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New York Times, Thursday, February 18, 2016

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
441/3/201310/31/20184
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312128450
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1.58042
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 46 Missing: {QXY} This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes:
My day job is ophthalmology, so you might think this 'I' surgery puzzle would be right in my wheelhouse. That was not really the case, ... read more

My day job is ophthalmology, so you might think this "I" surgery puzzle would be right in my wheelhouse. That was not really the case, as it was a long hard process. The first version of this puzzle looked much like this version, but the only entries that used the I's were the four horizontal corner entries. Anna Shechtman (Will's assistant at the time) wrote back and said Will was not overly impressed with the four entry tie-in, but if I could do the trick with all 24 horizontal entries that touch the I's "that would be cool". This was great news, sort of, and I remember spending a minute wondering whether the lovely and talented Anna thought it would be cool, or just Will. Hmmm...

The puzzle probably seems like it would be nearly impossible to construct, but it actually was pretty easy once I realized I could utilize "heavy bars" like the ones used in the puzzle of 12/19/13, and as mentioned by David Steinberg in his constructor blurb of 1/1/16.

Will and Joel decided not to use my idea to clue BIG at 40-Across as "like two of the letters used in this puzzle", but Nancy Schuster (one of Will's testers) told me she would NOT have wanted that revealer. Hope you experienced a nice aha moment when the Big I's came into focus. Matt Ginsberg, if you are out there, I'd be interested to know how Dr. Fill (crossword solving software) did on this puzzle...

Jeff Chen notes:
What a great idea, the giant black 'I's in the grid sneakily playing a role in a crazy number of across answers. In case you missed ... read more

What a great idea, the giant black "I"s in the grid sneakily playing a role in a crazy number of across answers. In case you missed the idea, check out 1-Across. The answer looks so wrong as ADELPH … and that's because it is! It needs that I formed out of black squares to become ADELPHI. Similarly, at 7-Across, TEM ONE has to be wrong, yeah? That's because it's really (the giant black I) + TEM ONE = ITEM ONE. A gem of an idea.

SAMURA ... I!

Interesting commentary from Bruce — I agree with Will that only a few across answers using those "I"s wouldn't have been very elegant. I appreciate Bruce taking up the challenge to go for broke by requiring EVERY SINGLE ACROSS ANSWER THAT RUNS INTO A BLACK I TO USE IT. That's a really tough challenge, especially considering that relatively few words end in I (compared to E, S, T, etc.).

I felt like the ones like (I)CEMAKER, (I)DBADGE and HOT CHIL(I) worked best, because 1.) they're really nice phrases in themselves, and 2.) they look completely wrong without the I. Typically I find "wrong-looking" themers a bit clunky, but in this case, it's perfect. Answers like JAMES I and LIED don't feel nearly as nice — I totally missed that it's actually JAMES II who was England's last Catholic king, not JAMES I, since the latter looks perfectly fine.

Of course, I'd prefer to keep gluey bits like ICAL out of any grid, and especially out of any themers, but some of that is probably bound to happen given the giant constraints of the grid. I mean, when a full 24 (!) of your across answers are "special," there's bound to be some strain in the form of EFTS (young newts), ERST, ENCE, etc.

I really liked the concept here, and if all the "thematic" material had been as good as SAMURA(I) even, it would have been an easy choice for the POW! Unfortunately, there was enough of the PONT(I) and TRO(I) and the aforementioned that it felt like there was some potential left on the table. Still, a very fun solve.

1
A
2
D
3
E
4
L
5
P
6
H
7
T
8
E
9
M
10
O
11
N
12
E
13
L
I
T
E
R
A
14
T
15
C
E
M
A
K
E
R
16
A
N
D
S
O
D
O
17
O
N
I
Z
I
N
G
18
S
O
S
19
M
A
U
20
C
A
L
21
E
E
O
22
P
O
N
T
23
O
N
I
24
A
25
J
26
A
27
M
E
S
I
28
T
A
L
29
I
30
C
31
S
32
A
T
I
T
33
P
34
L
35
A
36
N
S
37
E
N
C
E
38
D
A
N
39
O
H
O
40
B
I
G
41
E
R
S
42
T
43
K
N
A
V
44
E
45
M
E
N
U
46
N
I
K
O
47
L
A
48
D
49
B
A
D
G
E
50
G
O
T
51
T
52
L
I
E
D
53
W
54
C
55
S
56
T
R
O
57
O
T
A
58
F
59
E
60
E
61
H
O
T
62
C
H
I
L
63
N
I
T
64
S
E
L
F
65
O
P
E
R
A
N
D
66
G
N
O
R
E
I
T
67
S
A
M
U
R
A
68
G
N
I
T
E
S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0218 ( 24,208 )
Across
1. Long Island university : ADELPHI
7. Agenda starter : ITEMONE
13. Well-read folks : LITERATI
15. Cube source : ICEMAKER
16. "Me too" : ANDSODOI
17. Like some radiation : IONIZING
18. Rihanna's first #1 single : SOS
19. Windsurfing mecca : MAUI
20. Suffix with class : ICAL
21. Fair-hiring inits. : EEO
22. Carlo in the film business : PONTI
23. Land of ancient Ephesus : IONIA
25. England's last Catholic king : JAMESII
28. Sign of stress : ITALICS
32. Quarreling : ATIT
33. Vague reason for a social turndown : PLANS
37. Verb-to-noun suffix : ENCE
38. Martial arts rank : DAN
39. "So THAT'S the trick here!" : OHO
40. Popular : BIG
41. At one time, once : ERST
43. Jack : KNAVE
45. It may start with "Starters" : MENU
46. Composer Rimsky-Korsakov : NIKOLAI
48. One might get you in : IDBADGE
50. Don-turned-con : GOTTI
52. Storyteller's admission : ILIED
53. Johns : WCS
56. "Star Trek: T.N.G." role : TROI
57. Whit : IOTA
58. Charge : FEE
61. Food item that may be eaten on a dare : HOTCHILI
63. Per se : INITSELF
65. Modus ___ : OPERANDI
66. "Forget they said that" : IGNOREIT
67. Follower of the Bushido code : SAMURAI
68. Lights : IGNITES
Down
1. "I wish it weren't so" : ALAS
2. Rat Pack nickname : DINO
3. Airport data, for short : ETDS
4. French article : LES
5. Trailers, e.g. : PROMOS
6. Sampled the sauce : HADANIP
7. Flat population? : TENANTS
8. Iago's wife : EMILIA
9. ___ Kanata, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" character : MAZ
10. "The Grapes of Wrath" migrant : OKIE
11. Rarest of the 50 state birds : NENE
12. So : ERGO
14. Ballyhoo : TOUT
15. First name in fashion : COCO
22. Stroke : PET
24. Bitter ___ : ALE
25. Will Smith's actor son : JADEN
26. Space Invaders maker : ATARI
27. Eastern European capital : MINSK
29. Laid up, say : INBED
30. Sharing mail with, in a way : CCING
31. Transition : SEGUE
34. First name in horror : LON
35. "Now I see!" : AHA
36. Halloween follower: Abbr. : NOV
42. Deck (out) : TOG
43. Devastating name in 2005 news : KATRINA
44. There are two Oscars for it : EDITING
45. "___ Men" : MAD
47. Mandrake the Magician's sidekick : LOTHAR
49. Pummel : BEATON
51. Squealed : TOLD
52. Past the baseline, in tennis : LONG
53. "... but ___ counting?" : WHOS
54. Lola's club, in brief : COPA
55. Hold back : STEM
58. Stocking stuffers : FEET
59. "Night" memoirist Wiesel : ELIE
60. New newts : EFTS
62. Grand ___ (wine phrase) : CRU
64. Title of respect that's an anagram of another title of respect : SRI

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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