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New York Times, Thursday, March 24, 2016

Author: David Liben-Nowell and Tom Pepper
Editor: Will Shortz
David Liben-Nowell
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
103/25/20049/2/20163
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0012340
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56111
Tom Pepper
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
72/6/201210/19/20163
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0311200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64011

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 14 Words: 73, Blocks: 38 Missing: none – this is a pangram. Spans: 4 This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Liben-Nowell. This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Pepper. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: In the print version of this puzzle, there is a special additional clue (under the heading "AROUND") whose answer begins in the circled square. The clue is "Self-descriptive statement about a 16-Across."
Constructor notes: We first started talking about some kind of CIRCULAR REASONING puzzle at the 2015 Minnesota Crossword Tournament (where ... more
Constructor notes:

We first started talking about some kind of CIRCULAR REASONING puzzle at the 2015 Minnesota Crossword Tournament (where we'd met a few years prior, after both constructing puzzles, and hitting it off both interpersonally and cruciverbally). We started thinking about a Sunday-sized puzzle (a large circle of marked squares containing "CIRCULAR REASONING WORKS BECAUSE ..."), but we couldn't come up with enough good additional themers to go with the circled squares, so eventually we swapped to a 15x15 concept using a "circular rectangle" instead.

We went back and forth a bunch of times on the long entry, which had to be changed to have even length so it could fit as a rectangle — CIRCULAR REASONING {WORKS CORRECTLY, IS GOOD, IS USEFUL} BECAUSE ...? — before finally settling on Tom's idea of the MAKES NO SENSE version.

But the 15x15 version that we started with was, it turned out, a real bear to grid/fill to our satisfaction. It took a long while to figure out why, but eventually David realized how ambitious we were being: the two 14s imposed major constraints on the black squares in a 15x15 grid, plus the long 38-letter wrapped entry was causing some really tough letter combinations in both directions when it turned a corner — we had a ton of theme squares, and by necessity there also wasn't good separation between the theme entries. Switching to a 16x14 grid relaxed the black-square constraints from the 14-letter themers, and we were off and running.

Our original submission was a little nastier for the solver: we'd simply clued what's now 28-Around as 28-Across (and completely omitted the numbers in the squares now numbered 24, 32, and 50, which was the only hint that something strange was going on).

We hope that everyone enjoyed solving it!

Jeff Chen notes: There's an interesting idea here, CIRCULAR REASONING MAKES NO SENSE BECAUSE (repeat ad infinitum) placed into a loop. I ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

There's an interesting idea here, CIRCULAR REASONING MAKES NO SENSE BECAUSE (repeat ad infinitum) placed into a loop. I like logical reasoning puzzles, so an element of this theme greatly amused me.

I wonder how CS LEWIS feels about being in a LOGICAL FALLACY puzzle ...

I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had solved on paper. Having a clue which is neither across nor down — one lone "around" clue — is a neat idea, but it didn't translate well into the electronic version.

A few inelegancies:

  • Starting the quote off-center felt funny. It would have been great to get it started in the top middle, or the top left. I believe either of those could have been possible, unless I'm missing something.
  • For a theme based around CIRCULAR REASONING, I wanted the big answer to go in an actual circle. That's tough to do, but a square could have been better than a rectangle.
  • LOGICAL FALLACY is a nice addition to the puzzle. BEG THE QUESTION feels like a tenuous connection. (ADDED NOTE: Jim does bring up a good point below.)
  • Like in Stepquotes, the places where the long answer turns is technically "unchecked," i.e. there's no way to solve it out if you can't figure out the quote. That made the west and east sections so tough that I nearly didn't finish. Made it awfully frustrating to have just a few blocks left to fill in and no crossings to help me do so.
  • How cool would it have been to have the four corners of the quote spell something? Not sure what might be — FLAW perhaps?

There were a few nice bonuses in CS LEWIS, SKI SHOP, LIVE CHAT, and those definitely enhanced the puzzle. And it's definitely an interesting concept — Jim and I discussed how we might catalog an entry of infinite length into our database. Overall though, I would have liked the elegancy level to have been bumped up somehow.

JimH notes: Jeff feels that BEG THE QUESTION 'feels like a tenuous connection' to this theme. The word pedant in me disagrees — that's ... more
JimH notes:

Jeff feels that BEG THE QUESTION "feels like a tenuous connection" to this theme. The word pedant in me disagrees — that's the answer that made this puzzle sing. While the phrase has come to be (mis)used as a synonym for "raise the question" (this makes no sense to me!) it has traditionally meant "take for granted or assume the truth of the very thing being questioned" which is exactly circular reasoning.

If this feels wrong to you, take comfort in knowing that we word pedants always lose in the long run. "Irregardless" will become standard form, "I could care less" will somehow make sense, and the original (Aristotelean, apparently) meaning of "beg the question" will be lost forever.

Anyway, I love logic puzzles and I love crosswords so a crossword about logic works for me.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0324 ( 24,243 )
Across Down
1. Film character who says menacingly "I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do" : HAL
4. Abbr. in the Guinness logo : ESTD
8. Medium bra specification : CCUP
12. Mom's all-American partner : APPLEPIE
14. Lingerie material : SATIN
16. Flaw in an argument : LOGICALFALLACY
18. The Olympic Australis is the largest one in the world : OPAL
19. Modern form of customer support : LIVECHAT
20. Stir : ADO
23. Leader of four U.S. states? : NEW
24. - : CIRCULARREASONINGMAKESNOSENSEBECAUSE
32. "I don't know the question, but ___ is definitely the answer": Woody Allen : SEX
33. Nada : ZIP
34. "The Washington Post March" figure : SOUSA
35. The Washington Post April figure, for short : NAT
36. Button on a DVD player : EJECT
39. Way up a mountain : TBAR
40. Shade akin to sand : ECRU
42. Wing it : ADLIB
44. Cabinet dept. : AGR
45. Relaxing baths : SOAKS
47. Rafter's aid : OAR
48. Born : NEE
53. "Here ___!" : IGO
54. Tank top relative : TEE
55. Least refined : CRASSEST
60. Italian bubbly : ASTI
64. Reach a conclusion by assuming one's premise is true : BEGTHEQUESTION
67. Singer Green : CEELO
68. Thawed out : UNFROZEN
69. Tiny bit : DROP
70. Gets down : EATS
71. Ones having issues at work, for short? : EDS
1. Los Angeles Angels' cap feature : HALO
2. Per : APOP
3. Sports org. with the Vare Trophy : LPGA
4. Old Common Market abbr. : EEC
5. Luxury hotel amenity : SPA
6. Do ground-breaking work : TILL
7. Give meaning to : DEFINE
8. Author who wrote "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again" : CSLEWIS
9. Course that tests one's limits? : CALC
10. Pac-12 school : UTAH
11. 12 points : PICA
13. Candle scent : LILAC
15. W.S.J. competitor : NYT
17. "Voulez-vous coucher ___ moi?" (lyric in a 1975 #1 hit) : AVEC
21. Flabbergast : DAZE
22. Kind of board : OUIJA
25. High light? : BEACON
26. Ones making a big scene? : EXTRAS
27. Tore : SPED
28. Blarney : ROT
29. Castro, por ejemplo : CUBANO
30. Phraseologists' concerns : USAGES
37. Stopping point? : CLOG
38. Indians and Red Sox All-Star pitcher Luis : TIANT
41. Hawaiian instrument, informally : UKE
43. Cracker topper : BRIE
46. Place to get a wax job? : SKISHOP
50. Pulitzer winner James : AGEE
51. Source of five daily calls : MOSQUE
52. "Sweet!," old-style : NEATO
55. Network where Alex Trebek began his TV career : CBC
56. Saxophone, e.g. : REED
57. Golden ___ : AGER
58. Town almost destroyed in the D-Day invasion : STLO
59. Ahi, but not mahi mahi : TUNA
61. Label info : SIZE
62. Pointy-___ : TOED
63. Stopover points : INNS
65. Young amphibian : EFT
66. Grp. known for slacking off in the spring : SRS

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

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