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New York Times, Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
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461/3/20131/16/20194
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1.58042
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

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

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 ... read more

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.

Jim Horne 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 ... read more

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 )

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Students & seniors
Across
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
Down
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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