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New York Times, Thursday, December 14, 2017

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4912/11/20111/3/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962102
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVXZ} Spans: 2 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 44 for Mr. Polin. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Tim wants us to BURY THE / HATCHET, embedding four AXs below the grid. Neat idea! It's been long enough since we've had a ... read more

Tim wants us to BURY THE / HATCHET, embedding four AXs below the grid. Neat idea! It's been long enough since we've had a letters-outside-the-grid puzzle that this one made a strong impact for me. Thanks for spacing them out, Will!

One of the best aspects of these types of puzzles is that as a solver, I get phrases I've never (or seldom) seen in crosswords, since they're longer than the usual 15 letters. NONE OF YOUR BEESW(AX) is beautiful. Although SIT BACK AND REL(AX) is 15 letters, it's still fun. I also liked PERSONAL INCOME T(AX) and STELLAR PARALL(AX), although I'm used to seeing the latter as simply PARALLAX.

What made this puzzle a standout for me was Tim's execution. It's hard enough to work with four long themers and even harder to throw in a 7/7 revealer. The theme density means that there'll have to be heavy overlap somewhere and that usually results in crossword glue or wonky-sounding entries. Tim did end up with the odd BURL in the SW corner, but check out how smooth those bottom corners turned out. STELLAR work there.

The south region often suffers in a layout like this, because so many across entries have their start and end fixed into place. But it's so smooth. Such pro work down there.

Toss in a couple extras like TAMALES, ARMORY, OBOISTS, LAB MICE, and I'm an even happier solver.

Interesting theme + high theme density + overall smoothness = POW!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1214 ( 24,873 )
Across
1
Fall apart in competition : TANK
5
Discards : SHEDS
10
Calculating sorts, in brief : CPAS
14
Slews : ATON
15
Many-time film co-star of Shatner and Nimoy : TAKEI
16
2,800-mile river to the Laptev Sea : LENA
17
Hand on a hacienda : MANO
18
Chosen few : ELECT
19
Given to pretension : ARTY
20
Got plenty of healthful food : ATEWELL
22
Some wind blowers : OBOISTS
24
Model company? : LIONEL
25
Store with magazines : ARMORY
26
Tiny fey sort : ELF
27
Involuntary test subjects : LABMICE
31
Refusal in Inverness : NAE
32
Ocular affliction : STYE
34
Hero architect in "The Fountainhead" : ROARK
35
Ones easily taken : SAPS
36
Bad candidate for gymnastics : OAF
38
In history : AGO
39
It had more than 10 million subscribers in the 1990s : AOL
40
Knotty growth : BURL
41
Anniversary gift between pottery and steel : TIN
42
___ Tzu (dog) : SHIH
44
Get comfy on a sofa or bed, say : CURLUP
46
Like some avant-garde music : ATONAL
48
It's well-rounded : ORB
49
Image in the night sky over Gotham : BAT
51
___ Balls (snack items) : SNO
52
Second City train inits. : CTA
53
Very basic things : LYES
55
Wrapped up in court? : ROBED
57
Pretended : MOCK
58
Part of a flight : STEP
59
Grace's last name on "Will & Grace" : ADLER
60
Comment section disclaimer : IMHO
61
Quite : OHSO
62
Coffeehouse selection : LATTE
63
Gather : MEET
64
Swamp dweller : NEWT
65
Antiseptic brand since 1889 : LYSOL
66
Diminutive Italian suffix : ETTA
Down
1
"Hot" things : TAMALES
2
Slanted : ATATILT
3
"Butt out!" : NONEOFYOURBEESWAX
4
Not anonymous : KNOWN
5
With 45-Down, effect used by astronomers to measure distance : STELLAR
6
Room in Clue : HALL
7
Barely make (out) : EKE
8
Contemporary of Modernism : DECO
9
With 46-Down, chill out : SITBACK
10
Insured's filing : CLAIM
11
Everyone's duty? : PERSONALINCOMETAX
12
Defense against infestation : ANTTRAP
13
Agrees : SAYSYES
21
Potential dragon roll ingredient : EEL
23
Extraction target : ORE
28
You may follow in its wake : BOAT
29
Stable figures? : MAGI
30
Unyielding : IRON
33
17th ___ of Oxford, author of Shakespeare's plays, by some accounts : EARL
35
London area next to Mayfair : SOHO
37
Goof : FLUB
39
Regarding : ASTO
40
With 43-Down, make peace ... or what you must do to complete this puzzle? : BURYTHE
43
See 40-Down : HATCHET
44
Chuck who was part of the Watergate Seven : COLSON
45
See 5-Down : PARALLAX
46
See 9-Down : ANDRELAX
47
Great Plains tribe : LAKOTA
50
Order in a rush order : TODAY
51
Take care of : SEETO
54
Tricky situation : SPOT
56
Nonkosher deli orders : BLTS
57
Act out : MIME

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

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