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New York Times, Thursday, November 7, 2013

Author:
Alan DerKazarian
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
511/7/20131/13/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2010101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61110
Alan DerKazarian

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQYZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. DerKazarian. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alan DerKazarian notes:
This puzzle went through three incarnations. The first one had a musical theme. I had (NIGHT)INBANGKOK, (PAC)(PAC)SHAKUR, ... read more

This puzzle went through three incarnations. The first one had a musical theme. I had (NIGHT)INBANGKOK, (PAC)(PAC)SHAKUR, (DOG)(DOG)(DOG)NIGHT, and (WAY)(WAY)(WAY)(WAY)STREET (a CSNY live album). Will questioned the 2Pac entry (among other things, rightfully so) but said he was interested in the theme. I couldn't find any other musical TWO entries that would fit, so I made a new puzzle with (ARMED)BANDITS, (STAR)(STAR)MOVIES, (CARD)(CARD)(CARD)MONTE, (WAY)(WAY)(WAY)(WAY)STOP.

Again, Will said he liked the theme but felt (STAR)(STAR)MOVIES was kind of arbitrary. It could be two or three or four…would I be interested in trying again? Well, hell yes! So I replaced that with (BIT)(BIT)CROOKS. The only thing I was worried about was the decidedly "criminal" angle the puzzle took. Bandits, crooks, and a three card monte don't really mesh with a four way stop. I looked for a criminal FOUR for a while but found nothing that fit. Hopefully, the bloggers don't take me to task for it too badly :-)

Will Shortz notes:
I'm guessing this puzzle is a little hard to break into, but once you catch on to the theme, it goes much quicker. It's a lovely theme ... read more

I'm guessing this puzzle is a little hard to break into, but once you catch on to the theme, it goes much quicker. It's a lovely theme idea. Also, I like the entries AUDIOBOOK, STEAMPIPE, and RETURN FIRE.

Jeff Chen notes:
Every time I think I've seen all the twists and variations on rebus puzzles, another one pops ups to delight me. I really enjoy the ... read more

Every time I think I've seen all the twists and variations on rebus puzzles, another one pops ups to delight me. I really enjoy the moment when extreme frustration flips to the (pleasing) smack to the forehead, and this puzzle did that right. I was stuck trying to figure out ???? STOP, thinking I must have entered something wrong, but when I finally understood what was going on, I smiled. Well done.

Rebus puzzles are a unique construction challenge, auto-fill not being as readily available (to see if a particular grid arrangement is possible or not). It's not too tricky if there are single rebus squares dotted about the grid. The NE corner is a good example, where ??ARMED could be such entries as SWARMED, ALARMED, CHARMED, or UNARMED, and it's possible to use the brute force method of trying each option to see if good fill is achievable or not.

Not nearly as easy with stacked rebus squares. Consider the SW corner, where Alan already makes things as easy as possible (nicely done) by creating a 3x3 block to work with. Even then, since the only reasonable WAY?? entries are WAY IN, WAYNE, WAY TO, and WAY UP, there are only a limited number of combinations to try, each one creating some difficulty. As it is, Alan did pretty well, with only NIE sticking out as unappetizing. The double sets of cheater squares makes for a somewhat unappealing visual image, but it's certainly acceptable.

I was curious about his choice to include the word FAIN. At first glance, it would be easy to dismiss it as a sloppy job of construction since there are so many other options available up there, so I e-mailed Alan to ask him about his rationale. He gave me a thoughtful response, saying that 1.) he wanted the puzzle to be more challenging, and 2.) he found the word fascinating, in that it was utterly commonplace in Shakespearean days but is now largely archaic. It's neat how much tastes vary from constructor to constructor, and I was glad Alan had a reason for incorporating it.

Considering the many constraints, Alan did a nice job executing this strong concept. An enjoyable Thursday.

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ARMED
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BIT
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K
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G
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CARD
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CARD
M
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F
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WAY
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WAY
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1107 ( 23,375 )
Across
1
They're thrown from horses : RIATAS
7
Fake : SHAM
11
"The Silence of the Lambs" org. : FBI
14
Join the game, in a way : ANTEUP
15
Spun : WOVE
16
TV ET : ALF
17
The "you" in "you caught my eye" in a 1965 #1 hit : RHONDA
18
Casino sights : ONEARMEDBANDITS
20
It flows in the Loire : EAU
21
Pasta name suffix : INI
23
Boss of TV's Mork : ORSON
24
Small-time thieves : TWOBITCROOKS
27
Johannes : German :: ___ : Scottish : IAN
28
O'Hare or Newark Liberty : HUB
29
Totally awesome : EPIC
31
One usually buys a round one : TRIP
35
Olympian Ohno : APOLO
37
Some archaeological finds : BONES
39
Author of "The Prague Cemetery" : ECO
40
"Hawaii ___" : FIVEO
41
Suffix with drunk : ARD
42
Schleppers' aids : TOTES
44
Relative of a tank top : TEE
45
"Roots" surname : KINTE
47
Slip past : ELUDE
48
Touchdowns: Abbr. : ARRS
50
Antibloating brand : GASX
51
It can cause bloating : AIR
52
German word that's 67-Across spelled backward : EIN
54
Con game : THREECARDMONTE
58
Glove material : SATIN
60
Fool : SAP
61
It may be topped with an angel : FIR
62
What an intersection may have : FOURWAYSTOP
65
Excavation : MINING
67
German word that's 52-Across spelled backward : NIE
68
Parthian predecessor : MEDE
69
City north of Lisbon : OPORTO
70
Butt : END
71
Setting for a fall : EDEN
72
Minimum : MEREST
Down
1
Dish with melted cheese : RAREBIT
2
Occupy : INHABIT
3
Just above : ATOUCHOVER
4
+ 6 : TEN
5
Some commuter "reading" : AUDIOBOOK
6
Joe of "NCIS" : SPANO
7
Overran : SWARMED
8
Tramp : HOBO
9
Shylock trait : AVARICE
10
Sharp circle? : MENSA
11
Willingly, old-style : FAIN
12
Nonkosher sandwich : BLT
13
Uncertainties : IFS
19
Discouraging advice : DONT
22
Japanese flower-arranging art : IKEBANA
25
Line at a stationery store? : RULE
26
Topps collectible : SPORTSCARD
30
Cataloging things : INDEXCARDS
32
Fight back : RETURNFIRE
33
Whacked : ICED
34
Vogue on a dance floor : POSE
35
Shaving brand : AFTA
36
Place to get a bite? : PIER
38
Certain heat conduit : STEAMPIPE
43
Mishmash : OLIO
46
Lit : IGNITED
49
Ship's route : SEAWAY
53
Familiar phone conversation starter : ITSME
55
Common spice in Indian food : CARDAMOM
56
Shades : TINTS
57
Cereal killer : ERGOT
58
Went to and fro : SWAYED
59
Convergent point : NODE
62
Oscar-winning John : WAYNE
63
Entry : WAYIN
64
Fence (in) : PEN
66
Word before rain, heat and gloom : NOR

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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