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New York Times, Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Author: George Barany and John D. Child
Editor: Will Shortz
George Barany
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
91/22/20063/21/20179
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2010321
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54120
John D. Child
TotalDebutCollabs
13/21/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61010

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 5 This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Barany. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Child NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: GEORGE: John started working on this puzzle in April 2015 but got sidetracked by the earthquake in Nepal later that month. In early ... more
Constructor notes:

GEORGE: John started working on this puzzle in April 2015 but got sidetracked by the earthquake in Nepal later that month. In early summer, he sent me a prototype to ask for help. I was sure that all five tastes could be incorporated into 15-letter theme answers and made a new grid. We worked through eight or nine versions of that and sent the puzzle to a few people to test solve in late summer 2015. With their feedback we reworked the grid again and iterated fill changes through another half-dozen versions to what you see today. Submitted September 2015 and accepted in December of that year.

We were pleased to find a sweet spot for the revealer, TASTE, crossing two theme answers. It's nice to see that our clues for SCENE and OUTIE are in the final version, and we especially enjoyed Will and Joel's clue for PURE MATHEMATICS. Ours was {Goldbach's conjecture, e.g.}.

JOHN: In October of 2014 I made a puzzle and asked on a crossword discussion blog for testers. I got a gratifying number of very helpful comments, including a long email from George packed with suggestions and information and including a link to xwordinfo.com. (Jeff: my subscription is George's fault: when I saw my own puzzle in the "Analyze view" I was hooked.) George has been my mentor since then, and I owe the opportunity to appear in the Times today to him and his group of crossword friends.

Jeff Chen notes: The five taste sensations get spread through themers: SALTY, SOUR, BITTER, SWEET, and UMAMI. I've found that UMAMI isn't as ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

The five taste sensations get spread through themers: SALTY, SOUR, BITTER, SWEET, and UMAMI. I've found that UMAMI isn't as well-known as I would have thought, but way back in school I did only learn about the four basic tastes. (UMAMI is Japanese, meaning roughly "savory.")

I learned the four tastes in a particular order, which I would have liked to see reflected in the themers: SWEET always came first, followed by SOUR, BITTER, SALTY. But that's not a strict ordering, so I don't mind the mixed-up order of the themers too much.

Impressive gridwork, considering that there are five 15-letter answers — rarely an easy task. In virtually every area of the grid, the down answers have to work through two themers, sometimes even three (UPTURNS, CHIMNEY, RIVIERA). So much inflexibility; so difficult to not have at least one section that's problematic.

I wonder if George and John started with the order of themers I mentioned, but realized that switching some of them around would produce better fill? If that's the case, I think that's a great decision, because the fill is so remarkably smooth for such rough constraints. Sure, there's the minor REL, ORA, ALTE, and the head-scratching IM MEAN (has anyone ever heard this uttered in real life?). But that's much, much less than I would have expected from a puzzle featuring five grid-spanning themers. Well done.

Overall, I wish there were something more playful to the theme. I'm not sure how else you could incorporate the five tastes into phrases, besides spreading them through themers like this. The first four tastes are easy — SWEET JESUS! for example — but UMAMI muddies the picture.

"There's no accounting for taste" feels just so, so ripe for wordplay! Accounting puns, anyone? Perhaps SWEET JESUS! or SOUR GRAPES or BITTER END or SALTY LANGUAGE could somehow be tied to accountants and audits? Maybe?

Maybe not, but this finance geek sure enjoys thinking about the possibilities.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0321 ( 24,605 )
Across Down
1. Work like Dürer : ETCH
5. Peter or Paul, but not Mary : TSAR
9. Bath fixture : BASIN
14. Lilting melodies : AIRS
15. Concerning, to a lawyer : INRE
16. Musical with the song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" : EVITA
17. Trick football play : STATUEOFLIBERTY
20. ___ bark beetle : ELM
21. One side of a debate : PRO
22. Dude, Jamaica-style : MON
23. Office staple since the 1980s : DESKTOPCOMPUTER
30. Birth control method, for short : IUD
31. Peach or plum : HUE
32. Descartes's "therefore" : ERGO
33. Super Bowl-winning QB Bart : STARR
36. Bollywood soundtrack instrument : SITAR
38. "... man ___ mouse? : ORA
39. High-ranking British Parliament member : CABINETMINISTER
42. Doctors' org. : AMA
43. Something one shouldn't make in public : SCENE
44. Lifesavers for cops and sailors : VESTS
45. Disposable lighters and pens : BICS
47. The mark of Zorro : ZEE
48. You, abroad : SIE
49. Floor warning : SLIPPERYWHENWET
55. Good noise from an engine : HUM
56. Sarcastic laugh sound : HAR
57. Green govt. group : EPA
58. Study at a college that doesn't have applications? : PUREMATHEMATICS
64. Seize without legal authority : USURP
65. Listening device : WIRE
66. Ink stain : BLOT
67. Pool contents? : GENES
68. Newspaper essay : OPED
69. Old one, in Oldenburg : ALTE
1. Alleviated : EASED
2. Duke or dame : TITLE
3. Pulls an all-nighter, say : CRAMS
4. "The buck stops here" prez : HST
5. Bar on a car : TIEROD
6. Be a busybody : SNOOP
7. Pound sound : ARF
8. Family member: Abbr. : REL
9. Genre for Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker : BEBOP
10. Way or means : AVENUE
11. Paul McCartney, for one : SIR
12. Onetime telecommunications conglomerate, for short : ITT
13. Opposing vote : NAY
18. Bullish trends : UPTURNS
19. Bully's boast : IMMEAN
24. Dame ___ Te Kanawa : KIRI
25. Entrance for Santa : CHIMNEY
26. Navel formation? : OUTIE
27. Moves briskly : TROTS
28. White heron : EGRET
29. Surf sounds : ROARS
33. Signs of healing : SCABS
34. Native of southern India or northern Sri Lanka : TAMIL
35. You can count on them : ABACI
36. It's no bull : STEER
37. Nice location : RIVIERA
40. Itchy condition : ECZEMA
41. Out in public : SEEN
46. Baseball or basketball : SPHERE
48. Humiliated : SHAMED
50. Basketball inflaters : PUMPS
51. Invitation heading : WHERE
52. "Mack the Knife" composer : WEILL
53. Disney World theme park : EPCOT
54. It's often unaccounted for ... or a hint to this puzzle's circled letters : TASTE
58. Short-haired dog : PUG
59. Play for a patsy : USE
60. 7,485 performances, for Broadway's original "Cats" : RUN
61. Noah count? : TWO
62. With it : HIP
63. [No info yet] : TBA

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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