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New York Times, Saturday, December 21, 2013

Author:
Todd Gross and David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
179/13/20097/23/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4211513
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54130
Todd Gross
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
966/16/20118/18/201918
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
76681132242
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 43 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Gross. This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Todd: Unlike our previous collaboration, this puzzle had a long gestation before being published. I submitted my original version ... read more

Todd:

Unlike our previous collaboration, this puzzle had a long gestation before being published. I submitted my original version in March of 2012. Will liked the basic idea, but didn't like about 9 of my original entries.

I mentioned my puzzle to David at Crosswords LA in May, and he wanted to see if he could improve on my grid. Turned out he could indeed: we submitted our revised version in June. After several back-and-forths, Will accepted our puzzle this August! We've had to wait almost 4 months for our centennial crossword to be printed ... it's hard to wait that long (ask any kid right about now)!

Finally, I'll note my original version had FUNICELLO at 16 Across, which is definitely more FUN than FUNGICIDE!

David;

It was a pleasure working with Todd on this centennial puzzle. The grid was a real challenge to fill because it not only had a themeless word count (70) but also contained four theme entries with rather unfriendly letter patterns (I'm talking about you, MCMXIII!), not to mention the FUN arrangement. Nevertheless, Todd and I were able to pool our resources and produce a fill we're both very proud of!

Will Shortz notes:
Happy 100th birthday to the crossword puzzle, which first appeared on Dec. 21, 1913! Today's puzzle is a modest celebration of Arthur ... read more

Happy 100th birthday to the crossword puzzle, which first appeared on Dec. 21, 1913! Today's puzzle is a modest celebration of Arthur Wynne's invention. The hollow diamond shape of Wynne's first crossword is retained in today's puzzle — with FUN in the appropriate spot no less (as the first three letters of 16A). In the print version of this puzzle, the original diamond shape is indicated with shaded squares. It's impossible to present shading in Across Lite, and it didn't seem worthwhile adding circles, so if you solve electronically ... you'll have to use your imagination.

Jeff Chen notes:
Ah, oh great crossword puzzle, what would my life be without you? You've given me an obsessive hobby, an excuse to hang out with my ... read more

Ah, oh great crossword puzzle, what would my life be without you? You've given me an obsessive hobby, an excuse to hang out with my wife when we first met, a community of supportive and uberinteresting people, and a creative diversion that takes my mind off of work.*

FUN idea today, superimposing the shape of the very first American crossword onto a now-standard grid. It even has the word FUN in the proper place (albeit hidden inside FUNGICIDE = a tiny bit icky IMO). And even though the word count is low enough to make it a themeless, David and Todd work in NEW YORK / SUNDAY WORLD, ARTHUR WYNNE, and MCMXIII. Neat to find a symmetrical set of themers.

With such a a wide-open grid and four locked-in themers, there are bound to be compromises. In terms of long fill, we get some goodness in the form of DALAI LAMA and GREENLAND, but also have the awkward SOLEMNER. These rarely used type of words aren't so harsh when they're shorter pieces of fill, but it's less than ideal when one of your long slots is taken up by something like this. As David mentioned, working with a themeless grid is hard enough, but when you take away flexibility by locking in four answers, it really ups the difficulty.

Neat concept. I would have liked a stronger tie-in to the original puzzle (besides just its shape) but I'm not sure what else there would be. Reproducing the entire puzzle would automatically saddle you with ugly stuff (construction was pretty primitive back then), and trying to extend the original answers into a 15x grid would likely have been impossible.

*For the sake of the big anniversary, I forgive the fact that you've cost me countless hours of sleep in marathon bouts of construction, you bugger.

Jim Horne notes:

Here's a nice article by Merl Reagle on the 100th birthday.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1221 ( 23,419 )
Across
1
Girl's name in #1 1973 and 1974 song titles : ANGIE
6
With 20-Across, where the first-ever crossword puzzle appeared : NEWYORK
13
Reserved parking spaces and others : PERKS
14
Less light : SOLEMNER
15
Form of many a birthday cake : SHEET
16
Jojoba oil is a natural one : FUNGICIDE
17
Lead-in to now : ERE
18
Home of MacDill Air Force Base : TAMPA
19
Had ___ (flipped) : ACOW
20
See 6-Across : SUNDAYWORLD
24
Legal attachment? : ESE
25
Light unit : LUMEN
26
Acclaim for picadors : OLES
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Certain sultan's subjects : OMANIS
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They're not team players : OWNERS
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Lab dept. : RANDD
35
La ___ (California resort and spa) : COSTA
36
Extended trial : ORDEAL
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Not for the general public : CLOSED
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Morlocks' enemy : ELOI
41
Saxony, e.g. : STATE
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Shot : BBS
45
Creator of the first crossword : ARTHURWYNNE
49
Kingdom vanquished by Hammurabi : ELAM
51
Actor Tom of "The Seven Year Itch" : EWELL
52
Ranch sobriquet : TEX
53
1989 Peace Nobelist : DALAILAMA
55
Aviary sound : CHIRP
57
To a fault : INEXCESS
58
Fruit whose name comes from Arawak : GUAVA
59
Year in which the first crossword appeared, on December 21 : MCMXIII
60
Firth, e.g. : INLET
Down
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Where vaults can be seen : APSES
2
Jacket style : NEHRU
3
Noted geographical misnomer : GREENLAND
4
"South Park" boy : IKE
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Basic Latin verb : EST
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Hobbyist, e.g. : NONPRO
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Jerry Orbach role in "The Fantasticks" : ELGALLO
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Early Chinese dynasty : WEI
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Neighborhood org. since 1844 : YMCA
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Chilling : ONICE
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Mulligans, e.g. : REDOS
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Mardi Gras group : KREWE
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Big sport overseas? : SUMO
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Babe in the woods : FAWN
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Sailors' chains : TYES
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City on the Firth of Tay : DUNDEE
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"Star Wars" queen and senator : AMIDALA
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Canine vestigial structure : DEWCLAW
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High-hatting : SNOOTY
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Cortés's quest : ORO
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Graffiti, say : MAR
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Like many nutrients : ESSENTIAL
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1, for one: Abbr. : RTE
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Poor, as an excuse : SAD
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Rock singer? : LORELEI
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Key never used by itself : CTRL
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Formal confession : ITWASI
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Toni Morrison novel : SULA
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Obscure : BEDIM
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Like some vin : BLANC
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R. J. Reynolds brand : SALEM
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Borders : HEMS
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Brass : NERVE
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Hemingway, notably : EXPAT
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T. J. ___ : MAXX
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"Vous êtes ___" : ICI
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Staple of sci-fi filmmaking : CGI
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Ostrogoth enemy : HUN

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?