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New York Times, Thursday, April 27, 2017

Author:
Todd Gross
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
179/13/20097/23/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4211513
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54130
Todd Gross

This puzzle:

Rows: 14, Columns: 16 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {GJVX} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Gross. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Todd Gross notes:
My original idea was to create a Sunday-size puzzle with a full 9x9 Sudoku grid in the middle. Even if you let black squares substitute for one ... read more

My original idea was to create a Sunday-size puzzle with a full 9x9 Sudoku grid in the middle. Even if you let black squares substitute for one of the nine letters, however, I'm pretty sure this can't be done. So I decided to try a 4x4 grid instead. This was definitely simpler, as I could alternate vowels and consonants and use just a few common letters.

But a 4x4 square (and the entries that use it) isn't really enough theme material. I saw that I could add SUDOKU / PUZZLE and CENTRAL / SQUARES on the top and bottom rows and that would spread the theme material out. It also gave me a lot of bottom row letters that are hard to work with! The sudoku grid is also pretty hard to work with and required lots of black squares nearby to make the fill work.

This puzzle's wacky theme (Will's e-mail to me started "Well, your "Sudoku 2x2" is crazy ... but in a fun and novel way.") is matched by the wacky grid: 16x14, no long theme entries, lots of short entries, but also several mid-length nontheme (hopefully fun) ones. I'm glad to get my tenth solo NYT puzzle published, but if it's not your cup of tea, feel free to say I HATE YOU.

Jeff Chen notes:
Many people have approached me for feedback on SUDOKU / PUZZLE crossword concepts, but I can't remember something quite like this. Todd gives ... read more

Many people have approached me for feedback on SUDOKU / PUZZLE crossword concepts, but I can't remember something quite like this. Todd gives us a mini-SUDOKU, with the letters A E R T in the middle 4x4, each letter showing up exactly once in each row, column, and 2x2 region.

It's very easy to fill such a 4x4 with those letters to fit that SUDOKU property. But it's mighty hard to do so in a way that facilitates integration into a crossword. I can only imagine how many permutations Todd must have tried before landing on this 4x4 layout.

I think Todd did fairly well in the center, with mostly fine entries like CARET and RATES. Neat to get some bonuses: DIETARY, ITERATE and ANTEATERS. HERAT is tough, but it seems crossworthy(ish), given that its population is over 400K. Thank goodness the H in MARSH had no ambiguity.

My only real wince — and it was a big one — was at PSSST. One might argue it's arbitrary how to spell that sound. But I've seen it in print (not just in crosswords) as PSST so often that it feels right like that. PSSST opens the door for unfortunate entries such as AAAAH, OMMM, etc.

Where I thought Todd shined was in some of the big, open corners. Even that opening corner is tough, given that it's a 7x4 chunk of white space. To work around CENTRAL so smoothly (just LDS = Latter Day Saints), and even feature THE EMMYS = a great way to kick off the puzzle.

And that lower left! Working around two Zs can be tricky, so to feature HAIRCUTS with a fun [Tops off?] clue, and I HATE YOU is fantastic. Some may argue that Daniel INOUYE is esoteric. But educated people ought to at least be familiar with the highest-ranking Asian-American in the history of U.S. politics.

I would have liked some rationale as to why A E R T were used (not just because those were four letters that worked) — and some revealer to rationalize why a mini-Sudoku — but all in all, a creative idea with generally good execution.

1
C
2
E
3
N
4
T
5
R
6
A
7
L
8
S
9
U
10
D
11
O
12
K
13
U
14
O
R
C
H
A
R
D
15
N
16
A
U
T
I
C
A
L
17
P
R
I
E
S
T
S
18
U
N
B
E
A
T
E
N
19
A
S
S
E
T
20
M
T
M
21
N
O
L
A
22
M
A
23
R
24
S
25
H
26
E
I
27
R
E
28
S
29
W
30
I
M
31
I
T
E
32
R
A
T
E
33
A
34
B
35
S
36
O
H
M
Y
37
C
A
R
E
T
38
D
39
F
L
A
T
40
C
E
A
S
41
E
42
R
A
T
E
43
S
44
A
T
Y
A
45
K
E
Y
46
D
47
I
E
T
A
R
Y
48
N
O
S
Y
49
M
U
N
I
50
P
S
S
51
S
T
52
C
53
O
54
D
E
55
O
N
56
O
57
N
A
58
P
59
E
60
S
61
H
A
I
R
62
C
U
T
S
63
E
64
R
A
S
U
R
E
65
I
H
A
T
E
Y
O
U
66
M
E
F
I
R
S
T
67
P
U
Z
Z
L
E
68
S
Q
U
A
R
E
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0427 ( 24,642 )
Across
1
With 68-Across, the shaded part of this crossword : CENTRAL
8
With 67-Across, what the shaded part of this crossword represents : SUDOKU
14
Orange place : ORCHARD
15
Seafaring : NAUTICAL
17
Eli and Aaron, in the Bible : PRIESTS
18
Having a perfect record : UNBEATEN
19
A business might have one that's fixed : ASSET
20
___ Enterprises (bygone TV production company) : MTM
21
Home of The Times-Picayune, familiarly : NOLA
22
Reed section? : MARSH
26
Where lakes are loughs : EIRE
28
You might go for one at the beach : SWIM
31
Do over and over : ITERATE
33
Core parts : ABS
36
"Well, isn't that something!" : OHMY
37
Mark below a line : CARET
38
Note just above C : DFLAT
40
Terminate : CEASE
42
Hotel posting : RATES
44
"Right back ___!" : ATYA
45
Manual opener : KEY
46
Like some allowances : DIETARY
48
Peeping, say : NOSY
49
Certain bond, for short : MUNI
50
"Hey, buddy!" : PSSST
52
"Inner-city" for "black," to some people : CODE
55
Hawaiian fish with a palindromic name : ONO
57
Scruffs : NAPES
61
Tops off? : HAIRCUTS
63
Gap in a tape, maybe : ERASURE
65
Cross words : IHATEYOU
66
Like a selfish attitude : MEFIRST
67
See 8-Across : PUZZLE
68
See 1-Across : SQUARES
Down
1
Legendary N.Y.C. club, with "the" : COPA
2
Drops the ball : ERRS
3
Long-running TV drama started in 2003 : NCIS
4
Annual September TV event : THEEMMYS
5
Believer in an Ethiopian Zion : RASTA
6
"The enemy of ___ is the absence of limitations": Orson Welles : ART
7
Church inits. : LDS
8
Turn in : SUBMIT
9
Tribe after which the 45th state is named : UTE
10
Steak ___ : DIANE
11
Numerical prefix : OCTO
12
Longtime New Yorker writer Pauline : KAEL
13
Part of the body whose name is both English and Latin : ULNA
15
___ Lock (neighbor of Page Up) : NUM
16
Animals whose tongues flick about 150 times a minute : ANTEATERS
23
Wrestler Flair : RIC
24
Look piercingly at : STAREINTO
25
Afghanistan's third-largest city : HERAT
27
Cinnabar, e.g. : RED
28
Punch : SOCK
29
"So much fu-u-u-u-un!" : WHEE
30
"Possibly" : IMAY
32
Open again, as a keg : RETAP
33
Quartet part : ALTO
34
American Pharoah and others : BAYS
35
Canine command : STAY
39
First commercial film with stereophonic sound, 1940 : FANTASIA
41
Lead-in to -tainment : EDU
43
OS part: Abbr. : SYS
47
Daniel ___, first Japanese-American to serve in Congress : INOUYE
49
"I Love Lucy" neighbor : MERTZ
51
Utter mess : SNAFU
52
Computer ___ : CHIP
53
Home of Pearl City : OAHU
54
Cameron of "Charlie's Angels" : DIAZ
56
Big Ten inits. : OSU
58
Sound of contentment : PURR
59
Scots Gaelic : ERSE
60
You might give them props : SETS
62
Picture frame? : CEL
63
CPR offerer : EMS
64
Necessary: Abbr. : REQ

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

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