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New York Times, Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Author:
Paula Gamache
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1085/21/20021/14/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
81318151217619
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58431
Paula Gamache

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 37 Missing: {FJQXZ} This is puzzle # 92 for Ms. Gamache. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
Some people seem to judge puzzles by the 'worst' answers in the grid. For me these would be SAT I (which isn't used anymore), KNT, ... read more

Some people seem to judge puzzles by the "worst" answers in the grid. For me these would be SAT I (which isn't used anymore), KNT, GE'S, ENT, and NONNA. But to me a puzzle should be judged as a whole. This one has, amazingly, eight theme answers, interlocking no less, plus an "explainer" at 54A. That's pretty fancy constructing. RAIN HAT, SUNBATH, BIG IDEA, and IT'LL DO are pretty nice, too.

Jeff Chen notes:
Impressive to have so much theme density (phrases containing NBA across words), with each themer crossing another. Fancy work from ... read more

Impressive to have so much theme density (phrases containing NBA across words), with each themer crossing another. Fancy work from Paula, who incorporated some very snazzy phrases. Checking onelook.com, there seem to be a lot of options available for the *N BA* pattern, so Paula did well to select what she did. It almost felt like a themeless, uncovering such goodness as KEVIN BACON and PINBALL and SUNBATH all throughout the grid.

It may not be apparent how tough this construction is, but it's a real challenge. Any time you have crossing themers, filling around those entries becomes tricky. Yes, Paula had the flexibility to switch out themers if the surrounding fill got too gritty, but she still had to fill cleanly around four separate sets of crossing themers ... and then make sure they all connected. Very hard to execute on, and she even managed to throw in entries like BIG IDEA and DESPOT as she linked her subsections.

I would have loved to see NBA as the last answer. It usually feels inelegant to me when the revealer is in a strange location, but there are no hard and fast rules about this. I can see how difficult NBA would have been to incorporate into the very SE, considering the crossing themers in that section. As always, there are so many trade-offs in puzzle construction.

Will brings up a good point about the trend to judge a puzzle by its worst answers. I enjoyed all the theme density, but understand how people could find the trade-off not favorable. I don't think any of the entries are terrible, but hitting SAT I right off the bat felt clunky to me. Was it worth the theme interlock up there? I think so, but I could see how people would see otherwise. Anyway, these are subjective calls.

Nice change of pace Tuesday, enjoyable four minutes.

1
A
2
R
3
S
4
A
5
P
6
B
7
S
8
S
9
U
10
B
11
W
12
A
13
Y
14
T
A
U
15
C
H
I
C
16
E
L
A
I
N
E
17
T
I
N
18
B
A
D
G
E
19
E
A
R
N
I
T
20
I
N
B
U
D
21
I
N
22
O
N
23
B
B
S
24
C
H
A
R
S
25
D
E
M
26
O
R
A
T
27
E
28
S
A
T
I
29
K
E
V
I
30
N
B
A
C
O
N
31
T
H
E
32
S
E
A
33
T
I
O
34
K
N
T
35
S
O
B
36
G
E
37
S
38
O
39
O
40
P
41
N
A
42
H
43
D
E
S
P
44
O
45
T
46
O
N
I
47
O
N
B
A
48
G
E
L
49
I
P
O
50
S
51
H
E
N
R
Y
52
H
O
S
53
S
T
E
N
T
54
N
B
A
55
A
A
R
E
56
N
O
N
N
A
57
K
O
A
L
58
A
S
59
G
R
60
E
E
N
B
A
Y
61
I
T
L
L
D
O
62
E
V
E
R
63
A
G
E
64
R
E
L
Y
O
N
65
D
E
L
T
66
R
E
D
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1217 ( 23,415 )

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Across
1
"___ Poetica" : ARS
4
Alerts to cruisers, for short : APBS
8
Footlong sandwich maker : SUBWAY
14
Fraternity T : TAU
15
In fashion : CHIC
16
"Seinfeld" ex-girlfriend : ELAINE
17
*Sheriff's insignia, in old westerns : TINBADGE
19
How to make money "the old-fashioned way" : EARNIT
20
Like trees during the spring : INBUD
21
Privy to : INON
23
Shot from an air gun : BBS
24
Burns black : CHARS
25
L.B.J. or J.F.K., but not D.D.E. : DEM
26
Speak on the stump : ORATE
28
Old coll. entrance hurdle : SATI
29
*Actor named in a "Six Degrees" game : KEVINBACON
31
Hemingway novel title location : THESEA
33
Oaxaca uncle : TIO
34
Piece next to a bishop: Abbr. : KNT
35
Word with sister and story : SOB
36
Some appliances, for short : GES
38
Alley-___ (hoops play) : OOP
41
"Nope, not interested" : NAH
43
Ironfisted ruler : DESPOT
46
*Tangy breakfast item : ONIONBAGEL
49
Stock exchange debuts, briefly : IPOS
51
Author James : HENRY
52
Sounds from Santa : HOS
53
Surgically implanted tube : STENT
54
Org. found in the answer to each asterisked clue : NBA
55
Swiss river : AARE
56
Italian granny : NONNA
57
Supercute marsupials : KOALAS
59
*Packers' hometown : GREENBAY
61
"Good enough for me" : ITLLDO
62
"... happily ___ after" : EVER
63
Carbon-dating estimation : AGE
64
Have faith in : RELYON
65
Shoulder muscle, for short : DELT
66
The "R" of Roy G. Biv : RED
Down
1
Where webs may accumulate : ATTICS
2
Galoshes go-with : RAINHAT
3
*Tanning method : SUNBATH
4
Prep schools: Abbr. : ACADS
5
M.A. follow-up, maybe : PHD
6
Grandiose proposal : BIGIDEA
7
Part of many a Shakespearean act : SCENEV
8
Observed : SEEN
9
Suffix meaning "little one" : ULA
10
Singer Streisand : BARBRA
11
*Recover, as lost love : WINBACK
12
Jennifer of "Friends" : ANISTON
13
"Not ___" ("Be patient") : YET
18
Puts underground : BURIES
22
Neglect to mention : OMIT
26
Wind instruments : OBOES
27
"The Lord of the Rings" creature : ENT
29
Serving on a skewer : KEBAB
30
Bruce who played Dr. Watson : NIGEL
32
Bub : SONNY
37
Show disdain for, in a way : SPITON
38
"___-la-la!" : OOH
39
Lacking in variety : ONENOTE
40
*Tommy's game in the Who's rock opera "Tommy" : PINBALL
42
Response to a wisecrack : HAHA
43
Merit : DESERVE
44
*Feature of many a charity gala : OPENBAR
45
Ship's carrying capacity : TONNAGE
47
How some temperatures - and tests - are taken : ORALLY
48
Stuffed : GORGED
50
Didn't go : STAYED
53
"Hägar the Horrible" dog : SNERT
55
"He's like ___ to me" : ASON
57
___ Royale (cocktail) : KIR
58
Hubbub : ADO
60
Sinuous fish : EEL

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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