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New York Times, Sunday, April 16, 2017

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5012/11/20118/8/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962202
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?