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New York Times, Monday, November 6, 2017

Author: Max Lauring and Benjamin Lauring
Editor: Will Shortz
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111/6/20171
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Max Lauring
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Benjamin Lauring

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 39 Missing: {JQVWXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Lauring. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Lauring. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: We're excited to be debuting our puzzle in the New York Times! We thought of the idea for this puzzle on a car ride one day over ... more
Constructor notes:

We're excited to be debuting our puzzle in the New York Times! We thought of the idea for this puzzle on a car ride one day over the summer, and when we got home, we came up with as many relevant theme answers as possible. After amassing twenty or so candidates, one-by-one we sifted through all the possible combinations that would yield an adaptable, aesthetically-attractive grid while trying to incorporate as many theme clues as we could. Soon after, we manually filled out the grid, and eight weeks later we heard back from Will Shortz and his team. The editing process with Will Shortz was extremely insightful, and he had a lot of good advice for our first puzzle. We look forward to publishing more creative puzzles soon!

Max Lauring is a senior at Yale University majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. He does research in a lab at the Yale School of Medicine, plays cello in Low Strung (the world's largest all cello rock group), and founded the Yale Turnip, a satirical online publication. Max started doing crosswords in high school for fun but always admired the constructing process of a puzzle.

Benjamin Lauring is a seventeen-year-old senior at Tenafly High School. He has been playing classical guitar for ten years and studies guitar at the Manhattan School of Music as part of its Pre-College Program. Ben started doing crosswords in high school as well, given that his dad and brother were frequent solvers of the NYT daily puzzle. He was never interested in constructing until his junior year English teacher, Gary Whitehead, talked about how he constructed puzzles. When Max came home from college this past summer, we both thought it would be a cool idea to make our own puzzle. It was an incredibly fun process and they hope to submit our second puzzle by the end of the year!

Jeff Chen notes: Debut! Max and Benjamin give us PART ANIMAL themers today, a nice assortment of colorful phrases such as RAT TAIL, DOG EARS, SNAKE ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Debut! Max and Benjamin give us PART ANIMAL themers today, a nice assortment of colorful phrases such as RAT TAIL, DOG EARS, SNAKE EYES … all of them containing a body PART! Full disclosure, I missed that last piece right after I solved it, so I got a nice a-ha moment when I realized the added connection between the themers.

PART ANIMAL … hmm. I like when a revealer is in the language, and I like it even better when it suddenly makes a theme clear. PART ANIMAL didn't fit either criterion. I would have preferred leaving that odd phrase out of the puzzle, leaving it up to the solver to figure out the nuance of the theme.

Curious layout. Typically you want to put as much space as you can between themers, so that would have meant shoving PIGEON TOES to the right, PIGGY BACK to the left, and adding a row of space between them. You'd also use more black squares on the sides of the puzzle to help separate the themers, allowing for smoother filling.

Max and Benjamin's layout did allow for some wide-open corners in the NW and SE, full of juicy fill like CALL IT, I MANAGE, STRUDEL, BEES KNEES … wait a second! BEES KNEES (and HAREBRAIN) were also themers! Huh. During my solve, I missed that.

Some solver I am!

I did hitch on HARE BRAIN, as it felt bizarre compared to "hare-brained." I'd have preferred to leave that out — maybe PIGEON TOES too, considering how much more common "pigeon-toed" is.

The theme is ridiculously dense, so that helps explain the OLIO of ELOI, INE, FIL, EAN, ERG, etc. EEK! Not smooth enough for a Monday puzzle. It's so important to keep Monday puzzle accessible to novice solvers — this trade-off didn't work for me. Along with the fact that I missed BEES KNEES and HARE BRAIN as part of the theme, I would have preferred a smaller set of themers, composed of only phrases in the language.

But overall, a neat idea, consistently using [animal] + [body part]. Although it felt too familiar at first — there have been a ton of animal-related puzzles in the past — the added layer of the body part was great. I always like uncovering a theme I can't quite remember.

JimH notes: Benjamin Lauring is the latest addition to our Teenage Constructors list.
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1106 ( 24,835 )
Across Down
1. Deals with a problem : COPES
6. What X equals in Roman numerals : TEN
9. Mature, as wine : AGE
12. Polite plea to a parent : COULDI
13. Yale student, informally : ELI
14. Sea, to Debussy : MER
15. *Out-of-vogue hairstyle akin to a mullet : RATTAIL
16. What "compares 2 U" in a 1990 #1 Sinead O'Connor hit : NOTHING
18. Ctrl-___-Del : ALT
19. When doubled, an African fly : TSE
20. Diatribe : TIRADE
21. Thick piece of concrete : SLAB
23. Like a G.I. cleaning up after a meal, maybe : ONKP
25. Speak grandly : ORATE
27. *Condition with feet turned inward : PIGEONTOES
30. Nobel laureate Wiesel : ELIE
31. Almost vertical, as a slope : STEEP
32. *How a tot rides on someone's shoulders : PIGGYBACK
34. Nurse, as a drink : SIP
36. Gooey road cover : TAR
37. *Two ones, in dice : SNAKEEYES
43. Monsoon events : RAINS
47. Nashville's home: Abbr. : TENN
48. Like a centaur or faun ... or a hint to the answer to each of this puzzle's starred clues : PARTANIMAL
50. Washington's ___ Sound : PUGET
52. Drug cop : NARC
53. Transoceanic alliance since 1949 : NATO
54. Nike competitor : REEBOK
56. Western tribe member : UTE
58. Acorn, for one : NUT
59. On the market, as a house : FORSALE
60. *Signs of a much-used book : DOGEARS
62. Suffix with nectar or elephant : INE
63. Fib : LIE
64. Have the attention of : ENGAGE
65. Psychedelic drug, briefly : LSD
66. The "L" of L.A.P.D. : LOS
67. Sierra ___ (African land) : LEONE
1. Summer vacation lodging : COTTAGE
2. Result of three strikes : OUT
3. City planner's map : PLAT
4. Inventor dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" : EDISON
5. Feature of the word "psalm" or "pterodactyl" : SILENTP
6. Camping stake : TENTPEG
7. Race of people in "The Time Machine" : ELOI
8. The "N" of TNT : NITRO
9. "Star Wars" queen : AMIDALA
10. Hereditary : GENETIC
11. Unit of work : ERG
12. "Heads or tails!" : CALLIT
15. Speaks with a hoarse voice : RASPS
17. *Foolish sort : HAREBRAIN
22. *Really something, with "the" : BEESKNEES
24. Japanese pond swimmer : KOI
26. "There's a mouse!" : EEK
28. Andy's boy on "The Andy Griffith Show" : OPIE
29. Driller in R.O.T.C., maybe: Abbr. : SGT
33. Knitting material : YARN
35. Dynamism : PEP
37. Fuel additive brand : STP
38. Those getting excited when thinking? : NEURONS
39. Made irate : ANGERED
40. Team with the most World Series victories (27) : YANKEES
41. Historical period : ERA
42. Layered Austrian pastry : STRUDEL
44. Humble response to "How do you do it all?" : IMANAGE
45. It is "full of genius, full of the divinity," per Henry David Thoreau : NATURE
46. Vegas machines : SLOTS
49. Start of a play : ACTONE
51. Kids' batting game : TBALL
55. Miscellany : OLIO
57. Frozen waffle brand : EGGO
59. Chick-___-A : FIL
61. Suffix with Caesar : EAN

Answer summary: 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?