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THREE-PEAT

New York Times, Sunday, November 8, 2015

Author:
Tracy Gray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
289/8/201010/10/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
7445710
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61451
Tracy Gray

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 64 Missing: {QV} This is puzzle # 15 for Ms. Gray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tracy Gray notes:
Sometimes, you just need one word to get your crossword constructing juices flowing. For me, that word was 'MISSISSIPPI,' the letters of which were spelled out big and bold on a TV ad I ... read more

Sometimes, you just need one word to get your crossword constructing juices flowing. For me, that word was "MISSISSIPPI," the letters of which were spelled out big and bold on a TV ad I saw last March. I immediately noticed the repeated, consecutive three-letter strings in M(ISS)(ISS)IPPI and wondered if there were other words with the same pattern. Up until then, however, my search queries had all been simple — using letters, asterisks, and question marks.

Fortunately, my Google searches led me to the Regex Dictionary and I found the following formula: ($c$c$v)\1 — and then I just interchanged the "c's" (consonants) and "v's" (vowels) within the same formula to find more words using the on-line Regex Dictionary and also the one found on XWord Info. Surprisingly, there were not a lot of single words with this pattern so I was happy to be able to find nine such words to incorporate into phrases for a Sunday puzzle.

Although I did come up with my concept and title independently, I discovered during my word searches that John Farmer's 10/16/2014 NYT puzzle had the same basic concept, except his repeated three-letter strings were at the end of one word and the beginning of another (e.g. SCARLETTER). Therefore, I felt confident that my "original" theme idea was still unique and was thrilled that Will and Joel apparently felt the same way.

Construction-wise, however, they were less than thrilled with my original grid, saying it was overly segmented with too many 4 and 5-letter words. Of the 140 words I had in the original grid, 111 words were 3's (22), 4's (44), and 5's (45). By shortening two of my theme entries and moving some black squares around, I was able to open up the grid and reduce the number of 3, 4, and 5's to 81 words out of 138, and add some longer, more interesting fill.

Hope you enjoy my second solo Sunday puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes:
Theme phrases with three letters repeated, thus THREE-PEATs. Hopefully the NYT won't get a legal notice from Pat Riley, who trademarked the 'three-peat' term in anticipation of his Lakers ... read more

Theme phrases with three letters repeated, thus THREE-PEATs. Hopefully the NYT won't get a legal notice from Pat Riley, who trademarked the "three-peat" term in anticipation of his Lakers winning their third title in a row. (They failed, ha!)

Pat Riley cheering on today's THREE-PEAT

I had seen some of these before, most notably MISSISSIPPI turned into MISS(ISS)IPPI, but Tracy found a couple nice ones. Obviously, CHEN REPUBLIC is my favorite. (My reign of power over the aforementioned country is a bit tenuous these days, what with a one-year old.) I couldn't quite figure out what the base answer was, so finally uncovering CHECHEN REPUBLIC (another name for Chechnya) was a neat moment.

I would have liked more of those neat moments, ones that really disguised the base phrase. It was a real challenge to figure out ENTE(NTE) CORDIALE for example, and I very much enjoyed that struggle. The rest came a bit too easily. I ran a quick query on my personal wordlist and came up with a few that could have been more challenging to uncover:

  • BAR(BAR)Y PIRATES
  • BEST (EST)IMATES
  • COWBOYS AND I(NDI)ANS
  • FEATHERS ONES (NES)T
  • IT ALL MAKES SEN(SE N)OW
  • NEAR (EAR)TH ORBIT
  • PICKED UP THE C(HEC)K
  • UC SANTA BAR(BAR)A

Some people pooh-pooh the idea of using coding to help with a crossword theme, but I'm all for it.

I liked a lot of the longer fill Tracy used. SMARTPHONE and TOUCH AND GO make a great pair of long downs, and AT LEISURE and RAN RAGGED add color as well.

You might wonder why some short gluey words like ODA, ELENI, OTARU, ADITS, NOLI, and LAH appear in crosswords. They are undesirable to see in modern crosswords, but they're also so useful in building a grid. Note 1.) all the common letters and 2.) the alternating consonant vowel patterns — both of these qualities make it so tempting to use these types of entries in assembling a grid. I wouldn't have minded a little less good long fill in order to cut out some of these gluey bits.

A fun solve, and my defeat of the two themers which put up a struggle was satisfying.

Jim Horne notes:

Regular Expressions are a powerful way to find patterns like this and the XWord Info Finder supports them. See all the "three-peats" in our database with this regex query: (\w\w\w)\1. (The \w means "any letter".)

1
P
2
A
3
T
4
S
5
I
6
E
7
S
8
S
9
O
10
M
11
A
12
L
13
I
14
S
15
U
16
R
17
G
18
E
19
D
20
A
L
U
M
N
A
E
21
I
D
O
T
O
O
22
A
G
N
A
T
E
23
C
O
N
A
N
T
H
24
E
B
A
R
I
A
N
25
M
A
S
S
O
N
26
K
N
A
R
27
E
N
D
S
28
O
L
D
29
S
A
N
30
B
I
T
31
S
E
S
T
32
I
N
A
S
33
E
N
T
E
34
C
O
R
D
35
I
A
L
E
36
P
O
R
37
A
R
I
38
R
A
N
R
A
G
G
E
D
39
C
40
H
41
I
H
U
A
42
M
43
E
X
I
C
44
O
45
J
O
A
N
N
46
D
O
D
O
47
W
E
L
L
S
48
B
49
A
U
M
50
O
51
T
52
O
53
E
54
S
T
E
N
55
O
56
D
E
E
57
C
I
N
N
A
58
T
59
I
R
E
D
S
60
N
E
A
61
T
E
N
62
D
O
W
D
63
I
B
E
R
I
A
64
S
65
A
T
66
T
R
A
I
67
N
E
D
A
S
68
S
69
I
N
S
70
R
E
I
71
C
R
I
72
M
E
A
73
O
X
E
N
74
C
H
E
E
75
T
A
76
A
L
F
A
S
P
77
R
78
O
U
T
S
79
P
A
O
80
N
O
R
81
M
82
A
83
B
O
Y
D
84
U
T
N
E
85
O
O
M
P
86
H
87
U
I
E
S
88
M
89
A
90
U
N
A
91
R
92
E
P
O
S
S
E
93
D
C
A
R
S
94
A
95
T
96
L
E
I
S
U
R
97
E
98
R
E
F
99
L
A
H
100
C
H
E
N
R
E
P
U
B
101
L
I
C
102
H
103
A
M
S
A
104
L
105
A
106
D
107
E
R
A
108
G
D
S
109
B
I
C
110
L
I
D
S
111
N
O
L
I
112
T
I
N
113
C
U
P
114
M
I
S
S
115
I
P
P
I
M
116
U
D
P
I
E
117
E
L
N
I
N
O
118
I
N
S
O
N
G
119
T
A
N
G
E
N
T
120
N
L
E
A
S
T
121
A
G
E
N
D
A
122
S
N
O
O
Z
E
S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1108 ( 24,106 )
Across
1
Pushovers : PATSIES
8
Horn of Africa native : SOMALI
14
Pushed forward, as a crowd : SURGED
20
Wellesley grads : ALUMNAE
21
"Same here!" : IDOTOO
22
Paternally related : AGNATE
23
1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger film : CONANTHEBARBARIAN
25
Vintner Paul who would "sell no wine before its time" : MASSON
26
Knot on a tree : KNAR
27
___ of the earth : ENDS
28
Like a chestnut : OLD
29
___ Joaquin, Calif. : SAN
30
Fell for an April fool, say : BIT
31
Verses with six stanzas : SESTINAS
33
Bringer of peace between nations : ENTENTECORDIALE
36
___ qué (why: Sp.) : POR
37
NPR host Shapiro : ARI
38
Worked to the bone : RANRAGGED
39
State bordering Texas : CHIHUAHUAMEXICO
45
Actress Pflug of "M*A*S*H" : JOANN
46
Dummy : DODO
47
Wishing sites : WELLS
48
Author who inspired the musical "Wicked" : BAUM
50
Chiwere-speaking tribe : OTOE
54
Bygone office worker : STENO
56
65 or so : DEE
57
Rose buds? : CINCINNATIREDS
60
Spruce up : NEATEN
62
Op-Ed columnist Maureen : DOWD
63
Spanish airline : IBERIA
64
Met, as a legislature : SAT
66
Jason Bourne and others : TRAINEDASSASSINS
70
Big name in outdoor and fitness gear : REI
71
2014 land-grab : CRIMEA
73
Draft picks? : OXEN
74
Tarzan's simian sidekick : CHEETA
76
Salad bar bowlful : ALFALFASPROUTS
79
Kung ___ chicken : PAO
80
Constellation next to Scorpius : NORMA
83
Stephen of "Ben-Hur" : BOYD
84
Alternative media magazine founder : UTNE
85
Pep : OOMPH
87
Some "Fast and the Furious" maneuvers, slangily : UIES
88
Opening of a Hawaiian volcano? : MAUNA
91
Some auto auctions' inventory : REPOSSESSEDCARS
94
Unhurriedly : ATLEISURE
98
One calling the shots, for short? : REF
99
"Well, ___-di-dah!" : LAH
100
Land in the Caucasus : CHECHENREPUBLIC
102
Deli sandwich filler : HAMSALAD
107
New ___ (official cap maker of Major League Baseball) : ERA
108
Wares: Abbr. : GDS
109
Wite-Out manufacturer : BIC
110
Caps : LIDS
111
___ me tangere (warning against meddling) : NOLI
112
Costner/Russo golf flick : TINCUP
114
Chocolaty Southern dessert : MISSISSIPPIMUDPIE
117
Climate-affecting current : ELNINO
118
How some people break out on Broadway : INSONG
119
Trig calculation : TANGENT
120
Div. for the Mets : NLEAST
121
It may be filled with bullets : AGENDA
122
Catches some Z's : SNOOZES
Down
1
Fills to capacity : PACKS
2
How you can't sing a duet : ALONE
3
Yellowfin and bluefin : TUNAS
4
Cell that has multiplied? : SMARTPHONE
5
Place to retire : INN
6
Like sushi or ceviche : EATENRAW
7
___ knot, rug feature : SEHNA
8
Some bunk bed sharers, for short : SIBS
9
Concubine's chamber : ODA
10
Half-baked : MORONIC
11
Slanting : ATILT
12
Caterpillar machine : LOADER
13
It comes with a charge : ION
14
Iraqi city on the Tigris : SAMARRA
15
Like one side of Lake Victoria : UGANDAN
16
Ones calling the shots, for short? : RNS
17
Chatterbox : GASBAG
18
Ballet headliner : ETOILE
19
Slightly depressed : DENTED
24
Workers on Times tables, briefly? : EDS
29
California wine region : SONOMA
32
Bread substitute? : IOU
33
Second-largest dwarf planet : ERIS
34
Cuisine that includes cracklins and boudin : CAJUN
35
Turn a blind eye to : IGNORE
37
One spinning its wheels? : AXLE
39
Some I.R.A.s : CDS
40
All the rage : HOT
41
Pinpoint : IDENTIFY
42
Greek sorceress : MEDEA
43
Nicholas Gage memoir : ELENI
44
Anakin's master in "Star Wars" : OBIWAN
49
Bridge words : ANDS
51
Amateur botanists' projects : TERRARIA
52
Yellow dog in the funnies : ODIE
53
Morales of HBO's "The Brink" : ESAI
55
John in the Songwriters Hall of Fame : OATES
57
Writes in C++, say : CODES
58
Utensil's end : TINE
59
"A Doll's House" playwright : IBSEN
61
Lawyer's clever question, say : TRAP
62
Showtime crime drama, 2006-13 : DEXTER
64
One who has crossed the line? : SCAB
65
Janis's husband in the funnies : ARLO
67
Rock, paper or scissors : NOUN
68
Phishing lures : SCAMS
69
Places for links? : IHOPS
72
Hit AMC series that ended with a Coca-Cola ad : MADMEN
75
Iffy : TOUCHANDGO
77
Immediately preceding periods : RUNUPS
78
Hokkaido port : OTARU
79
Magician's word : POOF
81
"La ___" (Debussy opus) : MER
82
Dunderhead : ASS
85
Intl. group headquartered in Vienna : OPEC
86
One at the wheel : HELMSMAN
89
Pellet shooters : AIRGUNS
90
Got high, in a way : USEDPOT
92
Vinland explorer circa A.D. 1000 : ERICSON
93
Opponents for Perry Mason, for short : DAS
94
Winning blackjack pair : ACETEN
95
Send : THRILL
96
Romance novelist Banks : LEANNE
97
Going out : EBBING
101
Dutch town known for tulip tourism : LISSE
102
Au courant : HIP
103
Miners' entries : ADITS
104
Ruy ___ (chess opening) : LOPEZ
105
Skirt style : ALINE
106
Nutritionists' prescriptions : DIETS
110
Grp. of teed-off women? : LPGA
113
Snoop group, in brief : CIA
114
POW/___ bracelet (popular 1970s wear) : MIA
115
Neither red nor blue?: Abbr. : IND
116
Tres menos dos : UNO

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?