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New York Times, Thursday, November 9, 2017

Author: Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
Bruce Haight
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301/3/201311/9/20171
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2995320
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1.56022

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 30 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Bruce Haight notes: 'There's no turning back!' reinterpreted as THERES NO GNINRUT! Try saying that three times fast. As a mediocre solver, this is ... more
Bruce Haight notes:

"There's no turning back!" reinterpreted as THERES NO GNINRUT! Try saying that three times fast. As a mediocre solver, this is exactly why I will take my chances on a typical Friday puzzle any time over a Tricksday puzzle like this. If you are programming a computer to beat humans at crosswords, how do you teach it to both reverse a word and infer a word that is not even there? In chess, Go, and backgammon the rules are fixed, but with crosswords, constructors are allowed to change the rules dramatically as long as they do it consistently.

As a mostly early week constructor, I did enjoy being able to open up the grid a bit and throw in some difficult entries (RIVOLI, MORDECAI) without feeling guilty. I found it difficult to clue INNER BEAUTY — I came up with something like "Hidden assets," but I like "What kindness and honesty reveal" a lot better. This reminds me of an NYT puzzle a year ago when I clued INNER CHILD as "Psychoanalytic entity, " and it got changed by Will and Joel to "What might make an adult jump in a pile of leaves". Wow — way better, and it "leaves" you with a warm nostalgic feeling. Great cluing takes a ton of experience and insight.

My least favority entry is YARNED. It's in plenty of dictionaries, but I think any attempt to vindicate it would seem like it was yarned by me. Hope you enjoyed the solve!

Jeff Chen notes: We've seen a lot of puzzles where entries have to be entered backward for some reason. They can provide great entertainment when ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

We've seen a lot of puzzles where entries have to be entered backward for some reason. They can provide great entertainment when there's a good rationale for the backwardizing. Too bad this one wasn't run on Backwards Day! (Really, it's Jan. 31!)

This one only reverses the final word of phrases … at least, the final word before BACK. (The BACK gets implied by reversing said final word.) I remembered a similar puzzle from a few years BACK — luckily, it's been a while since that one ran.

Although the concept didn't feel novel, I liked the theme phrases Bruce chose. WE'LL BE RIGHT (BACK), I TAKE THAT (BACK), THERE'S NO TURNING (BACK), GUESS WHO'S (BACK), AND DON'T COME (BACK)! Snazzy and colorful, the entire lot.

Great bonuses too, SOLAR CAR my favorite. Not only a great entry but an even better clue, referring to it getting (solar) cell service. INNER BEAUTY, PRIMAL URGES, NEW IDEAS of Ted Talks, even EMISSARY and MORDECAI. That's way more than expected for a five-themer puzzle, and they're all good to great.

It's so tough to pull off such a wealth of bonuses when you have five longish themers. With ICER, IONA, NOL, ONAT, UBS, REG all toughies or inelegant entries, and with GCHAT dead now (been replaced by something called ... "Google Hangouts"? huh.), that's too much for my taste. Toss in the toughies RIVOLI, NISEI, and INGRAM, and the entire thing didn't feel as smooth as I like.

I appreciate the effort to give a ton of extras, but perhaps putting a black square at the D of MORDECAI would have balanced things out better.

Not different enough from the canon of backwards puzzles for my taste, but all the great themers and bonuses did help keep me engaged.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1109 ( 24,838 )
Across Down
1. Delights : JOYS
5. James or Luther of R&B : INGRAM
11. Liberal arts dept. : PSY
14. Further : ALSO
15. Orator who declared "Laws are silent in times of war" : CICERO
16. Drink mentioned in the chorus of "American Pie" : RYE
17. Words spoken just before a TV commercial : WELLBERIGHTBACK
19. I.R.S. form 5498 subj. : IRA
20. Powerful bloodline? : AORTA
21. "The Black Tulip" author : DUMAS
23. Polo, for one : SHIRT
26. Words of retraction : ITAKETHATBACK
29. Bad-weather gear : PONCHO
31. Transfer : DECAL
32. Hebrides isle : IONA
33. Pie flavor : BANANA
36. Credit Suisse rival : UBS
39. Comment upon making a fateful decision : THERESNOTURNINGBACK
42. Attention : EAR
43. Swim meet event : MEDLEY
44. Brand with "Thick & Fluffy" products : EGGO
45. Heaven : BLISS
47. Proceed smoothly : GOWELL
49. "Uh-oh, here they are again" : GUESSWHOSBACK
53. Second-generation Japanese-American : NISEI
54. Pro and Mini purchases : IPADS
55. Per person : AHEAD
57. Man's name that's three consecutive letters of the alphabet : STU
58. Angry words said after "Get out of here!" : ANDDONTCOMEBACK
64. Munchkin : TOT
65. Battle of ___ (1797 Napoleon victory) : RIVOLI
66. State : AVER
67. Person using binoculars, maybe : SPY
68. Told tales : YARNED
69. Able to move nicely : SPRY
1. Gab : JAW
2. Shout accented on the second syllable : OLE
3. Fashion inits. : YSL
4. Vehicle that gets cell service? : SOLARCAR
5. One doing a mob hit : ICER
6. Mob boss Frank : NITTI
7. I.M.'ing option : GCHAT
8. Agcy. issuance : REG
9. NPR journalist Shapiro : ARI
10. He adopted Esther in the Book of Esther : MORDECAI
11. Sex drive and others : PRIMALURGES
12. Variety of dark-skinned grape : SYRAH
13. Winemaking need : YEAST
18. This and that : BOTH
22. Actress Hagen : UTA
23. Hurt maliciously : SPITE
24. Kerfuffle : HOOHA
25. What kindness and honesty reveal : INNERBEAUTY
27. Saw : ADAGE
28. Musician with the 1987 instrumental hit "Songbird" : KENNYG
30. Stew (over) : OBSESS
34. "Whereupon ..." : ANDSO
35. Cambodia's Lon ___ : NOL
37. General Mills corn snack bit : BUGLE
38. Absolut rival, informally : STOLI
40. Go-between : EMISSARY
41. Bases of TED talks : NEWIDEAS
46. Acid : LSD
48. Go ___ great length : ONAT
49. Essences : GISTS
50. "Gimme a high-five!" : UPTOP
51. Wore : HADON
52. More than 1% or 2% : WHOLE
56. Tennyson's "Geraint and ___" : ENID
59. Long in Hollywood : NIA
60. Binge-watching aid, in brief : DVR
61. There's one for every season, for short : MVP
62. Poetic contraction : OER
63. Shout : CRY

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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