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New York Times, Monday, March 9, 2015

Author: Debbie Ellerin
Editor: Will Shortz
Debbie Ellerin
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
23/9/20157/23/20160
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0100001
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1.58000

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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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
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A
5
S
6
A
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P
8
S
9
S
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H
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A
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P
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B
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C
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H
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A
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B
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A
H
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A
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N
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W
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B
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A
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0309 ( 23,862 )
Across Down
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
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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