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New York Times, Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Author: Peter A. Collins and Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1045/2/20064/18/201812
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
51225361394
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.564313
Peter A. Collins
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
431/3/201310/12/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
312127450
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58032
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 15 Words: 77, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FQVZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 104 for Mr. Collins. This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: BRUCE: This was entirely Pete's spelling brew — I just got consulted on the fill. I had recently done a Valentine's puzzle ... more
Constructor notes:

BRUCE: This was entirely Pete's spelling brew — I just got consulted on the fill. I had recently done a Valentine's puzzle that utilized stacked central themers in a 16-high grid, so that seemed like a great way to make this difficult construction symmetric. Even so, this was a tough grid to fill cleanly.

PETE: Yeah, I had the idea for the theme, but I had a heck of a time filling the grid. Those three HEX-on-YOU occurrences really made for some headaches. I finally threw it at Bruce who had the brilliant idea to go with a 16x15 grid. That gave it a little more breathing room (if we can all ignore EOUS — as in nausEOUS). Plus the supersizing enabled Bruce to place one HEX/YOU pairing smack dab in the center of the grid. I think that's a nice touch. So, in the end, the grid is 90% Bruce's handiwork. I think I redid one of the corners — not that I made the end product any better, but so that I could say I had a hand in filling the grid.

Jeff Chen notes: I PUT A SPELL ON YOU = HEX atop YOU, three times in the grid. Even though HEX and YOU are both shorties, they're tough to disguise, ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I PUT A SPELL ON YOU = HEX atop YOU, three times in the grid. Even though HEX and YOU are both shorties, they're tough to disguise, so some nice finds. TOOTH EXTRACTION made me reflexively wince, but it's a solid answer. MATH EXAM probably made others wince, but this former mathlete approved. And CORN CHEX was a good way to finish it off.

EMPTY OUT did a good job of obfuscating YOU, JOYOUSLY as well. They're both long entries, though, and stacking pairs of long theme answers can be problematic. So many pairs of letters to work through!

See: EOUS in top stack, and AIT in close proximity. ESAS / MLLE in middle. BURL / NONU in bottom.

Pete and Bruce made the grid 16 rows high to center MATH EXAM / JOYOUSLY, but I'd have been as happy with MATH EXAM in the center of a 15x15, with something like YOUTH below it. Might have smoothed things out a bit.

Typically, placing long theme answers in rows 3 / 13 (third to last) is the smart choice, giving yourself the most space possible. Here, I think moving them inwards one row apiece could have helped, giving Pete and Bruce more flexibility in filling around all those letter pairs.

For me, EOUS would automatically force me to restart a puzzle. BURL or NONU I might let slide if they were the only offender, but I'd work mightily to make sure there wasn't some better option.

I did appreciate the big corners in the SW / NE. BASE HITS / ASTROPOP / APERTURE, yes! ANIMALIA / TROOPERS / SYNOPSIS, triple yes! That's the way to use those relatively unconstrained sections of a grid. I don't like ENRY much, but I felt it was a price worth paying for the wide-open goodness packed with juicy answers.

I think the best stacked-themer puzzles are ones where you need to figure out the theme in order to finish the puzzle. Tracy Gray had a memorable such one. Finding the HEX atop YOU instances was more of an afterthought for me.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0418 ( 24,998 )
Across Down
1. Southeastern Conference football powerhouse, for short : BAMA
5. Pretentious sort : SNOB
9. Charlie Brown lamentation : RATS
13. Ones making a case for drinking? : SODAS
14. Cork's land : EIRE
15. Mr. 'iggins in "My Fair Lady" : ENRY
16. It creates an opening at the dentist's office : TOOTHEXTRACTION
19. Leave en masse : EMPTYOUT
20. "Old MacDonald" cry : MOOMOO
21. River isle : AIT
22. News inits. : UPI
23. ___ Family Singers (group that inspired "The Sound of Music") : TRAPP
24. Works, as dough : KNEADS
27. Gets comfortable : NESTLES
29. Cause of a cold : GERM
30. Cheers for toreadors : OLES
32. One who talks on the phone a lot? : SIRI
33. It might involve x, y and z : MATHEXAM
36. Buffoon : ASS
37. When repeated, "Old MacDonald" cry : BAA
40. With glee : JOYOUSLY
42. Egyptian menaces : ASPS
44. Section of a clothing catalog : MENS
45. Auction units : LOTS
48. Central Asian plains : STEPPES
50. Loudly mourn : BEWAIL
52. Flynn of film : ERROL
53. Apt name for a worrier : STU
55. Alphabet run : CDE
56. Beverage for a flu sufferer : HOTTEA
58. Part of party mix, often : CORNCHEX
61. Much-covered 1956 Screamin' Jay Hawkins song ... hinting at what happens three times in this puzzle's solution : IPUTASPELLONYOU
63. Raced : TORE
64. Adjust, as a piano : TUNE
65. Day-Glo colors : NEONS
66. Raced : SPED
67. "Fat chance!" : IBET
68. ___ Reader : UTNE
1. Taking off, as business : BOOMING
2. Pet from a pet shelter, e.g. : ADOPTEE
3. Groening who created "The Simpsons" : MATT
4. Wan : ASHY
5. Make more alluring : SEXUP
6. Frank who was a cohort of Al Capone : NITTI
7. Hockey great whose jersey number rhymed with his name : ORR
8. Headlight : BEAM
9. "Fat chance!" and others : RETORTS
10. Kingdom that's spread throughout the world : ANIMALIA
11. Highway patrollers : TROOPERS
12. Quick rundown : SYNOPSIS
13. Tuna cut : STEAK
17. Suffix with right : EOUS
18. Items at an emergency shelter : COTS
25. Get ready to fight, say : ARM
26. Key of Pachelbel's Canon: Abbr. : DMAJ
27. Meeting point : NEXUS
28. Those, in Madrid : ESAS
30. "Definitely!" : OHYES
31. Rock's Kings of ___ : LEON
34. Weighty work : TOME
35. Swiss miss, maybe: Abbr. : MLLE
37. Singles, doubles and triples : BASEHITS
38. Colorful, conical candy on a stick : ASTROPOP
39. Camera setting : APERTURE
41. "That HURTS!" : YOW
43. Like leopards and dominoes : SPOTTED
46. Hypothetical particle that travels faster than light : TACHYON
47. Location of "Yellow Submarine" on the album "Yellow Submarine" : SIDEONE
49. Court proposition : PLEA
50. Lump on a trunk : BURL
51. BMW alternative : LEXUS
53. Public spat : SCENE
54. Flat sign : TOLET
57. Italian province known for sparkling wine : ASTI
59. Like Cockneys, in British lingo : NONU
60. Popular tech news site : CNET
62. ___ crawl : PUB

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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