It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.

New York Times, Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Author:
Alex Eaton-Salners
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
152/2/201712/2/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
02327001
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54210
Alex Eaton-Salners

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 77, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QYZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Eaton-Salners. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Eaton-Salners notes:
This is my second crossword published in the NYT though it was actually the first one accepted. The impetus for its construction was the ... read more

This is my second crossword published in the NYT though it was actually the first one accepted. The impetus for its construction was the infelicity of having to enter the word AÑO in crosswords as ANO (for those not in the know the word ANO has a less-than-savory meaning in Spanish). I thought — let's make a crossword where the word AÑO is written properly!

I started by brainstorming words containing an ñ and experimentally intersecting them. I considered using the word EÑE as a revealer, but once I hit on having SPANISH and ESPAÑOL cross EL NIÑO there was no turning back. I expanded to 16 columns to simultaneously accommodate PIÑA COLADA (a central themer with an even number of letters) and provide just enough room for adjacent horizontal theme entries at lengths 6 and 9. Isolating each section of the grid in this manner reduced the strain created by having crossing theme entries.

Although the horizontal theme entries are symmetric, it would have been ideal to also have symmetry in the vertical themers. Unfortunately, there weren't enough options to pull that off.

As submitted, the theme clues did not use cross references. For example, SEÑOR was clued as [Man of La Mancha?] and AÑO was clued as [Year abroad?]. SPANISH and ESPAÑOL had the same clue, which alluded to but didn't explicitly mention the letter ñ. The new cluing is more solver-friendly though — especially for people without much exposure to Spanish.

Some other musings on changed cluing: As submitted, PEÑA NIETO was clued as [Obama's Mexican counterpart], which was true back in May of 2016 when the puzzle was written (how time flies!). Understandably, my original clue for COPERNICUS, which referenced young Doc Brown's dog in the movie "Back to the Future" didn't make the cut (maybe next time...). Finally, I'm not completely on board with the new clue for WOOT (to me its meaning is more hooray or yippee than wow).

Jeff Chen notes:
Five special characters in the grid, reflecting the N with a tilde used in SPANISH. We've seen this concept before, but I like many of the ... read more

Five special characters in the grid, reflecting the N with a tilde used in SPANISH. We've seen this concept before, but I like many of the touches Alex added. I liked having SPANISH as a revealer — without this, I don't know that I would have picked up on the theme — and I loved ESPANOL right next to it. It's hard to stack specific answers together, and it's even harder to do that when they're running through a themer (EL NINO). Very cool.

I appreciated the bonuses, COPERNICUS and GEOLOGISTS making for a science-y mini-theme. Given how so many people seem to dismiss science these days, I love the effort to pair up these long entries.

As a basketball fan, I love getting Dikembe MUTOMBO in the grid. As a Sonic fan, I hate Dikembe MUTOMBO. (His #8 seeded Nuggets upsetting my #1 Sonics was over 20 years ago. But my friends and I still can't joke about it.)

WOOT! made me smile — it's a slangy expression of exhilaration that my friends and I use. LT DAN did too, as I have fond memories of "Forrest Gump." But, I heard from a constructor friend that Will pointed out LT DAN in one of his puzzles as an undesirable dab of crossword glue. I quickly changed its assigned score on my list! It's so subjective, but Will is the final arbiter.

Good gridwork, especially given five pairs of theme answers, plus SPANISH as a revealer. With so much inflexibility within the grid, to get by with just some TNG (I'm a huge fan of "Star Trek: the Next Generation, but TNG is tough to figure out), IN A NET (sounds like a partial), SEP. Well, I didn't care for the combination of ERINNA (ancient poet) and IN AT in the lower right corner, but it was totally worth it to get that cool mash-up of SPANISH right next to ESPANOL / EL NINO.

Since I've seen this concept done a few times before, it would have been great to get something extra today. Not sure what that is, though.

Overall, the puzzle's solid execution still made for a fun solve.

1
S
2
P
3
I
4
T
5
C
6
A
7
B
8
S
9
P
10
O
11
M
12
P
13
S
H
I
N
E
14
R
15
O
P
A
H
16
S
P
U
R
17
M
A
Ñ
A
N
A
18
P
E
Ñ
A
19
N
I
E
T
O
20
I
V
A
N
21
F
22
L
E
X
O
R
S
23
N
O
W
24
D
E
T
E
25
C
T
O
R
26
S
P
A
27
R
E
M
E
28
G
R
A
T
A
29
T
N
30
G
31
O
R
B
S
32
E
S
S
33
B
34
A
S
I
E
35
B
36
A
S
S
O
S
37
P
I
Ñ
A
C
O
38
L
A
D
A
39
N
40
O
41
N
O
N
O
42
U
L
T
R
A
43
S
44
E
45
P
46
O
K
E
D
47
S
O
D
48
P
49
E
P
S
I
50
S
I
E
S
51
T
52
A
53
S
54
G
A
55
S
T
R
A
P
S
56
E
N
D
57
I
C
E
58
W
I
N
E
59
I
N
A
T
60
J
A
L
61
A
P
E
Ñ
O
S
62
E
63
L
N
I
Ñ
O
64
O
W
E
S
65
L
O
O
T
66
P
I
N
S
O
N
67
B
A
S
K
68
A
R
T
S
69
D
A
H
L
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0405 ( 24,620 )
Across
1. Rod at a pig roast : SPIT
5. Vehicles with medallions : CABS
9. Partner of circumstance : POMP
13. Result of a sock in the eye : SHINER
15. Colorful, warm-blooded fish : OPAH
16. Cowboy boot accessory : SPUR
17. Tomorrow, in 43-Down : MAÑANA
18. Mexican president Enrique : PEÑANIETO
20. Pavlov with a Nobel : IVAN
21. Biceps and hamstrings : FLEXORS
23. "Buy It ___" (eBay option) : NOW
24. Word after motion or lie : DETECTOR
26. "Puh-lease!" : SPAREME
28. Persona ___ (welcome guest) : GRATA
29. 1987-94 "Star Trek" series, briefly : TNG
31. Eyes, to bards : ORBS
32. Pothook shape : ESS
33. Count in music : BASIE
35. Lowest-voiced choir members : BASSOS
37. Drink often served with a miniature umbrella : PIÑACOLADA
39. Vehement rejection : NONONO
42. Prefix with violet or violent : ULTRA
43. Mo. when the N.F.L. season starts : SEP
46. Gave the go-ahead : OKED
47. Outfield-patching need : SOD
48. Cola wars competitor : PEPSI
50. Naps south of the border : SIESTAS
54. Devices that prevent fumes from escaping : GASTRAPS
56. Many an eligible receiver : END
57. Drink made from frozen grapes : ICEWINE
59. ___ the finish (having potential to win) : INAT
60. Peppers milder than habaneros : JALAPEÑOS
62. Warm Pacific current : ELNIÑO
64. Is in the hole : OWES
65. Ill-gotten goods : LOOT
66. Attaches, as a carnation : PINSON
67. Soak up the sun : BASK
68. Theater, dance, etc. : ARTS
69. Roald who wrote "Fantastic Mr. Fox" : DAHL
Down
1. Bic or Gillette offerings : SHAVERS
2. They're broken at parties : PIÑATAS
3. How butterflies might be caught : INANET
4. Highest point value for a Scrabble tile : TEN
5. He placed the sun at the center of the universe : COPERNICUS
6. Tiptop : APEX
7. Bathrooms, in 43-Down : BAÑOS
8. Tuned too high : SHARP
9. Air pump fig. : PSI
10. Beer drinkers' utensils : OPENERS
11. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dikembe ___ : MUTOMBO
12. Exceptional ability : PROWESS
13. Tiny bit : SMIDGE
14. Log craft : RAFT
19. "Crypto City" at Ft. Meade : NSA
22. "___ luck!" : LOTSA
25. Log construction : CABIN
27. Parks of the civil rights movement : ROSA
30. Rock scientists : GEOLOGISTS
34. Year, in 43-Down : AÑO
35. "Cheers" setting : BAR
36. Change with the times : ADAPT
37. Okra units : PODS
38. Forrest Gump's C.O. : LTDAN
39. Profile-altering plastic surgery : NOSEJOB
40. Pacific battle site of 1945 : OKINAWA
41. Parts of hypodermics : NEEDLES
43. Language that utilizes the letter "ñ" : SPANISH
44. 43-Down, in 43-Down : ESPAÑOL
45. One of the eight in a V-8 : PISTON
49. Greek poet who wrote "The Distaff" : ERINNA
51. Message left on a hotline, perhaps : TIP
52. Northeast Corridor express train : ACELA
53. Mister, in 43-Down : SEÑOR
55. Ooze : SEEP
58. "Wow!," in Internet-speak : WOOT
61. Set, as a price : ASK
63. Tupperware topper : LID

Answer summary: 14 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?