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LEFT/RIGHT SYMMETRY

New York Times, Sunday, April 14, 2019

Author:
Will Nediger
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
285/27/20064/14/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
12024118
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.79032
Will Nediger

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 145, Blocks: 76 Missing: {Q} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 28 for Mr. Nediger. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Nediger notes:
This one was brutal to construct because the non-theme fill couldn't have any L's or R's; avoiding one common letter is hard enough, but two is a nightmare. So there's more stuff like ... read more

This one was brutal to construct because the non-theme fill couldn't have any L's or R's; avoiding one common letter is hard enough, but two is a nightmare. So there's more stuff like SMEE/SSTS/DOEST than I like, but overall I'm happy with how the fill turned out.

There's one entry I'd avoid if I were writing this puzzle today: OBESE. My strategy used to be to clue it matter-of-factly, and I'm glad to see the editors kept my clue, but I've since just removed it from my wordlist entirely since I think it's an inherently loaded word that implies a negative judgment.

Jeff Chen notes:
Back in 2016, I built a 15x15 puzzle using the exact same L/R idea, except with better pairs. Will (Shortz) quickly accepted it in early 2017. It had been sitting in the queue until ... read more

Back in 2016, I built a 15x15 puzzle using the exact same L/R idea, except with better pairs. Will (Shortz) quickly accepted it in early 2017.

It had been sitting in the queue until a few weeks ago when he sent me a message: Will (Nediger) had recently submitted a Sunday 21x21 version that they couldn't say no to, so they were going to pay me $300 to kill mine. (Normal print fee is $750.)

I was irate at first — what kind of messed up business practice is that?

But then I thought about it from Will (Shortz)'s perspective. Last time he gave an inventory count, he only had 4 Sundays on file. (For other days of the week, he had about 30-50.) That's shockingly low — especially considering that the Sunday puzzle is the NYT's flagship puzzle.

So I figured it'd be better to let it drop. In the long run, I enjoy having puzzles in the NYT. I reasoned that Will and Joel might give me enhanced consideration in accepting future submissions, given today's bitter pill.

Back to the puzzle. When I created my version, I had three things in mind:

  1. I wanted long entries, with multiple L/R replacements. I found hundreds of pairs where there was only one L/R difference, so that felt too easy.
  2. The concept would get too repetitive over a 21x21, so a 15x15 was 100% the way to go.
  3. Pairs had to be clueable as opposites — that's essential to the "mirror" concept. (I'm an identical twin – the evil one, of course.)

One example: COLONELS [Ones at the start of wars] and CORONERS [Ones at the end of wars].

I ended up also using MOLASSES and MORASSES (my only pair with a single L/R difference), but I clued them as [Causes of some good sticky situations] and [Causes of some bad sticky situations]. Much more interesting than today's clues.

I do like one of Will (Nediger)'s pairs a lot: GO TOPLESS and GO TO PRESS features a fun parsing difference. The rest didn't do much for me.

And I did appreciate the gridwork challenge. I had a hard time working with a 15x15 using no other Ls or Rs in the grid. Big kudos to Will (Nediger) for his smooth fill today.

My puzzle recently got accepted by the WSJ, so I'll add a link when it runs.

I've worked in corporate America for a long time. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that it's just business, nothing personal.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0414 ( 25,359 )
Across
1
[I don't believe it!] : GASP
5
Time to treat yourself : MEDAY
10
"The Chosen" novelist Potok : CHAIM
15
Vaper's purchase, for short : ECIG
19
Performer at a canine talent show in "Garfield: The Movie" : ODIE
20
Water or rust : OXIDE
21
"Au contraire ..." : BUTNO
22
Paul of "There Will Be Blood" : DANO
23
"Toodle-oo!" : TATA
24
Territories : LANDS
25
Mascara mishap : SMEAR
26
Sort of : ABIT
27
Work with a number : OPUS
28
Just fabulous : ACES
29
Guest bed when you don't have an actual guest bed : SOFA
30
Mr. ___ (fictional sleuth) : MOTO
31
Grp. that often has its first meeting in the fall : PTA
32
Onetime trans-Atlantic fliers, for short : SSTS
33
Things to skip : ADS
36
Major to-do : FUSS
38
Thanks for waiting : TIP
39
Word with "in," "on" or "in on" : LET
40
Road safety spot, e.g., for short : PSA
41
Blueprint details : SPECS
43
Cryptanalysis org. : NSA
44
Tram part : CAR
45
Enlightens : EDIFIES
47
Affix with a thumbtack : PINUP
48
Important address : KEYNOTE
50
Ermines, in the summer : STOATS
51
Hits the jackpot : WINSBIG
53
They're full of holes : SIEVES
54
Actress Sohn of "The Wire" : SONJA
55
"Phooey!" : DANG
56
Popular girl's name any way you look at it : ANNA
58
Not just words : DEEDS
59
"Curious ..." : ITSODD
61
Father figure? : DADBOD
63
"Begone!" : SCAT
66
What "T" may represent commercially : TESLA
68
Clarinetist Shaw : ARTIE
69
Bout enders, informally : TKOS
73
Samurai swords : KATANAS
75
Delish : YUMMY
77
Totally apt : ONPOINT
79
What you might write to someone you like : ODE
80
2016 #1 Rihanna album : ANTI
82
Peeples person? : NIA
83
Goddess represented wearing a solar disk : ISIS
84
Artless nickname? : STU
85
Wreck site : SEABED
87
Web user : NETIZEN
90
Cousin of a martini : GIBSON
92
Blogger's code : HTML
93
Cuzco residents : INCAS
95
Person with a record : EXCON
97
Some breads ... or a homophone for what bread loaves do : RYES
98
Historical records : ANNALS
100
Flower traditionally used to relieve inflammation : ARNICA
102
Airheaded : SPACY
105
No-nos in many apartment buildings : PETS
107
Hook's helper : SMEE
108
Junk transporters : SCOWS
112
Get ready for a long auto trip : TANKUP
114
Gaping opening : MAW
115
Cook in the news : TIM
116
Troy of N.F.L. fame : AIKMAN
117
___ Spumante (wine) : ASTI
118
Having a high B.M.I., say : OBESE
120
Seemingly forever : ONEND
122
Literary character who says "Cassio's a proper man" : IAGO
123
TV's "___ Is Us" : THIS
124
Object of wishful thinking? : GENIE
125
Home of the 2016 men's and women's Olympic marathon winners : KENYA
126
"Begone!" : SHOO
127
Pricing word : EACH
128
Not bottled, say : ONTAP
129
___ Park, Colo. : ESTES
130
Full house, e.g. : HAND
Down
1
What some carefree beachgoers do : GOTOPLESS
2
Got comfortable with : ADAPTEDTO
3
Pickle : SITUATION
4
Samosa ingredients : PEAS
5
Epitome of slowness : MOLASSES
6
Some track bets : EXACTAS
7
Takes a few courses? : DINES
8
Goes on to say : ADDS
9
"Right you are!" : YES
10
Longtime broadcaster of the Masters golf tournament : CBS
11
Runs perfectly : HUMS
12
Tasted, quaintly : ATEOF
13
Down : INAFUNK
14
Quagmires : MORASSES
15
Dutch cheese : EDAM
16
"Murder, She Wrote" setting : CABOTCOVE
17
In the club : INITIATED
18
Start printing : GOTOPRESS
32
Treat with utter contempt : SPITAT
33
Imitation : APING
34
Homes in the woods : DENS
35
Seaside rental : SCUBA
37
Get hitched : SAYIDO
41
Like the legs of a daddy longlegs : SPINDLY
42
Laundry setting : SPINDRY
46
Tex-Mex dish : FAJITA
49
Must : NEEDTO
51
Walletfuls : WADS
52
Part of a dark cloud : GNAT
55
Verb with "thou" : DOEST
57
"Ciao!" : ADIOS
60
Sub : STANDIN
62
Roberto of "Life Is Beautiful" : BENIGNI
63
Mere smidgen : SKOSH
64
Starfleet Academy attendee : CADET
65
Starting lineup : ATEAM
67
Dahlia and Agatha, in the Jeeves novels by P. G. Wodehouse : AUNTS
68
Dazzle : AMAZE
70
___-face : KISSY
71
How a ballerina might be seen : ONTOE
72
Knocks the socks off : STUNS
74
Not, to a Scot : NAE
76
Early millennium year : MII
78
Next-to-last letter : PSI
81
Stormy : INCLEMENT
83
Unit in a bar graph : INCREMENT
86
ABC sitcom about the Johnsons : BLACKISH
88
Oceania's enemy, in "1984" : EASTASIA
89
Probes : EXAMINES
91
Slightly salty : BRACKISH
94
Rip Van Winkle had a long one : NAP
96
Liftoff preceder : ONE
99
Sch. from which Lady Gaga and Woody Allen were dropouts : NYU
101
15-season show set in Vegas : CSI
102
Chihuahua, e.g. : STATE
103
Ottoman rank : PASHA
104
Madcap : ANTIC
106
4-0, e.g. : SWEEP
107
Pump up : STOKE
109
Poker variety : OMAHA
110
Part of an old train : WAGON
111
Hair net : SNOOD
113
___ stick : POGO
116
Some prosecutors, for short : ADAS
119
Michael Jackson's second album : BEN
121
Countdown time, for short : NYE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?