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New York Times, Monday, December 16, 2013

Author: Greg Johnson
Editor: Will Shortz
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612/16/20139/18/20180
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1.67120
Greg Johnson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FJQWZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Johnson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Greg Johnson notes: I wasn't sure of the spelling of DO SVIDANIYA so I looked it up one day ... and one thing led to another. Two 11's and two 10's ... more
Greg Johnson notes: I wasn't sure of the spelling of DO SVIDANIYA so I looked it up one day ... and one thing led to another. Two 11's and two 10's matched perfectly although the grid was shaky with all horizontal entries so I put a revealer in the center of a windmill. I wasn't a fan of the relatively closed grid but the 74 word count seemed to balance that. I wanted to include AU REVOIR and SAYONARA but settled for CIAO and TATA.

The W was problematic because INDUCES, REDUCES and INDUCTS brought partials and other nasty fill ... but I chanced on AC DUCTS after seeing an ad mailer and decided to run with it. I spent of lot of free time toying with this puzzle this past spring and I am pretty pleased overall.

Will Shortz notes: The four main theme entries, at 17A, 50A, 11D, and 24D, are nice, but they're not what sold me on this puzzle. It was the bonus ... more
Will Shortz notes: The four main theme entries, at 17A, 50A, 11D, and 24D, are nice, but they're not what sold me on this puzzle. It was the bonus themers of CIAO, TA-TA, and GOODBYE that moved it into the special category for me. The nontheme entries I'M YOURS, YOU LOSE, and SKI SLOPES are handsome, too.
Jeff Chen notes: Nice work from Greg today, four common (warning, pun alert) bye-lines (groan), with two bonus ones in the north and south, and a ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Nice work from Greg today, four common (warning, pun alert) bye-lines (groan), with two bonus ones in the north and south, and a revealer in the middle as the kicker. Impressive theme density for a debut puzzle.

DO SVIDANIYA: normally I grouse about tough/esoteric entries in a Monday puzzle, but I really liked this one (and it wouldn't keep me from giving this puzzle to a newbie to try). Bringing back images of Dolph Lundgren and his Cold War movie kin, DO SVIDANIYA was familiar enough I should have been able to get it right off the D. But DAS VEDANYA, DOS VEDANIA, DAS VIDALIA (I like onions, so sue me) later, I finally limped into the correct spelling. Thank goodness all the crosses were fair!

As Greg mentioned, one issue with the grid is its segmentation. Notice that by adding a single set of black squares, you could split the grid into three parts. It's not a big deal since the puzzle flowed reasonably well, but ideally grids are wide-open enough that they don't feel like separate mini-puzzles. It's a much bigger issue for a themeless or a hard Thursday, where it can be very frustrating if there's only one way into a closed-off area, and the solver can't manage to break in through the only possible route.

A nit to pick: for consistency's sake I would have liked each theme answer clued to a name associated with the specified nationality. Not sure what you'd use for SEE YA LATER (Jake? Bubba? Jeff is always good.) but TATA could have been "Cheerio, Wentworth Mortimer Biggleston the Third!" And because CIAO felt like a dupe of ARRIVEDERCI, it might have also been fun to just have one bonus answer, TATA, as (appropriately) the very last answer.

Mondays are so tough to create because the constructor can't depend on a couple of ugly entries to make his/her grid work. After all, it's not really fair to expect the Monday solver to know an ERNE or an OLEO or an AGHA outright, especially if they're crossed. So very nice work from Greg today, delivering a smooth grid with just a handful of the usual suspects plus some good stuff like SKI SLOPES and SINGLET. A nice debut.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1216 ( 23,414 )
Across Down
1. ___ lazuli : LAPIS
6. "Gotta go!" : CIAO
10. Jabbers : YAPS
14. Springtime of life : PRIME
15. All roads lead to it, in a saying : ROME
16. Pitcher Hershiser : OREL
17. "I'm outta here!" : SEEYALATER
19. ___ Major (constellation) : URSA
20. Kind of band : ONEMAN
21. Like a recently waxed floor : SLICK
22. They connect cooling units to rooms, in brief : ACDUCTS
25. Unmemorable low-budget film : BMOVIE
26. Beaches : SHORES
27. ___ longue (daybed) : CHAISE
29. Snake's warning : HISS
30. Bent over, as from pain : DOUBLEDUP
33. Letter holder: Abbr. : ENV
34. This puzzle's theme : GOODBYE
36. Brian who was a pioneer of ambient music : ENO
37. Locales for T-bars : SKISLOPES
39. Cleveland's lake : ERIE
40. Infant's wear : DIAPER
41. Leprechaun, for Notre Dame : MASCOT
43. Bleachers : STANDS
45. Bowling game : TENPINS
46. Vowel sound at the end of 39-Across : LONGE
47. Deliberately gives wrong information : LIESTO
49. Elec. or water : UTIL
50. "Adios, amigo!" : HASTALUEGO
54. Marvin of Motown : GAYE
55. Kuwaiti leader : EMIR
56. Earl of ___, favorite of Elizabeth I : ESSEX
57. Chairmaker's strip : SLAT
58. "Cheerio!" : TATA
59. Answer : REPLY
1. The Beatles' "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" : LPS
2. "We ___ the Champions" : ARE
3. Quiche, for one : PIE
4. Candy heart sentiment : IMYOURS
5. Event that might involve a Ouija board : SEANCE
6. Overpacks : CRAMS
7. Letter before kappa : IOTA
8. "Praise be!" : AMEN
9. "___ the ramparts we watched ..." : OER
10. Poor sport's taunt : YOULOSE
11. "Godspeed, Bruno!" : ARRIVEDERCI
12. Joe of "My Cousin Vinny" : PESCI
13. Satisfy, as a thirst : SLAKE
18. Response to "Shall we?" : LETS
21. "Peace begins with a ___": Mother Teresa : SMILE
22. Fireplace residue : ASHES
23. Armor flaw : CHINK
24. "Farewell, Vladimir!" : DOSVIDANIYA
25. Infant : BABY
27. Computer programmer : CODER
28. Centers of wheels : HUBS
30. Dummy : DOPE
31. The "U" of U.S.S.R. : UNION
32. "Dead ___ Society" : POETS
34. Air freshener brand : GLADE
35. "My bad!" : OOPS
38. Wrestler's wear : SINGLET
39. Advocate : ESPOUSE
41. Small plateau : MESA
42. Weapon for a reindeer : ANTLER
43. Hits with the fist : SLUGS
44. Bottom line of an addition : TOTAL
45. Four: Prefix : TETRA
47. Tibetan priest : LAMA
48. "Really?" : ISIT
50. Plenty worked (up) : HET
51. Mind reader's inits. : ESP
52. Toothpaste form, often : GEL
53. Clearasil rival : OXY

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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