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New York Times, Thursday, October 3, 2019

Author:
Ricky Cruz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
110/3/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59000
Ricky Cruz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 35 Missing: {FGJQXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Cruz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ricky Cruz notes:
Very happy to be making my NYT debut, especially with a Thursday puzzle! Thursdays have a lot of my favorite themes, and I hope this ... read more

Very happy to be making my NYT debut, especially with a Thursday puzzle! Thursdays have a lot of my favorite themes, and I hope this one fits in with the rest.

The original plan was a "magic mirror" theme, where magic-themed words reflected across the center of the puzzle. I found lots of trouble getting the grid to work with me, and I later found that David Kwong executed it pretty darn well a few years ago. Ideas developed, and I landed on the idea of replacing the word MIRROR with a mirror image of the word before it. As a bonus, I got to include BLACK MIRROR, which everyone should be watching always.

I'm happy with the edits Will & co. made; I was very much expecting tougher clues in the final version, and the editors delivered. I'm a little sad that DOT got re-clued as an acronym instead of a word, but the other edits more than make up for it, so I'll live.

A note on ABIERTO, as I suspect it's going to be tough for many solvers: I first had DELPHI/RAISE TO/USA/MEDS as 6- to 9-Down, and I think it's much better fill. It was changed because RAISE TO was hella hard to clue; I had [Set at, as a thermostat in winter], which a test solver told me was pretty strange, so I refilled with ABIERTO. In retrospect, sticking with RAISE TO was the move, but the final version wasn't too bad, and I'm very happy with the finished product.

Hope you enjoy the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes:
Mirror, mirror, in the grid, is there another smarter than I, god forbid? (My mirror took the fifth.) Four ___ MIRROR ... read more

Mirror, mirror, in the grid, is there another smarter than I, god forbid?

(My mirror took the fifth.)

Four ___ MIRROR phrases, given a literal interpretation. The concept reminded me of that VAMPIRE puzzle by David Kwong that was sheer genius, as well as another by Tom McCoy playing on the mirror symmetry certain letters exhibit.

Ricky managed to find four ___ MIRROR phrases that were both recognizable, and that paired up in lengths for crossword symmetry — well done! I did hesitate at the first one, as the DAILY MIRROR is buried somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain, but I ended up liking that. If VANITY MIRROR had been the first themer, it might have given away the game too quickly.

ONE-WAY MIRROR did seem a bit off. You don't see a reflection in a ONE-WAY MIRROR, right? I'd have loved if solvers had been lulled into this theme pattern, and then given the jolt of ONE-WAY (without a reflection) ending the puzzle.

Interesting choice of fill in ABIERTO. Given that my daughter goes to a Spanish immersion school and that I've traveled throughout Central and South America, I should have plunked it in without a single cross. At least I didn't need all seven crossing answers to get it!

(Fine, it was six.)

I ended up liking Ricky's decision to use it — DULCE de leche, too. I enjoy when a constructor lends some of their background to a puzzle, as Mangesh did yesterday. Although bonuses like BIRDS NEST and RANSACK are more accessible (and potentially juicier) to a wider crowd, there are pluses to including constructor-specific terminology, too.

Plaudits for the gridwork. With four themers, Ricky could have gone platanos and worked in a couple more long bonuses, but for a debut, I like the decision to err on the side of keeping the final product clean. Just a bit of AIRE and ETDS made for a smooth solve.

Overall, a well-crafted debut, if not as audacious as I like my Thursday puzzles to be.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1003 ( 25,531 )
Across
1
Queen or king, e.g. : PIECE
6
Make way? : PAVE
10
Recedes : EBBS
14
Bankrupted : ENDED
15
Snippet with a funeral date : OBIT
16
Become drowsy : TIRE
17
London tabloid that Piers Morgan once headed : DAILYMIRROR
19
Number of operas? : ARIA
20
Bug in "A Bug's Life" : ANT
21
"Off" time : SALE
22
Lead-tin alloy : SOLDER
24
In case : LEST
26
Sported : WORE
28
Christmas carol contraction : TIS
29
Dressing room staple : VANITYMIRROR
34
Taste common to tomatoes and seaweed : UMAMI
37
Product with a milk splash on its packaging : OREO
38
2010 Denzel Washington title role : ELI
39
Constraint of some diets : NOCARBS
42
All together : ENMASSE
44
Highway agcy. : DOT
45
Word with stage or storm : DOOR
47
Some saxes : ALTOS
48
Interrogation room fixture : ONEWAYMIRROR
52
Telegraph "e" : DIT
53
Over : ANEW
54
It comes in pods : TIDE
58
Roller coaster effect, for some : NAUSEA
61
Place on a schedule : SLOT
63
Ingredient in a zombie : RUM
64
"Holy cow!" : YIPE
65
Sci-fi anthology series on Netflix : BLACKMIRROR
68
Upsides : PROS
69
Contemporary of Vivaldi : BACH
70
Unit of prevention : OUNCE
71
Defect in a can : DENT
72
Seeks help : ASKS
73
Was an agent, say : SPIED
Down
1
Step on it! : PEDAL
2
Fatuous : INANE
3
Some marginalia : EDITS
4
Frame in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" : CEL
5
Competitor of Blue Bell : EDYS
6
Hoi ___ : POLLOI
7
Open: Sp. : ABIERTO
8
Connecting word : VIA
9
Flight board figs. : ETDS
10
Latin phrase in a footnote : ETALII
11
2008 Beijing Olympics stadium, with "the" : BIRDSNEST
12
Cheese that goes well with apples : BRIE
13
Brand : SEAR
18
[So boring!] : YAWN
23
Like Constantinople : OTTOMAN
25
Rating that may signify profanity or violence : TVMA
27
Jane of British lit : EYRE
30
Show time : AIRDATE
31
Itch : YEN
32
At that : ALSO
33
Goes (for) : VIES
34
Ctrl+Z : UNDO
35
Something Venus lacks : MOON
36
Affected : ACTEDUPON
40
"Let me tell ya ...!" : BOY
41
Tofu source : SOYA
43
Loads : ALOT
46
Pillage : RANSACK
49
Like Solomon among all biblical kings : WISEST
50
Popular juice brand : WELCHS
51
Creature on Endor : EWOK
55
Neighbor of a Pakistani : IRANI
56
___ de leche (ice cream topping) : DULCE
57
Press (into) : EMBED
58
"Ghostbusters" force, for short : NYPD
59
Frigid suffix : AIRE
60
"Take a Chance on Me" group : ABBA
62
Ali had more than 20 of them in his career : TKOS
66
___ Tres Vírgenes, highest mountain in Baja California Sur : LAS
67
Golfer's target : CUP

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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