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New York Times, Thursday, November 9, 2017

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
471/3/20134/22/20194
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313139450
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59042
Bruce Haight

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
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 ... read more

"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 ... read more

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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J
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1109 ( 24,838 )

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Across
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
Down
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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