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New York Times, Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Author:
Trenton Charlson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
124/26/20175/3/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
11021421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.80011
Trenton Charlson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 37 Missing: {KZ} Scrabble average: 1.95 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Charlson. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Trenton Charlson notes:
I don't always construct crosswords, but when I do… I'm a third-year English major at Ohio State with an emphasis on ... read more

I don't always construct crosswords, but when I do…

I'm a third-year English major at Ohio State with an emphasis on creative writing. In my spare time, I enjoy playing strategy board games and rearranging letters in my brain. Though I'm a lifelong fan of Scrabble and word puzzles, I wasn't really bitten by the crossword bug until a year or so ago. For some reason, 'words' such as QAT and ZA had always seemed second nature to me, but having to know the names of minor European rivers seemed frustratingly obscure. It's a good thing I finally came around, as crossword construction feels like a natural fit for me.

The notion of a theme that was inherently Scrabbly appealed to my inner Scrabble fanatic, and building a puzzle around double-X words seemed like an interesting concept. Because of the small number of possible theme entries and the restrictions of symmetry, as well as the constraint of positioning DOSEQUIS as the last theme entry, I settled on six themers of lengths 10, 8, and 6. The most challenging part of construction was designing a grid layout that allowed for 8 and 6-letter themers in the same row, while also working in the 10-letter theme entries with smooth crossings.

The first section of the grid I filled was the center, locking down GONDOLAS and ARRIVING early on. Though these aren't the most exciting long down entries, I was glad to be able to work in some snazzier seven-letter bonus fill in DIE-HARD, BOX SEAT, and VIN ROSE. I also am rather partial to the side-by-side juxtaposition of YES SIR and SAY NO, and the pairing of FRESNO and MADERA.

I had fully expected Will and Joel to change the vast majority of my clues, so I was pleasantly surprised that approximately three-fourths of my clues made the final cut, although some with minor improvements. Of the clues that survived, I particularly like 8-Across, 10-Down, 20-Across, 23-Across, and 70-Across. That said, my favorite clue of the puzzle by far is Will and Joel's ingenious "Shot blocker?" for ANTI-VAXXER, which I had originally clued as the less eloquent "One against taking a shot?" to echo the clue for TRY at 61-Down (which I was pleased to see also ended up making the cut).

Hopefully, you enjoyed your solve, and if you didn't find this to be the Most Interesting Theme in the World, I'll have something for you next time!

Jeff Chen notes:
In general, I try to be kind to newbies, erring on the side of encouragement while downplaying puzzle's flaws. So I love when I can ... read more

In general, I try to be kind to newbies, erring on the side of encouragement while downplaying puzzle's flaws. So I love when I can flat out call a great debut a great debut. It was fun enough to uncover these crazy double-X entries, but to get that spot-on DOS EQUIS revealer — meaning "two Xs" in Spanish — was so perfect.

I remember running into the word ANTI-VAXXER a while back. It looked so bizarre at first, but within seconds, I decided I loved it. (Not the movement, mind you!) I had meant to seed a themeless with it, but I never got around to it. Great to see it featured today.

I had seen the other themers before, some even in a "phrase containing two Xs" context. But I hadn't seen a puzzle featuring adjacent double Xs. Nice.

A single X can be tough to fill smoothly around. Try filling around 10 of them … plus the Q from DOS EQUIS! I would have bet a lot of money that a new constructor wouldn't be able to produce a silky, lively grid. But I marveled as I solved, each pair of Xs filled around with care. No crutches like OOX or XKE or MXS. Beautiful.

But that's not all! Trent managed to work in some lively bonus entries through those Xs: BOX SEAT, and the lovely pair of ELIXIR and AP EXAM.

I would have liked a little more in terms of long bonuses — ARRIVING is fine, but not snazzy — but to get some YES SIR, VIN ROSE, GONDOLAS was good enough, especially given that I was already getting a lift from uncovering all those smoothly integrated Xs.

Sure, there's a bit of minor ORU (Oral Roberts University), SYS, AGGRO (although I kind of love this term, used in gamerspeak for "lock onto"), RIA, MOA. But those are all easy to gloss over and well worth the great stuff Trent managed to pull off.

It might have made for a perfect Tuesday puzzle — the theme was a little easy for a Wednesday — but all in all, can't wait to see more from Trent.

1
V
2
I
3
E
4
W
5
A
6
P
7
B
8
M
9
E
10
N
11
T
12
O
13
S
14
A
C
N
E
15
C
O
O
16
A
V
I
A
R
Y
17
R
E
D
D
18
F
O
X
X
19
N
E
X
X
U
S
20
Y
E
S
S
I
R
21
S
22
A
Y
N
O
23
A
N
24
G
E
R
25
N
26
S
27
F
28
W
29
M
30
E
31
A
32
N
T
33
O
A
R
34
E
35
D
36
A
R
E
37
A
L
P
O
38
A
N
T
I
V
A
39
X
X
E
R
40
D
I
E
H
41
A
R
D
42
V
I
N
R
O
S
E
43
E
X
X
O
N
M
O
44
B
I
L
45
A
N
N
O
46
R
I
A
47
D
Y
L
A
N
48
D
Y
S
O
N
49
A
R
M
50
S
51
A
G
G
52
R
O
53
L
54
E
55
A
S
H
56
A
M
57
A
58
R
59
N
60
A
61
T
62
J
63
M
A
X
X
64
D
65
O
S
E
Q
U
I
S
66
R
O
O
M
I
E
67
A
R
P
68
U
G
L
I
69
Y
E
A
S
T
S
70
D
R
Y
71
A
S
E
A
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0426 ( 24,641 )
Across
1
Perspective : VIEW
5
Police alert, for short : APB
8
Candy often used in science fair volcanoes : MENTOS
14
Proactiv target : ACNE
15
Sound that might be heard in a 16-Across : COO
16
It's for the birds : AVIARY
17
"Sanford and Son" star of 1970s TV : REDDFOXX
19
High-end shampoo brand : NEXXUS
20
General reply? : YESSIR
21
Put one's foot down : SAYNO
23
Subject of some "management" courses : ANGER
25
Warning letters next to a link : NSFW
29
Had in mind : MEANT
33
Rowed : OARED
36
Equal : ARE
37
Brand in the pet food aisle : ALPO
38
Shot blocker? : ANTIVAXXER
40
Zealot : DIEHARD
42
Grenache, for one : VINROSE
43
BP rival : EXXONMOBIL
45
___ Domini : ANNO
46
Coastal indentation : RIA
47
"The Times They Are a-Changin'" songwriter : DYLAN
48
Big name in vacuum cleaners : DYSON
49
Branches : ARMS
51
Hostility, in British slang : AGGRO
53
Collar attachment : LEASH
56
Cuneiform discovery site : AMARNA
61
Sister chain of Marshalls : TJMAXX
64
Beer brand whose logo hints at the answers to 17-, 19-, 38-, 43- and 61-Across : DOSEQUIS
66
Dormmate, e.g. : ROOMIE
67
Artist Jean who pioneered in Dadaism : ARP
68
Relative of a tangelo : UGLI
69
Brewers' fermenting agents : YEASTS
70
Like some humor or spells : DRY
71
On the briny : ASEA
Down
1
"Your mileage may ___" : VARY
2
Drink brand with a polar bear symbol : ICEE
3
Objectives : ENDS
4
Unites : WEDS
5
___ squash : ACORN
6
Curse : POX
7
Prime theater location : BOXSEAT
8
Oodles of : MANY
9
Still : EVEN
10
U.S. president who becomes the president of future Earth on "Futurama" : NIXON
11
Burden : TAX
12
Sch. in Tulsa : ORU
13
Part of GPS: Abbr. : SYS
18
Decree : FIAT
22
Making it big : ARRIVING
24
Tourist transports in Venice : GONDOLAS
26
Fifth-century invaders of England : SAXONS
27
California city whose name is Spanish for "ash tree" : FRESNO
28
"It's a date!" : WEREON
29
City 20 miles NW of 27-Down : MADERA
30
Quack medicine offering : ELIXIR
31
Culmination of a challenging H.S. course : APEXAM
32
Manhattan neighborhood next to the East Village : NOHO
34
Black-hearted : EVIL
35
Degree of expertise in martial arts : DAN
38
West Point team : ARMY
39
Discovery of Wilhelm Roentgen, which earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 : XRAY
41
"So what?" : AND
44
Second-largest Arabic-speaking city after Cairo : BAGHDAD
48
Taj Mahal feature : DOME
50
Poetry competitions : SLAMS
52
Hoarse : RASPY
54
Way out : EXIT
55
Lines of a plane : AXES
57
Light blue : AQUA
58
Bearskins, maybe : RUGS
59
River along which 56-Across is located : NILE
60
It's on one side of the Urals : ASIA
61
Take a shot : TRY
62
Average guy : JOE
63
Extinct relative of the kiwi : MOA
65
Hockey legend Bobby : ORR

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?