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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
856/16/20118/3/201816
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
66681128182
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645163
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

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Constructor notes: TODD: Unlike our previous collaboration, this puzzle had a long gestation before being published. I submitted my original ... more
Constructor notes:

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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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.

JimH 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 Down
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
28. Certain sultan's subjects : OMANIS
30. They're not team players : OWNERS
34. Lab dept. : RANDD
35. La ___ (California resort and spa) : COSTA
36. Extended trial : ORDEAL
38. Not for the general public : CLOSED
39. Morlocks' enemy : ELOI
41. Saxony, e.g. : STATE
42. 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
1. Where vaults can be seen : APSES
2. Jacket style : NEHRU
3. Noted geographical misnomer : GREENLAND
4. "South Park" boy : IKE
5. Basic Latin verb : EST
6. Hobbyist, e.g. : NONPRO
7. Jerry Orbach role in "The Fantasticks" : ELGALLO
8. Early Chinese dynasty : WEI
9. Neighborhood org. since 1844 : YMCA
10. Chilling : ONICE
11. Mulligans, e.g. : REDOS
12. Mardi Gras group : KREWE
14. Big sport overseas? : SUMO
16. Babe in the woods : FAWN
18. Sailors' chains : TYES
21. City on the Firth of Tay : DUNDEE
22. "Star Wars" queen and senator : AMIDALA
23. Canine vestigial structure : DEWCLAW
27. High-hatting : SNOOTY
28. Cortés's quest : ORO
29. Graffiti, say : MAR
31. Like many nutrients : ESSENTIAL
32. 1, for one: Abbr. : RTE
33. Poor, as an excuse : SAD
37. Rock singer? : LORELEI
38. Key never used by itself : CTRL
40. Formal confession : ITWASI
41. Toni Morrison novel : SULA
42. Obscure : BEDIM
43. Like some vin : BLANC
44. R. J. Reynolds brand : SALEM
46. Borders : HEMS
47. Brass : NERVE
48. Hemingway, notably : EXPAT
50. T. J. ___ : MAXX
54. "Vous êtes ___" : ICI
55. Staple of sci-fi filmmaking : CGI
56. Ostrogoth enemy : HUN

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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