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New York Times, Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Author: Tom McCoy
Editor: Will Shortz
Tom McCoy
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JQWXZ} This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. McCoy. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tom McCoy notes: My worst fear as a constructor was realized when, as I was putting the completed grid into an envelope to submit it, I noticed that I ... more
Tom McCoy notes:

My worst fear as a constructor was realized when, as I was putting the completed grid into an envelope to submit it, I noticed that I had misspelled UMA THURMAN as UMA THERMAN. To fix this, the crossing answer would've had to become ERMINU. There was no good way to turn ERMINU into something that was actually a thing, so I redid the grid from scratch.

If Ms. Thurman is offended by the misspelling, I hope she will be mollified to hear that the song named after her is currently the most frequently played item on my iPod.

Jeff Chen notes: Great puzzle. How often do you see two symmetrical revealers — both totally apt? Occasionally you'll see that double-revealer ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Great puzzle. How often do you see two symmetrical revealers — both totally apt? Occasionally you'll see that double-revealer sort of thing in a Sunday puzzle, but it'll be with a revealer in the grid and a perfect title (one of Tom's previous puzzles did this really well — I've appreciated that one more and more with time). Today we get MIDDLE CLASS and CENTER FIELD, which both describe the concept so well: school majors hidden within themers.

Bellatrix LeStrange, Voldemort, and Lucius Malfoy, some of the DEATH EATERS

As if that weren't enough, Tom made some beautiful discoveries. THEATER in DEATH EATERS is brilliant and contemporary. MATH in UMA THURMAN is also fun, and it kind of hints at efforts to get girls more interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). (Okay, maybe that's just me.)

But wait, there's more! Fitting six themers into a 15x puzzle is hard enough that I expect to see some crossword glue and little to no long bonus fill. Tom works in SKYDIVER and EAST ASIA with a great "1984" clue, and manages to do so with really no price to pay. Some may balk at LOCI, but it's a common enough term in both MATH and ECON. Ha!

I had to scan through the grid a few times just to pick out MSS and … that's it for crossword glue. It's amazing that Tom crammed in so much theme and bonus fill with virtually no trade-offs. It seems to break the laws of physics, but it's a testament to the hours Tom clearly put in, working and reworking the grid to make it great.

A clinic on crossword-making. Neat theme with two perfect revealers, high theme density, long bonus fill, virtually no glue required. A standout puzzle, one that I appreciated even more as I studied its architechure.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0203 ( 24,193 )
Across Down
1. Infomercial presentation, e.g. : SPIEL
6. Many fourth-down plays : PUNTS
11. Take to the hills? : SKI
14. Scaly wall-scaler : GECKO
15. HI hi : ALOHA
16. QB Brady : TOM
17. Seize the reins : TAKECONTROL
19. Bauxite or galena : ORE
20. Fall guy? : SKYDIVER
21. What pi may be used to find : AREA
22. Female lead in "Gattaca" and "Kill Bill" : UMATHURMAN
26. Drive away : REPEL
30. Tirade : RANT
31. Bourgeoisie ... or a description of each group of circled letters? : MIDDLECLASS
34. Sound from a terrier : ARF
37. Genre of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" : SCIFI
38. Avail : AID
39. Concur : AGREE
41. Adjust, as a watch : SET
42. Baseball position ... or a description of each group of circled letters? : CENTERFIELD
45. Barn neighbor : SILO
46. Itty-bitty : EENSY
47. In eager anticipation : ALLATINGLE
52. F.B.I. action : RAID
53. Superstate in "1984" : EASTASIA
59. Avail oneself of : USE
60. Followers of Lord Voldemort : DEATHEATERS
63. Beseech : BEG
64. Go around in circles : ORBIT
65. What might get an A1 application? : STEAK
66. "What ___ the odds?!" : ARE
67. Some Arizona flora : CACTI
68. Grosses : EARNS
1. Pepper and others: Abbr. : SGTS
2. Maximum : PEAK
3. Gross : ICKY
4. Barely obtained, with "out" : EKED
5. Focal points : LOCI
6. "The Hunger Games" nation : PANEM
7. Very, very : ULTRA
8. "Neither snow ___ rain ..." : NOR
9. However, in brief : THO
10. "My Gal ___" (song classic) : SAL
11. Hurricane, e.g. : STORM
12. Land partitioned in 1945 : KOREA
13. "That is to say ..." : IMEAN
18. Future seed : OVULE
21. "___ washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life": Picasso : ART
23. Commerce : TRADE
24. Owns : HAS
25. Hazardous : UNSAFE
26. Source of about 20% of the calories consumed by humanity : RICE
27. Work with 31-Down : EDIT
28. File name ending in Adobe Acrobat : PDF
29. Draw out : ELICIT
31. Some submissions: Abbr. : MSS
32. Group of established works : CANON
33. Put a match to : LIT
34. God whose name is a homophone of a zodiac sign : ARES
35. Count (on) : RELY
36. Made dinner for : FED
40. Cotton ___ : GIN
43. ___ Whitney : ELI
44. Witherspoon of "Legally Blonde" : REESE
45. Down : SAD
47. Dutch Caribbean island : ARUBA
48. Surgical beam : LASER
49. Feudal lord : LIEGE
50. Question sometimes accompanied by an elbow jab : GETIT
51. Christine of "Chicago Hope" : LAHTI
54. Shock, in a way : TASE
55. The U.N.'s Kofi ___ Annan : ATTA
56. Forward-looking person? : SEER
57. Persia, nowadays : IRAN
58. Requests, with "for" : ASKS
60. File name ending in Word : DOC
61. Long time : ERA
62. Epitome of simplicity : ABC

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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