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New York Times, Saturday, December 14, 2013

Author:
Martin Ashwood-Smith
Editor:
Will Shortz
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Martin Ashwood-Smith

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 15 Words: 71, Blocks: 32 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 6, (1 quad stack) This is puzzle # 71 for Mr. Ashwood-Smith. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Martin Ashwood-Smith notes:
This is the second puzzle I sent to Will using the same set of quad-stacks. The first grid was rejected because Will wasn't too keen ... read more

This is the second puzzle I sent to Will using the same set of quad-stacks. The first grid was rejected because Will wasn't too keen on LANE SIX and EIO (which reminds me, the first puzzle I ever sent to the NYT had EIOS (!) in the grid ... fortunately Maleska changed it to EROS).

Getting back to today's puzzle, luckily, I had a fix: VANESSA worked where LANE SIX had not. Unfortunately, two black squares had to be moved, which meant that, aside from the quad-stacks, most of the puzzle had to be reconstructed. This a good example of the "domino effect" that I think most constructors are all too familiar with!

Lastly, the lower right-hand corner was constructed with CSI fans in mind. Do you think it passes the "breakfast test"? The answer is probably "yes" if you're a coroner!

Will Shortz notes:
You get an extra row of solving pleasure in today's 15x16 crossword by Martin Ashwood-Smith. All four 15-letter answers in the middle ... read more

You get an extra row of solving pleasure in today's 15x16 crossword by Martin Ashwood-Smith. All four 15-letter answers in the middle of the grid are nice, and the crossings are amazingly smooth.

Jeff Chen notes:
Another wonder from the Sorcerer of Stacks, the Genie of Grid-spanners, the MAS Maestro. What a tough workout today, and what a feat. ... read more

Another wonder from the Sorcerer of Stacks, the Genie of Grid-spanners, the MAS Maestro. What a tough workout today, and what a feat. It never ceases to amaze me, seeing all those rows without a single black square.

As Will mentioned, the crossings are pretty smooth through the quad-stack. Sure, there's a CRAT and I'm not totally sure I buy HEISTING, but NORN, SARGENT, EILEEN FORD, FILIPPO and ALI PASHA are fair Saturday material. It was fun to look up ALI PASHA and discover that his surname was Aslan, (like the lion in the Chronicles of Narnia). And it's even more impressive to see the awesome GO COMMANDO as one of the quad-stack crossers. Amazing stuff.

I like the ambition of adding two more grid-spanners into this puzzle, but neither TERRENCE MCNALLY nor SERGEANT O'ROURKE did much for me (sorry, F Troop fanatics!), especially given that there were so many other names present in the puzzle. Perhaps if one or both of those were more well known to me? Interesting that I found the roughest spots to be in the NW (D TEN / PEETE / ATRAS) and the south (ERB / RMS), both regions outside of the quad-stack. I wonder if having the two extra grid-spanners was worth it? (Or if it was even possible to complete without using the extra grid-spanners?) Tough trade-offs.

As a lover of wordplay clues, I appreciated seeing the fun clues for RIGOR MORTIS and GO COMMANDO. Amusing; it really helps to get a smile when I'm dead stuck. As I was struggling to get a toe-hold in the center, I couldn't help wishing for a wordplay type clue to help me out and divert my frustration. The tough cluing in the middle certainly made this a challenging workout, and perhaps I would have appreciated it even more if there had been a little more cheekiness in one or more of those central clues.

I would comment more on the architectural issues of the puzzle, but seeing as my attempts at quad-stacking have resulted in nuclear meltdown, I'll just sit back and admire. I appreciate the variety MAS gives us through his triple and quad-stacks, but I'm glad not every Saturday puzzle is this tough!

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1214 ( 23,412 )
Across
1. 2015 Toronto event : PANAMGAMES
11. Office staples : PCS
14. Slide : DETERIORATE
15. Protagonist in David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" : HAL
16. "Corpus Christi" playwright : TERRENCEMCNALLY
18. Ones united in France? : ETATS
19. Manufacturer of boxy cars : OTIS
20. Treasure : LOVE
21. Loose end? : NESS
22. "Return to Never Land" role : SMEE
23. Darkroom chemical solution : FIXER
24. Pickle : JAM
25. Big gun : VIP
26. U.S. city that's almost as large in area as Delaware : ANCHORAGEALASKA
35. Part of a French cabinet : FOREIGNMINISTER
36. Jumbo, e.g. : TRAINEDELEPHANT
37. Shpilkes : ANTSINONESPANTS
38. Certain shell contents : TNT
39. Joan Sebastian's "___ y Más" : ESO
40. Pull out all the stops : GOBIG
43. Miracle site : CANA
45. Latin primer word : AMAT
49. Hip to : UPON
50. Enterprise Klingon : WORF
51. Close call : SCARE
52. Forrest Tucker's "F Troop" role : SERGEANTOROURKE
55. X-___ large : TRA
56. What solidifies things in the end? : RIGORMORTIS
57. Member of the E Street Band : SAX
58. Bit of forensic evidence : BLOODSTAIN
Down
1. Golfer Calvin : PEETE
2. Quattro relatives : ATRAS
3. Quaint complaint : NERTS
4. Husband of Otrera : ARES
5. TV ad unit: Abbr. : MIN
6. Not cover one's butt? : GOCOMMANDO
7. Formation from glaciation : ARETE
8. Former first lady : MAMIE
9. List-ending abbrs. : ETCS
10. When repeated, a breath freshener : SEN
11. Jacob's-ladder, for one : PHLOX
12. Make a little lower? : CALVE
13. More artful : SLYER
14. Tank gun first produced by the Soviets in W.W. II : DTEN
17. Ottoman ruler nicknamed "The Lion" : ALIPASHA
22. 19th-/20th-century U.S. portraitist : SARGENT
23. ___ Brunelleschi, Italian Renaissance architect who developed linear perspective : FILIPPO
24. Coupling : JOINING
25. 1958 41-Down by Samuel Barber : VANESSA
26. Mennen line : AFTA
27. Scandinavian goddess of fate : NORN
28. Suffix with pluto- : CRAT
29. "Ocean's Eleven" activity : HEISTING
30. Cagney classic of 1935 : GMEN
31. Big name in modeling agencies : EILEENFORD
32. "South Park" boy : STAN
33. The Garden of England : KENT
34. Song and dance : ARTS
40. Flag wavers? : GUSTS
41. 25-Down, for one : OPERA
42. Common cleanser : BORAX
43. Neighbor of Gabon : CONGO
44. Holder of Leia's secret : ARTOO
45. Legend maker : ACURA
46. Cuban revolutionary José : MARTI
47. "Little Miss Sunshine" co-star : ARKIN
48. Souvenir buys : TEES
50. Keen : WAIL
51. Flue problem : SOOT
53. Literary inits. : ERB
54. Real-estate listing abbr. : RMS

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 4 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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