It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.

New York Times, Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Author:
Jeffrey Wechsler
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
187/17/19699/12/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0145710
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.581101

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 79, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JQVXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Wechsler. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeffrey Wechsler notes:
For some reason the phrase 'LOOP DE LOOP' came to mind, and I thought it might become a valid puzzle theme by means of setting the letters of ... read more

For some reason the phrase "LOOP DE LOOP" came to mind, and I thought it might become a valid puzzle theme by means of setting the letters of LOOP within an actual loop of some sort. But a few random LOOPs by themselves didn't seem adequate. Then LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP occurred to me. By extending the concept into a repeated loop, things became interesting.

I realized that I needed to double the action — to create two "simultaneous" types of looping motion. Thus, the four-square units containing LOOP go around in a large circle within the grid. Then, as one follows the units around clockwise, the letters in LOOP are also "internally" shifted clockwise from unit to unit, so that L-O-O-P itself loops progressively, and does so twice in a circuit of the eight units. If you imagine this as an actual stunt by an aerobatic ace, the flyer is executing two full tight loops as he continues along the path of a large loop. Is this even possible in reality? I don't know — but it looks good on paper!

The puzzle had to be 16 squares wide to accommodate LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP, and the letter positions of L-O-O-P were almost entirely controlled by the circular arrangement, the symmetry of the units, and the letter combinations that arose as L-O-O-P was shifted. Thus, unsurprisingly, and despite a revision from my first grid, there are various entries that I would otherwise strive even more determinedly to remove. Among them are the crosswordese fellow Mobotu SESE Seko, plural ALOES, and of course HERAT (aargh!). But given the intransigence of the fixed letters, I think things resolved reasonably well, and I presume Will was lenient given the evident constraints.

Jeff Chen notes:
As soon as I uncovered the first set of L O O P circles, I raced to the center to fill in LOOPS THE LOOPS. Well, that didn't fit. LOOPING THE ... read more

As soon as I uncovered the first set of L O O P circles, I raced to the center to fill in LOOPS THE LOOPS. Well, that didn't fit. LOOPING THE LOOP? LOOPY LOOPY LOOP?

So much for my utter genius.

I liked the aesthetics, L O O P circling in eight locations, and those eight locations circling as a whole. Nice consistency too; L O O P always going clockwise, and the starting position shifting over one spot in each set of new circles. Elegant.

These types of puzzles can be tricky, because so much care must be taken to fill cleanly around those quartets of circles. I like how Jeffrey worked many long entries through the circles: POOL PUMP, CANOODLE, LAB ROOMS, DIET PLAN. They're not all superstar quality, but they're all nice.

Impressive that the short fill was relatively clean, given the high level of constraints. Really only the north and south sections stuck out, what with the CPL / ILO and REN / TEN OF combinations. Often, these little spaces utilizing three-letter words are harder than ones using four-letter words. Surprising, yeah? You'd think a smaller section would always be easier to fill. But there's a larger inventory of "good" four-letter words than three-letter words (by a factor of 2-3x). I try to stay away from these little squirrely areas chock full of 3s.

Given that the NE and SW are daunting chunks of open white (HERAT and AREOLE, I see you), it might have been useful to equalize space a bit. Expanding the south area at the expense of the SW could have made filling easier in both regions.

I'm not familiar with aerobatics, so I wasn't sure if the visual was "accurate." My mind sees something like the pic to the right, with a lead-up, a loop, and a pull-out to horizontal. I liked Jeffrey's imaginative description of a stunt pilot doing an insane looping-within-looping maneuver, but I'm not sure if LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP really describes that. The puzzle's visual is more like a "4-D" roller coaster to me.

In the end, I was able put that aside and have a fun solving experience.

 1P 2O 3M 4P 5S 6A 7G 8S 9C 10R 11A 12P 13S 14A D I O 15S 16C P L 17L A U R I E 18R I C O H 19R O O 20I N M I N D 21C E E L O 22I L O 23T O P E K A 24P O 25M P O M 26S 27O L S O N 28A 29C 30C U S E 31E 32R D E 33L O O M 34T 35A 36R 37H E E L 38S 39C 40I 41L O O P 42D E L O O P D E 43L O O P 44A L P 45I R O N I S T 46A L P O 47S E S E 48O 49R B I T S 50C 51H 52A N T 53S 54H 55O 56T P A R 57R E C O P 58Y 59A C E 60L O 61S 62E 63S 64A R E O L E 65R E N 66P O N T I 67B A L K A N 68P L O 69H M O N G 70S T A I N S 71O O F 72S W A N
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1230 ( 23,793 )
Across
1. Feature of a royal event : POMP
5. What bulldogs' jowls do : SAG
8. Food for Fido, perhaps : SCRAPS
16. Houlihan : Maj. :: Klinger : ___ : CPL
17. "House" star Hugh : LAURIE
18. Xerox competitor : RICOH
19. Friend of Pooh : ROO
20. Not forgotten : INMIND
21. Green who was on four seasons of "The Voice" : CEELO
22. U.N. grp. monitoring workers' rights : ILO
23. Brown v. Board of Education city : TOPEKA
27. Announcer Johnny famous for crying "Come on down!" : OLSON
28. Point the finger at : ACCUSE
31. Our planet, to Germans : ERDE
33. Be impending : LOOM
34. North Carolinian : TARHEEL
38. Chem., e.g. : SCI
41. Maneuver for slot car racers or stunt pilots, as suggested by this puzzle's circled letters : LOOPDELOOPDELOOP
44. Yodeler's locale : ALP
45. Jonathan Swift, notably : IRONIST
46. Food for Fido : ALPO
47. Zairean president Mobutu ___ Seko : SESE
48. Goes around : ORBITS
50. Sound in a lamasery : CHANT
57. Transcribe again : RECOPY
59. Expert : ACE
60. Shakes, as in a car chase : LOSES
64. Iris ring : AREOLE
65. Toon chihuahua : REN
66. Film producer Carlo : PONTI
67. Like Greece or Serbia : BALKAN
68. Oslo Accords grp. : PLO
69. Ethnic group of Southeast Asia : HMONG
70. Dry cleaning targets : STAINS
71. Punch-in-the-stomach sound : OOF
72. Bird in a Hans Christian Andersen tale : SWAN
Down
1. Setting for Seurat's "La Grande Jatte" : PARC
2. Toon beagle : ODIE
3. Victims of the farmer's wife : MICE
4. Certain water circulator : POOLPUMP
6. Olympic gold medalist Ohno : APOLO
7. Atmosphere of many a Poe story : GLOOM
8. Sexy skirt feature : SLIT
9. Kiss and cuddle : CANOODLE
10. Dishevel, as bed linen : RUMPLE
11. Zodiac opener : ARIES
12. Socialist, disparagingly : PINKO
13. Alternative to an S.U.V. : SEDAN
15. Waves away : SHOOS
25. Olympic lengths : METERS
26. Permeates, with "through" : SEEPS
28. Penne ___ vodka : ALLA
29. Composure : COOL
30. Farm enclosure ... or a farmers' group : COOP
32. Common grass variety named for its color : REDTOP
35. Lily family plants : ALOES
36. A Reagan : RON
37. ___ polloi : HOI
38. Arias, usually : SOLI
39. Egyptian Christian : COPT
40. Wall St. debuts : IPOS
42. Schedule for take-off? : DIETPLAN
43. Parts of chemistry buildings : LABROOMS
47. "Jersey Shore" housemate : SNOOKI
49. "The Honeymooners" husband : RALPH
50. Chesapeake Bay feast : CRABS
51. Western Afghan city : HERAT
52. Amtrak option : ACELA
54. ___ Productions (Oprah Winfrey company) : HARPO
55. Big name in kitchen sponges : OCELO
56. :50 : TENOF
58. Itches : YENS
61. The white of a whiteout : SNOW
62. European smoker : ETNA
63. 11-Down, for one : SIGN

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?