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New York Times, Monday, April 14, 2014

Author:
Gareth Bain
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
144/6/20119/18/20152
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0334112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58210
Gareth Bain

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JKQVZ} Spans: 3 This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Bain. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Gareth Bain notes:
This crossword is one of those cases where Will kind of deserves co-authorship. The original puzzle I sent to him featured a 16x15 ... read more

This crossword is one of those cases where Will kind of deserves co-authorship. The original puzzle I sent to him featured a 16x15 grid that featured THEYREWATCHINGUS in the centre. I battled to find a 15-letter THEYRE answer to balance the other two themers... Will liked the concept, and casually suggested I used THEYREGRRRRREAT and slot it in as the final answer. Such an elegant answer — why didn't think of that!? This theme is born out of exasperation with Internet commenters' poor grammar.

Jeff Chen notes:
Super-clean start to the week from a highly experienced constructor and reviewer over at Crossword Fiend. Today's theme uses three ... read more

Super-clean start to the week from a highly experienced constructor and reviewer over at Crossword Fiend. Today's theme uses three grid-spanning entries, the three homonyms THERE, THEIR, and THEY'RE. Not a ground-breaking theme, but certainly workable for a Monday.

What I appreciated most about this puzzle was its high level of smoothosity. Normally we see at least a little OLEO, some entry rarely (or never) used outside the world of crosswords. Gareth works over his grid with obvious care, allowing me to sail right through the puzzle. Nice stuff, excellent workmanship.

With only three themers, it's extremely important to choose them wisely. When there are five themers, if one misses or falls a little short, an 80% hit rate isn't bad. But with only three, a miss on one means a dismal 67%. So I was glad to see these three sparkly phrases, each of which I really appreciated. It would have been perfect (GRRRRREAT, should I say?) if the third had been another political line, for consistency's sake. But I can't think of another right off the bat, at least not one so iconic as the first two.

Given the light theme density, I would have liked to have seen more long fill out of this grid. ST LUCIA and AGE GAPS add some zest, along with FOODIE and PAYOLA, but there's not much else to pep up the puzzle. Having a few eight-letter (or longer) entries would have been really nice — removing one pair of black squares (or moving one set) to create a pair of long downs could have given the puzzle more pizzazz. But it's quite possible that doing this might eat away at the smooth factor, and I wouldn't want that. Always the trade-offs.

Overall, I enjoy seeing the variety even within Monday NYT puzzles. I could imagine giving this one to a beginner friend, in hopes of him/her finishing — a doable first puzzle for someone (aside from perhaps the AGRA/ST LUCIA crossing, which I think is fair but possibly hard for beginners). That's important in my opinion, as I believe drawing in new solvers is critical for the NYT crossword to survive and thrive. This puzzle likely will fall short for more experienced solvers whose expectations are higher, but the good thing about a daily puzzle is that over the course of a month or even a week, there will usually something for everyone.

1
A
2
D
3
A
4
M
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P
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A
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I
8
L
9
G
10
L
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O
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O
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M
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N
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S
A
15
A
L
O
U
16
R
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B
A
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H
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18
E
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O
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O
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20
E
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P
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S
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W
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M
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A
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N
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A
Y
S
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M
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A
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P
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O
B
E
S
E
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W
O
R
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36
C
O
M
A
37
T
H
E
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38
F
I
N
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S
39
T
H
O
U
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40
T
O
S
S
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O
L
G
A
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R
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N
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E
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O
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D
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L
A
P
S
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D
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B
E
D
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D
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E
E
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S
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T
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L
U
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I
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A
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A
G
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G
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A
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P
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S
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T
H
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Y
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E
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R
R
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A
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A
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N
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R
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B
O
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A
C
H
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W
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M
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0414 ( 23,533 )
Across
1
Eve's mate : ADAM
5
Bucket : PAIL
9
Atmosphere of despondency : GLOOM
14
Launcher of the Curiosity rover : NASA
15
Major League Baseball family name : ALOU
16
Cuban dance : RUMBA
17
Famous debate words from Reagan to Carter : THEREYOUGOAGAIN
20
Extreme happiness : ELATION
21
Money outlay : EXPENSE
22
Boatload : SLEW
24
Always, in poetry : EER
25
Yacht club locale : MARINA
29
Sunbeams : RAYS
31
Cartographer's drawing : MAP
34
Not just overweight : OBESE
35
Sported, as a sports jacket : WORE
36
Unconscious state : COMA
37
Churchill's description of the Royal Air Force during W.W. II : THEIRFINESTHOUR
40
Deep-six : TOSS
41
___ Korbut, 1972 Olympic gymnastics star : OLGA
42
Cycle after wash : RINSE
43
Mined metal : ORE
44
Lavish affection (on) : DOTE
45
Expired : LAPSED
46
Mattress site : BED
47
Homeowner's proof : DEED
49
Caribbean island nation south of Martinique : STLUCIA
53
May-December romance features : AGEGAPS
58
Endorsement from Tony the Tiger : THEYREGRRRRREAT
60
Golfer Palmer, to his "army" : ARNIE
61
___ of passage : RITE
62
Canal of song : ERIE
63
"April Love" singer Pat : BOONE
64
Yearn (for) : ACHE
65
Wriggling bait : WORM
Down
1
Pay to play, as poker : ANTE
2
Roald who wrote "James and the Giant Peach" : DAHL
3
Sailing : ASEA
4
Feature of many a gas station nowadays : MART
5
D.J.'s bribe : PAYOLA
6
"Home ___" (Macaulay Culkin film) : ALONE
7
Gambler's note : IOU
8
Olympic sled : LUGE
9
Vine fruits : GRAPES
10
German pistol : LUGER
11
Gulf country : OMAN
12
Geishas' sashes : OBIS
13
What a lion has that a lioness lacks : MANE
18
Former Disney chief Michael : EISNER
19
Some daisies : OXEYES
23
Treated badly : WRONGED
25
"Semper Fidelis," for the U.S. Marines : MOTTO
26
Hate, hate, hate : ABHOR
27
Witherspoon of "Legally Blonde" : REESE
28
Sister and wife of Osiris : ISIS
30
Square footage : AREA
31
Mars's Phobos and Deimos : MOONS
32
Tickle : AMUSE
33
Used a peeler on : PARED
35
Droop, as flowers : WILT
36
Word with potato or chocolate : CHIP
38
Gourmet : FOODIE
39
Wall Street worker : TRADER
44
Official proclamation : DECREE
45
Simon of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" : LEGREE
46
Pay to play, as poker : BUYIN
48
Third rock from the sun : EARTH
49
Assault with a knife : STAB
50
"Comin' ___ the Rye" : THRO
51
Recently retired Jay : LENO
52
Site of the Taj Mahal : AGRA
54
Got bigger : GREW
55
Prefix with dynamic : AERO
56
Low poker holding : PAIR
57
Bloom's support : STEM
59
Ocasek of the Cars : RIC

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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