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New York Times, Thursday, April 3, 2014

Author:
David Benkof and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
32/17/20004/3/20142
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.67100
David Benkof
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1037/5/201010/31/201962
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2678182798
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.637232
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVXZ} Spans: 3 This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Benkof. This is puzzle # 26 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
David: The most remarkable thing about this puzzle is that Jeff and I were freshman roommates at Stanford in 1989-90. At the time, ... read more

David:

The most remarkable thing about this puzzle is that Jeff and I were freshman roommates at Stanford in 1989-90. At the time, neither of us were really puzzle people. But eventually, completely independently, we became accomplished constructors — especially Jeff, who's a constant presence in New York Times puzzles and runs XwordInfo. I construct the weekly Jewish-clued Jerusalem Post crossword puzzle, which is syndicated in more than a dozen North American Jewish newspapers. This link shows several examples.

Being a crossword solver isn't so unusual. Being a crossword maker is, and being a crossword maker with lots of published work really is. It's just weird that we each stumbled across this highly specialized avocation separately.

I'm the one who first wondered if the four English ways of pronouncing the phoneme "CH" might be a good theme, and Jeff tied it all together with his brilliant 15-letter revealer at 58-Across.

My favorite clues (at least among the ones I wrote that Will kept!) are 23-Across ("Sin Alternative?" for COT), 40-Across ("It's big and brassy" for TUBA), and 11-Down ("'60s do also called a 'natural'" for AFRO). I know it drives some constructors nuts, but I thoroughly enjoy finding new ways of cluing little words that appear in puzzles all the time.

Jeff Chen notes:
David was kind enough to put up with me, a slightly demented 18-year old freshman roommate interested in all sorts of bizarre ... read more

David was kind enough to put up with me, a slightly demented 18-year old freshman roommate interested in all sorts of bizarre experiments. As an example, I set up trials to determine how long I could go without sleeping. (Hallucinating began at hour 45 and I fell asleep in the dorm hallway at hour 50.) Needless to say, people drew mustaches on me.

This grid was challenging, since the high theme density made it near impossible to incorporate long downs. I used to be fine having only a little snazzy fill in a puzzle, but these days I hate letting a puzzle go unless there are at least four nice non-theme entries inside the grid. As a solver, I highly value sparkling fill, so I always keep that front and center in my mind when I construct.

Since using long downs wasn't possible, I had to incorporate long across fill. Typically that would bother me because those answers might be mistaken for theme material, but in this case I didn't mind since the themers were so long (15/11/15/11/15) that they stand out on their own.

Unfortunately, with all the constraints, the only option was to put long across fill in the NE and SW corners. I typically don't like splitting rows 1 and 15 into two words apiece, because three words apiece is so much easier to fill cleanly. But in this case, it was the only way I felt we could add some sparkle.

I tried several hundred alternatives for each corner, and I'm never happy to have a partial (I LAY), but I thought it was a reasonable trade-off to get such goodness as 'NUFF SAID and ASIAN FLU (I find the pan-Asian financial crisis of the late 1990's incredibly interesting and useful to study, in hopes of preventing future outbreaks). I was also happy to give LAILA ALI some props, as well as Darren SHAN, the author of the Cirque du Freak series. I can only hope to someday have one-tenth his success as an author.

Fun to collaborate. I'm particularly interested in increasing diversity within constructors, so please contact me (jeffchen1972 at gmail dot com) if you'd like to break into the most fascinating hobby in the world. (And you're willing to work dozens of hours with little pay!)

1
A
2
H
3
E
4
M
5
S
6
N
7
U
8
F
9
F
10
S
11
A
12
I
13
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14
R
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15
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17
C
H
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18
A
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19
S
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20
B
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C
25
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30
M
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F
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C
H
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37
O
38
T
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R
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40
T
U
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A
41
O
S
H
42
A
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E
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I
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44
C
H
A
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N
46
S
M
O
K
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D
47
K
O
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48
S
A
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49
A
50
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51
N
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R
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56
G
57
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C
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59
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62
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0403 ( 23,522 )
Across
1
Some interruptions : AHEMS
6
"That's that!" : NUFFSAID
14
Contacts ship-to-ship, maybe : RADIOS
16
Outbreak caused by the H2N2 virus : ASIANFLU
17
December display : CHANUKAHMENORAH
19
Three-stringed Eastern instrument : SAMISEN
20
Lifts : BUOYS
21
Common noninvasive med. test : EKG
23
Sin relative? : COT
24
Mathematical field that includes the so-called "butterfly effect" : CHAOSTHEORY
30
"___ culpa" : MEA
33
Circulation line : AORTA
34
Co. in a 2001 merger with American : TWA
35
Hamilton ___, two-term secretary of state under Grant : FISH
36
One of literature's "three sisters" : CHARLOTTEBRONTE
40
It's big and brassy : TUBA
41
City in Kyrgyzstan : OSH
42
Off land : ATSEA
43
Relatives of texts, for short : IMS
44
Went from butt to butt? : CHAINSMOKED
47
Flattens, in brief : KOS
48
Didn't move, as a product : SAT
49
Easy-peasy : ASNAP
52
Part of a chest : RIBCAGE
58
Chorus starter in a 1972 David Bowie song ... or the theme of this puzzle, phonetically : CHCHCHCHCHANGES
62
Boxer who competed on "Dancing With the Stars" : LAILAALI
63
Maze solver : LABRAT
64
Like socks right out of the dryer : UNSORTED
65
Marks for life : SCARS
Down
1
Things that are tossed usually go in them : ARCS
2
"Joke's on you!" : HAHA
3
Gouda alternative : EDAM
4
Fun-size, say : MINI
5
___-chef : SOUS
6
Slangy negative : NAH
7
Mil. branch : USM
8
Interjection of disgust : FIE
9
Many a sci-fi devotee : FANBOY
10
Prominent part of an aardvark : SNOUT
11
'60s do also called a "natural" : AFRO
12
"Now ___ me down to sleep" : ILAY
13
"Obviously!" remarks : DUHS
15
Kind of shooting : SKEET
18
Key of the Nile : ANKH
22
"Would you believe ..." : GETTHIS
23
Zodiac symbol : CRAB
24
Arizona sights : CACTI
25
"You're boring me" : HOHUM
26
One side in a 1967 war : ARABS
27
___ vez (again: Sp.) : OTRA
28
1942 title role for Rita Hayworth : SAL
29
Not be squared up, say : OWE
30
Eastern European capital : MINSK
31
Makeup magnate Lauder : ESTEE
32
Up : AHEAD
35
Picture, informally : FOTO
37
Some reactions to fireworks : OOHS
38
Airport inits. : TSA
39
Zodiac symbol : RAM
44
54, e.g., in old TV : COPCAR
45
Snitch (on), in slang : NARC
46
Big name in power tools : STIHL
47
Artist Frida with many self-portraits : KAHLO
49
Org. concerned with due process : ACLU
50
Young-adult fiction author Darren : SHAN
51
CBS military procedural : NCIS
53
Farm cries : BAAS
54
Lawrence Kudlow's network : CNBC
55
City SSE of New Delhi : AGRA
56
Duds : GEAR
57
Guesses: Abbr. : ESTS
59
It may collect tips ... or be tipped : HAT
60
Indians' home: Abbr. : CLE
61
Veiled : HID

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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