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New York Times, Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Author:
David Woolf
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1711/15/20137/31/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
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?