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New York Times, Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Author: Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
Bruce Haight
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This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 42 Missing: {BCDFGHJKMNOPQUVWXYZ} This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Bruce Haight notes: My last Sunday puzzle was titled 'Uh-oh,' and I'm sure some people feel that way about stunt puzzles in general. I submitted three ... more
Bruce Haight notes:

My last Sunday puzzle was titled "Uh-oh," and I'm sure some people feel that way about stunt puzzles in general. I submitted three or four of these seven letter puzzles a couple of years ago, and they all got rejected — even one I really liked that had the seven letters circled in a Big Dipper shape with the one theme entry SEVEN STARS. Will and Joel felt sorry for me and suggested I try one with anagrams.

I took this acceptance as an invitation to try a similar theme with six letters, but I've submitted three of those now with no success. The rejection letters usually include wording like "we're not sure we're ever going to like this theme...". It's not that the vocab isn't clean, it's just so repetitious.

My eight letter puzzle started a new (thankfully short-lived) club, called "The H8ers", which was a dubious honor — I'm expecting some H8 mail with this 7 one also, but I'm hoping there are others out there who find this type of puzzle interesting.

Jeff Chen notes: I like a stunt puzzle every once in a while. No doubt, using only seven distinct letters for an entire 78-word puzzle is a feat. I ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I like a stunt puzzle every once in a while. No doubt, using only seven distinct letters for an entire 78-word puzzle is a feat.

I do hear grumbling from solvers via Facebook, Twitter, etc., and I'm sure I'll hear some around this puzzle. But I also hear from people who delight in this sort of thing. Curious to see which way this one goes.

Some nice anagram finds, the seven distinct letters forming REALIST, ALISTER, RETAILS, SALTIER. Creative way to "reveal" what's going on in the puzzle.

I could have used stronger entries, though. TEASER and LARIAT are pretty good, as is STILLER, but there aren't any other entries that delighted me as a solver.

On the liabilities side, there's ETES ASST ETTE EATER REES … (ET AL!). Way, way, way too much for my taste. Having done a couple of these letter-stunt puzzles, I know how rough it is to work with such a crazy constraint. But it's not a lot of fun to run into IRAE SSTS ETATS AILES STER (ET AL!).

Still, Bruce did well to adhere to the 78-word maximum — it'd be much easier to do this with 80 or even 82 words.

And we didn't get some that we could have seen: STETS. RETES. TEER. SEERESSES. Wait, that last one is kind of funny.

Someone out there will eventually reduce the record to six distinct letters, I'm sure. But as Bruce mentioned, it'd have to be cool in some way, not simply breaking a record for its own sake.

How cool would it be to get some rare letters worked into the mix? A I Q S T U anyone? Now that would be pretty fun.

JimH notes: A grid with only 7 different letters is an NYT record. The previous mark was 8, set in this 2015 puzzle, also by Mr. Haight. Here's a list ... more
JimH notes:

A grid with only 7 different letters is an NYT record. The previous mark was 8, set in this 2015 puzzle, also by Mr. Haight. Here's a list of all the other low letter-count grids.

The record holder before that was yesterday's constructor Peter Gordon who used only 10 letters in this 2001 puzzle, a grid that set a different record which will never be broken.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0418 ( 24,633 )
Across Down
1. Matches, as a bet : SEES
5. Suffix with bachelor : ETTE
9. Miss : LASS
13. Pinball game ender : TILT
14. Keisters : REARS
16. Mozart's "Se vuol ballare," for one : ARIA
17. Neck of the woods : AREA
18. Very, in music : ASSAI
19. "Darn it all!" : RATS
20. Practical sort ... or anagram #1 of the only seven letters used to make this puzzle : REALIST
22. Ballpark gates : STILES
24. Times when the French go en vacances : ETES
25. Chasing Moby Dick, say : ASEA
26. Brightest 1-Down in Aquila : ALTAIR
29. Big celeb ... or anagram #2 : ALISTER
32. Bollywood wraps : SARIS
33. Formal ceremonies : RITES
34. One of a pair of map coordinates: Abbr. : LAT
36. Awaken : STIR
37. Tennis great Monica : SELES
38. Meter maid of song : RITA
39. Asian new year : TET
40. Animals rounded up in a roundup : STEER
41. Foodie, e.g. : EATER
42. Sells (for) ... or anagram #3 : RETAILS
44. Standing still : ATREST
45. The black square chunk in front of 55-, 60- and 63-Across, and others : ELLS
46. Actor Morales : ESAI
47. Zionist's homeland : ISRAEL
50. More coarse ... or anagram #4 : SALTIER
54. Social reformer Jacob : RIIS
55. Californie and others : ETATS
58. "Dies ___" : IRAE
59. Vogue rival : ELLE
60. U. S. Grant rival : RELEE
61. "He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ___" (old song lyric) : EASE
62. Suffix with prank or poll : STER
63. "___ we forget ..." : LEST
64. Concordes, for short : SSTS
1. Sky light : STAR
2. Blarney Stone land : EIRE
3. Zeno's home : ELEA
4. Result of poor ventilation : STALEAIR
5. Pink Pearl, for one : ERASER
6. Things graded by 7-Down : TESTS
7. See 6-Down : TAS
8. 1970s political cause, for short : ERA
9. It may be thrown from a horse : LARIAT
10. ___ Sea (former fourth-largest lake in the world) : ARAL
11. Babylon, for the ancient Hanging Gardens : SITE
12. Lip : SASS
15. Fraidy-cats : SISSIES
21. "That so?" : ITIS
23. Thomas Hardy heroine : TESS
25. Take up or let out : ALTER
26. Admin. aide : ASST
27. "See ya" : LATER
28. Like the invitation line "Be there or be square" : TRITE
29. Roger formerly of Fox News : AILES
30. Crème de la crème : ELITE
31. Deserves V.I.P. treatment : RATES
33. Predigital film units : REELS
35. Piquant : TART
37. Ben of "Tower Heist" : STILLER
38. They come along once in a blue moon : RARITIES
40. Store window sign : SALE
41. List-ending abbr. : ETAL
43. Come-on : TEASER
44. How tableware is often sold : ASASET
46. ___ Park, Colo. : ESTES
47. Seriously vexes : IRES
48. Delta deposit : SILT
49. Vex : RILE
51. Nest eggs for the golden yrs. : IRAS
52. Big ___ Conference : EAST
53. Roger who played a part on "Cheers" : REES
56. Certain util. bill : TEL
57. Stein filler : ALE

Answer summary: 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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