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New York Times, Thursday, February 12, 2015

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?