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New York Times, Monday, February 15, 2016

Author: David J. Kahn
Editor: Will Shortz
David J. Kahn
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1753/15/199412/12/20175
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4351222551226
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5513180

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 83, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 163 for Mr. Kahn. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David J. Kahn notes: My 'connection' to presidents goes back to the time in the late 90's when Bill Clinton, who's a big crosswords fan, talked about one of my ... more
David J. Kahn notes:

My "connection" to presidents goes back to the time in the late 90's when Bill Clinton, who's a big crosswords fan, talked about one of my Sunday NYT puzzles at a White House conference on technology and the Internet. Since then, I've written several president-themed puzzles, including one to commemorate the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library in 2004. And my latest book of (40) puzzles, "White House Crosswords", came out a few months ago.

Word ladder-themed puzzles have been done before but this puzzle is a little different by adding a third president between the top and bottom ones. I was about to stop there but OVAL OFFICE and POCKET VETO interlocked nicely with POLK and FORD respectively. I then needed two other parallel Down answers, which took a lot longer to come up with. But sometimes you just get lucky.

Jeff Chen notes: Word ladder to commemorate Presidents' Day, POLK to TAFT to FORD. I was hoping there would be a natural progression, i.e. President #11 to #22 ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Word ladder to commemorate Presidents' Day, POLK to TAFT to FORD. I was hoping there would be a natural progression, i.e. President #11 to #22 to #33 or something, but it goes from #11 to #27 to ... #38? Ah well, that would have been asking for a lot.

"Young Hickory"? POLK got the shaft when nicknames were handed out

A word ladder with 11 steps creates all sorts of constraints on a grid. You might think: all those little short words, what's the big deal? But check out how many down entries cross two rungs of the ladder — every single one of the middle(-ish) ones. That's a ton of inflexibility foisted upon one grid. I'm impressed that David got that swath configured with only a smattering of AERO and ATILT. That's nice work!

I can totally see the allure of the beautiful OVAL OFFICE / LEGISLATOR set of parallel downs. I usually don't like when a grid has some random fill which feels theme-ish, as that makes it feel watered down and unintentional, but there's so much presidential material packed in today that I enjoyed the effect . And that corner is so nice — I don't mind ECO at all, since it has many ways it can be clued (including author Umberto), and Gen XER works too.

The opposite corner perfectly demonstrates the difficulty that symmetry imposes on a constructor. That SE is already tough to fill, and when you try to shove in POCKET VETO, you're bound to need some glue to hold the section together. PQR is so, so ugly, a random run of letters. ITER is one of those old-school Maleskan bits, and crossing ALIF makes it hard to justify, especially for a Monday. Oof, that's not good at all.

Ideally, I would have liked more elegance in the grid, TAFT smack dab in the middle of the grid at the very least. And it would have been stunning to get some sort of natural order — can you imagine how cool it would have been if President #11 had been at 11-Across, President #22 at 22-Across, etc.? But still, it was fun to get so much Presidential feel.

1
P
2
O
3
L
4
K
5
A
6
M
7
T
8
S
9
B
10
E
11
L
12
I
13
E
14
D
15
O
V
E
N
16
P
O
R
K
17
E
V
O
L
V
E
18
I
A
G
O
19
P
L
A
Y
20
R
E
U
S
E
S
21
S
L
I
T
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E
A
S
E
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N
24
P
A
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K
25
E
O
S
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D
A
R
K
27
C
A
28
S
E
29
F
L
30
A
I
L
S
31
D
A
R
T
32
P
33
Q
34
R
35
F
A
W
N
S
36
W
E
N
D
Y
37
O
U
I
38
T
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T
L
E
39
D
A
F
T
40
L
41
A
C
E
D
42
E
C
O
43
T
44
H
E
F
T
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P
I
C
K
S
46
X
E
R
47
T
A
F
T
48
G
A
S
K
E
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49
A
E
R
O
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T
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S
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O
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R
E
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L
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A
V
O
W
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I
D
O
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60
D
O
61
E
B
O
N
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L
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D
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D
64
F
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Y
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67
T
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68
F
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D
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0215 ( 24,205 )
Across Down
1. President after Tyler : POLK
5. Quantities: Abbr. : AMTS
9. Contradicted : BELIED
15. Microwave, e.g. : OVEN
16. Excess spending by Congress : PORK
17. Change over time : EVOLVE
18. "Othello" villain : IAGO
19. Opposite of work : PLAY
20. Doesn't just throw away : REUSES
21. Cut with a knife : SLIT
22. Enter gradually : EASEIN
24. New York's Washington Square ___ : PARK
25. Canon camera brand : EOS
26. ___ horse (surprise candidate) : DARK
27. Job for a sleuth : CASE
29. Swings wildly : FLAILS
31. Blowgun ammunition : DART
32. Letters between O and S : PQR
35. Young deer : FAWNS
36. "Peter Pan" girl : WENDY
37. Yes, to Yves : OUI
38. President-elect, e.g. : TITLE
39. Touched in the head : DAFT
40. Like sneakers and corsets : LACED
42. Earth-friendly prefix : ECO
43. Stealing : THEFT
45. Nominates : PICKS
46. Gen ___ (boomer's child) : XER
47. President after Roosevelt : TAFT
48. Blow a ___ (lose one's temper) : GASKET
49. Prefix with dynamic : AERO
50. Mini-pie : TART
51. "___ well" (George Washington's last words) : TIS
53. Legal wrong : TORT
56. Tell : RELATE
58. Swear to : AVOW
59. Chorus after "Who wants ice cream?" : IDOIDO
61. Black, to a bard : EBON
62. Former late-night host Jay : LENO
63. Used a rotary phone : DIALED
64. Baltimore's ___ McHenry : FORT
65. Roman road : ITER
66. Gossipy types : YENTAS
67. Chuck : TOSS
68. President after Nixon : FORD
1. Composure : POISE
2. President's workplace : OVALOFFICE
3. Senator or representative : LEGISLATOR
4. End of one's rope? : KNOT
5. Takes to a higher court : APPEALS
6. Grinding teeth : MOLARS
7. Cal ___, Dean's "East of Eden" role : TRASK
8. Terrier type : SKYE
9. St. ___ (dog) : BERNARD
10. Adam's madam : EVE
11. Jeweler's magnifying glass : LOUPE
12. "Casablanca" woman : ILSA
13. For all time : EVER
14. 2-Down fixture : DESK
23. Quitter's words : ICANT
26. Breakfast alcove : DINETTE
28. Coif creator : STYLIST
30. Shoemaker's tool : AWL
31. Like a magician's hands : DEFT
32. President's option for an unwanted bill : POCKETVETO
33. Participant at a presidential press conference, say : QUESTIONER
34. Clear (of) : RID
36. Float, as an aroma : WAFT
38. Home for G. W. Bush : TEX
39. Daniel who wrote "Robinson Crusoe" : DEFOE
41. Comic strip cry of dismay : ACK
44. Famous London department store : HARRODS
45. Mom and dad : PARENTS
48. Swamp critters : GATORS
49. Slanted : ATILT
50. Off-limits : TABOO
52. Zorro's weapon : SWORD
53. Neat : TIDY
54. "Garfield" dog : ODIE
55. Horse color : ROAN
57. Liberals, with "the" : LEFT
58. A, in Arabic : ALIF
60. Anti-trafficking org. : DEA

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

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