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

# SPLIT ENDS

## New York Times, Sunday, February 15, 2015

 Author: Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
87/11/201110/23/20167
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3210200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53010
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
867/5/20108/1/201850
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2467161878
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.634192

## This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 81 Missing: {KZ} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 4 for Ms. Leuschner. This is puzzle # 36 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: ELLEN: I enjoy working with Jeff Chen immensely. It is always fun to brainstorm ideas, and I appreciate Jeff's willingness to help other constructors. Sometimes it's hard to know what 'tricks' will fly ... more
Constructor notes:

ELLEN:

I enjoy working with Jeff Chen immensely. It is always fun to brainstorm ideas, and I appreciate Jeff's willingness to help other constructors. Sometimes it's hard to know what "tricks" will fly with an editor. Having a seasoned constructor help navigate the crossword world is a huge benefit. Two heads and all that. Plus, it's more exciting to share success with someone else.

The starting point for this puzzle was Patrick Berry's puzzle from March 9, 2008. Mr. Berry's puzzle was a little too complicated for my brain, but the idea of having answers branch in two directions led us to the "decision tree." Jeff ultimately built the grid skeleton for this puzzle. Thank goodness. It was quite a challenge, but in a good way. We only have seven theme entries, but they sure take up a lot of space. I kept trying to shove in one more with GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH, but it just wasn't reasonable to do so. From idea conception to submission, this puzzle took around three months.

If you haven't read Stockton's THE LADY OR THE TIGER, you can find the entire text online. It's a quick read, and a great short story.

I have (too) many hobbies, but creating crossword puzzles is the only one that makes me any money. Let's see ... \$ computer software + website and newspaper subscriptions + (books used in research * n) = well, maybe not a huge profit, but I think I'll keep at it anyway.

My sister's birthday is tomorrow, so Happy Birthday, Paula!

Jeff Chen notes: Ellen has such patience with me. I think it's important to brainstorm dozens, perhaps hundreds of ideas in order to come up with something I feel is really NYT-worthy. We went back and forth and back and forth, ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Ellen has such patience with me. I think it's important to brainstorm dozens, perhaps hundreds of ideas in order to come up with something I feel is really NYT-worthy. We went back and forth and back and forth, trying to come up with a few good Sunday ideas, and each time, a promising idea came up just shy, or we decided that it just wasn't good enough. Weeks, maybe months of headbanging.

But when Ellen proposed this little idea in a short email, I felt sure there was something to it. I worried we wouldn't be able to come up with enough instances that fit the pattern perfectly, but Ellen came back shortly with a promising list. Turns out a computer science background and some query skills comes in handy! I added a few more, we finalized the selection, and off we went.

The grid design was incredibly challenging, and it looked like it was going to be a bear to fill, given all the crossing constraints. We originally tried using standard crossword symmetry, but all the theme answers branching downward made that very difficult. (It might have been possible if we didn't have the theme answers in symmetrical locations, but that felt inelegant.) Mirror symmetry made the layout much more feasible, and also let us place the themers (at least their first halves) in spots of symmetry.

But after putting together a draft skeleton, we weren't sure it was going to fly, given all the crossing constraints. I took a tenuous pass at filling one tiny little section to see if the entire thing was feasible, and after maybe ten hours and many hundreds of hairs pulled out, I emerged victorious. Ka-ching!

Then Ellen politely mentioned that I had entered IS IT REAL, not IS IT LIVE. Into the circular file.

Several dozen iterations later, passing the file back and forth, going cross-eyed with frustration, we emerged from the long, dark tunnel. At revision 43j, it's not the most work I've put into a single puzzle, but it's pretty close.

A really fun time working with Ellen; hopefully the solving experience amuses people!

 1B 2E 3T 4H 5E 6R 7E 8G 9O 10B 11I 12G 13T 14H 15E 16L 17A 18D 19Y 20U S H E R I N 21O H A R A 22R E T I R E E 23S Q U E A L S 24T O N E S 25A R I E T T A 26S U R 27S E L 28D O M 29S E 30A D O G 31I R R 32T A B 33L E 34E R N E 35T O R E 36E 37P S O N 38O R E O S 39R I T 40U M S 41R E T I E 42P E R P 43V O 44L 45G S A 46E S T D 47G 48E E 49O 50R E 51N 52U 53S 54H 55A 56L 57F 58F U L L 59C H O 60I S I 61T 62L 63I 64V 65E 66I N P E R I L 67Q U E R 68Y 69N E M E S I S 70M A N M A D E 71U S A G E 72A G E G A P S 73P I E R 74C E 75S 76A V E M E 77I 78N T L 79Y O U 80R 81M 82O N E Y 83O N 84L 85Y 86B R A Y E 87D 88B E L A B O R 89D R D O O 90M 91U R N 92S I 93P S 94I T O 95I 96S E E 97G L O 98T I N 99S T A R 100A F T E 101R 102T A X 103I C A B 104T T Y L 105R I 106F L E 107S A 108T E D 109N A T S 110R A G A 111I T O O 112H O W E 113A B E T 114E B O N 115S H O U 116L 117D 118I S T A Y 119P I N E 120S L A T 121T E D 122B E G 123E R E 124E N G R 125S E T S 126S E S 127J L O 128M D S 129T S O S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0215 ( 23,840 )