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New York Times, Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Author:
Peter A. Collins and Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1085/2/20064/7/201912
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
612253614105
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.565313
Peter A. Collins
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
471/3/20134/22/20194
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
313139450
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59042
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 that ... read more

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, so ... read more

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.

1
B
2
A
3
M
4
A
5
S
6
N
7
O
8
B
9
R
10
A
11
T
12
S
13
S
O
D
A
S
14
E
I
R
E
15
E
N
R
Y
16
T
O
O
T
H
17
E
X
T
R
A
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C
T
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O
N
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E
M
P
T
Y
O
U
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M
O
O
M
O
O
21
A
I
T
22
U
P
I
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T
R
A
P
P
24
K
N
E
25
A
26
D
S
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N
28
E
S
T
L
E
S
29
G
E
R
M
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O
31
L
E
S
32
S
I
R
I
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M
A
34
T
H
E
X
A
35
M
36
A
S
S
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B
38
A
39
A
40
J
O
Y
O
U
S
L
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Y
42
A
S
P
43
S
44
M
E
N
S
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L
O
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T
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S
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S
T
E
P
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P
E
S
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B
E
W
A
I
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L
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E
R
R
O
L
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S
54
T
U
55
C
D
E
56
H
O
T
T
E
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A
58
C
O
R
59
N
60
C
H
E
X
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I
P
U
T
A
S
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P
E
L
L
O
N
Y
O
U
63
T
O
R
E
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T
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N
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S
P
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D
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I
B
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U
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E
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0418 ( 24,998 )
Across
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
Down
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: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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