It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.

New York Times, Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Author:
Ruth Bloomfield Margolin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
82/26/20146/10/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3013100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48100
Ruth B. Margolin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FJQXZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Ms. Margolin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: The answers to this puzzle's four starred clues can each precede a hidden word in 16-, 27-, 43- and 59-Across.
Ruth B. Margolin notes:
This puzzle began as a shameless attempt to pander to Will Shortz's love of table tennis. I had been making puzzles with themes that ... read more

This puzzle began as a shameless attempt to pander to Will Shortz's love of table tennis. I had been making puzzles with themes that didn't amuse Will quite enough, so I figured that a table tennis theme might do the trick, if I could do it in some new way. Unfortunately, I wasn't finding word play that I liked for any related words except "game," so the theme evolved into what you see today.

In my original puzzle, I had tried to use the clues to link each of the long theme answers to one of the corner words. So, for example, the clue for GILGAMESH was "Ancient epic of Mortal Kombat?" referencing the VIDEO game of the same name. (And the clue for VIDEO was "How the hidden feature of 16-Across might begin.") Similarly, the clue for MAKINGAMENDS was "Saying ‘Sorry!'?" referencing the BOARD game. The clue for TORNLIGAMENT was "It might hobble a Horse?" referencing the BALL game. And the clue for AGAMEMNON was "Greek king who returned from War?" referencing the CARD game. I was pleased with how my clues had a one-to-one correlation with the corner words. But I also knew that the connections were pretty subtle, so it didn't quite work. I suspected that many solvers might finish the puzzle without even noticing my carefully chosen details! Would you have noticed?

Will obviously decided that the connections were better made by way of the note that he attached to the puzzle. I feel better knowing that he couldn't figure out how to do it within the cluing either. Thanks, Will for making it work!

Jeff Chen notes:
I had to read the notepad a few times to figure out what was going on: GAME is hidden within four themers, and four short entries ... read more

I had to read the notepad a few times to figure out what was going on: GAME is hidden within four themers, and four short entries — BALL, VIDEO, BOARD, and CARD — can precede that hidden GAME. Whew!

Tablet from the Epic of GILGAMESH

Normally I'm not a huge fan of one-word themers, but I like Ruth's inclusion of both GILGAMESH and AGAMEMNON. Two epic heroes in symmetrical locations, both hiding GAME = a lot of fun for this fan of the classics. Okay, I skimmed the Epic of Gilgamesh during undergrad. Okay, I only read the first page. But I've come to appreciate how broadly that tale has affected storytelling throughout the ages.

Four long themers + four short ones = a lot of material to pack into a grid. Ruth does a pretty good job of working with all those constraints. I enjoyed the NE, with DOWN UNDER running through VIDEO and MAKING AMENDS, and just DE LA as a minor blight. It's too bad ICE AGE and ACORN weren't cross-referenced — the beginning of ICE AGE (the movie) was so funny, with the prehistoric squirrel questing for his ACORN.

The NW: it gets tough to fill when you place BALL over GILGAMESH with not much space in between. OLIO (the mish-mash, not OLEO, the margarine) is one of those unfortunate old-timey gluey bits that many constructors strive to avoid. I don't mind BOGGS and LILLE, two toughish proper nouns, but everything together might draw some complaints from solvers. To me it's just the OLIO that sticks out, and what else can you do when you fix BALL and GILGAMESH in place?

Well, maybe different options for BALL would have avoided that. There are a ton of "___ GAME" phrases, yeah?

For a "word that can precede X" type theme, I really want some new twist, something that differentiates it from the theme type many editors are no longer accepting. I like the idea here; there's no doubt it is innovative. It sure would have been nice though, to work some revealer into the grid that avoided the tortuous notepad explanation.

1
B
2
A
3
L
4
L
5
T
6
S
7
K
8
V
9
I
10
D
11
E
12
O
13
O
L
I
O
14
S
H
I
A
15
A
C
O
R
N
16
G
I
L
G
17
A
M
E
S
H
18
N
E
W
M
E
19
G
E
L
20
L
O
S
I
N
21
G
22
A
N
A
L
23
S
N
E
24
E
T
C
H
25
R
26
A
G
U
27
M
A
K
I
28
N
29
G
A
M
E
N
30
D
31
S
32
R
33
A
34
D
A
R
35
N
U
O
V
A
36
D
E
I
37
O
L
E
G
38
B
I
B
L
E
39
T
E
L
L
40
U
S
A
41
C
A
N
I
D
42
A
U
R
A
L
43
T
O
R
44
N
L
I
G
A
M
45
E
N
T
46
S
E
E
R
47
E
N
D
U
48
P
49
A
50
T
51
S
52
E
A
S
53
D
54
E
55
A
D
E
R
56
A
M
I
57
A
U
N
T
58
S
59
A
G
A
M
E
60
M
N
O
N
61
A
R
T
O
O
62
R
E
L
Y
63
A
D
U
E
64
B
O
A
R
D
65
L
D
S
66
C
A
R
D
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1104 ( 24,102 )
Across
1. *Event in "Cinderella" : BALL
5. Sound of admonishment : TSK
8. *Watch it! : VIDEO
13. Mishmash : OLIO
14. Branch of Islam : SHIA
15. Nut with a cupule : ACORN
16. Sumerian king in an ancient epic : GILGAMESH
18. Self-description after a lifestyle change : NEWME
19. Shaver's alternative to cream : GEL
20. In need of a rally, say : LOSING
22. Like a control freak : ANAL
23. One of Seuss's Star-Bellies : SNEETCH
25. Old World Style sauce brand : RAGU
27. Saying sorry, say : MAKINGAMENDS
32. Storm locator : RADAR
35. New, in Napoli : NUOVA
36. "Agnus ___" : DEI
37. '60s designer for Jackie : OLEG
38. Swearing-in staple : BIBLE
39. Partner of show or kiss : TELL
40. Permanent member of the U.N. Security Council : USA
41. Jackal or coyote : CANID
42. Like otologists' tests : AURAL
43. Reason to get Tommy John surgery : TORNLIGAMENT
46. Futures analyst? : SEER
47. Finally reach : ENDUPAT
51. Vast expanses : SEAS
53. Like a doornail, only more so : DEADER
56. Bon ___ : AMI
57. Hilda and Zelda, to TV's Sabrina : AUNTS
59. Trojan War hero of myth : AGAMEMNON
61. "Star Wars" droid, for short : ARTOO
62. Depend (on) : RELY
63. Together, in music : ADUE
64. *Executive group : BOARD
65. The Mormon Church, for short : LDS
66. *Jokester : CARD
Down
1. Wade who was five-time A.L. batting champ : BOGGS
2. Very strange : ALIEN
3. French textile city : LILLE
4. Where to record a stardate : LOG
5. Movie with the classic line "Here's Johnny!" : THESHINING
6. Pedro's emphatic assent : SISI
7. "It Had to Be You" lyricist Gus : KAHN
8. Relo vehicle : VAN
9. When mastodons roamed : ICEAGE
10. Where "G'day!" is heard : DOWNUNDER
11. Singing sister of Aretha Franklin : ERMA
12. Student in Torts or Contracts, most likely : ONEL
14. Artist's garb : SMOCK
17. Where some sacrifices are made : ALTAR
21. Like the accent in "crème" : GRAVE
24. Online read : EMAG
26. Docs' org. : AMA
28. Egypt/Sudan border region : NUBIA
29. Nobel Prizes, e.g. : GOLDMEDALS
30. Crème ___ crème : DELA
31. Flowerpot spot : SILL
32. Blowout, as in sports : ROUT
33. "Oh, I almost forgot ..." : ALSO
34. Wish list opener : DEARSANTA
38. Puppeteer Bil : BAIRD
39. "Swan Lake" attire : TUTU
41. The Cavs, on sports tickers : CLE
42. Agassi of tennis : ANDRE
44. Trojan War sage : NESTOR
45. "The bad guys" : ENEMY
48. Black-and-white zoo attraction : PANDA
49. One in a tryst : AMOUR
50. Like forks and tridents : TINED
51. Car company once owned by G.M. : SAAB
52. Prefix with zone or trash : EURO
54. Rank below marquis : EARL
55. Like Gruyère cheese, for 5-12 months : AGED
58. Farm product bought in rolls : SOD
60. Bub : MAC

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?