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New York Times, Thursday, November 1, 2018

Author:
Matt Ginsberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
481/17/200811/1/20187
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1603015464
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57330
Matt Ginsberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 48 for Mr. Ginsberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Matt Ginsberg notes:
I've always wanted to make a Schrödinger puzzle. The old CLINTON/BOB DOLE puzzle was just so amazing. What I really want to make ... read more

I've always wanted to make a Schrödinger puzzle. The old CLINTON/BOB DOLE puzzle was just so amazing. What I really want to make is a puzzle with two completely different solutions, but I think I need to be a better clue writer to do that. And to have more time on my hands!

As far as this puzzle goes, I often tell people (truthfully) that when my puzzles come out in The Times, I can't do them. That's especially true today; Will changed the vast majority of my clues. I'm confident that he thinks all of his modifications are better; I certainly think some of them are. We've discussed this briefly, and he seemed to think that my clues were just too weird. So now I'm trying to figure out if he's right. I had originally clued 60-A, for example, as "What Mrs. Ed would be" and had clued 61-A as "Tiller operator's drink, supposedly." Both of those clues require larger mental leaps than the clues that were eventually used. What do people think?

I will confess that I thought the gimmick here was localized enough that the puzzle itself would be pretty easy, which is why I tried to make the clues a bit harder than usual. But maybe I overdid it, or got it wrong, or what have you. Dr.Fill gets this puzzle right basically immediately (it doesn't get the Schrödinger element, of course, just filling in one of the two possible letters), and gives Will's clues a difficulty score of 54. It gets it right with my clues as well, but has to rework the answer twice to figure it out (which it does automatically); my clues get a difficulty score of 72.03. So my clues are harder, but that doesn't mean that they are either better or fair. Like I said, I'd be interested in comments from solvers.

My clues or Will's, though, I hope everyone found the puzzle fun.

Jeff Chen notes:
Some of my favorite puzzles are those that take two different theme types and combine them in an interesting way. I thought Matt did ... read more

Some of my favorite puzzles are those that take two different theme types and combine them in an interesting way. I thought Matt did well to start with two-part phrases, where the halves differ by one letter (in the same spot) — Patrick Berry did something in the same vein a few years ago, as did Patrick Merrell. PITTER PATTER entered into the grid as P(I/A)TTER is pretty fun already. But adding a Schrödinger element in the down direction? Very fun!

It's sort of a rebus meets a Schrödinger meets … a repeated word theme? Not sure exactly how to describe it, but it was creative.

I was especially delighted by the AS GOOD / AS GOLD find. I've seen similar theme concepts using PITTER PATTER, JELLY BELLY, and GALILEO GALILEI, but there's something golden about the AS GOOD / AS GOLD find. It was so interesting I had to stop during my solve to admire it.

I also liked how accurate most of the Schrödinger clues were for both options. [Sticky stuff] as GLOP or GOOP = perfect. Same goes for [Scratch, say] to describe FLAW / CLAW. I thought that one was particularly brilliant since it works so well for either option — but in very different ways. FLAW as a noun, CLAW as a verb.

And this former MBA loved the MICRO / MACRO find! How have I never thought of that before?

On the downside, BLOT felt much more apt for an ink stain than a BLOB. And although LET ON / LET IN worked well both ways, it wasn't as interesting to me, as a change of preposition isn't going to win any awards.

ADDED NOTE: Astute reader Luke Vaughn points out that although it's "just" a preposition change, look at how cleverly both fit the clue. LET ON, as in admitted a truth, and LET IN, as in admitted into a party. I stand corrected!

Overall, such an enjoyable experience to uncover those themers. This is a well-made puzzle with great bonuses like DOGGEREL and APTITUDE.

ADDED NOTE: I forgot to mention, Matt is (among many other things) an author! I enjoyed Factor Man, a thriller about a tech guru's world-changing invention.

Jim Horne notes:

Mr. Ginsberg loves to play with convention. Check out this mind-bender from 2010.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1101 ( 25,195 )
Across
1
Something you must be willing to leave? : ESTATE
7
Them's the breaks! : ADS
10
River past Orsk and Orenburg : URAL
14
Add to in haste : SLAPON
15
Snake genus, or one of its members : BOA
16
Pet form of José : PEPE
17
*Sound of little feet : PITTERPATTER
18
Shade of deep purple : EGGPLANT
20
Custom-fit : TAILOR
22
*Tycho Brahe contemporary : GALILEOGALILEI
23
Bridge player's combo : TENACE
25
Deprive of courage : UNMAN
26
3.3, give or take : BPLUS
29
Without a downside : NORISK
31
A lot : LOADS
32
Solidarity leader Walesa : LECH
33
*Mr. Moneybags : FATCAT
36
McGillin's ___ Ale House (historic Philadelphia tavern) : OLDE
37
*Branded candy with multicolored beans : JELLYBELLY
39
Close follower of a team? : PLOW
40
*Woman's young lover, in slang : BOYTOY
41
Actress Campbell : NEVE
42
Staple of ragtime music : PIANO
43
Corrects, as an ID on Facebook : RETAGS
45
Cary of "The Princess Bride" : ELWES
46
Neighbor of Tonga : SAMOA
49
Dr. Seuss' real surname : GEISEL
51
*Small talk : CHITTERCHATTER
53
Leapt : SPRANG
56
Bossed around : HECTORED
58
*Idiom meaning "guaranteed" : ASGOODASGOLD
60
Sea of Tranquillity, e.g. : MARE
61
Chief agricultural export of Kenya : TEA
62
Part of a steering system : TIEROD
63
Something commonly found in a laundry bag : ODOR
64
Remnant : END
65
Wholly absorbed : ENRAPT
Down
1
Picking up things? : ESP
2
Louver feature : SLIT/SLAT
3
"See ya!" : TATA
4
Ability : APTITUDE
5
Like sandals : TOELESS
6
___ Field, former home to the Houston Astros : ENRON
7
Figure seen on the National Mall, informally : ABE
8
Writing on many a greeting card : DOGGEREL
9
Frank Herbert's "Dune" series, e.g. : SAGA
10
What you need to talk to a satellite : UPLINK
11
Sphere : REALM
12
Nocturnal affliction : APNEA
13
Admitted : LETON/LETIN
19
Richly luxurious : PLUSH
21
Did one leg of a triathlon : RAN
24
What's helpful to a degree? : COLLEGE
26
Ink stain, e.g. : BLOB/BLOT
27
Explorer whose name is a sport : POLO
28
Word in many Catholic church names : LADY
30
Frigid : ICY
33
Scratch, say : FLAW/CLAW
34
Tops : AONE
35
Groups on Noah's Ark : TWOS
37
Take a flier : JET/BET
38
Bond girl in 2006's "Casino Royale" : EVAGREEN
39
Visigoth vis-à-vis Rome : PILLAGER
41
"Cool beans!" : NEATO
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Uses a keyhole, perhaps : PEERSIN
43
Scoundrel, in Britain : ROTTER
44
Girl in the fam : SIS
46
Loser : SCHMO
47
Up : AHEAD
48
Prefix with economics : MICRO/MACRO
50
Rush : SPATE
52
One-named French designer : ERTE
54
"The Thin Man" role : NORA
55
Sticky stuff : GOOP/GLOP
57
One who might explain the birds and the bees : DAD
59
Debugging aid? : DDT

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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