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New York Times, Thursday, December 6, 2018

Author:
Sophia Maymudes
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
212/6/20183/17/20191
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Sophia Maymudes

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 80, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQZ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Maymudes. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sophia Maymudes notes:
Hello Crossworld! I'm Sophia, a junior at Carleton College studying computer science and math, and I'm beyond hyped to have my first ... read more

Hello Crossworld! I'm Sophia, a junior at Carleton College studying computer science and math, and I'm beyond hyped to have my first puzzle in the NYT. I'm a Seattle native, musical theater geek, competitive bridge player, and the worst cook you've ever met. I've been solving crosswords with my family for as long as I can remember, and constructing on and off since high school.

This puzzle came together fairly quickly compared to others I've written – I finished a draft of the grid just a few hours after thinking of the theme. Originally, KITTYCORNER was the only revealer – It was truly a stroke of luck that I noticed in the midst of filling the grid that LITTERBOXES both fit symmetrically and described the same gimmick.

This was my first NYT submission ever, so I was truly stunned when I got the yes from the editing team (well, after a quick reconfiguration of the NE corner!) Since I write crosswords nearly exclusively for my non-puzzle obsessed classmates, my cluing tends to skew easy and modern, so thanks to the team for upping the difficulty level. Looking back on this puzzle, I do wish there was some more snazzy fill: DON'T PANIC is my favorite entry in the grid.

Enjoy the puzzle, and I hope to be here again soon!

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Sophia got in touch with me earlier this year with a bridge (the card game) related theme, and we ended up working together on ... read more

Debut! Sophia got in touch with me earlier this year with a bridge (the card game) related theme, and we ended up working together on a Sunday puzzle (still in progress, but Will, I think it's a really good one!). Then I found out she lives just a few blocks away from me, here in Seattle! I love how crosswords can bring people together. Hopefully one day she and I can play some duplicate bridge together (apologies in advance for my inevitably horrible blunders).

Today, Sophia riffs on KITTY CORNER, placing kitty CATs in the four corners of the grid. I wasn't sure if LITTER BOXES was that good, thematically, but I suppose cats do tend to have their LITTLE BOXES placed into the corners of rooms.

(I wondered for an embarrassing amount of time if I had missed some sort of double rebus, with CAT in one direction, and POOP in the other.)

It's unusual to go above 78 words, the max for 15x15 puzzles (this one is at 80). Will rarely allows this, because it tends to mean that there will be too much short stuff in the grid, and not enough longer snazzy fill. Sophia did work in some good long material – ALAN ARKIN, BEACH TOWEL, CALIFORNIA, DON'T PANIC – that's pretty good. But there is a huge amount of short answers, making my solve feel choppy.

And don't get me started on ITER and ILLY. Oofly.

I also would have liked a couple of long CAT answers, like CATTLE DRIVE or CATTYWAMPUS or BELLED THE CAT or THE QUEEN OF SCAT, etc. That would have been much more difficult, calling for giant corners, themeless-esque in design. Tough, but doable.

As part of our collaboration in process, I noticed that Sophia had some difficulty with certain types of grid areas, so I gave her a copy of my word list. It seemed to have helped, as the grid is now in a state that I like a lot – she did some strong work.

Knowing that, I'm curious to see what she could have done on today's puzzle if she took another stab at it now, what with better tools allowing her to be more ambitious.

1
CAT
2
T
3
L
4
E
5
C
6
A
7
P
8
R
9
A
10
F
11
A
12
T
13
CAT
14
A
R
E
S
15
A
I
R
E
D
16
A
L
E
C
17
L
I
N
T
18
L
O
A
T
H
19
G
A
S
H
20
O
A
T
21
W
I
L
T
22
D
23
A
I
N
T
Y
24
G
L
O
25
R
I
F
I
E
26
S
27
R
N
A
28
A
D
O
29
I
30
B
M
31
R
32
B
33
I
34
L
35
I
36
T
T
E
R
37
B
38
O
X
E
S
39
K
I
T
40
A
L
A
S
41
N
A
F
T
A
42
A
I
D
E
43
I
L
K
44
K
I
T
T
Y
C
45
O
R
N
E
R
46
D
Y
E
47
N
A
E
48
H
O
E
49
N
50
E
E
51
D
52
O
53
N
T
P
A
54
N
55
I
56
C
57
S
58
H
O
V
E
59
L
60
L
O
O
S
61
E
M
O
62
N
O
V
A
63
E
64
N
D
O
W
65
C
H
A
P
66
O
P
E
N
67
N
O
I
S
E
68
A
R
M
Y
69
CAT
E
R
S
70
S
T
E
E
L
71
M
U
S
CAT
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1206 ( 25,230 )
Across
1
Things driven on ranches : CATTLE
5
Three-time Best Director of the 1930s : CAPRA
10
Gazillionaire : FATCAT
14
Father of Deimos and Phobos, in Greek myth : ARES
15
Put on : AIRED
16
Baldwin of "The Boss Baby" : ALEC
17
You may use a roller to get rid of it : LINT
18
Reluctant : LOATH
19
Deep cut : GASH
20
Cereal bit : OAT
21
What thirsty flowers do : WILT
22
Small and delicate : DAINTY
24
Sings the praises of : GLORIFIES
27
Single-stranded building block : RNA
28
Bustle : ADO
29
Co. with a striped logo : IBM
31
Effect of a sac fly : RBI
34
Places where some house pets "go," in both this puzzle and real life : LITTERBOXES
39
Hobby shop buy : KIT
40
"So it goes" : ALAS
41
1990s commerce pact : NAFTA
42
Number two : AIDE
43
Kind : ILK
44
Diagonally ... or a hint to four of this puzzle's squares : KITTYCORNER
46
Ingredient in many a breakfast cereal : DYE
47
When doubled, dance of the 2010s : NAE
48
Row maker : HOE
49
French word that's a homophone of 47-Across : NEE
51
"Stay calm!" : DONTPANIC
57
Eat quickly, with "in" : SHOVEL
60
Johns across the pond : LOOS
61
My Chemical Romance genre : EMO
62
___ Caesarea, original name of New Jersey : NOVA
63
Create, as a chair : ENDOW
65
Fellow : CHAP
66
Premiere : OPEN
67
Squeak or creak : NOISE
68
Host : ARMY
69
Provides food for : CATERS
70
Fortify : STEEL
71
Mideast capital : MUSCAT
Down
1
Mailing from Lands' End or Williams-Sonoma : CATALOG
2
High point of "To Kill a Mockingbird" : TRIAL
3
Slowly : LENTO
4
Loose fig. : EST
5
The world's fifth-largest economy : CALIFORNIA
6
Sauce with a vowel-heavy name : AIOLI
7
Babble : PRATE
8
No longer working: Abbr. : RET
9
Reason for an Adderall prescription, for short : ADHD
10
Bad role model for Oliver Twist : FAGIN
11
Best Supporting Actor nominee for "Argo" : ALANARKIN
12
Beta ___ : TEST
13
Like the hook of a good pop song : CATCHY
21
Vast : WIDE
23
Regenerable parts of a sea star : ARMS
25
"Goshdarnit!" : RATS
26
Cruising speed, maybe : SIXTY
30
Sunbather's accessory : BEACHTOWEL
32
___ one's time : BIDE
33
Roman road : ITER
34
Put down : LAID
35
Poorly : ILLY
36
No longer independent : TAKENOVER
37
Held, as breath : BATED
38
Many times, in poetry : OFT
42
Surveyor's finding : AREA
44
Part of the body to slap : KNEE
45
"My bad!" : OOPS
50
Lily Potter's maiden name in the Harry Potter books : EVANS
52
Song from a "Best of" album, maybe : OLDIE
53
Alternative to a guillotine : NOOSE
54
Kind of jacket : NEHRU
55
Muslim leaders : IMAMS
56
Imitator : COPYCAT
57
Ski resort vehicle : SNOCAT
58
2008 political catchword : HOPE
59
It may be labeled 2x or 3x : LENS
64
"I think ___" : NOT
65
Engine part : CAM

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle.

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