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New York Times, Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Author:
David Woolf
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1711/15/20137/31/20180
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2322332
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55310
David Woolf

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {Q} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Woolf. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Woolf notes:
My thoughts on this puzzle in list form: This was my first puzzle accepted to the Times. This is the second draft. The first ... read more

My thoughts on this puzzle in list form:

  1. This was my first puzzle accepted to the Times.
  2. This is the second draft. The first had four theme answers, the other two being EMPTY NET (goal) and HAIL MARY (pass). While, if executed, these could potentially extend a game, they don't necessarily trigger the end of a game. They also don't imply success as the other two do. So they were rejected.
  3. A lot of the grid shape was forced by crossing ZAFTIG with FAT LADY, which was too good to pass up.
  4. Will Shortz changed two letters from the version I submitted. Can you guess what they are?
  5. Happy March Madness and Opening Day!
Jeff Chen notes:
Tuesday is a hard slot to fill. It's supposed to be a relatively easy puzzle, so no tricky themes will fly. This makes it awfully ... read more

Tuesday is a hard slot to fill. It's supposed to be a relatively easy puzzle, so no tricky themes will fly. This makes it awfully difficult to create something interesting enough to satisfy both experienced solvers as well as be okay for relative newbies. Often, that means you get a product that is straddling the line, sort of making both sides happy, but not really addressing either party's need. Tough challenge!

So I really like today's offering. The theme is not complicated, in fact, it feels slightly thin to me given the revealer takes up two of the four long entries. But it does its job, giving two nice examples of sports terminology related to not giving up until the end. It would have been really nice to have a football-related one in there to cover the major sports (fine, Howard Barkin and the Canadian contingent, maybe a hockey one too!).

FYI, a BUZZER BEATER is when a basketball team wins a game at the last second (just beating the game-ending buzzer). A WALK-OFF HOMER is when a guy (or woman) homers in the bottom of the ninth inning (or in the bottom of an extra inning) to end the game. And as Jim pointed out to me, it's awfully nice that a WALK-OFF HOMER always happens in front of a home crowd.

(shaking my fist at stupid Kirk Gibson for beating my A's)

Where I think this puzzle shines is in the fill. Yes, there are some rough patches (I see you, ENISLE/GRE/SSR corner), but David does such a nice job of filling out the grid with long stuff (SHISHKEBAB and RICHARD III), along with Scrabbly goodness (ZAFTIG, FLOOZY, JOGGER), and new words I enjoyed picking up (XYLEM, RABAT, MANOLO; nice that they're from such different areas of knowledge). It took me longer than usual to finish this puzzle, but I enjoyed that extra duration, savoring all the fun entries like SCRUFF and its clue, HAREM and the fact that "Scheherazade" looks so crazy in the clue.

This puzzle won't do much for the non-sports fans in the audience, of course. I wonder if there would be a way to do this theme such that the themers are from different areas? Like themes related to cat-and-mouse detective stories? Or presidential elections (DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN)?

Anyway, fun to toss around ideas. I appreciated that David did something kind of different with a Tuesday, making it a very fun outing for me.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0325 ( 23,513 )
Across
1. Rainbow maker : PRISM
6. Bad-mouth : SLAM
10. Cereal word after Rice, Wheat or Corn : CHEX
14. An Obama girl : SASHA
15. Frisco's state : CALI
16. Like unwashed hair : OILY
17. WIth 57-Across, a die-hard's statement : ITAINTOVERUNTIL
20. Somewhat, informally : SORTA
21. TV's "___ Edition" : INSIDE
22. In a mischievous manner : ARCHLY
25. Smucker's container : JAR
26. President pro ___ : TEM
27. Hit that proves 17-/57-Across : WALKOFFHOMER
31. Award for Best New American Play : OBIE
32. Designer Cassini : OLEG
33. Heart of the matter : PITH
36. ___ of God (epithet for Jesus) : LAMB
37. Makeup for the cheeks : ROUGE
39. "Jolly old" fellow : CHAP
41. Lipton selection : TEAS
43. City on Utah Lake : OREM
44. "___, boy!" (cry to Rover) : HERE
45. Shot that proves 17-/57-Across : BUZZERBEATER
48. Film noir weather condition : FOG
51. ___ of the land : LAY
52. Access to a highway : ONRAMP
53. More than just a five o'clock shadow : SCRUFF
55. Overhauled : REDID
57. See 17-Across : THEFATLADYSINGS
62. Chips Ahoy! alternative : OREO
63. Smidgen : IOTA
64. Perjurers : LIARS
65. Tamed animals : PETS
66. Glitz : GLAM
67. Swiss peak in an Eastwood title : EIGER
Down
1. The Beatles' "___ Love You" : PSI
2. Fink : RAT
3. "Rhythm ___ Dancer" (1992 hit by Snap!) : ISA
4. Serving with a skewer : SHISHKEBAB
5. Shoe designer Blahnik : MANOLO
6. Sean Connery, for one : SCOT
7. Mauna Kea emission : LAVA
8. Sam Adams product : ALE
9. Moses' sister : MIRIAM
10. Not pros : CONS
11. Show-starting words : HITIT
12. Skip, like the H's in "'enry 'iggins" : ELIDE
13. Plant tissue : XYLEM
18. Go after : TRYFOR
19. General Assembly participant, for short : UNREP
22. Baselessly off-base? : AWOL
23. Capital of Morocco : RABAT
24. The Arctic, for one : CLIME
25. Pedometer wearer, maybe : JOGGER
28. Roxie in "Chicago," e.g. : FLOOZY
29. 1/24 of un jour : HEURE
30. Shakespeare character who says "I have set my life upon a cast" : RICHARDIII
34. Certain sorority woman : THETA
35. Setting for Scheherazade : HAREM
38. Personify : EMBODY
40. Suspect, in police lingo : PERP
42. Certain bacteria-fighting drug : SULFA
46. Pleasingly plump : ZAFTIG
47. Strand, in a way : ENISLE
48. Aperture setting : FSTOP
49. Yellowish hue : OCHRE
50. Shake hands with, say : GREET
54. ETs pilot them : UFOS
55. Pro ___ distribution : RATA
56. Big wheel in the cheese world? : EDAM
58. Online chuckle : LOL
59. Pester : NAG
60. Test for future Ph.D.'s : GRE
61. Moldavia, e.g.: Abbr. : SSR

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?