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New York Times, Friday, November 28, 2008

Author:
Joe Krozel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
877/7/20066/14/201815
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4147242621
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48057
Joe Krozel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JKQWXZ} Spans: 10 This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Krozel. NYT links: Across Lite
Joe Krozel notes:

Here's a puzzle I devised an Excel algorithm to build ... though could be built more easily today with direct use of Crossword Compiler.

As a launching point, I first draw attention to the intersection points of the 5 horizontal and 5 vertical 15's:

  • IREIE
  • EIEIN
  • ESOLI
  • NTNCA
  • IOEAO

Reading horizontally, these are the letters that appear in positions 3, 6, 8, 10, 13 of their corresponding 15-letter words. Reading vertically, the positions are 3, 5, 8, 11, 13. Note, for instance, that the last row IOEAO represents STING OPERATIONS in the puzzle, but also fits the pattern for JOINT OPERATIONS.

A key feature of the matrix is the heavy use of common letters R ,S, T ,L, N, A, E, I, O. (The letter C is the one outlier). The common letters would assist my algorithm below since slight variations often represent other words. For instance, if IOEAO is changed to IOIAO, I find that the latter represents OBIE NOMINATIONS.

So now, the basic notion of the algorithm was this: I would build the matrix from the top down and maximize my chances of completing rows and columns based on shear numbers. I started off with "good guesses" for the top two rows like this:

  • IREIE
  • EIEIN
  • ?????
  • ?????
  • ?????

Examining the individual columns... I have 379 15-letter words in my word list that follow the (abbreviated) pattern IE???; 469 for RI???; 326 for EE???; 255 for II???; 217 for EN???. All very plentiful. Then, for each of these sets I looked at what letters are most common as the third letter ... while limiting myself to only those which would successfully complete the third row: (ESOLI — as a horizontal entry — gives me THE COST OF LIVING).

The matrix now grows to:

  • IREIE
  • EIEIN
  • ESOLI
  • ?????
  • ?????

and the next iteration focuses on the columns again; The number of 15-letter entries with the pattern IEE?? is 50; There are 30 for RIS??; 38 for EEO??; 42 for IIL??; 12 for ENI??. The main thing to note is that the choices are quickly dwindling, and the iteration could easy have halted with the completion of row 4. If that had been the case, I'd go back to the top with fresh choices for row 1 and 2 and repeat the above algorithm.

But the matrix filled up, and the corresponding 15-letter entries were transferred onto a blank grid, and the black squares were tossed in (with some leeway). Unfortunately, the Scrabbly letters now came out of the woodwork, but the challenge was a manageable one.

1
O
2
C
3
H
4
O
5
S
6
T
7
H
8
C
9
I
10
D
11
O
12
L
13
U
N
R
O
B
E
14
H
U
R
15
M
O
R
E
16
S
H
I
V
E
R
17
M
E
T
I
18
M
B
E
R
S
19
M
E
M
20
V
C
R
21
T
A
U
S
22
C
R
E
23
A
24
T
I
V
E
25
L
I
C
E
N
26
S
27
E
28
P
S
E
C
29
S
E
C
Y
30
T
A
M
31
I
R
E
N
E
32
N
I
A
33
G
O
A
34
T
H
E
C
O
S
35
T
O
F
L
36
I
37
V
I
N
G
38
T
O
V
39
T
A
I
40
A
T
I
V
E
41
O
P
E
42
S
A
R
I
43
C
A
S
E
44
P
E
N
45
T
A
T
O
N
46
I
C
S
C
A
47
L
48
E
49
T
O
N
I
50
T
E
L
51
H
E
S
52
S
53
T
I
N
G
O
54
P
E
R
A
55
T
56
I
O
N
S
57
R
I
O
T
58
N
E
A
59
I
M
G
O
N
E
60
A
N
N
O
61
S
A
M
62
M
I
N
T
Y
© 2008, The New York TimesNo. 1128 ( 21,570 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Spanish figure eights : OCHOS
6
It makes pot potent: Abbr. : THC
9
Fan favorite : IDOL
13
Strip : UNROBE
14
Judah's house, in a Lew Wallace title : HUR
15
Thirds, e.g. : MORE
16
Cry on a corsair : SHIVERMETIMBERS
19
Part of a grp. : MEM
20
Camcorder component : VCR
21
St. Anthony's crosses : TAUS
22
Something exercised by artists : CREATIVELICENSE
28
Tiny fraction of a min. : PSEC
29
Dept. head : SECY
30
Topper around a loch : TAM
31
Ryan of "Pippin" : IRENE
32
Actress Peeples : NIA
33
State whose capital is Panaji : GOA
34
It's high in Manhattan : THECOSTOFLIVING
38
Yom ___ : TOV
39
Laotian language group : TAI
40
Talk ender : ATIVE
41
Expos'd : OPE
42
Bollywood cover-up : SARI
43
Look over before holding up : CASE
44
Music theory subject : PENTATONICSCALE
49
___ Twins (pair in old ads for home perm kits) : TONI
50
Rolodex abbr. : TEL
51
Gents : HES
52
Plans to nail suspects : STINGOPERATIONS
57
Potential lockdown preceder : RIOT
58
Classy org.? : NEA
59
"Later!" : IMGONE
60
365 giorni : ANNO
61
Friend of Frodo : SAM
62
Like some toothpaste : MINTY
Down
1
Part of O.H.M.S. : ONHER
2
Goal of a neighborhood watch : CRIMEPREVENTION
3
___ lane : HOV
4
Honour for J. K. Rowling : OBE
5
Island locales : SERVICESTATIONS
6
Coaching cliché : THERESNOIINTEAM
7
Rough housing : HUT
8
Great all-around reviews : CRITICALACCLAIM
9
Fill (with) : IMBUE
10
Is totally apathetic : DOESNTGIVEAHOOT
11
His #4 was retired : ORR
12
"___ Sylphides" (ballet) : LES
13
Commandant's outfit: Abbr. : USMC
17
Year Emperor Henry IV was dethroned : MCV
18
Department store chain founder : MACY
23
"Be there in ___" : ASEC
24
___'clock : TENO
25
First name in New World exploration : LEIF
26
River through Mâcon : SAONE
27
Hi-tech read : EMAG
31
Wishful thinking? : IHOPE
34
Sports car option : TTOP
35
Hawaiian staple : TARO
36
"But I must also feel ___ a man": Macduff : ITAS
37
Baron's superior: Abbr. : VISC
42
Ratted : SANG
45
Fictional faithful friend : TONTO
46
Occupational suffix : IER
47
Montana who played Luca Brasi in "The Godfather" : LENNY
48
Verb from which "sum" is derived : ESSE
52
Tabasco title: Abbr. : SRA
53
Plate material : TIN
54
Part of a shell game : PEA
55
1979 nuclear accident site: Abbr. : TMI
56
Engine starter: Abbr. : IGN

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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