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New York Times, Friday, November 14, 2014

Author: Joe Krozel
Editor: Will Shortz
Joe Krozel
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857/7/20069/28/201715
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1.48056

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 38 Missing: {KQXZ} Spans: 4, (1 double stack) Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 70 for Mr. Krozel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joe Krozel notes: No surprise that Bb5 jumped off the page of a chess book and reminded me of B flat expressed by an old typewriter. Not long after ... more
Joe Krozel notes: No surprise that Bb5 jumped off the page of a chess book and reminded me of B flat expressed by an old typewriter. Not long after that, 31-A, 34-A and 35-A emerged, and their lengths suggested a puzzle with left-right symmetry. I only stacked them out of curiosity, but soon decided that the hardest crossing sequences ACS and LLM would eventually work out: 5-D was already in my word list, but I had to devise 7-D to match it in length. The rest fell into place with the usual amount of shuffling black squares around.

I was undeterred by cheater squares as long as the grid remained open and the fill stayed clean: I prefer the short fill to contain common words like 30-A and 36-A which are most receptive to word play clues. My other favorite clues are 4-A, 9-A, 52-A — my originals — and 46-A and 56-A — supplied by Will.

Will Shortz notes: Joe Krozel never makes a 'normal' crossword. Everything he does has some unusual constraint, usually something completely new. ... more
Will Shortz notes: Joe Krozel never makes a "normal" crossword. Everything he does has some unusual constraint, usually something completely new. Here, the constraint consists of curiously related clues for the three Across answers that are stacked in the middle. In addition, two 15-letter Downs run smack through everything. Pretty amazing. One of the puzzle's test solvers, btw, objected to LETTER appearing in both 31A and 55A — but this doesn't break my rule. I don't allow any entire answer to be part of another answer (or appear in a clue, for that matter). But, generally speaking, I have no problem with part of an answer being part of another one. Most solvers don't seem to mind either. I'm more concerned with getting the best quality of fill, even if that means a semi-duplication like this.
Jeff Chen notes: Nice mini-theme; really enjoyed it. I'm beginning to reconsider my position on mini-themes — before I've said that I like them ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Nice mini-theme; really enjoyed it. I'm beginning to reconsider my position on mini-themes — before I've said that I like them once in a while, but I've been more and more appreciating the extra juice they give, goosing up my solving enjoyment. This one was a little kooky in that the B -> B♭ -> Bb6 progression is slightly marred in my eyes because a flat symbol is not equivalent to a lowercase "b," but I admire the audacious approach. A triple stack of this nature is no small feat.

Speaking of no small feats, there's a reason why mirror symmetry is rare in themelesses. Why? Because a basic tenet of many themelesses is to use four separate stacks of 8's, 9's, or 10's, one pushed into each corner. This isn't possible using mirror symmetry — four sets of stacked 7's yes, but anything higher, no — so a constructor must break new ground. Takes a bold person to venture into largely unknown territory.

Dog-eared page

Some beautiful clues, too. [They might catch some rays] has nothing to do with UV rays — it's referring to manta rays. DOG EAR has a brilliant clue, playing on the "turn over a new leaf" idiom. PRINCES succeed to the throne, not succeed in life goals (although some do both, I suppose). Even the little AVE shines; States Ave. getting its capital letter camouflaged at the beginning of the clue. A lot of cleverness imbued into the cluing today.

Interesting point Will brings up. I lean toward the test-solver who frowny-faced at the LETTER quasi-dupe. On one hand, Will is the editor and gets to make the rules. On the other, the quasi-dupe feels inelegant to me. I realize that's a completely subjective assessment based on my own biases, but it is what it is. Not a broken law by any means; perhaps more of a hitch.

Same goes for the number of three-letter words. I did feel like the solve was slightly choppy, and I'm guessing this was partially due to these little guys. Most of them are fine, but the effect en masse took a little away for me. Similarly, I tend to notice when the crossword glue count gets over about five. Here, the combination of ENOL, ALL BY, A TALE, IN HER, LOLAS, ESA, etc. felt like too much.

So, some compromises, perhaps too many for me, but overall I appreciate Joe's neverending quest to do something different. There's very few people who push the envelope as much as he does.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1114 ( 23,747 )
Across Down
1. ___ Store (debut of 2008) : APP
4. Space on a bookshelf? : SCIFI
9. Bush found in Florida : JEB
12. "___ funny!" : TOO
13. Stray away : ROAMOFF
15. Short coming? : ARR
16. Boring thing : AWL
17. Part of a bridge truss : ENDPOST
18. Apology opener : MEA
19. 10th-century pope : LEOVIII
21. War room topic : TACTICS
23. "The Alphabet" artist : ERTE
24. ___ itself : ALLBY
26. Sponges, say : WETS
27. Fly in the face of someone? : PEST
29. Mau ___ (forever, in Hawaii) : LOA
30. It may have a high grain content : SILO
31. B, for one : CAPITALLETTER
34. B♭, for one : MUSICALNOTE
35. Bb6, for one : CHESSMOVE
36. Score at the half? : DECADE
38. "You've got mail!" and such : ALERTS
41. Cry of innocence : NOTI
42. Caesar's force : VIS
44. Notable 1979 exile : SHAH
46. Invisible thing that's inflatable : EGO
47. They often succeed : PRINCES
51. States on a game board, e.g.: Abbr. : AVE
52. Soap of a medical nature : GENERALHOSPITAL
55. Fancy invitation feature : RAISEDLETTERING
56. They might catch some rays : ORCAS
57. Some 24/7 facilities : ERS
58. Spanish for "basket" : CESTA
1. "Ben-Hur: ___ of the Christ" : ATALE
2. Basis of the Nintendo Wii's processor : POWERPC
3. It has four mounted players : POLOTEAM
4. Gandhi who heads the Indian National Congress : SONIA
5. Longtime luxury sedan : CADILLACSEVILLE
6. Sitter hitter, maybe : IMP
7. Pat Patriot and Billy Buffalo : FOOTBALLMASCOTS
8. Hypothetical example opener : IFSAY
9. Curtis of the screen : JAMIELEE
10. Player with Legos, for example : ERECTOR
11. Authority figures : BRASS
13. Big outdoor gear retailer : REI
14. What might break people's trust?: Abbr. : FTC
20. Discoverer of the Amazon's mouth : VESPUCCI
22. Giggles : TWITTERS
25. "Copacabana" showgirl and others : LOLAS
28. ___ b'Av (annual Jewish fast day) : TISHA
30. Place for a glowing element : STOVE
32. 20-20, e.g. : TIED
33. Hydroxyl-bearing compound : ENOL
36. Turned-over part of a leaf : DOGEAR
37. Alternative to Avia : ETONIC
39. See 49-Down : THATIS
40. Wise one : SAVANT
41. Opposite of blanco : NEGRO
43. "___ Shoes" (2005 Cameron Diaz film) : INHER
45. Frequent Wyeth model : HELGA
47. One aboard Marine One: Abbr. : PRES
48. "Wicked!" : RAD
49. Id ___ (39-Down) : EST
50. Provide technical details for : SPEC
53. Spanish demonstrative : ESA
54. Burning feeling : IRE

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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