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New York Times, Thursday, April 27, 2017

Author: Todd Gross
Editor: Will Shortz
Todd Gross
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159/13/20094/27/20175
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4111413
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1.54130

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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 Down
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
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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