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New York Times, Saturday, October 28, 2017

Author: Roland Huget
Editor: Will Shortz
Roland Huget
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
83/20/201510/28/20170
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0010016
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54012

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

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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1028 ( 24,826 )
Across Down
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
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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