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New York Times, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Author: David Alfred Bywaters
Editor: Will Shortz
David Alfred Bywaters
TotalDebutCollabs
112/13/20160
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0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JZ} Spans: 2 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Bywaters. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Alfred Bywaters notes: I'm delighted to have a puzzle in the Times, as would have been my great-grandmother, Maria Thusnelda Steichmann Kuraner, ... more
David Alfred Bywaters notes:

I'm delighted to have a puzzle in the Times, as would have been my great-grandmother, Maria Thusnelda Steichmann Kuraner, an early crossword connoisseur, shown above. (She took a better picture than I do.)

I've enjoyed comparing my submitted version with Will Shortz's finished product. Of my 76 clues, 36 (47%) were changed, almost always (I confess) for the better. I've tried to assign a reason for each change, failing only in one case ("per unit" for "apiece").

  • Ten clues were made less obscure.
  • Eight were improved in style ("prefix," for example, became "lead-in," and "retailer" "seller").
  • Four were made less stupid—that is, some attempt at cleverness on my part was tactfully removed.
  • Three were made more accurate (apparently, the coati's range is not restricted to South America).
  • One was better spelled (there's no "e" in "chocolaty").
  • And nine were made more interesting, of which my favorite is 6 Down: RAID "Unwelcome cry at the front door." I wish I'd thought of that.
Jeff Chen notes: Debut! Kooky interpretations of legal-sounding phrases made for an entertaining solve. My wife and I are hooked on 'The Grinder,' ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Debut! Kooky interpretations of legal-sounding phrases made for an entertaining solve. My wife and I are hooked on "The Grinder," where Rob Lowe plays a TV lawyer-turned-pseudo-real-one, so I really liked this theme. THREE PIECE SUITS read as lawsuits involving too-easy jigsaw puzzles made me laugh. Same with BOXER BRIEFS as legal briefs about pugilists.

The only one that I hesitated on was DENTAL RETAINERS. I liked the wordplay using the dual meaning of the word "retainer," but don't most kids call their mouthwear just a retainer? The phrase felt manufactured to fit into the theme.

Debuts often suffer in their short fill, as smoothing out a grid is a skill that can take a while to get down pat. But David does amazingly well, really just an ENE here, some ERNS there. WINEY did seem a bit iffy, but it does have dictionary support.

There were a few mid-length entries that felt inelegant to me, though. SCORERS … I guess I could see Kevin Durant or Steph Curry called a SCORER. An INBOARD motor … I was so sure it was ONBOARD. But INBOARD does also have clear dictionary support. GO FETCH … not just FETCH? After consideration, I think these three are all probably fine, but I wouldn't go out of my way to use them in another crossword.

What I would go out of my way for are WHEEDLED and VARMINTS, excellent choices for long bonus fill. Both are such vivid, interesting words. Both make me think of Looney Tunes characters, and for me, that's a great thing. (Not as much for my poor wife.)

Very enjoyable early-week puzzle; looking forward to more from David. I'm sure his great-grandmother is beaming with pride up there somewhere.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1213 ( 24,507 )
Across Down
1. "What a relief!" : PHEW
5. Pleasant scent : AROMA
10. Gaelic language : ERSE
14. Per unit : EACH
15. Home on an estate : MANOR
16. Fail to persevere : QUIT
17. Legal actions provoked by oversimple jigsaw puzzles? : THREEPIECESUITS
20. Lead-in to kraut or braten : SAUER
21. "Well, obviously!" : DUH
22. Like some French sauces : WINEY
23. Ad word suggesting a lack of undesirable moisture : DRI
25. Object of early Christian condemnation : PAGAN
27. Mother-of-pearl source : ABALONE
31. Like a short play : ONEACT
35. Law documents concerning pugilists? : BOXERBRIEFS
38. Tavern : BAR
39. Daring : BOLD
40. See 51-Across : ONRYE
41. Smoke an e-cigarette : VAPE
42. Paris-to-Berlin dir. : ENE
43. Court precedents involving games of hoops? : BASKETCASES
45. Affirmative to a commanding officer : YESSIR
47. Touchdown pass catchers, e.g. : SCORERS
48. Does a tech job : CODES
51. With 40-Across, common deli sandwich : HAM
52. Numbskull : IDIOT
55. Animal with an opposable thumb : APE
57. Trace of color : TINGE
61. Attorneys' fees paid with gold fillings? : DENTALRETAINERS
64. Departed : LEFT
65. Company that buried 700,000+ unsold video games in 1983 : ATARI
66. Journey : TRIP
67. Love god : EROS
68. Tatter : SHRED
69. Conglomerate originally named Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo : SONY
1. Parrots and ferrets : PETS
2. Response to a joke : HAHA
3. Neutral shade : ECRU
4. Coaxed : WHEEDLED
5. Rock-and-roll need : AMP
6. Unwelcome cry at the front door : RAID
7. Best : ONEUP
8. Chocolaty hot beverage : MOCHA
9. Exist : ARE
10. Like most carousel animals : EQUINE
11. Destroy : RUIN
12. Internet destination : SITE
13. Online crafts seller : ETSY
18. What "oopsy" signals : ERROR
19. Graceful birds : SWANS
24. Like some boat motor types : INBOARD
26. Command to a dog after a ball is thrown : GOFETCH
27. Monk's home : ABBEY
28. Frontiersman Daniel : BOONE
29. Wheel connectors : AXLES
30. Shore birds : ERNS
32. Humiliate : ABASE
33. Pickled flower bud : CAPER
34. Lock of hair : TRESS
36. Annoy : IRK
37. Places for contacts : EYES
41. Troublesome critters : VARMINTS
43. Flora and fauna : BIOTA
44. South American animal also known as a "hog-nosed coon" : COATI
46. Big name in lawn care : SCOTTS
49. Google ___ : EARTH
50. Primitive weapon : SPEAR
52. Not working : IDLE
53. Bambi, e.g. : DEER
54. What a help desk provides : INFO
56. Ser : Spanish :: ___ : French : ETRE
58. Fiddling emperor : NERO
59. Smile : GRIN
60. Get a look at : ESPY
62. ___ Cruces, N.M. : LAS
63. Help : AID

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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