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New York Times, Friday, November 18, 2016

Author: Peter Wentz
Editor: Will Shortz
Peter Wentz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
269/27/20074/15/20170
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100121012
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.84005

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 34 Missing: {Q} Spans: 1 Scrabble average: 1.91 This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. Wentz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter Wentz notes: This is a bit of an odd puzzle for me. I like the individual entries as much as any other crossword I've constructed, yet it ... more
Peter Wentz notes:

This is a bit of an odd puzzle for me. I like the individual entries as much as any other crossword I've constructed, yet it doesn't have the cohesive feel I normally strive for. From the preponderance of proper names in the upper left, the INs pileup in the lower left, and a couple more abbreviations than I normally like to use, something feels a bit off. Ms. Rice crossing the three central entries still looks good though, so at least the heart of the puzzle remains strong.

I'm pleased to see that many of my original clues made the cut, and as always, the changes were universally upgrades. 33-Across (BAR MITZVAHS) was my favorite discovery while reviewing the final version.

Luckily for solvers, I tend to be a poor judge of how my puzzles are received, so hopefully it'll go over better than in my mind. Enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes: My first reaction mirrored Peter's: beautiful middle, CONDOLEEZZA RICE crossing COLD HEARTED / GINGERBREAD / BAR MITZVAHS. Those ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

My first reaction mirrored Peter's: beautiful middle, CONDOLEEZZA RICE crossing COLD HEARTED / GINGERBREAD / BAR MITZVAHS. Those tricky Zs + a smooth, crossword-glue-free zone = a real winner in my book. I know some people have their issues with Condi, but there's no doubt in my mind she's crossworthy. Nice to see her clued as one of the first women breaking Augusta National's old boys network.

These types of big-center puzzles often result in so-so fill in the corners, because 1.) so many black squares tend to get spent in isolating the middle and 2.) the NE and SW corners don't have much room for long material. Peter does well to work in MEATHEAD and CARJACKS.

I wasn't as much a fan of IN AN HOUR, BY A NOSE, SAME OLD, though. The first has an arbitrary feel, the second is partial-ish (WIN BY A NOSE is much better), and the third requires an inelegant "when repeated …" Some potential left on the table in these three slots.

I also didn't care as much for the upper left and lower right corners as I did for the middle. As much as I like rare letters — X and Z up in the NW and J + 2 Ks in the SE — there were so many tough names. I like a few proper names usually, and maybe I should have known some subset of J COLE, JONI Ernst / Alan COLMES, Ilia KULIK, BABALU, BILLY ZANE. But to get them all concentrated into two small sections made for tough, unsatisfying solves for me, especially when the curious ADMIX got thrown into the mix.

It was also a surprise to see NEWS DESK crossing NEW. I *think* there's a case to be made that NEWS / NEW don't share etymology, but it feels inelegant at the very least.

Overall though, a stellar center of the puzzle, plus some extras here and there — SLOPE clued using the math formula y = mx +b, hooray! — still made for a lot of fun.

1
B
2
A
3
C
4
K
5
S
6
P
7
A
8
C
9
E
10
O
11
M
12
S
13
K
14
A
B
O
U
T
A
B
O
Y
15
C
R
E
A
M
16
B
I
L
L
Y
Z
A
N
E
17
O
B
A
M
A
18
A
D
M
I
X
19
D
U
20
M
P
S
T
E
R
21
L
E
E
K
22
S
23
L
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P
E
24
H
O
T
25
U
S
S
26
F
A
I
L
27
M
28
O
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E
L
S
30
G
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N
G
E
31
R
B
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A
D
32
C
O
L
D
H
E
A
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T
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D
33
B
A
R
M
I
T
Z
V
A
H
S
34
T
Y
R
E
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E
35
Z
E
N
O
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K
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O
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D
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R
A
J
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G
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J
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I
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N
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H
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U
R
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D
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B
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E
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N
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H
O
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A
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K
I
N
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I
C
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N
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1118 ( 24,482 )
Across Down
1. Go over again, as one's writing? : BACKSPACE
10. Site of Dostoyevsky's exile : OMSK
14. 2002 Hugh Grant dramedy : ABOUTABOY
15. Beat soundly : CREAM
16. He played the antagonist to Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic" : BILLYZANE
17. Noted 1983 graduate of Columbia : OBAMA
18. Blend : ADMIX
19. Trash collector : DUMPSTER
21. Close relative of elephant garlic : LEEK
22. The "m" in the equation y = mx + b : SLOPE
24. Trending : HOT
25. Letters in front of many a state name : USS
26. Crash and burn : FAIL
27. Things commonly advertised along interstates : MOTELS
30. Material for a seasonal house : GINGERBREAD
32. Cruel : COLDHEARTED
33. 13 things? : BARMITZVAHS
34. Rapper/actor in several "Fast & Furious" movies : TYRESE
35. Aristotle called him the inventor of the dialectic : ZENO
36. Put down on canvas? : KOD
39. British rule in India : RAJ
40. Incline : GRADE
42. Senator Ernst : JONI
43. Pretty soon, say : INANHOUR
46. A lot : SCADS
47. Ball game : BOCCE
48. Half a round : NINEHOLES
51. Invite at the door : ASKIN
52. Rink site : ICEPALACE
53. Take away : LESS
54. Anchors' locales : NEWSDESKS
1. Ricky Ricardo's signature song : BABALU
2. Stands : ABIDES
3. Radio's "The Alan ___ Show" : COLMES
4. Russian men's figure skater who won a gold medal at Nagano : KULIK
5. Something crossed in "The Divine Comedy" : STYX
6. Category for un Premio Nobel : PAZ
7. Court inits. : ABA
8. One of Augusta National's first two female members : CONDOLEEZZARICE
9. Consider in a lascivious way : EYEUP
10. Royal balls : ORBS
11. Clod : MEATHEAD
12. When repeated, routine : SAMEOLD
13. Some big boxes : KMARTS
15. One involved with tickets and bookings : COP
20. Tissue part : MEMBRANE
22. City in which "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" takes place : SANDIEGO
23. Hardly serious : LIGHT
26. Some festival attractions : FILMS
28. Roundup alternative : ORTHO
29. Souvenir shop stock : TEES
30. Senator who created and introduced the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 : GORE
31. Praised something to the skies : RAVED
32. Takes a ride? : CARJACKS
33. Just barely : BYANOSE
34. Like some councils and tattoos : TRIBAL
36. Billabong Zoo attractions : KOALAS
37. Next up : ONDECK
38. Talks smack to : DISSES
41. Spat : RUNIN
42. Rapper with #1 albums in 2011, 2013 and 2014 : JCOLE
44. Franchise with locations in New Orleans and L.A. : NCIS
45. Blue symbol of Delaware : HEN
46. Source of valuable eggs : SHAD
49. Having just dropped : NEW
50. Relatively cheap iTunes offerings : EPS

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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