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New York Times, Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Author:
John Ciolfi
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
111/13/20180
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0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64000
John Ciolfi

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: {QZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Ciolfi. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Ciolfi notes:
Well, where to start? My name's John Ciolfi, I am a graduate of Fordham University in New York (Go Rams!), and I currently work for ... read more

Well, where to start? My name's John Ciolfi, I am a graduate of Fordham University in New York (Go Rams!), and I currently work for the National Hockey League as a producer with NHL.com International. I've been a fan of solving and creating word puzzles since I was a little kid, slowly working my way up from criss-crosses and word-searches into "the hard stuff", and so I by the time I attended Fordham, I was solving the Times crossword almost daily (as well as the cryptic crossword in the NY Post, until they stopped publishing that, but that's neither here nor there…).

By my senior year, I created a series of crosswords for the school newspaper, and after getting some positive reviews, I figured I'd try to send some out to the Times. They all got rejected. In hindsight, it was deserved as each puzzle was lacking in some way, but the shot to my confidence kept me from submitting any for a few years until I figured I had something worth publishing. Fast-forward to this year.

I wasn't expecting much to come out of this concept; I simply noticed that ANDES, an extremely common crossword entry, could be read as "and ES." I tried adding it to different words and phrases, but it wasn't until I came up with FOR THE WINES that I thought I had something. I wanted to make sure I had each vowel represented (and elongated) in the theme answers, so HOUSE PETES was the last one I came up with (once I found out that my puzzle was getting published after Election Day, I was more than a little concerned, especially when I found out Pete Sessions had lost, but they're still technically in office until January, plus there's also a Rep. Pete Visclosky, so I didn't have to worry about my debut puzzle being immediately outdated!).

Sam Ezersky at the Times was a big help for me on this puzzle. Rather than reject it, he asked me to try to work around some problem areas and listened to some other suggestions for theme answers (BUNNY HOPES, NIGHT CAPES, ASTRO POPES and MAJOR TOMES were all possibilities that eventually got pushed aside). I do kind of wish they had kept my clue for AORTA — "It comes from the heart" — but that's just a nitpick. In the end, pretty much the entire puzzle got retooled over 4 or 5 versions (with the exception of the SW corner — I'm really proud to be able to have two entries next to each other — ANGIOGRAM and BERNOULLI — that are making their Times debut in my Times debut, especially since both of them were there from the start).

In the end, I'm excited to finally get over the hump and get my first puzzle published in the Times! Hopefully, this is just the start! Thanks for solving!

Jeff Chen notes:
Second debut in two days! Love it, new blood injecting new ideas and thoughts into the NYT crossworld. I thought I had today's all ... read more

Second debut in two days! Love it, new blood injecting new ideas and thoughts into the NYT crossworld.

I thought I had today's all figured out – plural words changing meaning by injecting an E – but then I got to HOOVER DAMES.

There are multiple HOOVER DAMs?

Ha ha ha, I didn't really think that! Only a complete moron would spend five minutes Googling "multiple Hoover Dams"!

Excuse me while I erase my search history.

The real theme idea is to take singular words and add ES, changing both pronunciation and meaning. Even though I try to avoid politics, something about HOUSE PETES tickled me. And BEAR CUBES made me think of baby bears all pixelated a la "Minecraft." Squee!

FOR THE WINES, BABY SITES, and GUESS NOTES didn't do as much for me — they seemed a bit too much like quasi-real things. I've gone to Napa for the wines, for instance.

Kooky themers are so hard to make universally pleasing.

Man oh man did this mechanical engineer love seeing BERNOULLI in the fill! I can't imagine a lot of non-engineers feeling similarly, but I spent so much time studying the BERNOULLI effect (regarding airspeed and lift) that it brought back good memories.

Man, am I weird.

Also weird: YAREN. I've long held fast that world capitals are fair game. I've maintained that even after getting tripped up by MANAMA, Bahrain. Then again with VADUZ, Licehten … you know, that bizarrely-spelled country. Now with YAREN ... I'm beginning to wonder if I should put a caveat in my steadfastness, especially when it comes to early-week puzzles.

A bit too much crossword glue for my taste in XKE, TO BED, FAS, ONEK, STA, STE, etc. Even STOAT is going to be tough to recognize for some newb solvers. Given the simplicity of the theme — early-weekish in nature — I think a smoother grid would have been more appropriate. As much as I like the color that "parallel downs" bring in ANGIOGRAM and BERNOULLI, I think it would have been better to forgo one of those answers, allowing for some cleanup in the SW and NE.

Overall though, I appreciated that John chose interesting sound changes, like CUB to CUBES. Made me want to search for more that were equally as interesting; a rare occurrence for me.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1113 ( 25,207 )

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Across
1
Commercial prefix with Turf : ASTRO
6
Inspiring lust : SEXY
10
Like about half the games on a team's schedule : AWAY
14
First little pig's building material : STRAW
15
Rouse : WAKE
16
Snitched : TOLD
17
Representatives Sessions (R-TX) and Aguilar (D-CA), for instance? : HOUSEPETES
19
"Famous" cookie name : AMOS
20
A pop : EACH
21
"Bali ___" (Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune) : HAI
22
Nauru's capital : YAREN
24
Sault ___ Marie : STE
25
Why many people visit Napa? : FORTHEWINES
28
Key on the left side of a keyboard : TAB
29
"Handy" thing to know, for short? : ASL
30
RR stop : STA
31
Nurseries? : BABYSITES
36
Bud in baseball's Hall of Fame : SELIG
38
A thou : ONEK
39
Outlet from the left ventricle : AORTA
41
"Je t'___" ("I love you": Fr.) : AIME
42
Fairy tale baddies : OGRES
44
What ice trays typically do? : BEARCUBES
46
Its symbol is Sn : TIN
47
Western tribe : UTE
49
Overrule : NIX
50
President Herbert's wife and mother, e.g.? : HOOVERDAMES
54
Company with a mascot named Leo : MGM
57
___ di Pietro, artist better known as Fra Angelico : GUIDO
58
"___ Majesty" (what to call a king) : HIS
59
De ___ (by law) : JURE
60
Singer Guthrie : ARLO
61
Play "Name That Tune"? : GUESSNOTES
64
Where Cinderella lost her slipper : BALL
65
Swarming pest : GNAT
66
Biblical queendom : SHEBA
67
French buddies : AMIS
68
They may cover a lot of ground : SODS
69
Mountain chain about 5,000 miles long ... or a hint to 17-, 25-, 31-, 44-, 50- and 61-Across : ANDES
Down
1
Fire remnants : ASHES
2
Relative of a mink : STOAT
3
Query after a knock-down-drag-out fight : TRUCE
4
Reckless, as a decision : RASH
5
Fall behind : OWE
6
Say on a stack of Bibles : SWEAR
7
Weird Al Yankovic's first hit : EATIT
8
Classic Jaguar model : XKE
9
"Oh, absolutely!" : YESYES
10
Game company that introduced Breakout : ATARI
11
Movement that Ms. magazine developed out of : WOMENSLIB
12
Period enjoyed by an introvert : ALONETIME
13
Football stats: Abbr. : YDS
18
Irrational fear : PHOBIA
23
Hole punches : AWLS
25
Followers of mis : FAS
26
"___ mañana!" : HASTA
27
Wise ones : SAGES
28
Rug rat : TYKE
31
Alternative to the counter at a diner : BOOTH
32
Cardiologist's X-ray : ANGIOGRAM
33
Mathematician Daniel after whom a principle is named : BERNOULLI
34
Words repeated by Lady Macbeth in Act V, Scene 1 : TOBED
35
Word following "Able was I ..." : ERE
37
French waters : EAUX
40
"Gunsmoke" star James : ARNESS
43
Went after, in a way : SUED
45
Modern prefix with gender : CIS
48
Band with the 1966 #1 hit "Wild Thing," with "the" : TROGGS
51
Baroque stringed instruments : VIOLS
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In the lead : AHEAD
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Vapors : MISTS
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Less bright, as colors : MUTED
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Diving bird : GREBE
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Monument Valley sights : MESAS
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Lav : JOHN
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Bygone court org. -- or current court org. : ABA
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Half of due : UNO
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Org. based in Fort Meade, Md. : NSA

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle.

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