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New York Times, Sunday, April 16, 2017

Author: Timothy Polin
Editor: Will Shortz
Timothy Polin
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3712/11/20115/11/20172
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62731702
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1.624100

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 142, Blocks: 74 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 36 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: Famous horses and their riders featured today. The LONE RANGER atop SILVER resonated best for me. ROY ROGERS on TRIGGER felt mostly familiar. The others I didn't recognize, but some Googling suggests that these ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Famous horses and their riders featured today. The LONE RANGER atop SILVER resonated best for me. ROY ROGERS on TRIGGER felt mostly familiar. The others I didn't recognize, but some Googling suggests that these are all crossworthy. ZORRO on TORNADO was the most questionable for me, but ZORRO fans will likely vociferously disagree.

I shudder when I see paired, stacked themers — they force so many fixed letter pairs, and when you stack up all those pairings, you can get a quagmire. My prior experience with it was so challenging that I swore it off. Tim did such a nice job executing on the grid — I had to look a second and third time to believe how smooth the final result was.

The long paired theme answers create an even bigger challenge. You might think, what's the big deal, crossword symmetry allows for pairs of themers, right? Nope. With the horses in symmetrical locations, the riders end up in non-symmetrical ones. LONE RANGER doesn't match up with ROY ROGERS … but instead, it has to match with a 10-letter piece of fill. Now, not only do you stack a rider atop a horse, but you stack another long answer to make a triplet of long answers. Such a challenge!

There was some minor O GOD / LYIN, maybe KWH (kilowatt hour) could be tough, but that would be a great result in a normal puzzle. To pull it off here is astounding.

One thing he did well was to space out his theme pairs to the far edges of the grid, to reduce interactions between pairs of themers. As a result, ROY ROGERS / TRIGGER barely had to work with DALE EVANS / BUTTERMILK. But he still managed to make the puzzle feel open; not overly sectioned into mini-puzzles. Great work.

The theme didn't do much for me, as a majority of the pairings were unfamiliar, but the concept makes for a fun visual. And the fill execution was top-notch, especially considering what a Herculean task Tim had in front of him.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0416 ( 24,631 )
Across Down
1. Tripartite commerce pact : NAFTA
6. Nickname for Angel Stadium, with "the" : BIGA
10. Inspiration : IDEA
14. They might pop up in the morning : EGGOS
19. "Juno" actress Page : ELLEN
20. Visa alternatives : AMEXCARDS
22. Figure seen on [circled letters below] : ZORRO
23. Most wanted : ALIST
24. 1976 blaxploitation film that was a sequel to "Dolemite" : THEHUMANTORNADO
26. Fascinated : RAPT
27. Is overcome with emotion, with "up" : CHOKES
28. It has two poles : BARMAGNET
29. Shelter : HARBOR
31. Tinder, for one : APP
33. Boor : ASS
34. "Poppycock!" : PAH
35. Figure seen on [circled letters below] : CISCOKID
38. Marquis's subordinate : EARL
41. Like flowers' stamens : MALE
42. Made-for-TV western co-starring Travis Tritt : RIODIABLO
44. ___ king : ALA
45. Moriarty, to Holmes : FOE
47. Asked a lot of questions, say : PRIED
48. Vittles : EATS
50. Figure seen on [circled letters below] : LONERANGER
55. Homes by churches : MANSES
57. "I'll pass" : NAH
58. Detroit-area stadium that hosted Super Bowl XVI : SILVERDOME
59. Down in front? : SUB
61. Disseminate : SOW
63. "Evidently" : SOITSEEMS
64. French greeting : ALLO
68. Part of a set : REP
70. Oz figure, for short : WIZ
72. Third word of many limericks : WAS
73. Exam with a reading comprehension sect. : LSAT
74. Figure seen on [circled letters below] : ROYROGERS
77. Hoedown partner : GAL
79. Pester : NAG
81. Setting off : TRIGGERING
83. [Right in the kisser!] : POW
85. Lament of the defeated : WELOST
90. Job search time, maybe : SENIORYEAR
91. Go postal : SNAP
93. Figure seen on [circled letters below] : TONTO
94. Dreyer's ice cream partner : EDY
95. Go on a run? : SKI
96. Brownie, e.g. : GIRLSCOUT
98. Emails discreetly : BCCS
101. Check : STEM
102. Overdo the criticism, say : PILEITON
103. It may be brown or blonde : ALE
104. Santa Fe summer hrs. : MDT
106. Many a Wall St. recruit : MBA
108. Like a goner : DOOMED
110. Figure seen on [circled letters below] : DALEEVANS
114. Many a B.Y.U. attendee : UTAHAN
117. "Pick me! Pick me!" : OHOH
119. Rich breakfast item : BUTTERMILKDONUT
121. Played out : STALE
122. Fiat : EDICT
123. Collides hard with : PLOWSINTO
124. 48th vice president : PENCE
125. Modern-day problem solvers : TECHS
126. Meyers of late-night : SETH
127. In a foul mood : SOUR
128. Interjected : ADDED
1. Close : NEAR
2. Prayer figure : ALLAH
3. Decide somehow by chance : FLIPACOIN
4. Offers at motorcycle dealerships : TESTRIDES
5. Pharaoh ___ : ANT
6. Luxury hotel amenity : BATHROBE
7. "Here's what I think," briefly : IMHO
8. Poindexter : GEEK
9. Something getting stuck in a trunk? : AXHEAD
10. Answer to "Are you ...?" : IAM
11. Grayish : DRAB
12. "Hairspray" matriarch : EDNA
13. Kind of plane : ASTRAL
14. Vox co-founder Klein and others : EZRAS
15. Signal for dinner : GONG
16. White-bearded sort : GRANPA
17. Hell week, e.g. : ORDEAL
18. Assuage : SOOTHE
21. Point of transition : CUSP
25. Meditation syllables : OMS
27. South American cash crop : COCA
30. Cuts on the back? : BSIDES
32. Wedding rings? : PEALS
36. Group lampooned in "Django Unchained" : KLAN
37. Is Greek? : IOTAS
39. Arnold Schwarzenegger's middle name : ALOIS
40. Needed resupplying : RANLOW
41. Pea nut? : MENDEL
42. Phonograph stat : RPM
43. Inits. in some portfolios : IRA
45. Woodworking tool : FRETSAW
46. Crew crew : OARS
49. Evince : SHOW
51. Aquafina rival : EVIAN
52. Attends : GOES
53. Austen matchmaker : EMMA
54. Breather : REST
56. It may leave you in stitches : SURGERY
60. Drunk : BEERY
62. Top secret? : WIG
64. Creative field : ARTS
65. It's passed down : LORE
66. "___ Eyes" (Eagles hit) : LYIN
67. Bacchanalia : ORGIES
69. Mass leader : PRIEST
71. Electrocutes : ZAPS
75. Hymn starter : OGOD
76. Wind this way and that : SNAKE
78. Repeated part of a five-mile hike? : LONGI
80. Aggravates : GETSTO
82. Either of a pair of brothers in folklore : GRIMM
84. Act like a baby, maybe : WAIL
86. Moved, jocularly : LOCOMOTED
87. How you can count things up to five : ONONEHAND
88. "Rugrats" father : STU
89. Rug rat : TOT
92. One looking to grab a bite? : PREDATOR
97. Sphinx, in part : LION
98. Probable money loser : BADBET
99. Composer Debussy : CLAUDE
100. Boston athlete : CELTIC
101. Philatelist's collection : STAMPS
102. Vernacular : PATOIS
104. Satisfies : MEETS
105. TiVo, for one : DVR
107. Amigos : BUDS
109. Sweetly, on a score : DOLCE
111. Mark indelibly : ETCH
112. River through ancient Nubia : NILE
113. Casino opening : SLOT
115. 365 giorni : ANNO
116. Native Rwandan : HUTU
118. Mind : HEED
120. Electric bill unit: Abbr. : KWH
121. Place for a bachelorette party : SPA

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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