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New York Times, Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
876/16/201111/2/201816
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66681129192
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1.645163
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 39 Missing: {JKQXZ} This is puzzle # 45 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
Arr, my puzzles always seem to be published at the times when I'm busiest! I'll keep my notes short and sweet this time. I'd had ... read more

Arr, my puzzles always seem to be published at the times when I'm busiest! I'll keep my notes short and sweet this time.

I'd had the FORTY NINERS/FORTY NINE R'S idea for a while, but I just couldn't get the grid to fill as cleanly as I wanted. So I shoved what I had into my ever-growing "Works in Progress" folder and moved on to other crosswords. Last June, I rediscovered the puzzle and became inspired to finish it! After a bit of Crossword Compiler wizardry, I was able to make a customized word list containing only entries with at least one R, since my goal was to have 49 R's in the grid such that every entry had one or more R's. I was thrilled that MARGARET FARRAR fit into the grid, since she's one of my heroes! REARVIEW MIRROR was also a fortuitous find.

Not surprisingly, the nonthematic fill still ended up being weaker than what I usually strive for, but I decided to just go with it and write a set of clues. Having 49 R's in the clues was more of an afterthought, but I thought it would make for a nice touch. I realize that many solvers don't enjoy stunt crosswords, which is why I try to stay away from them in general. Every once in a while, though, a constructor's gotta have a little fun!

I hope you have as much fun with this puzzle as I did. Even if you hate it, I promise there are plenty of non-stunt Steinberg puzzles in store for you!

Jeff Chen notes:
David is a strong enough constructor that I hitched when I got to the upper right corner. A barely-constrained area with ISR and the ... read more

David is a strong enough constructor that I hitched when I got to the upper right corner. A barely-constrained area with ISR and the bygone UAR is by no means terrible, but I'd usually expect a better quality fill out of David. I hit a few other spots like that along the way — none of them had major flaws, but it made me more and more sure that there was a gimmick.

Alex Smith, the guy Kaepernick replaced ...

Sure enough, FORTY NINERS gets parsed as FORTY NINE RS, which I've highlighted below. I was impressed that David was able to get by with only minor clunkiness in this grid, given how difficult a trick like this is to accomplish. I don't care about most records of this sort, but just for comparison, here's the list of record-breaking letter counts. David smashes the old record of 30.

No doubt, there are some oddball words here, but I ended up liking most of them. I had no idea ORRERIES were models of the solar system — that's something I'll add to my vocabulary. I don't know that I'll have the opportunity to toss MAGYAR into a conversation ever, but that does feel like a word an educated person ought to know.

GASSER, not so much. When you have to tell someone how funny something is (twice!) in the clue ...

I liked how well the theme revealer worked. Perhaps it's because I'm a lifelong 49ers fan (I root for the Hawks when they're not playing them), and perhaps it's because karma finally came around and bit Colin Kaepernick in his arrogant butt. Or perhaps it's because the theme actually helped me finish the puzzle — that north section was pretty rough going, and thinking about where Rs might go led me to AFORE. (Yikes, that's quite a glob of glue.)

Nice also to get some good long fill, something often not possible with these stunt puzzles. GUITAR SOLO and BAD PERM are both great. Fun to get MARGARET FARRAR in there too.

All in all, a pretty good job of executing a very difficult task.

Jim Horne notes:
The previous R record, a mere 30, was set back in 2011 by Paul Hunsberger. Mr. Steinberg is a crossword historian so he knows all ... read more

The previous R record, a mere 30, was set back in 2011 by Paul Hunsberger.

Mr. Steinberg is a crossword historian so he knows all about the contributions of Margaret Farrar (27 Across). He runs The Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project which has digitized every known crossword in NYT history going back to the first one in 1942.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1111 ( 24,109 )
Across
1. Gooey campout goody : SMORE
6. Costumes : GARBS
11. Test in advance of an advanced deg. : GRE
14. Enveloping glows : AURAS
15. In advance of, quaintly : AFORE
16. Onetime Mideast abbr. : UAR
17. Perfectly fit and well : RIGHTASRAIN
19. Land south of Leb. : ISR
20. Canada ___ : DRY
21. B&O and Pennsylvania, in Monopoly : RRS
22. Prime oyster season : RMONTHS
24. "___ Pyle, U.S.M.C." : GOMER
26. Sony competitor : RCA
27. First New York Times crossword editor, 1942-69 : MARGARETFARRAR
33. QB Brett : FAVRE
34. Quite a ways : FAR
35. Sellout show sign : SRO
36. He voiced Carl in "Up" : EDASNER
39. 1970 John Wayne western : RIOLOBO
42. Land south of Bol. : ARG
43. 1921 play that ends with the extinction of the human race : RUR
45. Chewy chocolate candy : ROLOS
46. Where you might see the word AMBULANCE behind you : REARVIEWMIRROR
51. Outdoor gear chain : REI
52. Like some pitchers : EARED
53. Bungled salon job : BADPERM
57. Long-snouted fish : GAR
58. ___ G BIV (color mnemonic) : ROY
61. Headed for the hills : RAN
62. Old rush participants ... or a three-part hint to what can be found in this puzzle's grid or clues : FORTYNINERS
65. "All bets ___ off" : ARE
66. Alban Berg's "Wozzeck," e.g. : OPERA
67. Leave no trace of : ERASE
68. D.C.-based news org. : NPR
69. Golf's ___ Cup : RYDER
70. Taste : SAPOR
Down
1. Variety of chalcedony : SARD
2. Conservationist John : MUIR
3. Bacchanalian bash : ORGY
4. Bowl game shout : RAH
5. Female sex hormone : ESTROGEN
6. Funny, funny joke : GASSER
7. Lesotho's locale: Abbr. : AFR
8. Jet engine sound : ROAR
9. Hat's edge : BRIM
10. Lady of la casa : SENORA
11. One-minute-plus section of "Stairway to Heaven" : GUITARSOLO
12. Impetuous : RASH
13. Bungles : ERRS
18. "___ virumque cano" ("Aeneid" opening) : ARMA
23. Big name in A.T.M.s : NCR
24. Canine warnings : GRRS
25. Zebra at a Lions game, say : REF
27. Lady of la casa : MADRE
28. "Mogambo" co-star : AVAGARDNER
29. It's in the pits : TAR
30. Common date night: Abbr. : FRI
31. Ann ___, Mich. : ARBOR
32. Aussie bounders : ROOS
33. Goose bumps cause : FEAR
37. Verdi's "___ tu" : ERI
38. Have misgivings about : RUE
40. Solar system models : ORRERIES
41. Title for Tennyson : LORD
44. "Nature" essayist's inits. : RWE
47. Weightlifting unit : REP
48. Compete to get : VIEFOR
49. Native Hungarian : MAGYAR
50. Shah's onetime domain : IRAN
53. Kellogg's All-___ : BRAN
54. Powerful D.C. lobby : AARP
55. Viscous : ROPY
56. Talking TV palomino : MRED
58. Cut and collect in the field : REAP
59. Guesstimate's ending : ORSO
60. W.W. I battle site : YSER
63. Otto minus cinque : TRE
64. Powerful D.C. lobby : NRA

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?