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New York Times, Thursday, February 9, 2017

Author:
Ross Trudeau
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
152/9/20174/3/20191
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5142300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58021
Ross Trudeau

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Trudeau. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ross Trudeau notes:
This puzzle owes its existence to my best mate, an Englishman from Nottingham. I get a big kick out of unnecessarily ... read more

This puzzle owes its existence to my best mate, an Englishman from Nottingham. I get a big kick out of unnecessarily translating/annotating what he says in front of other people. ("Oh, guys, 'knackered' means 'super tired.' Isn't that weird? He's from England.")

I wrote this puzzle, along with the first 20 or so that I sent out for consideration my puzzle editors, by hand. It was during the editorial process that I learned that constructors tend to use software to help with fill. The exchange went something like:

Me: They want edits. I can't look at this puzzle anymore.

Puzzle mentor: Will's right - you need to iron out the fill.

Me: *gurgle*

Puzzle mentor: What word list are you using? Are you running CrossFire?

Me: Uh... yeah. Crossed fire. *googles CrossFire*

Puzzle mentor: Ross? Ross?

Me: *gurgle*

After a semi-concussive facepalm, I chose to look back on my countless pencil-and-paper hours as a rite of passage. And I especially dig that BREXIT found a home in the fill. It is my great privilege to be able to honor my best mate — an immigrant and a good man — in these fraught days.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Ross contacted me about another puzzle a few weeks ago, asking for some rework advice. Neat to hear that Will accepted it ... read more

Debut! Ross contacted me about another puzzle a few weeks ago, asking for some rework advice. Neat to hear that Will accepted it shortly after.

I liked the idea, symmetrically placed terms for the same thing in America vs. England. I've highlighted them below, as I found them difficult to keep straight. Nice to have ATLANTIC OCEAN down the middle, dividing the puzzle just like it separates the US and Britain in real life.

This is a grid screaming for mirror (or left-right) symmetry — it would have made it so much easier to visualize the theme. It would have also elicited a mirror-world sci-fi analogy for us ubergeeks, one where when you look in the mirror, things are identical … except in very subtle ways.

I usually think MATHS is amusing, but in this case, it muddies the theme. Fun that QUEUEING is LINING UP, KNACKERED is EXHAUSTED, but MATHS is … MATH. According to the theme, MATH should be where ABASE is. Inelegant.

I also thought it was odd to have the American terms on the right-hand side, and the British on the left. Why not the other way around, to reflect real-world geography?

I enjoyed many of the bonuses, DEER HIDES and GO VIRAL in particular. I'm mixed on ALITERATE, which my stupid spell check keeps changing to ILLITERATE. The former has dictionary support, but I can't imagine using this word except in some sort of party trick.

Tough to work around so many theme entries, even if they are shortish. Ross does pretty well, minor ICI, RAH, ATUG. I WON, I HEAR, I CARE are all fine, but in aggregate they seem awfully repetitive.

The only real trouble spots came in the NE / SW, no surprise given their big sizes and constraints. I would have deployed more black squares in these sections to avoid the randomish E TRAIN and ... AFLERS. That last one is tough to swallow.

But overall, nice idea, with ATLANTIC OCEAN placed perfectly.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0209 ( 24,565 )
Across
1
Bit of resistance : OHM
4
Where or why, in Latin : QUA
7
Pats, e.g., before 1970 : AFLERS
13
Nowhere to be found, informally : MIA
14
Radius neighbor : ULNA
16
Subject of a notable 2016 referendum : BREXIT
17
"The only serious thing in the world," per Oscar Wilde : ART
18
Manhattan's ___ Village : EAST
19
Mercury, on the periodic table : EIGHTY
20
Biography subtitled "The Invention of India" : NEHRU
22
Able but unwilling to read : ALITERATE
24
It's debatable : ISSUE
25
Stadium cry : RAH
26
Trifling amount : SOU
27
Perceived intuitively : DIVINED
30
Exam that takes 2 hrs. and 45 mins. : PSAT
33
It has a top and a bottom with nothing in between : BIKINI
36
Damage the reputation of : TAR
37
Do monumental work? : ETCH
38
Trounce, informally : OWN
39
Get seen by, like, everyone : GOVIRAL
42
Bird whose wings are used as stabilizers, not for flying : EMU
43
Old English Christmas meat : BOAR
45
France's ___ du Bourget : LAC
46
Joshed : KIDDED
48
Back in the day : ONCE
49
Ljubljana resident : SLOVENE
51
Fast-food inits. : KFC
53
"Vous êtes ___" : ICI
54
Words of compassion : ICARE
58
Buckskins : DEERHIDES
61
1953 prize for Churchill : NOBEL
62
Ride to the World Trade Center : ETRAIN
63
Give ___ (yank) : ATUG
65
It ends in diciembre : ANO
66
At original speed, musically : ATEMPO
67
When repeated, Mork's sign-off : NANU
68
Motor oil brand : STP
69
Like New York City drivers, in popular belief : RUDEST
70
Soak (up) : SOP
71
Oxford-to-London dir. : ESE
Down
1
Neighbor of a Yemeni : OMANI
2
56-Down, across the 15-Down : HIRES
3
Numbers class, in England : MATHS
4
41-Down, across the 15-Down : QUEUEING
5
Suffix with form : ULA
6
Comedian Aziz : ANSARI
7
Drive a getaway car for, say : ABET
8
52-Down, across the 15-Down : FRIES
9
Surfer's tether : LEGROPE
10
35-Down, across the 15-Down : EXHAUSTED
11
Film director Martin : RITT
12
Ocular malady : STYE
15
"Pond" : ATLANTICOCEAN
21
Designer Gernreich : RUDI
23
"Rumor has it ..." : IHEAR
28
Early strings : VIOLS
29
Male duck : DRAKE
31
Crowning point : ACME
32
What a load might land with : THUD
33
Common clown name : BOBO
34
Triumphant boast : IWON
35
10-Down, across the 15-Down : KNACKERED
40
Bona fide : VALID
41
4-Down, across the 15-Down : LININGUP
44
Phrase differently, as a question : REFRAME
47
Like the BBC's headquarters, architecturally : DECO
50
Prospects : VISTAS
52
8-Down, across the 15-Down : CHIPS
55
Take down a peg : ABASE
56
2-Down, across the 15-Down : RENTS
57
Avoid having an arranged marriage, maybe : ELOPE
58
Honeybunch : DEAR
59
Caesarean rebuke : ETTU
60
Past the regulation period, informally : INOT
64
One, to Juan : UNO

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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