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New York Times, Thursday, December 14, 2017

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4812/11/201111/7/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962002
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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