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New York Times, Monday, March 9, 2015

Author:
Debbie Ellerin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
33/9/20154/13/20190
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0100002
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Debbie Ellerin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Ellerin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Debbie Ellerin notes:
I've enjoyed solving crossword puzzles for a long time. About a year ago, I wanted to learn how to construct. Fortunately, I found a ... read more

I've enjoyed solving crossword puzzles for a long time. About a year ago, I wanted to learn how to construct. Fortunately, I found a mentor, Nancy Salomon, who was willing to guide me through the process. Thank you, Nancy! I've always been a fan of board games and that led to the idea for this puzzle. This puzzle was my third submission to the NYT, and I was thrilled when it was accepted and slotted for a Monday. Exactly nine months later, here it is.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Debbie and I worked together on a puzzle that will be published in the LA Times next week, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ... read more

Debut! Debbie and I worked together on a puzzle that will be published in the LA Times next week, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. It's always great to collaborate with someone who keeps the solvers' experience first and foremost in mind, and who is willing to tear apart work-in-progress over and over again. I gave her some advice on a themeless recently, and I was really impressed at how many times she rebooted and tried, tried, tried again. Hard worker, this one.

I can't remember the last time I saw six theme answers in a debut. Debbie's themer layout is spot-on, using a slight overlap in order to make the skeleton smoother. It's a perfect example of how in a high theme density puzzle, squishing themers together often (counterintuitively) makes the grid design much easier.

Take a look at RISK TAKER / LIFE RAFT. They're right atop each other, which goes against the rule of thumb of "the more space between themers the better." Just as long as the overlapping letters are friendly, this squishing allows the constructor to treat the puzzle more as a four-themer than a sx-themer. MUCH more freedom in how you deploy black squares.

Supposedly Sardi's is where the Tony Award was first thought up?

I had a good laugh at BORES, as I've sat through countless Powerpoint presentations while "carefully taking notes." (I'm usually brainstorming crossword ideas while pretending to listen.)

Generally, the grid is impressively smooth. I'll give it a HOORAH! The lone spot I thought could use a little more finesse was the SARDI / LIRA crossing. Given that LIRA/LIRE tend to get confused, it makes both SERDI and SARDI look reasonable. I hold Mondays to a very high standard — my personal desire is that they're accessible even for near beginners — but it could be argued that more people ought to know SARDI. And given that this is the NYT and Sardi's is in NYC, maybe it's perfectly fine.

Very nice debut.

1
B
2
E
3
T
4
A
5
S
6
A
7
P
8
S
9
S
10
H
11
A
12
P
13
E
14
O
V
E
N
15
B
R
E
A
16
C
O
B
R
A
17
R
I
S
K
18
T
A
K
E
R
19
H
O
B
O
S
20
E
C
L
A
I
R
21
L
I
22
F
E
R
A
F
T
23
S
T
A
24
A
R
25
M
26
U
M
A
27
T
R
O
U
28
B
29
L
E
A
H
30
E
31
A
32
D
33
A
34
L
35
O
H
A
36
N
E
A
L
37
L
I
E
38
L
I
M
E
S
39
I
R
S
40
S
41
W
A
N
K
42
A
M
A
43
A
C
R
E
44
N
O
L
T
E
45
S
O
R
46
R
47
Y
C
H
A
R
48
L
I
E
49
E
E
N
50
S
I
P
51
A
52
C
53
T
54
C
55
L
56
U
E
M
E
57
I
58
N
59
B
E
60
T
T
O
R
61
A
I
S
L
E
62
B
O
63
A
R
D
G
A
M
E
64
P
R
E
E
N
65
A
T
R
A
66
I
R
A
N
67
S
A
R
D
I
68
R
E
F
S
69
F
I
S
T
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0309 ( 23,862 )
Across
1
Letter after alpha : BETA
5
Con artists' targets : SAPS
9
Circle or hexagon : SHAPE
14
Baking chamber : OVEN
15
La ___ Tar Pits : BREA
16
Snake with a deadly bite : COBRA
17
One living on the edge : RISKTAKER
19
Bums : HOBOS
20
Patisserie pastry : ECLAIR
21
Need on a sinking ship : LIFERAFT
23
N.Y.C.'s Penn ___: Abbr. : STA
24
What a sleeve covers : ARM
26
Thurman of "Pulp Fiction" : UMA
27
Ominous outlook : TROUBLEAHEAD
33
Wahine's greeting : ALOHA
36
Poet Cassady who was a friend of Jack Kerouac : NEAL
37
Polygraph detection : LIE
38
Garnishes for Coronas : LIMES
39
Org. that might garnish your wages : IRS
40
Posh : SWANK
42
Org. that inveighs against smoking : AMA
43
Bushels per ___ (farm measure) : ACRE
44
Nick of "Affliction" : NOLTE
45
"'Fraid not" : SORRYCHARLIE
49
Poetic time of day : EEN
50
Drink ver-r-ry slowly : SIP
51
Statute : ACT
54
"So what's the story" : CLUEMEIN
59
Bookie's customer : BETTOR
61
Preferred airplane seating, for some : AISLE
62
Entertainment found at the start of the answer to 17-, 21-, 27-, 45- or 54-Across : BOARDGAME
64
Clean one's feathers : PREEN
65
Cutting-edge brand? : ATRA
66
Ayatollah's home : IRAN
67
Noted Big Apple restaurateur : SARDI
68
Frequent targets of fan heckling : REFS
69
Black Power symbol : FIST
Down
1
Many long PowerPoint presentations : BORES
2
Boot out, as a tenant : EVICT
3
Electric car maker : TESLA
4
Paul with the #1 hit "Lonely Boy" : ANKA
5
Pizza chain seen at many airports : SBARRO
6
Noah's construction : ARK
7
Rind : PEEL
8
Dress in Madras : SARI
9
Conceptual framework : SCHEMA
10
Old-fashioned "Yay!" : HOORAH
11
Pop group with a backward "B" in its name : ABBA
12
College lecturer, for short : PROF
13
Toward sunrise : EAST
18
Miss America toppers : TIARAS
22
What an electric car doesn't need : FUEL
25
1972 Summer Olympics city : MUNICH
27
Part of "btw" : THE
28
Yogi who said "When you come to a fork in the road, take it" : BERRA
29
Modern surgical tools : LASERS
30
Airline to Tel Aviv : ELAL
31
"___ it the truth!" : AINT
32
Hockey fake-out : DEKE
33
"Ah, so sad" : ALAS
34
Promgoer's ride, maybe : LIMO
35
Poet Khayyám : OMAR
40
Took potshots : SNIPED
41
"___ is me!" : WOE
43
Clearasil target : ACNE
46
Was gobsmacked : REELED
47
Sana resident : YEMENI
48
Births after Virgos : LIBRAS
51
Big company in arcades : ATARI
52
Unresponsive states : COMAS
53
Former senator Lott of Mississippi : TRENT
54
Coonskins for Davy Crockett, e.g. : CAPS
55
Old Italian money : LIRA
56
Consumer : USER
57
Letter-shaped beam : IBAR
58
Memo : NOTE
60
End-of-the-week whoop : TGIF
63
Warning from a Scottie : ARF

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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