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New York Times, Thursday, April 26, 2018

Author:
Alex Eaton-Salners
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
182/2/20174/18/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
02438001
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53220
Alex Eaton-Salners

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JXZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Eaton-Salners. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Eaton-Salners notes:
Puzzles with answers that must appear with specific clue numbers are challenging to construct because they require precise gridwork. ... read more

Puzzles with answers that must appear with specific clue numbers are challenging to construct because they require precise gridwork. One way to control which clue numbers correspond to which answers is to use "cheater" squares (black squares that don't change the puzzle's word count). For instance, the black square before 10-Across reduces all subsequent clue numbers by one. Without that square, the answer SEVEN would be at 25-Across instead of 24-Across.

Other cheater squares may have different effects on numbering. For example, the black square before 28-Across doesn't affect the clue numbering at all, but its symmetric counterpart after 41-Across changes what would have been 44-Down into 49-Down and decreases the clue numbering for the intervening clues by one (after 49-Down the numbering is unchanged).

Generally speaking, cheater squares in the upper-left corner of a region reduce all subsequent clue numbering by one, cheater squares in the upper right reduce the numbering of clues by one until the shortened down entry, whose clue number is increased by the number of intervening clue numbers, and cheater squares in the lower left and lower right leave clue numbering unchanged.

The unedited version of this puzzle clued the gimmick in the opposite direction. 5-Across and 41-Across were clued as "See previous answer" and 22-Across and 46-Across were clued as "See next answer." The words OVER, SEVEN, WINKS, and FIFTY were clued without any reference to their clue numbers or the combined meaning. Perhaps that cluing approach is too difficult, and many solvers wouldn't realize that reading the numbers in the grid in combination with the answers creates a new meaning (i.e., 1 OVER or 40 WINKS). I miss the elegance of the original approach, but if the change improves the solving experience, then I'm all in favor.

Jeff Chen notes:
I think Alex has one of the best minds in the business for interesting, twisty crosswords. The clue wording confused the heck out of ... read more

I think Alex has one of the best minds in the business for interesting, twisty crosswords. The clue wording confused the heck out of me (it still does), so let's ignore it. Simple example: a BOGEY is one OVER (par) and OVER is at slot number one, i.e., ONE-Across.

ENDLESSLY isn't SEVEN, but (24)SEVEN — the number at 24-Across comes into play.

A NAP is (40) WINKS, and EQUALLY is (50) FIFTY. Good stuff!

I particularly appreciated how Alex placed the definitional entry right next to the gimmick entry, minimizing the need for cross-referencing. I don't mind so much when I just have to jump to the next (or previous) entry.

It would have been much easier for Alex if he could have placed BOGEY wherever he wanted in the grid – much more flexibility to find the best spot for ease of filling – but then you'd force the solver to jump all tarnation.

These heavy constraints did mean that there had to be some heavy compromises. Four pairs of words — some long — and each pair placed sequentially? Yikes! The only place I minded was the NW, with ONAGER / ANSE / GTE. It's so tough – that big corner, constrained by OVER and ENDLESSLY – was bound to have problems. But I don't think those crossings are fair, and that's perhaps the biggest no-no in the biz. Why not add some cheater squares to smoothify?

Oh, of course you can't — each themer had to be at a specific number. That makes grid design even tougher, as you can't just place extra black squares here and there to facilitate filling. Kind of mind-boggling that Alex made it all happen.

Okay, I'll try harder to ignore RYN LENE GO ALL, etc.

Still, those ONAGER / ANSE / GTE crossings ... I might have preferred to take out the definitional entries and add in a few more, like 7-ELEVEN, 10-FOUR, etc.

I like puzzles where the clue number is tricksily part of the clue. The first time I encountered it BLEW MY MIND! It's not as novel now, but I enjoyed the additional layer Alex put on the concept.

1
O
2
V
3
E
4
R
5
B
6
O
7
G
8
E
9
Y
10
T
11
M
12
I
13
N
E
A
T
14
A
P
O
L
O
15
P
E
A
R
16
A
N
S
E
17
S
E
A
R
S
18
A
L
G
A
19
G
T
E
20
M
E
N
L
O
21
U
L
A
N
22
E
N
D
23
L
E
S
S
L
Y
24
S
E
V
E
25
N
26
R
O
B
E
R
T
I
27
N
A
R
I
T
A
28
R
Y
N
29
N
30
I
31
M
B
I
32
V
O
W
33
E
34
S
35
T
O
N
I
A
N
36
S
37
E
38
C
39
O
40
W
I
N
K
S
41
N
42
A
43
P
44
L
E
H
45
M
A
N
46
E
47
Q
48
U
A
L
L
49
Y
50
F
I
F
T
Y
51
S
52
T
R
U
G
G
L
E
S
53
L
U
I
S
54
C
R
A
I
G
55
H
A
H
56
K
I
D
D
57
T
R
I
B
E
58
M
E
S
A
59
I
N
G
A
60
D
E
A
L
T
61
P
R
E
P
62
A
G
E
63
S
E
L
E
S
64
G
E
R
E
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0426 ( 25,006 )

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Across
1
5-Across, with respect to this answer's location : OVER
5
Golf score : BOGEY
10
"Eww! That's quite enough!" : TMI
13
Trim : NEAT
14
Speed skater Ohno : APOLO
15
Oviform : egg :: pyriform : ___ : PEAR
16
Father in "As I Lay Dying" : ANSE
17
Classic catalog provider : SEARS
18
Pool growth : ALGA
19
Bell Atlantic merger partner of 2000 : GTE
20
___ Park, site of experimental lighting : MENLO
21
___ Bator, Mongolia : ULAN
22
Without stopping : ENDLESSLY
24
22-Across, with respect to this answer's location : SEVEN
26
Father of William the Conqueror : ROBERTI
27
Airport serving greater Tokyo : NARITA
28
Rembrandt van ___ : RYN
29
Large, gray rain clouds : NIMBI
32
"I shall return," say : VOW
33
Citizens of the only country that relies significantly on online voting in elections : ESTONIANS
37
Prefix with law or label : ECO
40
41-Across, with respect to this answer's location : WINKS
41
Time out? : NAP
44
___ Brothers (onetime investment giant) : LEHMAN
46
In fairness : EQUALLY
50
46-Across, with respect to this answer's location : FIFTY
51
Tugs of war : STRUGGLES
53
San ___ Obispo, Calif. : LUIS
54
Bond portrayer after Brosnan : CRAIG
55
"In your dreams!" : HAH
56
Pirate captain whose treasure was thought to be buried on Oak Island : KIDD
57
Close-knit group : TRIBE
58
Canyonlands National Park sight : MESA
59
Swenson of "Benson" : INGA
60
Decked out? : DEALT
61
Prestigious school, for short : PREP
62
Ever-rising number : AGE
63
Monica on the court : SELES
64
"Pretty Woman" co-star : GERE
Down
1
Asiatic animal with a mane : ONAGER
2
Yellow Monopoly avenue : VENTNOR
3
Carefully got around : EASEDBY
4
A.A.A. suggestion: Abbr. : RTE
5
Least honorable : BASEST
6
Leads to, as one room to another : OPENSINON
7
___ out (try one's best) : GOALL
8
Jetson boy : ELROY
9
Casual greetings : YOS
10
Mideast city with a stock exchange : TELAVIV
11
Villain in the "X-Men" movies : MAGNETO
12
Good name for a banker : IRA
15
Less tanned : PALER
20
Debussy's "La ___" : MER
21
Bolt of lightning speed : USAIN
23
___ Hau, pioneering physicist from Denmark : LENE
25
Backwoods turndown : NAW
27
Jordan joined it in 1984, for short : NBA
30
Tats : INK
31
Woeful : MISERABLE
34
Changes the opinion of : SWAYS
35
___ ear : TIN
36
Stumbling block : SNAG
37
Legolas in "The Lord of the Rings," e.g. : ELF
38
Maximum amount : CEILING
39
"Dagnabbit!" : OHFUDGE
42
"Everyone's arrived now" : ALLHERE
43
One who does what people want them to do : PLEASER
45
Greek peak on which Zeus was hidden as an infant : MTIDA
47
Calms down : QUIETS
48
Australian boot brand : UGG
49
Wishbone feature : YSHAPE
51
Patch of loose rocks at the base of a cliff : SCREE
52
What might follow suit? : TRIAL
56
Rio producer : KIA
57
QB stat : TDS
58
Dismal fig. for a gas guzzler : MPG

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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