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New York Times, Monday, November 17, 2014

Author:
Tom McCoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3311/14/20139/29/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
18815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61362
Tom McCoy

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 7 for Mr. McCoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tom McCoy notes:
One of the biggest surprises for me in the Sherlock Holmes series was the fact that Sherlock has a brother. Sherlock is such a ... read more

One of the biggest surprises for me in the Sherlock Holmes series was the fact that Sherlock has a brother. Sherlock is such a distinctive character that I find it intriguing to think of there being someone else like him. It's even more surprising to find out that a real-life friend has a twin, and that sense of surprise was the inspiration here.

I made this puzzle a while ago, and if I were to do it again, I would try to change the entry MONSTROSITY. At the time I constructed this puzzle, I counted myself lucky just to find fill that worked. Now that I'm more comfortable with filling grids, I try much harder to find entries that are not just acceptable but also entertaining. Although MONSTROSITY is a perfectly cromulent word, it's not very pleasant. Therefore, I would rather have found an entry more likely to bring a smile to the solver's face.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun experience today, trying to figure out what these people had in common as I went through the puzzle. I had no idea each of them ... read more

Fun experience today, trying to figure out what these people had in common as I went through the puzzle. I had no idea each of them had a twin — pretty cool, considering I'm an identical twin myself, a member of the UW Twin Registry, and have participated in twin studies. (The electrode experiment was surprisingly mild. And shockingly fun.)

The number 13 carries so many negative connotations in our society, and much of it is based on superstition. But in crosswords, there's a real reason to be scared. Patrick Berry calls the 13-letter entry an "inconvenient length," and for good reason. Alternate grid with more black squares ASHTON KUTCHER and MARIO ANDRETTI force a difficult layout issue: go big, like Tom did, or take the chicken-hearted way out (see grid to left). The latter makes filling so much smoother, but check out the ugliness of those giant black square chunks.

Tom's approach is one I almost always prefer, since it allows for great fill like CHICK MAGNET and MONSTROSITY. But today, because Tom goes really big with the extra entry TWINS, each of those long pieces of fill must run through three themers. Talk about high constraints. Along with IMAGERY and SAUNTER (both nice), the constraints result in a smattering of OBE and IZE, plus a tough crossing of Michael IRVIN and VIN DIESEL. I don't mind IRVIN at all, as he was a game-changing WR for the hated Cowboys, but along with other esoteric names — PATTI, ASHER, EARLE all nearby — it felt like too much.

It's hardly ever easy when you shoot for the moon. But I generally like the trade-off here.

The theme made me curious enough to look up all the not-famous twin halves, and I was disappointed to see they weren't all identical. There's something inherently fascinating about having essentially a clone. My brother's babysitter once saw me and my wife out to dinner and was aghast, thinking that my brother was messing around. Then there was the time one of my brother's friends followed me around a grocery store and out to my car, all the time covertly spying on me. No, that wasn't creepy at all.

It's really neat that MARIO ANDRETTI has an identical twin brother. It's not nearly as neat that KOFI ANNAN had a fraternal twin sister. Now, if she looked exactly like him …

Finally, loved the clue for PHARAOH; a "pyramid schemer" indeed. Great to see that type of playfulness on a Monday.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1117 ( 23,750 )
Across
1
Pocketbook part : STRAP
6
Waiter's last word after serving food : ENJOY
11
Place ___ (part of a table setting) : MAT
14
Hunt illegally : POACH
15
France's longest river : LOIRE
16
Award bestowed by a queen: Abbr. : OBE
17
Busybody : YENTA
18
Ban Ki-moon's predecessor at the U.N. : KOFIANNAN
20
Jeopardize : RISK
22
Colon, in analogies : ISTO
23
Classic video game with ghosts : PACMAN
27
Mosey : SAUNTER
30
"Two and a Half Men" co-star starting in 2011 : ASHTONKUTCHER
33
Femur's locale : THIGH
34
Two Romanov czars : IVANS
35
Photo ___ (campaign events) : OPS
38
Gumshoes, in old crime fiction : TECS
39
Grand feather : PLUME
40
___ of Capri : ISLE
41
Annoy : IRK
42
Country singer Steve : EARLE
43
Trojan king during the Trojan War : PRIAM
44
Sporting champion with a drive for success? : MARIOANDRETTI
47
Descriptive language : IMAGERY
49
"Of course you're right" : YESYES
50
Anger : RAGE
51
Not commissioned, after "on" : SPEC
53
"The Fast and the Furious" co-star : VINDIESEL
57
What "E" means on a gas gauge : EMPTY
62
Verb-forming suffix : IZE
63
Witch : CRONE
64
Brainteaser : POSER
65
Court divider : NET
66
Crimean conference site : YALTA
67
Minnesota baseball team ... or what 18-, 30-, 44- and 53-Across all are : TWINS
Down
1
James Bond, for one : SPY
2
Little piggy, in a children's rhyme : TOE
3
Sprinted : RAN
4
Play a role : ACT
5
Pyramid schemer? : PHARAOH
6
___ Club (civic group) : ELKS
7
Reading place ... or reading device : NOOK
8
Competitor of Skippy and Peter Pan : JIF
9
"Either he goes ___ go!" : ORI
10
Word before "verily" in the Bible : YEA
11
Freak of nature : MONSTROSITY
12
Lessen : ABATE
13
Kind of sax : TENOR
19
Number of heads of the Hydra, in myth : NINE
21
Bed-and-breakfast, e.g. : INN
23
Rocker Smith : PATTI
24
"My Name Is ___ Lev" : ASHER
25
Sexy guy : CHICKMAGNET
26
Boardroom events: Abbr. : MTGS
27
Flower's pollen holder : STAMEN
28
Teenager's bane : ACNE
29
Sounds of hesitation : UHS
31
"___ was here" (W.W. II catchphrase) : KILROY
32
Throat dangler : UVULA
36
Part of a table setting : PLATE
37
Round after the quarters : SEMIS
39
10-10 or Q-Q : PAIR
40
Angers : IRES
42
Before, poetically : ERE
43
General rule : PRECEPT
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Elderly : AGED
46
Easter egg need : DYE
47
Football Hall-of-Famer Michael : IRVIN
48
Indian corn : MAIZE
51
Mailed : SENT
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Entreaty : PLEA
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Treacherous, as winter roads : ICY
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Long presidential term, perhaps : ERA
56
The sun : SOL
58
Cut, as grass : MOW
59
Trident-shaped letter : PSI
60
Number of Canadian provinces : TEN
61
Soph. and jr. : YRS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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