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New York Times, Thursday, February 12, 2015

Author:
Jules P. Markey
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
185/10/201210/30/20180
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0155700
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58461
Jules P. Markey

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {KQXY} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Markey. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jules P. Markey notes:
I was surprised to learn when researching the theme that it had not appeared before in the NY Times, so I was off and running with it. ... read more

I was surprised to learn when researching the theme that it had not appeared before in the NY Times, so I was off and running with it. The fact that there are only four corners, however, made for a limited amount of theme material even with CORNERSTONE as the central reveal. I tried to find other entries which related and noticed INSCRIPTION — an integral part of a cornerstone. The task became finding an eleven letter partner, and it wasn't too long before I hit upon TIMECAPSULE, which very often is either contained in or lies behind a cornerstone.

The placement of the three elevens, with CORNERSTONE in the middle, was determined by the choice of vertical theme entries in the northeast and southwest. Fortunately, after some trial and error, STONEMASON and TOUCHSTONE fit the bill. I wanted all of the perimeter theme entries to be the same length, however with the added horizontal theme material that became very difficult to pull off, thus GEMSTONE and STONEAGE. I made a few changes to the fill after acceptance; 8-Down was originally SIDEARMS. Will and his team made a few more changes, as well as a great number of much better clues.

I was extremely honored to have this puzzle selected for the final round at this year's 16th Annual Westport Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Thanks to Will Shortz, and to Patrick Merrill who hosted, and congratulations to the winner Andy Kravis.

Jeff Chen notes:
Literally four CORNERSTONEs today, with a beautiful clue for the revealer. [Where one might find a date …] felt like it had to ... read more

Literally four CORNERSTONEs today, with a beautiful clue for the revealer. [Where one might find a date …] felt like it had to be THE CORNER BAR, COFFEE HOUSE, MATCH DOT COM, or whatever the kids are using these days. Love the trickery, pointing to not a first date, but a calendar-type date.

That hot date is just around the corner!

Also nice to get some bonus material, INSCRIPTION and TIME CAPSULE worked in. And crossing theme answers, nonetheless! For how constrained those NE and SW corners were, they came out pretty well. People may point to OSA, ETTE, and ITO in these regions, but ITO feels perfectly fine to me given the fame both Lance Ito and Midori Ito achieved.

Once I figured out the concept, I worried a bit about the NW and SE corners – so difficult to fill corners with perimeter answers, and even more difficult when those areas are this big. Very pleasantly surprised to see how well the NW came out, even a WINESAP worked in.

The spanker sail is the one on the lower left

The SE did have more glue than I like to see, but it's hard to avoid that. One aspect that I've picked up over the years is that in this sort of arrangement, needing words ending in "I" makes filing surprisingly difficult. Having two perimeter words containing an I – RHINE and GRIND – likely made things tougher.

Unfortunately, the ?????STONE pattern has limited results, and with TOUCHSTONE already used elsewhere, there aren't a lot of other good options in those two slots. In cases like these, I find that switching black squares around so that you can also draw upon ????STONE (only four preceding letters) can help immensely, opening yourself up to entries like SAND(STONE), EMMA(STONE), LODE(STONE), etc. Different lengths = more flexibility.

Finally, I loved the clue for AFT: [Like a spanker's position on a ship]. I hope no one's looking at my Google search history …

1
STONE
2
W
3
A
4
L
5
L
6
S
7
A
8
F
9
T
10
G
11
E
12
M
13
STONE
14
H
I
T
S
A
T
15
J
I
B
16
A
T
O
M
17
E
N
L
A
C
E
18
A
R
S
19
L
A
V
A
20
N
E
A
T
21
P
22
A
R
E
23
Z
A
L
E
S
24
G
S
N
25
N
O
S
26
A
27
R
I
28
I
T
O
29
E
A
T
30
I
N
S
31
C
R
I
P
32
T
I
O
N
33
P
I
34
T
T
35
A
M
O
C
O
36
C
O
R
37
N
38
E
R
S
T
O
N
39
E
40
P
O
E
M
E
41
D
E
M
42
I
43
T
44
I
45
M
E
C
A
P
S
46
U
47
L
E
48
O
M
49
G
50
O
S
A
51
A
P
E
52
S
I
S
53
T
E
R
54
U
T
T
55
E
R
56
R
57
I
S
E
58
S
I
M
I
59
C
R
I
T
60
Z
O
O
61
N
62
I
A
C
I
N
63
H
I
N
T
64
A
R
T
65
O
S
M
O
N
D
66
STONE
A
G
E
67
G
S
A
68
R
H
I
N
E
STONE
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0212 ( 23,837 )
Across
1. Takes the fifth, perhaps : STONEWALLS
7. Like a spanker's position on a ship : AFT
10. Turquoise, e.g. : GEMSTONE
14. Tries to punch : HITSAT
15. Bow attachment : JIB
16. Topic of elementary education? : ATOM
17. Braid, e.g. : ENLACE
18. ___ Nova (music style) : ARS
19. ___ cake (rich dessert) : LAVA
20. Keen : NEAT
21. Edit, in a way : PARE
23. Big name in jewelry : ZALES
24. Cable channel that has "Idiotest," for short : GSN
25. Most slush pile responses : NOS
26. Cardinals' home, on scoreboards : ARI
28. "What am ___ you?" : ITO
29. Absorb : EAT
30. Writing on a 36-Across : INSCRIPTION
33. British P.M. during the Seven Years' War : PITT
35. 1998 BP acquisition : AMOCO
36. Where one might find a date ... with a hint to this puzzle's theme : CORNERSTONE
40. Part of Rimbaud's oeuvre : POEME
41. ___-glace (rich sauce) : DEMI
43. Something found behind a 36-Across : TIMECAPSULE
48. "Holy cow!," in a text : OMG
50. She-bear: Sp. : OSA
51. Go ___ : APE
52. Dot, to Ditto, in "Hi and Lois" : SIS
53. 3x, in prescriptions : TER
54. Complete : UTTER
56. Progress : RISE
58. California's ___ Valley : SIMI
59. Lit ___ : CRIT
60. Where the wild things are? : ZOO
61. B3 : NIACIN
63. Nudge : HINT
64. Verb with "thou" : ART
65. Part of a singing family : OSMOND
66. Antediluvian : STONEAGE
67. Fed. management grp. : GSA
68. Part of many a country singer's outfit : RHINESTONE
Down
1. World Heritage Site that's more than 4,000 years old : STONEHENGE
2. Apple type : WINESAP
3. Neighbor of Ventnor on a Monopoly board : ATLANTIC
4. Hurdle for an aspiring "Esq." : LSAT
5. It's filled with eau : LAC
6. Trample : STEPON
7. Not wide open : AJAR
8. Second Amendment subject : FIREARMS
9. Cable inits. for sports and comedy : TBS
10. Ritzy shindig : GALA
11. Latin list ender : ETALII
12. Take up new residence in : MOVETO
13. Foundation worker : STONEMASON
22. Muttonhead : ASS
23. Letter numbers : ZIPCODES
25. Certain dragster : NITROCAR
27. Top card? : RIOT
31. Has it in one's heart? : CARES
32. "Watch your ___, young man!" : TONE
34. Imbibe : TOPE
37. ___ tide : NEAP
38. Montezuma and others : EMPERORS
39. Means of communication using dots and dashes : EMOTICON
42. George Harrison's autobiography : IMEMINE
43. Standard of comparison : TOUCHSTONE
44. Adriatic peninsula shared by Italy, Slovenia and Croatia : ISTRIA
45. Kind of call : MATING
46. Beginning of the Constitution? : USS
47. Note holder, of sorts : LIENOR
49. Part of many a mill : GRINDSTONE
55. Suffix with kitchen : ETTE
57. Smidgen : IOTA
58. Laplander : SAMI
60. Turn back : ZAG
62. Relative of -esque : ISH

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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