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New York Times, Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
976/16/201110/30/201918
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
76691132242
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645173
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 )

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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.

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