It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

UNTHEMED

New York Times, Sunday, November 4, 2018

Author:
Patrick Berry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2297/11/199911/4/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
741241679512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980
Patrick Berry

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 126, Blocks: 55 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 229 for Mr. Berry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jim Horne notes:
What's this? A Sunday puzzle with the clearly deceptive title, 'Unthemed'? You're not going to fool me! And yet, that grid looks unusual for a Sunday. It has fewer blocks and more open ... read more

What's this? A Sunday puzzle with the clearly deceptive title, "Unthemed"? You're not going to fool me!

And yet, that grid looks unusual for a Sunday. It has fewer blocks and more open squares by far than any NYT Sunday crossword ever. Could it actually be unthemed?

Why yes it is, and that makes it a rare treat. Themes are fun — they let you uncover hidden connections between answers, and they often help you solve the puzzle — but they have a downside. All that thematic material constrains the grid, forcing the rest of the answers to work around inconvenient letters in awkward locations. Then people like Jeff complain that "the fill" is suboptimal.

Themeless puzzles don't have that excuse, but then they have to deliver with great answers and clever clues. It takes a constructor with special skills to pull that off in a big Sunday grid. Patrick Berry has special skills.

I love this puzzle, and I hope it starts a trend. I wouldn't want this every Sunday, but now and then would be appreciated.

Today, we get great clues right from 1-Across. ARE WE DONE HERE is an evocative phrase. "Shade in the woods" is a terrific clue for FOREST GREEN. It goes on and on. Even the odd ars MAGNA, Latin for "great art," gets a fair clue with the anagram hint.

Jeff and I have decided to do "Jeff and Jim Cross Words" only on puzzles where we disagree, and he doesn't share my enthusiasm today. Let's see what he has to say.

Jeff Chen notes:
'Themes are fun.' To me, that's a drastic understatement, especially when it comes to Sunday grids. There's so much space in a 21x21 grid for creativity, for artistic license, for dreaming ... read more

"Themes are fun." To me, that's a drastic understatement, especially when it comes to Sunday grids. There's so much space in a 21x21 grid for creativity, for artistic license, for dreaming up the bold. We've seen so much audacious grid art, visual puzzles, even standard theme types taken so beautifully to the grand stage.

Sunday grids have so many squares that I think it takes a lot to hold a solver's attention through the entire solve. I've seen many friends walk away from a puzzle halfway through because they figure out roughly what's going on … and then there are more interesting things to do. I felt a touch of this today.

No doubt, there were more clever clues than a typical Sunday puzzle — probably by a factor of two. I was particularly taken with the ONE WAY STREETS / [You can't go back on them] pairing. That's brilliant!

But for me, it wasn't enough to hold my attention through the entire solve.

Perhaps a less ambitious grid – say a 136-worder? – would have allowed for more jazzy feature entries, and for even more clever clues? Maybe that would have made up for the lack of theme for me.

I'm in full agreement with Jim about the uniquely Berryesque craftsmanship. I'm a huge admirer of Patrick. And I think experimentation in anything is generally good. But man oh man do I appreciate a fantastic theme that's able to carry me through a 21x21 grid with gusto. There's a huge world of untapped themes floating around in the ether, and I hope that Will doesn't let unthemed Sunday puzzles intrude upon that.

Jim and I enjoy comparing reactions to a week's worth of puzzles, and I've found that much of the time, he enjoys the Fridays and Saturdays more than the others. For me, I'm always in search of the next great theme. Vive la différence!

1
B
2
O
3
B
4
S
5
F
6
O
7
R
8
A
9
P
10
P
11
L
12
E
13
S
14
M
15
I
16
D
17
R
18
I
19
F
20
F
21
A
R
E
W
E
D
O
N
E
H
E
R
E
22
O
C
E
A
N
I
A
23
W
I
R
E
R
E
C
O
R
D
E
R
S
24
T
O
E
T
A
G
S
25
L
O
R
E
N
26
K
I
S
S
27
O
S
28
M
O
N
D
29
S
E
T
30
S
N
A
P
31
B
O
N
E
32
B
R
I
A
R
S
33
H
E
A
D
34
P
O
U
T
35
B
E
F
O
G
S
36
F
A
N
T
A
37
D
38
E
39
S
40
C
E
N
T
41
L
E
A
R
N
S
42
D
O
R
S
E
Y
43
I
N
T
O
T
O
44
H
A
L
V
E
S
45
P
O
R
T
E
R
S
46
T
R
A
P
S
47
B
O
W
T
I
E
48
M
E
M
E
49
K
A
T
I
E
50
H
O
L
M
E
S
51
P
A
R
A
S
52
A
53
I
54
L
55
O
P
E
N
M
I
N
D
E
D
56
B
A
R
M
I
T
Z
V
A
57
H
58
T
D
G
A
R
D
E
N
59
M
A
S
K
I
N
G
T
A
P
E
60
T
E
E
M
61
C
O
R
S
E
T
62
R
E
N
T
S
63
R
64
I
65
C
66
H
A
R
D
67
S
O
R
B
E
T
68
G
E
C
K
O
S
69
A
M
O
U
R
S
70
F
O
U
L
E
D
71
G
O
E
S
A
P
E
72
D
I
R
T
Y
73
A
L
F
R
E
D
74
B
R
A
N
75
I
N
N
S
76
P
R
E
T
T
Y
77
M
O
O
T
78
S
79
C
80
A
81
B
82
O
L
E
83
S
E
N
A
T
E
84
V
A
T
S
85
C
L
O
S
E
86
C
O
L
87
G
A
T
E
88
A
S
89
B
I
G
A
S
90
A
H
O
U
S
E
91
A
V
I
A
T
E
S
92
C
A
Y
E
N
N
E
P
E
P
P
E
R
93
R
E
A
P
E
R
S
94
O
N
E
W
A
Y
S
T
R
E
E
T
S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1104 ( 25,198 )
Across
1
Goes to grab a bite, say : BOBSFORAPPLES
14
What a crop top exposes : MIDRIFF
21
"Anything else, or can I go?" : AREWEDONEHERE
22
"1984" superstate that includes America : OCEANIA
23
Early reel-to-reel devices : WIRERECORDERS
24
Expired IDs? : TOETAGS
25
"Marriage Italian-Style" star : LOREN
26
Give mouth-to-mouth to? : KISS
27
Donny who won "Dancing With the Stars" : OSMOND
29
Construction on Broadway : SET
30
Speak sharply : SNAP
31
Stockpot addition : BONE
32
Stickers forming a patch : BRIARS
33
Keep it under your hat! : HEAD
34
Petulant expression : POUT
35
Leaves mystified : BEFOGS
36
Soda brand with more than 90 flavors : FANTA
37
Ancestry : DESCENT
41
Picks up : LEARNS
42
Tommy or Jimmy of jazz : DORSEY
43
As a whole : INTOTO
44
Two for one? : HALVES
45
Case workers? : PORTERS
46
Golfing hazards : TRAPS
47
___ pasta (farfalle) : BOWTIE
48
2018's debate over "Yanny or Laurel," e.g. : MEME
49
Joey Potter's portrayer on "Dawson's Creek" : KATIEHOLMES
51
Travel on-line? : PARASAIL
55
Receptive to new ideas : OPENMINDED
56
Party of 13? : BARMITZVAH
58
Home arena of the Bruins and Celtics : TDGARDEN
59
Painter's roll : MASKINGTAPE
60
Overflow : TEEM
61
Trunk fastener? : CORSET
62
Lets out : RENTS
63
Ringo Starr's real first name : RICHARD
67
Palate cleanser in a multicourse meal : SORBET
68
Reptiles that can walk on ceilings : GECKOS
69
Casanova's intrigues : AMOURS
70
Ran into in court? : FOULED
71
Wigs out : GOESAPE
72
On the take : DIRTY
73
___ the Great (ninth-century English king) : ALFRED
74
Cereal ingredient : BRAN
75
Places to crash on road trips : INNS
76
Very : PRETTY
77
Purely academic : MOOT
78
Striker's replacement : SCAB
82
Copa América cheer : OLE
83
Century in American politics : SENATE
84
Brewery sights : VATS
85
In the ballpark : CLOSE
86
Old "It cleans your breath while it cleans your teeth" sloganeer : COLGATE
88
Awfully large : ASBIGASAHOUSE
91
Takes to the sky : AVIATES
92
Paprika lookalike : CAYENNEPEPPER
93
Forerunners of combines : REAPERS
94
You can't go back on them : ONEWAYSTREETS
Down
1
Cries loudly : BAWLS
2
Greek hero killed by a giant scorpion : ORION
3
Who once said "You wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you" : BERRA
4
Win every prize in : SWEEP
5
Green housewarming gift : FERN
6
Wordsworth wrote one on immortality : ODE
7
Crank up the amp to 11 and go wild : ROCKOUT
8
Name, as a successor : ANOINT
9
Essentially : PERSE
10
Many faculty members, in brief : PHDS
11
Stan who co-created Spider-Man : LEE
12
Presented perfectly : ERRORFREE
13
Courtroom periods : SESSIONS
14
Travels by car : MOTORS
15
Touchscreen array : ICONS
16
Document kept in a safe : DEED
17
Untrustworthy sort : RAT
18
Sort of : INASENSE
19
Shiny beetle disliked by fruit growers : FIGEATER
20
You should avoid feeding on them : FASTDAYS
28
Food & Wine and Field & Stream : MAGS
31
Rock musician with a knighthood : BONO
32
Deadbeat student at TV's Highland High : BEAVIS
33
"The Lady Is a Tramp" lyricist : HART
34
Stephen King novel with a misspelling in the title : PETSEMATARY
35
Like some tires : BELTED
36
Shade in the woods : FORESTGREEN
37
Steve who co-created Spider-Man : DITKO
38
Absorbed : ENRAPT
39
Express : STATED
40
Muddling through : COPING
41
Wearers of white hats : LAWMEN
42
Sphere : DOMAIN
44
Game featured in 2006's "Casino Royale" : HOLDEM
45
Department of Buildings issuance : PERMIT
47
Became inseparable : BONDED
48
Selling point? : MARKET
50
Companies that need help : HIRERS
51
Didn't bid : PASSED
52
Ancient Mexicas, e.g. : AZTECS
53
Sister of Tiffany : IVANKA
54
It may be open for business : LAPTOP
56
Unkind, as criticism : BARBED
57
German-Swiss author who won the 1946 Nobel in Literature : HESSE
59
Safer of "60 Minutes" : MORLEY
61
Satine's profession in "Moulin Rouge!" : COURTESAN
63
Copper wheels? : RADIOCAR
64
Torch carrier's announcement : IMINLOVE
65
Julius Caesar's first wife : CORNELIA
66
Calls from quarterbacks : HUTS
67
Its shell doesn't crack : SOFTTACO
68
U.S. Naval Academy mascot : GOAT
70
Small jumper : FLEA
71
Show's earnings : GROSSES
73
James of TV's "How the West Was Won" : ARNESS
74
Field with lots of growth? : BOTANY
76
Pan resistant to aging : PETER
77
Ars ___ (anagram of "anagrams," aptly) : MAGNA
78
Slaloming spot : SLOPE
79
Ford Mustang, for one : COUPE
80
Valuable possession : ASSET
81
Round units? : BEERS
83
Stuff : SATE
84
What an essay presents : VIEW
85
Her 2018 album "Dancing Queen" consists entirely of Abba covers : CHER
87
Break : GAP
89
Word spoken while waving : BYE
90
Well-chosen : APT

Answer summary: 13 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?