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New York Times, Friday, March 31, 2017

Author:
David C. Duncan Dekker
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
43/7/20153/31/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001021
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
2.21004
David C. Duncan Dekker

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 27 Missing: none – this is a pangram. Scrabble average: 2.17 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Dekker. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Check out all those rare letters! JQXZ are the Big Four in crosswords, letters that can be tough to incorporate into a grid. Dave ... read more

Check out all those rare letters! JQXZ are the Big Four in crosswords, letters that can be tough to incorporate into a grid. Dave packs in an amazing quantity — hit the "Analyze" button at the bottom of this screen to see the letter distribution. Twelve of these Big Fours is cool to see.

I particularly liked the ZZ/ZZ pileup near the middle. Something so fun about the mash.

"Stunt puzzles" often don't resonate with me, since they tend to sacrifice so much to pull things off. So it was a pleasure to uncover a decent amount of great fill in this themeless, ALAKAZAM, QUIZ BOWL, along with DEMO TAPE, SWIM MEET. Not as much as I usually like to see in a themeless, but still enough to make all those Big Four letters feel worth it.

There were a few hiccups. AFFAIRE looks so odd with that ending E. ENQUIRY is an odd spelling. IMPEND feels weird compared to the more common IMPENDING usage. (TWOPENCE, which I thought was arbitrary, is apparently a synonym for "a trivial sum" — who knew?) And a handful of SHU, BSC (bachelor of science … and computing? Apparently it's another form of BS.), CAPT.

But all in all, I enjoyed what those 12 Big Four letters brought to the puzzle. Especially impressive how many Dave worked into the center of the puzzle. Very cool to sit back and study such a high concentration of rare letters into such a small area.

1
E
2
P
3
I
4
C
5
P
6
O
7
E
8
M
9
B
10
R
11
O
12
W
13
S
14
E
15
D
E
M
O
T
A
P
E
16
S
H
R
E
W
S
17
K
E
P
T
A
T
I
T
18
C
Y
C
L
I
C
19
O
D
E
T
S
20
S
H
21
U
22
S
A
L
M
A
23
C
E
N
A
24
B
O
O
Z
25
E
26
S
I
M
P
27
H
E
D
28
P
U
D
D
I
N
29
G
30
N
E
A
31
S
I
Z
E
S
32
Q
U
33
O
T
E
D
34
J
35
A
36
C
U
Z
Z
I
37
Q
U
I
X
O
T
E
38
A
L
O
N
Z
O
39
G
U
I
D
O
40
N
A
V
41
A
F
42
F
A
I
R
E
43
B
44
F
45
F
46
I
K
E
47
A
48
F
U
Z
Z
Y
49
W
Y
L
E
50
T
A
R
O
51
S
52
R
E
B
53
C
A
G
E
S
54
O
Z
A
R
K
55
S
56
T
O
57
M
A
T
O
E
S
58
R
A
G
T
O
P
59
T
W
O
P
E
N
C
E
60
S
M
E
A
R
Y
61
E
L
M
T
R
E
E
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0331 ( 24,615 )

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Across
1
"Don Juan," for one : EPICPOEM
9
Look a little here, look a little there : BROWSE
15
Old means of getting discovered : DEMOTAPE
16
Mammals using echolocation : SHREWS
17
Stayed the course : KEPTATIT
18
Like biorhythms : CYCLIC
19
"The Flowering Peach" playwright : ODETS
20
Moo ___ : SHU
22
Hayek of "Grown Ups" : SALMA
23
John of pro wrestling : CENA
24
Hard stuff to swallow : BOOZE
26
Dunderhead : SIMP
27
Nancy Sinatra's "If ___ Love Me" : HED
28
Brown Betty, e.g. : PUDDING
30
Org. with a campaign called "Degrees Not Debt" : NEA
31
Options in a catalog : SIZES
32
In a sound bite, say : QUOTED
34
Jet stream locale : JACUZZI
37
Romantic visionary : QUIXOTE
38
N.B.A. Hall-of-Famer Mourning : ALONZO
39
Oscar-winning role in "Life Is Beautiful" : GUIDO
40
___ system (GPS device) : NAV
41
Romantic liaison : AFFAIRE
43
Real pal, for short : BFF
46
Many of its products have legs : IKEA
48
Lacking focus : FUZZY
49
Noah of "Falling Skies" : WYLE
50
Plants of the arum family : TAROS
52
Ft. Sumter battler : REB
53
Pet shop purchases : CAGES
54
Range that's home to Ha Ha Tonka State Park : OZARKS
56
Units in modern film ratings? : TOMATOES
58
Convertible : RAGTOP
59
A trivial sum, informally : TWOPENCE
60
Like cream cheese on a bagel : SMEARY
61
Shady bunch? : ELMTREES
Down
1
1980s big-city mayor : EDKOCH
2
Alphabetically rhyming river name : PEEDEE
3
Loom : IMPEND
4
Baked, in Bologna : COTTA
5
Grps. supporting the 30-Across : PTAS
6
Wild thing? : OAT
7
Series opener : EPISODEI
8
Modi operandi : METHODS
9
Common four-year deg. : BSC
10
Novelist Jean with the 1966 best seller "Wide Sargasso Sea" : RHYS
11
Things in a pod : ORCAS
12
Not near the beginning of : WELLINTO
13
What has different strokes for different folks? : SWIMMEET
14
Bit of antics : ESCAPADE
21
AK-47 alternative : UZI
24
"Go away!" : BUZZOFF
25
Probe, to Brits : ENQUIRY
28
___ topping : PIZZA
29
Leading figure : GUIDE
31
Light of the world : SUN
33
Big name in kitchen utensils : OXO
34
Cleanup crew : JANITORS
35
"Presto chango!" : ALAKAZAM
36
Media attention : COVERAGE
37
Good practice for the show "It's Academic" : QUIZBOWL
39
Montreal daily : GAZETTE
42
Winter coat lining : FUR
43
Past : BYGONE
44
Winter coat lining : FLEECE
45
Spills it, with "up" : FESSES
47
Trunk in the trunk : AORTA
49
Well-kept resource : WATER
51
Hershey bar : SKOR
53
Airline V.I.P.: Abbr. : CAPT
55
One wearing sunglasses, stereotypically : SPY
57
Pop enthusiast? : MOM

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

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