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New York Times, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Author:
Jeffrey Wechsler
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
197/17/19693/13/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0146710
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.571201
Jeffrey Wechsler

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 82, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JXZ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 19 for Mr. Wechsler. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeffrey Wechsler notes:
Occasionally a phrase presents itself that immediately triggers the thought that it might be conducive to a crossword theme. I've always been ... read more

Occasionally a phrase presents itself that immediately triggers the thought that it might be conducive to a crossword theme. I've always been interested in themes that use diagonal sets of letters in a grid, so the "oblique" of OBLIQUE REFERENCE became a natural source for that format, and "reference" suggested the use of standard forms of reference books.

I liked the idea, but the construction, which needed to place the diagonals within the strictures of a symmetrical grid while including a large number of triple-checked letters, was very hard to manage. When I submitted the puzzle, the response was that the theme was good, but one entry could not be accepted. Several revisions followed, all receiving a "close but no cigar" response. I am very thankful to Will for having enough interest in theme to allow me to battle it out with the grid until it finally became acceptable. I hope solvers get some enjoyment from the final product.

Jeff Chen notes:
Four REFERENCEs placed OBLIQUEly, i.e., diagonally through the grid. Any time I see diagonal entries, I brace myself for the onslaught of ... read more

Four REFERENCEs placed OBLIQUEly, i.e., diagonally through the grid. Any time I see diagonal entries, I brace myself for the onslaught of crossword glue. Four long ones forced me to take a deep breath before jumping in.

Pleasant surprise to not get as much as I expected! And I was mighty impressed by the SW corner. That's bound to be tough, considering that there are two intersecting themers and a whole lot of white space. I didn't say WHAT A BORE at all, especially since that corner came out so colorful AND clean.

No doubt, there were some rough patches, notably the south: ERTE KRONER (even as a finance guy, I blinked when it turned out not to be KRONOR), ERTE, ROUE, VERSO. None of those entries are bad, but as a whole, oof.

What interested me most about the puzzle was Jeffrey's decision to use mirror symmetry. He could easily have used regular symmetry, placing OBLIQUE REFERENCE in the center. But think about how many diagonal entries would have had to intersect that. He could have snuck ATLAS in a corner, but the other three would have had to run through OBLIQUE REFERENCE, making the gridwork almost impossible. At first, I thought it was an odd choice to use mirror symmetry, but it's a clever way to solve a difficult construction problem.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this more from a constructor's perspective than a solver's. After filling one REFERENCE in, the game was up, and what with the dabs of crossword glue and the heavy grid segmentation, it didn't provide much solving joy. But I did have a good time going back to deconstruct how Jeffrey went about the tough gridwork challenge.

1
D
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A
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A
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D
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P
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H
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D
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U
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O
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O
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F
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T
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W
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I
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N
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M
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B
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B
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F
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K
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P
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B
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0313 ( 25,327 )
Across
1
Metallic waste : DROSS
6
Isn't a bystander : ACTS
10
Longtime Syrian leader : ASSAD
15
Preferred seating request : AISLE
16
Get ready for planting : PLOW
17
In ___ (developing) : UTERO
18
Understood : TACIT
19
Ithaca, to Odysseus : HOME
20
Odysseus, to Ithaca : RULER
21
Les ___-Unis : ETATS
22
Patent preceder : IDEA
23
Girder type : IBEAM
24
Lineage-based women's grp. : DAR
25
"___ be my pleasure!" : ITD
27
"Star Trek: ___" (syndicated series of the '80s-'90s) : TNG
29
Draft org. : SSS
30
Pizza chain : UNO
31
Stumblebum : OAF
33
Rare craps throws : TWOS
36
Like Mercury among all the planets : INMOST
41
Legendary Manhattan music club : CBGB
45
"Here comes trouble!" : OHNO
46
Distance for Captain Nemo : LEAGUE
47
___ package : CARE
48
Big name in mortgages? : MAE
49
TV host Ryan : SEACREST
51
Singer Carly ___ Jepsen : RAE
52
Hide away : STASH
54
Place to go to swim, informally : THEY
55
Mythical figure known for ribaldry : SATYR
57
Writer Edgar ___ Poe : ALLAN
59
Places where streams flow : VALES
60
Indirect comment ... or a hint to this puzzle's circled letters : OBLIQUEREFERENCE
66
Org. for students in uniform : ROTC
67
Danish money : KRONER
68
Blackberrys, e.g., for short : PDAS
69
Spread in a spread : BRIE
70
27 Chopin works : ETUDES
71
Bombard : PELT
72
Acorn, essentially : SEED
73
Deals with : SEESTO
74
Indulged to excess, with "on" : ODED
Down
1
Like the slang "da bomb" and "tubular, man!" : DATED
2
Vaquero's item : RIATA
3
Award for Washington and Lee : OSCAR
4
Pupil of a lizard, e.g. : SLIT
5
Becomes established : SETSIN
6
Garden pest : APHID
7
Dummkopf : CLOD
8
"Personally ..." : TOME
9
Worry about, informally : SWEAT
10
The Charioteer constellation : AURIGA
11
Bit of theater detritus : STUB
12
Tennis Hall-of-Famer with a palindromic name : SELES
13
Arts and hard sciences, e.g. : AREAS
14
Sides of some quads : DORMS
26
Pictorial fabric : TOILE
28
Studying aid : NOTES
30
Grp. that gets the show on the road : USO
32
Recipient of media complaints, for short : FCC
33
Some turkeys : TOMS
34
[Yawn!] : WHATABORE
35
1-1 : ONEALLTIE
37
Well-organized : NEAT
38
Eponymous physicist Ernst : MACH
39
Horrid sort : OGRE
40
Chop ___ : SUEY
42
Made the rounds, say? : BARTENDED
43
It varies from black to white : GRAYSCALE
44
Ballpark purchase : BEER
49
N.B.A. Hall-of-Famer with four rap albums, informally : SHAQ
50
"The Tale of ___ Saltan" (Rimsky-Korsakov opera) : TSAR
53
Like some golf shots and most bread : SLICED
56
City under siege from 2012 to '16 : ALEPPO
58
"No ___" (bumper sticker) : NUKES
59
Page 2, 4 or 6, generally : VERSO
60
Space balls : ORBS
61
Art Deco notable : ERTE
62
Dissolute man : ROUE
63
Butts : ENDS
64
"Dogs" : FEET
65
Abbr. on a brewery sign : ESTD

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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