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New York Times, Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Author:
Gabrielle Friedman and Jakob Weisblat
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
111/12/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56000
Gabrielle Friedman
TotalDebutCollabs
111/12/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56000
Jakob Weisblat

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {FJKQWZ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Friedman. This is the debut puzzle for Jakob Weisblat. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
GABI: I'm a senior at UChicago, majoring in Chemistry. I write and help edit crosswords for my student newspaper, The Maroon, which is ... read more

GABI: I'm a senior at UChicago, majoring in Chemistry. I write and help edit crosswords for my student newspaper, The Maroon, which is where all of my puzzles have been published to date. I really appreciate this fantastic 22nd birthday (11/11) present from the NYT editing team! Very well scheduled.

JAKOB: I'm a software maker by day and a puzzle maker by night. When I'm not constructing crosswords, I write puzzles for Galactic Puzzle Hunt, an online puzzlehunt that runs each year around Pi Day. Check out some of our puzzles; one I co-wrote is even A Crossword!

Fun fact — we're first cousins. After Gabi started writing crosswords last year, Jakob was at our great uncle's birthday party with Gabi's parents and mentioned over dinner that he'd recently started as well. The rest is history! This was our very first collaboration, which we finished and submitted in May. The theme idea was initially Gabi's, but Jakob helped refine and flesh it out. We brainstormed theme fill together and worked on the grid over VIDEOCHAT. We split the clues by direction and then revised together.

Clues that didn't make the cut… "Alarming comment from the navigator" for UH OH, "What tourists may do at the National Mall?" for BUY AMERICAN; and "New frontier for Grandma, perhaps" for VIDEOCHAT.

Some thank yous: to the editing team for cleaning up our clues and to our test solvers for their useful feedback and copy-editing.

From Gabi: To the members of the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Dictionary Facebook group for the many resources shared, to my fellow Maroon crossword writers for listening to my freakouts about getting emails from Will Shortz and to my mom, who inspired me to start doing the NYT puzzle in the first place.

From Jakob: To my GPH teammates for endlessly test solving my crossword puzzles, and to Sam Trabucco for offering feedback on so many theme ideas.

Jeff Chen notes:
If you haven't seen 'Schitt's Creek,' stop reading this post and go binge. David, the BI-CURIOUS owner of the town, is one of my ... read more

If you haven't seen "Schitt's Creek," stop reading this post and go binge. David, the BI-CURIOUS owner of the town, is one of my favorite sitcom characters in recent memory. Stroke of genius to get Eugene Levy's son, Dan Levy, to play his son on the show.

BYE BYE BYE … sort of rings a bell. From 2000? Wow, nearly twenty years ago? It's a sadly appropriate title for those non-Justin Timberlake guys. Uh … Lance something or other? Wasn't there a Jason in there?

Fun concept, but the grid execution had problems. A Tuesday puzzle ought to be welcoming to newer solvers, and entries like ARTE, DII, EIN, XYLO, and a singular TONG are not.

Crossing PHILOMENA with DOSAS is problematic as well. One might argue that an educated NYT solver ought to at least recognize one of these, but it's not fair to expect people to know their exact spellings, especially since any of the five vowels could look fine in that square.

One glance at the gigantic SW and NE corners, and I was sure this was a low-word count grid; almost impossible to get smooth enough for an early-week experience. In the NE, I love OVEN MITTS and VIDEO CHAT as bonuses. Trying to work those around BUY AMERICAN — plus the other bonuses of RIPENESS and ENLISTEE — is way too ambitious.

There's a ton of sparkly fill — LOOT BAG, GO BANANAS, STAMP TAX, TURBAN — but the balance is tilted too far away from smoothness. For a simple theme like this, increasing the word count to 76 or 78 would have decreased the filling difficulty and thus a better solving experience for newbs.

Looking forward to seeing what Gabi and Jake can do next with a grid layout more appropriate for early-week puzzles.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1112 ( 25,571 )

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Across
1
Egyptian snakes : ASPS
5
Optimistic : ROSY
9
Travels here and there : ROVES
14
"Roger ___" : THAT
15
One of three on a semi : AXLE
16
The Devil's doings : EVILS
17
Interested in experimenting sexually, maybe : BICURIOUS
19
Opposite of ushered out : LEDIN
20
Madison Square Garden and United Center : ARENAS
21
What the thunk of a watermelon indicates : RIPENESS
23
Experimental setting, as for a new initiative : TESTBED
25
Avis competitor : ALAMO
26
Stick with U.S.-made products : BUYAMERICAN
30
Scottish funeral accompanist : BAGPIPER
34
College course in one of the social sciences, informally : ANTHRO
35
"This looks like trouble!" : UHOH
36
Roman 502 : DII
38
Lots of ink, in slang : TATS
39
Activity before a graduation ceremony : ROBING
42
Soldier-to-be : ENLISTEE
45
Easily : BYALONGSHOT
47
Feature of e-cigarettes : NOTAR
48
Soldiers' IDs : DOGTAGS
53
Colonial grievance that was a cause of the Revolutionary War : STAMPTAX
56
Sikh headwear : TURBAN
57
Top thing filled in on an I.R.S. form : LINEA
58
2000 'N Sync hit ... or a hint to 17-, 26- and 45-Across : BYEBYEBYE
60
Bob ___ (restaurant chain) : EVANS
61
Et ___ (and others) : ALIA
62
River that's home to 1-Across : NILE
63
Indian crepes : DOSAS
64
Half of a salad bar implement : TONG
65
Bucks, does and fawns : DEER
Down
1
Diamond opportunity : ATBAT
2
English county : SHIRE
3
A dueler may take 10 of them : PACES
4
Many a "Jackass" segment : STUNT
5
Elevate, redundantly : RAISEUP
6
Big brand of kitchenware : OXO
7
Shtalk like thish : SLUR
8
Personal affirmation : YESIAM
9
Brush up on : RELEARN
10
Things to keep on hand to prevent burns? : OVENMITTS
11
Skype call, say : VIDEOCHAT
12
Yale students : ELIS
13
Figs. on tax forms : SSNS
18
Bar mitzvah officiant : RABBI
22
Kind of bargain : PLEA
24
Like pink or purple hair : DYED
27
Zodiac ram : ARIES
28
Contents of el Prado : ARTE
29
Prominent part of Snoopy : NOSE
30
Where many a commuter lives, informally : BURB
31
Greeting at sea : AHOY
32
Flip out : GOBANANAS
33
2013 film for which Judi Dench received a Best Actress nomination : PHILOMENA
37
Shown crisply on TV : INHD
40
Get an F : NOTPASS
41
Tiny buzzer : GNAT
43
Item with a dollar sign on it, in cartoons : LOOTBAG
44
Certain computer whiz : ITGUY
46
Reach aggressively for : GRABAT
49
One might be inferred from a chart : TREND
50
1960s activist Hoffman : ABBIE
51
Newswoman King : GAYLE
52
Look with an upturned lip : SNEER
53
Iditarod vehicle : SLED
54
Save for later viewing, in a way : TIVO
55
Prefix with -phone : XYLO
59
German "a" : EIN

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

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