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New York Times, Friday, April 13, 2018

Author: Joe Krozel
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
877/7/20066/14/201815
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4147242621
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48057
Joe Krozel
Puzzle of the Week

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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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.

JimH 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 ... more
JimH 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 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 Down
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
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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