It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

New York Times, Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Author:
Andrew Reynolds
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
59/18/20123/30/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1021100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53050
Andrew Reynolds

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQWZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Reynolds. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Reynolds notes:
Since I expect a lot of XWord Info's avid readers are puzzle constructors, I'll limit my comments here to my quest to wrestle this ... read more

Since I expect a lot of XWord Info's avid readers are puzzle constructors, I'll limit my comments here to my quest to wrestle this puzzle into shape, but I'll include some other notes on the Wordplay blog.

The grid layout you see here is the 3rd iteration of this puzzle, and by that I mean the 3rd grid I filled completely. According to my Crossword Compiler folder there were 43 versions that crashed and burned. A quick glance at the theme answers and you might think that an infinite number of grids could have accommodated all those short H/T words, but the fact that those words had to be paired with one another (across and down) put significant constraints on a symmetrical 15x15 grid. Tense was also limiting; BASHED and BASTED work in the past tense, but BASH and BASTE don't have the same number of letters. I added the additional constraint on myself to try* and space the theme answers out into different sections of the grid as much as possible.

Things were further complicated when I got Will's comments back after my first submission. He said he really liked the concept, but wasn't sure about a few of the H/T theme words. For example, I tried to use "Flag" as a clue for HIRE (as a cab) & TIRE, and "Turn" for SHEER & STEER. Looking back, Will's feedback vastly improved the puzzle. So even if some folks take issue with the clues for some of the theme answers... it could have been worse! Once a few of my theme H/T words were tossed out, the whole grid had to be scrapped to accommodate the constraints I mentioned above. Will also had to change the majority of my clues to get this puzzle in on a Tuesday; my favorite clue that was victimized by early-week editing was "Yankee's lineup?" for SCENTS, and the clunky but imagination-triggering "It's only legal if you're shorthanded" for ICING.

I am absurdly excited and honored to be the newest member of XWord Info's Schrödinger puzzles page. I'd put the odds at me attempting another one of these puzzles at no less than 50/50.

Jeff Chen notes:
I cannot resist the allure of the Schrodinger puzzle. It's so cool when there are two answers which work equally well. Sometimes one ... read more

I cannot resist the allure of the Schrodinger puzzle. It's so cool when there are two answers which work equally well. Sometimes one answer is more tortured than the other, but most all of them today are very nice. A prime example of a home run is FISH and FIST, both of which are landed by a hook (a FISH by a fishhook and a FIST by a right hook). Very clever clue for both!

These types of squares are very difficult to pull off, so it's even more impressive that Andrew was able to incorporate so many of them. Thirteen answers are affected, with eight squares needing to work with duality. Just getting one or two to work well is hard enough, so tossing in a huge handful is incredibly impressive.

And given the theme density, I would expect the fill to suffer greatly. Not only does Andrew need to work around the themers BEST THREE / OUT OF FIVE, but he has to place five "coins" throughout the grid. Each of those "coins" requires two answers to be placed (one across, one down), and a set of intersecting across/down answers generally makes for tough constraints. When you have five of them, you're asking for trouble.

As if that wasn't enough, there's the HEADS/TAILS in the center, making the entire puzzle heavily constrained. Sure, there are a few bits like AMBI, SKAT, and OST (all in the NW area), but the grid is remarkably clean. I wondered if Andrew could have gotten rid of the OST and AMI by placing the first coin in the SW corner instead of the NW? That SW corner feels much less constrained and ripe for a "coin," although this would require a different set of dual-working answers than ISH/IST and GUSH/GUST due to length requirements.

And yes, the grid is too segmented for my taste (the entire NW and SE can be sectioned off by adding just one set of black squares, which breaks up the flow of the puzzle), but I'll happily take that sort of thing when the payoff is good enough.

My final reaction: at first I felt like there was almost a little too much going on. What with all the coins and the answer in the middle and the theme answer telling me BEST THREE OF FIVE, I wasn't sure what to look at first. I started to overthink it all, brainstorming how nice it would have been to make it some sort of predictive magic trick, or to tie the central answer to the coins themselves somehow. And then I decided to just sit back and enjoy it.

Neat idea, and a grid executed with obvious care and devotion to clean fill. Much appreciated by this solver!

Jim Horne notes:

The 13 multi-answer clues is a Schrödinger record. April 1 is a special day. See all the April Fools puzzles. I list some favorites here.

1
A
2
R
3
G
4
O
5
S
6
K
7
A
8
T
9
R
10
I
11
F
12
L
13
E
14
M
O
U
S
15
E
P
A
D
S
16
O
R
I
O
N
17
B
E
S
T
T
H
R
E
E
18
M
I
S
D
O
19
I
S
HT
20
H
E
M
P
21
B
A
S
HT
E
S
22
E
R
A
T
23
E
N
E
24
HT
25
U
26
M
27
B
L
E
28
R
A
I
S
29
I
30
N
31
I
V
I
E
S
32
M
33
T
I
D
A
34
C
O
35
B
36
N
E
X
T
37
HT
EA
AI
DL
S
38
L
I
R
A
39
T
A
U
40
N
O
L
T
E
41
M
O
N
T
Y
42
S
P
43
R
I
N
T
44
C
O
U
G
H
S
45
A
T
E
46
HT
47
O
O
T
48
S
49
C
50
E
N
T
S
51
A
U
D
I
52
S
53
E
54
C
55
T
O
S
C
A
56
O
U
T
O
F
57
F
I
V
E
58
U
N
P
I
N
59
U
N
I
N
S
U
R
E
D
60
B
E
N
D
Y
61
R
T
E
S
62
N
I
N
E
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0401 ( 23,520 )
Across
1
Award-winning 2012 film about a fake film : ARGO
5
Game with a 32-card deck : SKAT
9
AK-47, e.g. : RIFLE
14
Desktops' desktop accessories : MOUSEPADS
16
The Hunter constellation : ORION
17
With 56-Across, common format for a wager : BESTTHREE
18
Handle wrongly : MISDO
19
Suffix with cartoon : ISH
20
Marijuana plant : HEMP
21
Clobbers : BASHES
22
The "E" of Q.E.D. : ERAT
23
Opposite of WSW : ENE
24
Bring down : HUMBLE
28
Sun-Maid dried fruit : RAISIN
31
Princeton and Yale : IVIES
32
Peak in Greek myth : MTIDA
34
Holder of corn kernels : COB
36
Queue cue : NEXT
37
Winner of the wager in 17-/56-Across, depending on how you fill the circled squares in this puzzle : HEADS
38
Old Italian money : LIRA
39
Upsilon preceder : TAU
40
Nick who was named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 1992 : NOLTE
41
___ Python : MONTY
42
AT&T competitor : SPRINT
44
Throat clearers : COUGHS
45
Had a bite : ATE
46
Blast : HOOT
48
What scratch-and-sniff stickers emit : SCENTS
51
German automaker : AUDI
52
Jiffy : SEC
55
Opera singer in an opera : TOSCA
56
See 17-Across : OUTOFFIVE
58
Remove, as a boutonniere : UNPIN
59
Not using Obamacare, say : UNINSURED
60
Like some straws : BENDY
61
GPS recommendations: Abbr. : RTES
62
Number of holes in a half-round of golf : NINE
Down
1
Prefix with -dextrous : AMBI
2
Caviars : ROES
3
Sudden outburst : GUSH
4
German direction : OST
5
Globe : SPHERE
6
"Instant ___!" (John Lennon hit) : KARMA
7
Highly capable : ADEPT
8
Mao ___-tung : TSE
9
Bucharest's land : ROMANIA
10
Eye parts : IRISES
11
It may be landed with a hook : FISH
12
It may have gold in them thar hills : LODE
13
Officer on TV's "The Dukes of Hazzard" : ENOS
15
Roosevelt and Kennedy : ETHELS
21
Abacus row : BEADS
24
Bit of color : HINT
25
Eye parts : UVEAS
26
Shuffle : MIXUP
27
Wager : BET
28
Antagonize : RIDE
29
It might read "Happy Birthday!" : ICING
30
Robb Stark's realm in "Game of Thrones," with "the" : NORTH
32
Diner menu item : MELT
33
Part of retribution, in a phrase : TAT
35
Howls at the moon : BAYS
37
Improves, in a way : HONES
38
"Skip to My ___" : LOU
40
Penn State's ___ Lions : NITTANY
41
Recurring themes : MOTIFS
43
Nasty-smelling : RANCID
44
Genetic sequence groups : CODONS
46
Plague : HAUNT
47
Certain navel : OUTIE
48
Concert souvenir : STUB
49
Dunce cap shape : CONE
50
Channel with postgame analysis : ESPN
52
Apple genius? : SIRI
53
Equitable : EVEN
54
Surrender : CEDE
56
The "O" of S O S, supposedly : OUR
57
Band with the 2012 #1 hit "We Are Young" : FUN

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?