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New York Times, Friday, April 13, 2018

Author:
Joe Krozel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
877/7/20066/14/201815
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4147242621
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48057
Joe Krozel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 56, Blocks: 37 Missing: none – this is a pangram. Grid has both 90- and 180-degree symmetry. Minimum word length: 5 Average word length: 6.71 This is puzzle # 86 for Mr. Krozel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joe Krozel notes:
I was inspired to produce a low-word-count pangram after seeing Patrick Berry's very Scrabbly 7/15/2006 puzzle. The starting strategy ... read more

I was inspired to produce a low-word-count pangram after seeing Patrick Berry's very Scrabbly 7/15/2006 puzzle. The starting strategy was to get at least two of J, Q, X and Z into the same quadrant. I think I tried seeding every quadrant with just the letters J and Q until I produced what is seen in the NE.

The procedure obviously involved judicious autofilling of successive quadrants; At first I used relatively high threshold values for autofill and eliminated clunkers from my word list with each successive fill, but eventually that left me with very few candidates for completed fill regions. Out of necessity I lowered my autofill threshold and looked for underranked entries which might be tolerated. So, for instance, JAILABLE and UNNAILED were allowed because the surrounding fill was quite satisfactory.

As I moved out of the NE quadrant with J, Q, Z, B, C and G checked off my difficult-letter list, I focused on two main issues: 1. Where to put the letter X, and 2. What to do about G and Z which now spanned two quadrants. (The latter issue was actually more urgent since I probably had plenty of words beginning with EX- … or could eventually invent new ones).

So, as I looked at the G, I decided that the last letter of 14-Down should be something common (R, S, T, L, N or vowel) and specifically considered flexible endings like GHT, GLE, GER, GED and GES. Separately, I decided that 26-Down would probably start with ZIP and 32-Across would have many possibilities ending in UP. This turned out to be a good starting strategy even though the final fill strayed from what I had anticipated. So, the SE quadrant was attempted second – because of the ZIP limitation mentioned above – and a few tentative fills were produced. With each of these candidate fills, I checked off additional letters from my difficult-letter list. At the completion of the SE quadrant, G, F and V were then accounted for, and that mainly left K, H, Y and X to be allotted between the two remaining quadrants.

Beyond the choices for 32-Across ending in UP, I expanded my seeding possibilities for the SW quadrant to specifically include TAKEASIP and HAVEASIP … because they immediately accounted for K and H respectively (while allowing 14-Down to end in an easy letter S. The fill accompanying HAVEASIP looked strong and allowed me to account for the letter Y. So, all that remained was to pack X and K into the NW quadrant. This partially involved luck, but I was also forced to accept one entry beginning with RE- and another ending in –ER. I decided I could live with those two specific words: RESOLE and CUSSER … even if the latter was prominently displayed at 1-Across.

Jeff Chen notes:
My POW! pick might come as a surprise to some. I enjoyed this one as a constructor, but surprisingly as a solver, too. I had ... read more

My POW! pick might come as a surprise to some. I enjoyed this one as a constructor, but surprisingly as a solver, too.

I had low expectations once I saw the huge OPEN floor PLAN of the grid, knowing that I'd have to slog through some glue or weirdness. Pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had! It's unusual to get snazzy entries in a grid like this, so DRUM ROLL, ACQUIRED / TASTES, and GAZELLES all in a single quadrant made me smile right off the bat.

DIVE BAR too? And HARANGUE? IV DRIP, MPEG FILE, even Ronda ROUSEY, CUSSER, WEASELED = fun stuff. That's way more pizzazz than I expected. A lot of entertainment and sizzle helped balance out the necessary evils.

I would restart a grid if I had to use BSTARS (or any other _STARS entry), but for one like this, that price seemed reasonable. UNNAILED was the only other one that stuck out as contrived, one of the UN- or RE- or -ER type entries I see all the time in ultra-low-word-count puzzles.

GREAVE was an oddball. But to get only one of these esoteric trivia answers was great.

This type of ultra-low-word-count is not my favorite themeless genre. But I think this one is close to best in class, and that warrants recognition.

Jim Horne notes:
This is only the sixth NYT crossword where every answer is 5 or more letters long, and the only one that's a pangram. You can see the ... read more

This is only the sixth NYT crossword where every answer is 5 or more letters long, and the only one that's a pangram. You can see the other ones here, including two by Patrick Berry and one more by Mr. Krozel.

The record is still this amazing grid by Frank Longo where every answer is 6 or more letters.

I found this puzzle to be remarkably smooth given the constraints.

1
C
2
U
3
S
4
S
5
E
6
R
7
A
8
D
9
J
10
U
11
S
12
T
13
U
N
M
I
X
E
14
D
15
C
R
A
N
I
A
16
S
T
O
R
E
S
U
17
P
18
Q
U
I
N
N
S
19
T
A
K
E
M
O
R
E
20
U
M
L
A
U
T
21
O
P
E
N
P
L
A
N
22
I
R
A
I
S
E
23
M
E
S
S
T
E
N
T
24
R
O
B
L
E
S
25
G
A
26
Z
E
L
L
E
S
27
H
28
O
29
W
30
S
O
31
I
D
L
E
D
32
H
A
V
E
A
S
33
I
P
34
B
O
R
E
A
L
35
M
P
36
E
37
G
38
F
39
I
40
L
41
E
42
S
P
A
R
S
E
43
S
E
A
R
A
V
E
N
44
T
E
N
D
E
D
45
A
R
R
E
S
T
E
D
46
A
N
G
O
L
A
47
D
E
N
A
T
U
R
E
48
R
O
U
S
E
Y
49
D
I
V
E
B
A
R
50
S
T
E
E
D
S
51
T
E
N
E
T
S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0413 ( 24,993 )
Across
1
One talking a blue streak? : CUSSER
7
Get used to it : ADJUST
13
Segregated : UNMIXED
15
Images on a timeline of human evolution, maybe : CRANIA
16
Keeps in reserve : STORESUP
18
Actors Aidan and Anthony : QUINNS
19
"Help yourself, there's plenty left!" : TAKEMORE
20
High points? : UMLAUT
21
Layout with little concern for privacy : OPENPLAN
22
Poker challenge : IRAISE
23
Place for soldiers to eat : MESSTENT
24
Paso ___, Calif. : ROBLES
25
Agile African animals : GAZELLES
27
"In what sense?" : HOWSO
31
Wasn't productive : IDLED
32
Wine-tasting offer : HAVEASIP
34
Northern : BOREAL
35
Many a YouTube video upload : MPEGFILE
42
Not abundant : SPARSE
43
Spiny fish named after a bird : SEARAVEN
44
Babysat : TENDED
45
Kind of development : ARRESTED
46
OPEC nation since 2007 : ANGOLA
47
Render undrinkable, as alcohol : DENATURE
48
Ronda ___, mixed martial arts standout of the 2010s : ROUSEY
49
Seedy establishment : DIVEBAR
50
Rough Riders' rides : STEEDS
51
Precepts : TENETS
Down
1
Made-to-order : CUSTOM
2
Begin to remove, as a diaper : UNTAPE
3
Defeats decisively, in slang : SMOKES
4
Some urban noise pollution : SIRENS
5
Not obligated : EXEMPT
6
Do some cobbling work on : RESOLE
7
With 12-Down, blue cheese and black coffee, typically : ACQUIRED
8
Intro to a big announcement : DRUMROLL
9
Serious, as an offense : JAILABLE
10
Loose, in a way, as planks or siding : UNNAILED
11
Nasal spray targets : SINUSES
12
See 7-Down : TASTES
14
Dodge S.U.V.s : DURANGOS
17
Prefix with -gram : PENTA
26
Like many coats with liners : ZIPPERED
27
Scold at length : HARANGUE
28
Emergency room case : OVERDOSE
29
Acted evasively : WEASELED
30
Good times for shopping sprees : SALEDAYS
32
"Heaven forbid!" : HOPENOT
33
[Boo-hoo!] : IMSAD
34
Rigel and Spica : BSTARS
36
Deserve something through hard work : EARNIT
37
Piece of armor worn over the shin : GREAVE
38
Secure : FASTEN
39
Drip source : IVTUBE
40
Give the eye : LEERAT
41
1985 novel "___ Game" : ENDERS

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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