Roland Huget notes:
This puzzle was constructed in October 2016 and accepted for publication in February of this year. It is one of a series of open grids ... read more

This puzzle was constructed in October 2016 and accepted for publication in February of this year. It is one of a series of open grids that I constructed in the late summer and fall of 2016.

This grid has the largest open square count of any I have constructed to date. The layout of the blocks was designed for that purpose. It is as close to being four independent mini-puzzles as you can get, and this fact needs to be taken into account in the cluing so that solvers can gain a foothold.

This grid took longer than most to construct and in the end required compromises, as has been my experience with many puzzles. The Scrabble average often suffers in grids like this because the friendliest letters in the open areas tend to be the ones with the lowest scores.

I hope solvers enjoy this one.

Jeff Chen notes:
Whoa! Incredible visual first impression, those gigantic 9x5 chunks of white space in each corner. It's so tough to break into these ... read more

Whoa! Incredible visual first impression, those gigantic 9x5 chunks of white space in each corner. It's so tough to break into these types of immense swaths — perfect for a Saturday challenge.

I tried constructing something like this a few years ago ... and vowed never to do it again. It's just too hard to fill these types of huge regions with both colorful entries and a lack of crossword glue. Today, I girded myself up for that kind of suboptimal solving experience and ended up being pleasantly surprised.

The SW corner was particularly nice, given the ridiculous difficulty factor. To work in SPARE TIME, TAPE LINES, APPLE TART, with just some RELET, ELEVE, MERCS, ESTES is excellent for this themeless style. (Compare to some of the other low word-count puzzles to get a sense for the usual glut of gluey bits they usually contain.) And even though RELEVANCE and TRITENESS didn't add much to my solve, they didn't take away from it, either.

The other corners weren't bad, just not as good as the SW. The NE had less crossword glue, just AMO and the terrible ABEAM, but not a lot of snazz, either. CAT BALLOU is the only one of five long entries that sings … and that's if you know movies!

The NW is a great example of the other end of the spectrum — so much excellent material in SEAFARERS, GO IT ALONE, EXCELSIOR!, even URBAN AREA … but at the price of the globby AFATE, ARILS, ERENOW.

The SE was similar. Loved PORT WINES, LOSE A STEP, OVEN READY, TENT DRESS — great stack! Needing the rough, rough SWARD and ANTAE though … oof.

I do like a themeless of this style every once in a while — makes for a huge challenge, and a huge sigh of relief after finishing. Like doing your 20-mile run in preparation for a marathon.

1
U
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R
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B
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A
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N
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A
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E
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A
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C
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A
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P
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I
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S
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A
F
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16
A
B
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A
M
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G
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B
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A
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P
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M
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L
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M
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1028 ( 24,826 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
U.S. Census Bureau designation : URBANAREA
10
Wrist bones : CARPI
15
The Vikings, e.g. : SEAFARERS
16
Crosswise, on a ship : ABEAM
17
No-nos for cleaning glass stovetops : ABRASIVES
18
"The Sound of Music" name : TRAPP
19
Refuse assistance : GOITALONE
20
Jack of the trump suit, in euchre : BOWER
21
New York's state motto : EXCELSIOR
22
Type of type : AGATE
23
100 pounds: Abbr. : CWT
24
Subject of a Minnesota state nickname : LAKES
25
Catch unaware : STARTLE
31
Devices for clearing winter sidewalks : SALTERS
33
Thin and dry : PAPERY
34
Unification Church member : MOONIE
35
Puts on : APPLIES
37
Ran : COURSED
38
Subleased : RELET
39
Actor Tognazzi of "La Cage aux Folles" : UGO
41
One taking un examen : ELEVE
42
Many doorknobs, faucets, candleholders, etc. : BRASSWARE
49
A.F.C. South player : TITAN
50
Dessert go-withs : PORTWINES
51
Ridiculous : INANE
52
Get older and slower : LOSEASTEP
53
Some old Ford cars, briefly : MERCS
54
Prepared food designation : OVENREADY
55
1950s politico Kefauver : ESTES
56
Garment that lacks a waistline : TENTDRESS
Down
1
Phone bill figure : USAGE
2
Prepare for a purchase return, perhaps : REBOX
3
Containing element #56 : BARIC
4
___ worse than death : AFATE
5
"M," e.g. : NASAL
6
Edible parts of lychee nuts and pomegranates : ARILS
7
Echo : REVOICE
8
To this point, poetically : ERENOW
9
Puts forward : ASSERTS
10
1965 movie for which Lee Marvin won an Oscar for playing two different characters : CATBALLOU
11
Official with the power to annul laws : ABROGATOR
12
Stirs, as old feelings : REAWAKENS
13
Container for writing materials, such as fancy stationery : PAPETERIE
14
Sitting back and thinking "Wow!" : IMPRESSED
25
When to do crosswords, say : SPARETIME
26
Markings on a theater stage : TAPELINES
27
Small pastry with sliced fruit often arranged in concentric circles : APPLETART
28
Necessity for admitting evidence at a trial : RELEVANCE
29
Stale quality : TRITENESS
30
NaOH : LYE
32
"Just ___" ("Be right with you") : AMO
36
It's not the main story : SUBPLOT
37
Make rough : COARSEN
40
Enjoy the music, say : GROOVE
43
It can get the blood flowing : STENT
44
Stretch of turf : SWARD
45
Better informed : WISER
46
Architectural features of Greco-Roman temples : ANTAE
47
Some winds : REEDS
48
Awards for Best Play and others : ESPYS

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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