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New York Times, Thursday, October 31, 2013

Author: David Kwong
Editor: Will Shortz
David Kwong
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174/1/20066/28/20175
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2233421
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1.59222
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Kwong. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Kwong notes: As a magician, I am once again pleased to add a little bit of illusion to the New York Times crossword puzzle. The 'trick' ... more
David Kwong notes: As a magician, I am once again pleased to add a little bit of illusion to the New York Times crossword puzzle.

The "trick" answer was difficult to place. It had to be in the SE corner or resting on top of a horizontal row of black squares. This is because the answer couldn't start down answers.

I enjoyed coming up with down clues in the SE corner that were slightly misleading, hopefully yielded confusion for CAP vs. GOWN, THE vs. CAFE, SNOW vs SLEET, SPA vs BATH, perhaps even EUGENE vs SEATTLE.

The most challenging aspect of the puzzle was finding four Halloween creatures that were the same word-length. I was afforded a little flexibility with VAMPIRE and DRACULA being both seven letters long. At one point I had SPECTER but nixed it because I thought one could argue that a specter/ghost also wouldn't have a reflection.

Eventually, I stumbled upon the Universal Monsters characters and felt like the crossword gods were blessing me. All hail the crossword gods!

Hope you enjoyed the puzzle and Happy Halloween!

Will Shortz notes: This is probably my favorite daily puzzle of the week. The trick at 65A is downright mean!
Jeff Chen notes: I haven't been this impressed by a puzzle in quite a while. Such a fun solve; the trick of DRACULA not having a reflection completely ... more
Jeff Chen notes: I haven't been this impressed by a puzzle in quite a while. Such a fun solve; the trick of DRACULA not having a reflection completely mystifying until the very end. I love it when someone breaks the rules of crosswords. David did a masterful job of lulling us to sleep by having us fill in the three mirrored entries and then hits us with the killer finale.

Sometimes people ask me which is more important, the idea or the execution. Well, I had a similar idea a while back, but I had envisioned it with the ENTIRE grid being mirror symmetrical, with only VAMPIRE not showing up. When I tried to put it together, I became something of a Dr. Frankenstein, breaking all sorts of rules broken (in unholy ways). Both David's idea and his execution were better than mine, so what can I do but give a standing ovation to the master?

The people in this coffee shop are staring at me now.

A side note about David: he's actually a magician! And not only a great magician, but one who works his magic with crosswords and Scrabble. He recently worked on "Now You See Me" and has developed a signature trick involving crosswords. The guy's skills are mind-boggling. I actually said "no @#$!& way!" after seeing his work.

It's a shame that the paper solve is so different than electronic solves today. Often times we rebellious constructors find ways to break the classical xw conventions, causing all sort of issues for the paper solve and/or the electronic. The paper version is usually so much more flexible because the newspaper doesn't complain if one writes outside the grid, intentionally doesn't fill in a square, or even draws a picture in one or more squares. But Across Lite and other platforms often get cranky and complain.

As we go forward, more and more people will be solving on computers and tablets, so I hope the NYT and other outlets find ways to evolve. Hopefully soon, I'll be doing a review of software and hardware packages that might be able to tackle the ever-expanding imaginations of constructors.

Couldn't be happier about the puzzle today. Bravo!

JimH notes: Puzzles with blanks in the solution are very rare. The only Shortz-era precedent is this 2006 puzzle by Pete Muller. Charles Deber had a ... more
JimH notes: Puzzles with blanks in the solution are very rare. The only Shortz-era precedent is this 2006 puzzle by Pete Muller. Charles Deber had a similar idea exactly 25 years ago in this 1988 crossword edited by Eugene Maleska.

I named this my puzzle of the year for 2013.
1
W
2
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F
5
M
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A
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A
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64
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65
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1031 ( 23,368 )
Across Down
1. Universal Studios role of 1941 : WOLFMAN
8. 1-Across, in 23-Down : NAMFLOW
15. Not yet delivered : INUTERO
16. Thank you, in Tokyo : ARIGATO
17. Universal Studios role of 1931 : MONSTER
18. 17-Across, in 23-Down : RETSNOM
19. Gas grade : PREMIUM
20. D.C. baseballer : NAT
21. Young socialite : DEB
22. Rapscallion : IMP
23. Clusterfist : MISER
25. Carnivorous fish : SKATE
28. Through : VIA
29. "I beg to differ" : NOTSO
33. Shetland Islands sight : LOCH
34. Unsettle : JAR
35. "St. Matthew Passion" composer, for short : JSBACH
36. Bit of chicken feed : OAT
37. What some hotel balconies overlook : ATRIA
39. Low reef : CAY
40. Like patent leather : GLOSSY
43. Moon, e.g., to a poet : ORB
44. A, in Austria : EINE
45. Genesis wife : SARAH
46. Genesis craft : ARK
47. Green touches? : PUTTS
48. Calls : DIALS
50. Show age, in a way : SAG
51. U. of Miami's athletic org. : ACC
54. "Aladdin" monkey : ABU
55. Some bait : INSECTS
59. Universal Studios role of 1925 : PHANTOM
61. 59-Across, in 23-Down : MOTNAHP
62. Starts gently : EASESIN
63. Comic strip infant : SWEEPEA
64. Universal Studios role of 1931 : DRACULA
65. 64-Across, in 23-Down :
1. Namby-pamby : WIMP
2. ___ about (approximately) : ONOR
3. Crescent shape : LUNE
4. Second-largest city in Ark. : FTSMITH
5. Period of focusing on oneself : METIME
6. "Your 15 minutes of fame ___!" : AREUP
7. An I.Q. of about 100, e.g. : NORM
8. C. S. Lewis setting : NARNIA
9. Fields : AREAS
10. Nickname for a 2012 presidential candidate : MITTENS
11. Ends of some close N.F.L. games: Abbr. : FGS
12. Secure, as a contract : LAND
13. Plains native : OTOE
14. Development site : WOMB
23. Things worth looking into? : MIRRORS
24. Hold up : ROB
25. Trudges (through) : SLOGS
26. Furry folivore : KOALA
27. Phoenix or Washington : ACTOR
28. Brewery fixture : VAT
30. Implied : TACIT
31. Meager : SCANT
32. "That's for sure!" : OHYES
34. Crested bird : JAY
35. One-two part : JAB
38. Peeve : IRK
41. Glum : SAD
42. Acupressure technique : SHIATSU
44. Pacific Northwest city : EUGENE
46. Barnard grad, e.g. : ALUMNA
47. Stickum : PASTE
49. Intensely stirred up : ABOIL
50. Winter forecast : SNOW
51. Made like : APED
52. Scorch : CHAR
53. La mía es la tuya, they say : CASA
55. Some online communications, briefly : IMS
56. Part of graduation attire : CAP
57. Start of 19 John Grisham novel titles : THE
58. Place to be pampered : SPA
60. Asian electronics giant : NEC

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?