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New York Times, Monday, November 6, 2017

Author:
Max Lauring and Benjamin Lauring
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
111/6/20171
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1.40000
Max Lauring
TotalDebutCollabs
111/6/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.40000
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 the ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

Jim Horne 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
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
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Sea, to Debussy : MER
15
*Out-of-vogue hairstyle akin to a mullet : RATTAIL
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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
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Nobel laureate Wiesel : ELIE
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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
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Nike competitor : REEBOK
56
Western tribe member : UTE
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Acorn, for one : NUT
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On the market, as a house : FORSALE
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*Signs of a much-used book : DOGEARS
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Suffix with nectar or elephant : INE
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Fib : LIE
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Have the attention of : ENGAGE
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Psychedelic drug, briefly : LSD
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The "L" of L.A.P.D. : LOS
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Sierra ___ (African land) : LEONE
Down
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Summer vacation lodging : COTTAGE
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Result of three strikes : OUT
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City planner's map : PLAT
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Inventor dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" : EDISON
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Feature of the word "psalm" or "pterodactyl" : SILENTP
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Camping stake : TENTPEG
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Race of people in "The Time Machine" : ELOI
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The "N" of TNT : NITRO
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"Star Wars" queen : AMIDALA
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Hereditary : GENETIC
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Unit of work : ERG
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"Heads or tails!" : CALLIT
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Speaks with a hoarse voice : RASPS
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*Foolish sort : HAREBRAIN
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*Really something, with "the" : BEESKNEES
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Japanese pond swimmer : KOI
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"There's a mouse!" : EEK
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Andy's boy on "The Andy Griffith Show" : OPIE
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Driller in R.O.T.C., maybe: Abbr. : SGT
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Knitting material : YARN
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Dynamism : PEP
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Fuel additive brand : STP
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Those getting excited when thinking? : NEURONS
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Made irate : ANGERED
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Team with the most World Series victories (27) : YANKEES
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Historical period : ERA
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Layered Austrian pastry : STRUDEL
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Humble response to "How do you do it all?" : IMANAGE
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It is "full of genius, full of the divinity," per Henry David Thoreau : NATURE
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Vegas machines : SLOTS
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Start of a play : ACTONE
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Kids' batting game : TBALL
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Miscellany : OLIO
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Frozen waffle brand : EGGO
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Chick-___-A : FIL
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Suffix with Caesar : EAN

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?