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DOUBLE DOWN

New York Times, Sunday, April 19, 2015

Author:
Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1211/13/20129/19/201712
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3151200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58131
Don Gagliardo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5611/13/20129/21/201819
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
519165452
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 75 Missing: {XZ} This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Gagliardo. This is puzzle # 16 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
DON: The German physician Franz Mesmer inspired this theme. The name MESMER has always intrigued me, and I noticed that it nearly repeats itself except for the last letter. I started ... read more

DON: The German physician Franz Mesmer inspired this theme. The name MESMER has always intrigued me, and I noticed that it nearly repeats itself except for the last letter. I started looking for other similar words. Then I came up with the theme idea to introduce the words into a puzzle. I asked Zhouqin to join me in the search. I can't remember who or how, but we decided to have half of the down theme words repeat the first two letters of a six-letter word, and half would repeat the last two letters. This made it much easier to find down theme answers and to fill the grid. Funny thing is, MESMER did not make it into the puzzle.

ZHOUQIN: I remember we rebooted several times in the filling process because of the dupes. So easy to dupe those little three words in our Down theme entries.

Jeff Chen notes:
C.C. and Don's Sunday debut! And what a devious idea, a rebus variant that I haven't quite seen before. There have been ones which require you to read the rebus answers twice (in different ... read more

C.C. and Don's Sunday debut! And what a devious idea, a rebus variant that I haven't quite seen before. There have been ones which require you to read the rebus answers twice (in different ways), some where the double letter rebuses were used to double both across and down answers, and many that require reading rebus squares differently across vs. down, but I can't remember anything quite like this.

Venus, the EVENING STAR

How to even describe it? Six-letter answers where letters #1 and #2 are identical to letters #4 and #5, i.e. PAYPAL, shown in the grid as PAYL. Perfect title, DOUBLE DOWN, describing the method in which those theme answers must be interpreted. It's tough enough to find a symmetrical set of themers answers that work, so it's impressive that Don and C.C. found such colorful ones as LAUNCH PARTY and PAPER TRAIL and EVENING STAR. HEART WARMING indeed.

As I've mentioned many times, puzzles using crossing themers are tough to fill. This one is even more difficult, because there's very little flexibility in choosing the three-letter answers. With less ambitious ideas, the constructor can often change what the crossing answer is, thus easing the way for smoother fill when necessary. Not so much here, as the entire grid is built around specific placements, i.e. the pair of DIRTY LINEN and PA(YL) are fixed into place like concrete. Alternates for DIRTY LINEN do exist (isn't DIRTY LAUNDRY much more common?), but there aren't many.

So, not a surprise to see that the gluiest bits came around those intersections. Wasn't sure what an AGON was for example, but I as I was solving, I was prepared to encounter that sort of oddball thing around the thematic crossings. ARB will get similar grumbling from some, but I actually love this particular answer. It makes me think about big-headed finance guys brag about driving their ARBs and QUANTs in order to pull off some crazy LBO. (And I smile when the deal fails miserably.)

I would have liked TACO SALAD and FREE RANGE to not be as long as DIRT(YL)INEN and PAPE(RT)RAIL, especially given the difficulty of sussing out the theme. Took me well over twice as long as usual to solve.

Very neat idea, excellent a-ha moment when I (finally) caught on. Definitely some compromises in filling, but some of it's to be expected given the construction's difficulty level.

1
C
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NW
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T
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G
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0419 ( 23,903 )
Across
1. Penny-pinching : CHEAP
6. Place of business: Abbr. : MKT
9. Shoot the breeze : CHIN
13. Mini revelation? : THIGH
18. Requests a table for one, say : EATSALONE
20. Company behind the Hula-Hoop craze : WHAMO
21. Source of the line "They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind" : HOSEA
22. Private things that are embarrassing : DIRTYLINEN
23. Moving in a nice way : HEARTWARMING
25. Hungarian city : EGER
26. Not caged : FREERANGE
28. Things in cages : ROOSTS
29. Regarding : ASTO
31. Mal de ___ (French woe) : TETE
32. Pulitzer winner for "Seascape" : ALBEE
34. Mystifying Geller : URI
37. Canine command : HEEL
39. Get hitched : SAYIDO
41. Disagreement : RIFT
45. Actress Elke : SOMMER
47. Stuck, after "in" : AJAM
49. Three Stooges laugh sound : NYUK
51. Prefix with -morphism : ENDO
52. How some stocks are sold : ATPAR
53. A piano has 36 of them : EBONIES
55. Inverse trig function : ARCSIN
57. Friendly : GOODNATURED
59. Warning just before a cutoff of service : FINALNOTICE
62. Misdo something : ERR
63. Some grillings : ORALS
64. Quick cut : SNIP
65. Hair option : BUN
66. Was unfaithful : STRAYED
69. Bit of exercise, in Britain : PRESSUP
72. Iranian pilgrimage city : QUM
73. Aid to Zen meditation : KOAN
76. Flavor : SAPOR
78. Title TV character who was over 200 years old : ALF
80. Celebratory event for a new company or product : LAUNCHPARTY
83. Venus : EVENINGSTAR
86. Shakespearean king : ALONSO
87. Changes the placement of in a tournament bracket : RESEEDS
89. Neutral shade : BEIGE
90. Indian bread : ROTI
91. Long-tailed monkey : TITI
94. That girl, in Genoa : ESSA
95. Tell on : RATOUT
96. Graduation V.I.P. : DEAN
97. Ewe two? : BAABAA
99. Yew, too : TREE
101. Atari 7800 competitor, briefly : NES
102. Bridge writer Charles : GOREN
105. Life ___ know it : ASWE
107. Scruggs on a banjo : EARL
109. Bass role in a Gilbert & Sullivan opera : MIKADO
112. Order at a Mexican grill : TACOSALAD
115. Product with a Lubrastrip : ATRA
119. Plus-size model? : STATIONWAGON
121. Hard evidence a lawyer follows : PAPERTRAIL
123. Kind of pain : ROYAL
124. Prisoners' wear : IRONS
125. Hammed it up : OVERACTED
126. Investigation : PROBE
127. Whups : TANS
128. Something grown - or eaten - in rows : EAR
129. Powerhouse in African soccer : GHANA
Down
1. Give up : CEDE
2. Secretary of state under Reagan : HAIG
3. Peut-___ (perhaps: Fr.) : ETRE
4. Stars, in a motto : ASTRA
5. One way to complete an online purchase : PAYPAL
6. "Candle in the Wind" dedicatee : MONROE
7. Place for a brace : KNEE
8. Part of a platform : TENET
9. Number two of 43 : CHENEY
10. Den ___ (home of the International Criminal Court) : HAAG
11. "Let's do this thing" : IMREADY
12. Later : NOTNOW
13. Sharp pain : THROE
14. Old man? : HOMOERECTUS
15. Mideast grp. : ISIS
16. Hat tipper, maybe : GENT
17. Some Halloween costumes : HAGS
19. Ending with shop or weight : LIFTER
20. Question ending a riddle : WHATAMI
24. Hedge fund pro : ARB
27. Smooths over : RESANDS
30. Princess of Power : SHERA
33. Pro wrestler Albano : LOU
34. What an electric meter measures : USAGE
35. Fans have them : ROTORS
36. Certain trade barrier : IMPORTQUOTA
38. Many a Seeing Eye dog : LABRADOR
40. Living ___ : INSIN
42. Sly suggestion : INSINUATION
43. Initialism on a bank door : FDIC
44. Muscle ___ : TONE
46. Lunatic : MADMAN
48. Follower of 21-Across : JOEL
50. Big brand of dog food : KALKAN
53. Largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland : EUREKA
54. Poor grades : EFS
56. Holds up : ROBS
58. Hula-Hoop, e.g. : TOY
60. Went for, puppy-style : NIPPEDAT
61. They come with strings attached : APRONS
67. Drinking now, paying later : RUNNINGATAB
68. Some movie theaters : AMCS
70. "___ tu" (Verdi aria) : ERI
71. One of 10 in Exodus : PLAGUE
74. Sunlit spaces : ATRIA
75. Big name in antiscience debunking : NYE
76. Fluctuates wildly : SEESAWS
77. Greetings of old : AVES
79. Bars of music? : FRETS
80. Pie crust ingredient, maybe : LARD
81. Staple of skin care : ALOE
82. Asian stew often eaten with a dipping sauce : HOTPOT
84. Pro hoopster : NBAER
85. "Go" preceder : GETSET
88. TV units : SEASONS
92. "May ___ frank?" : IBE
93. Bit of fanfare : TANTARA
95. Kindle, e.g. : READER
98. ___ Rebellion (event of 1676) : BACONS
100. Farm machine : REAPER
103. "Swan Lake" figure : ODILE
104. Milne young 'un : ROO
106. Author of "MS. Found in a Bottle," for short : EAPOE
108. Conifer that loses its leaves in the fall : LARCH
109. Window sticker fig. : MSRP
110. "Click ___ ticket" : ITOR
111. Floor : KAYO
113. Ancient Greek contest : AGON
114. Coulee's contents : LAVA
116. "S'long" : TATA
117. "De ___" ("You're welcome": Fr.) : RIEN
118. Gershwin portrayer in "Rhapsody in Blue" : ALDA
120. Dunderhead : NITWIT
122. Motley : RAGTAG

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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