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New York Times, Thursday, February 20, 2014

Author:
Zhouqin Burnikel and Don Gagliardo
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6411/13/20126/26/201919
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
620187472
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1211/13/20129/19/201712
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3151200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58131
Don Gagliardo

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 8 for Ms. Burnikel. This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Gagliardo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
ZHOUQIN (C.C.): This idea occurred to me when I put WOODROW in a down slot one day & misread it as the two-word WOOD ROW. Don ... read more

ZHOUQIN (C.C.):

This idea occurred to me when I put WOODROW in a down slot one day & misread it as the two-word WOOD ROW. Don did all the hard work on the grid design. I initially used a 5 & 5 & 3 word break on the very top & bottom rows. Simply could not make the grid work, not to mention including a few long downs.

DON:

This idea places a burden on the construction, because we were stuck using lengths of words that must work out to rows and be symmetrically arranged. And then sticking WOOD ROW in the center made it even more difficult.

CC and I share filling and cluing. On a personal note, I was happy to get RUBINSTEIN into the grid. That was on my half of the grid. Way back when I was a senior in high school (1972), Rubinstein came to Cleveland to perform a recital of all Chopin music. I was in heaven, being a Chopin fan and a Rubinstein fan. I was witness to an extraordinary event. Other than that answer, it is not a very exciting grid for us to design, because we both like more complexity, with some longer entries. The theme really limited what we could do.

Jeff Chen notes:
WOODROW parsed into WOOD ROW today, i.e. rows of short answers, each of which can follow the word WOOD. Who knew there were so many ... read more

WOODROW parsed into WOOD ROW today, i.e. rows of short answers, each of which can follow the word WOOD. Who knew there were so many words that go with WOOD?

This may seem like an easy construction, given the short theme answers, but it is no mean feat. In some ways, it's actually harder to use short theme answers than long ones. Counterintuitive perhaps, but this sort of arrangement can be very difficult due to crossword norms, both related to integration of long fill.

First, the 78 word maximum. Today's grid would have been a piece of cake if C.C. and Don could have used 82 words. That would have let them break up entries like GOING OVER, PREDATORY, etc. But there's a reason for that 78 word maximum — those types of long entries are a big part of what makes a crossword spicy and interesting. Of all the entries today, my favorites were I DON'T BUY IT, POP DIVA, and RUBINSTEIN (I'm a fan too, Don!). Breaking up those entries would have been a real shame.

Then there's the presentation of said longest answers. Typically, solvers tend to think that the theme of a puzzle is contained within the longest across answers. And for good reason — that is the case 90% of the time! So when there's an anomalous grid like today's, the constructor(s) have to be careful not to mislead the solver. No doubt that the shaded (or circled) entries help distinguish the themers from the non-themers, but I couldn't help wondering what PREDATORY and ORIGINALS had to do with WOOD at first.

Finally, in this type of arrangement, the puzzle's zing is highly dependent on the long down fill, since the theme is basically a "words that can follow X" type of theme. In addition to I DON'T BUY IT and POP DIVA and RUBENSTEIN, CLAY COURT is particularly nice. But GOING OVER seems to me like a missed opportunity. Nine-letter spaces are meant for snazz. I realize that it might not have been possible due to the high constraints today, but that still doesn't keep me from wishing that entry had been something more splashy.

Tough construction challenge today with relatively smooth fill. Good workout.

1
C
2
H
3
I
4
P
5
S
6
T
7
O
8
C
9
K
10
P
11
I
12
L
13
E
14
L
E
N
O
15
L
A
D
L
E
16
A
D
O
S
17
A
A
R
P
18
A
R
O
A
R
19
D
O
R
M
20
P
R
E
D
21
A
T
O
R
Y
22
A
R
N
I
E
23
I
C
E
S
24
C
25
O
S
E
T
26
C
27
A
28
R
V
E
R
29
W
O
R
K
30
B
31
I
32
N
33
A
G
U
A
34
G
A
U
Z
E
35
U
N
E
36
R
O
B
37
W
38
O
O
D
R
O
W
39
Y
A
W
40
O
R
I
41
A
D
I
E
T
42
S
I
N
E
43
M
A
N
44
W
I
N
D
45
C
46
U
T
T
E
R
47
S
48
L
A
N
G
49
R
O
N
A
50
T
51
A
T
A
S
52
O
53
R
I
G
I
N
54
A
55
L
56
S
57
O
N
E
S
58
E
V
A
D
E
59
C
R
O
P
60
O
K
I
E
61
T
E
T
O
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62
E
C
R
U
63
L
A
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64
C
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F
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65
S
H
E
D
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0220 ( 23,480 )
Across
1
One may follow a long drive : CHIP
5
CNBC topic : STOCK
10
Tidy sum : PILE
14
Subject of the 1994 best seller "The Late Shift" : LENO
15
Scoop : LADLE
16
Flurries : ADOS
17
Big mailer to the over-50 crowd : AARP
18
More than loud : AROAR
19
Building often near a cafeteria : DORM
20
Rapacious : PREDATORY
22
The Golf Channel co-founder, to fans : ARNIE
23
Ones getting a good licking? : ICES
24
Math subgroup : COSET
26
George Washington, for one : CARVER
29
Do the trick : WORK
30
Trash collector : BIN
33
What un desierto lacks : AGUA
34
First-aid kit staple : GAUZE
35
Article in Vogue Paris : UNE
36
Mug, e.g. : ROB
37
First name of a former president ... or, read another way, what each of the shaded lines is : WOODROW
39
Veer off course : YAW
40
"... ___ go!" : ORI
41
Reducing, after "on" : ADIET
42
___ die : SINE
43
"Phew!" : MAN
44
Empty talk : WIND
45
Patrol boat : CUTTER
47
Dictionary label : SLANG
49
Gossipy Barrett : RONA
50
Cheerios : TATAS
52
Things often left at copy shops : ORIGINALS
57
Kind of place : ONES
58
Dodge : EVADE
59
Rice, for one : CROP
60
"The Grapes of Wrath" figure : OKIE
61
Wyoming's ___ Range : TETON
62
Nude alternative : ECRU
63
Reel in : LAND
64
Origami, e.g. : CRAFT
65
Drop, as pounds : SHED
Down
1
Make some noise : CLAP
2
When repeated, "Amen!" : HEAR
3
Latin phrase on a memo : INRE
4
Pink, e.g. : POPDIVA
5
Laborer on an old roof, maybe : SLATER
6
Island roots : TAROS
7
Body ___ : ODOR
8
French Open feature : CLAYCOURT
9
Flooey lead-in : KER
10
One wearing a collar : PADRE
11
"You failed to convince me" : IDONTBUYIT
12
Petty of "A League of Their Own" : LORI
13
Salinger girl : ESME
21
Hotshot : ACE
22
Out of kilter : ASKEW
25
Ricelike pasta : ORZO
26
Ricochet : CAROM
27
Old shopping locale : AGORA
28
Polish-born musician who was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom : RUBINSTEIN
29
Got one's feet wet? : WADED
31
Harebrained : INANE
32
More current : NEWER
34
Reviewing : GOINGOVER
37
Jazz trumpet sounds : WAWAS
38
God with two ravens on his shoulders : ODIN
42
Golf fundamentals : STANCES
45
Convincing, as an argument : COGENT
46
Prefix with brow : UNI
48
Zapped, in a way : LASED
49
Through with : RIDOF
50
Drill, for one : TOOL
51
Paul in the Songwriters Hall of Fame : ANKA
53
Pro ___ : RATA
54
Sole support? : ARCH
55
Tales of old : LORE
56
Source of some carbs : SPUD
58
...: Abbr. : ETC

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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