It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

New York Times, Friday, April 7, 2017

Author:
Patrick Berry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2297/11/199911/4/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
741241679512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980
Patrick Berry

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 62, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 221 for Mr. Berry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
There are few constructors who can put together a 66- or even 68-word themeless as smoothly as PB can. Today, he goes all the way down ... read more

There are few constructors who can put together a 66- or even 68-word themeless as smoothly as PB can. Today, he goes all the way down to a 62-worder, one of the toughest tasks in all of construction. A puzzle with so few words is bound to have big white spaces to fill, and today it's that giant swath in the middle. So many long entries intersecting each other!

A constructor's secret: those "stairstep" chunks of black squares in the north, west, east, and south can make filling a low-word-count grid like this almost an order of magnitude easier. Not only do those blocks chip away at the number of letters you need to put in, but they tend to stagger entries, making for more favorable vowel/consonant patterns.

It's a tricky balance, though — use too many of these stairstep chunks, and your grid looks visually unappealing. (Also, overanalytical/anal constructors notice your overusage and annoyingly point them out.) I like PB's result today, pairs of stairstep chunks forming two implied diagonal lines from lower left to upper right. Pretty.

The result is amazingly smooth, not a surprise given PB's emphasis on avoiding crossword glue. However, the usual trade-off between snazziness and smoothness comes into play even more than usual, with the former suffering. I only got excited about a few of the answers in that big middle: PENNY ARCADE, HERE WE GO, and SPEAKEASY.

No doubt, it's subjective. But HOUSE CLEANS doesn't do much for me, for example. (CLEANS HOUSE is much more evocative; a term for making huge changes in an organization.) And I more or less know what a FIRESCREEN, CRADLE SONG, and STONE CIRCLE are ... but I wouldn't go out of my way to incorporate them into a themeless. The last one was a real letdown — I so badly wanted the awesome STONEHENGE.

Along with the oddball LARRUP and arbitrary SIX-YEAR-OLDS, I felt the grid didn't have nearly as much pizzazz as I generally want.

But a 62-word grid is a feat in its own right, and they're usually full of crossword glue splattered liberally around. Impressive, to have executed so smoothly on such a hard task.

1
B
2
L
3
U
4
F
5
F
6
S
7
B
8
U
9
Y
10
E
11
R
12
S
13
R
A
N
O
U
T
14
P
O
T
O
M
A
C
15
A
R
M
O
R
Y
16
H
E
R
E
W
E
G
O
17
C
R
A
D
L
E
18
S
O
N
G
S
19
R
O
T
20
H
U
D
21
T
U
N
E
22
T
A
U
T
23
S
P
E
24
A
25
K
26
E
A
S
Y
27
B
E
L
T
S
28
S
I
X
Y
E
A
29
R
O
L
D
S
30
F
I
R
E
S
C
R
E
E
N
S
31
M
E
D
I
C
A
L
C
A
R
E
32
B
A
D
E
N
33
T
E
A
M
S
T
34
E
35
R
36
S
37
E
R
A
S
38
S
H
A
D
39
N
O
W
40
A
M
Y
41
S
T
O
N
E
42
C
43
I
44
R
C
L
E
45
T
I
E
46
B
E
A
M
S
47
O
R
I
O
L
E
48
I
T
E
R
A
T
E
49
B
A
D
R
E
P
50
T
E
N
O
R
S
51
S
N
E
E
R
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0407 ( 24,622 )
Across
1
Hopes not to be called, say : BLUFFS
7
Market figures : BUYERS
13
Came to an end : RANOUT
14
Harpers Ferry river : POTOMAC
15
Storehouse : ARMORY
16
"Brace yourselves ..." : HEREWEGO
17
Rock music? : CRADLESONGS
19
Bunk : ROT
20
1963 western based on Larry McMurtry's "Horseman, Pass By" : HUD
21
Prep before playing : TUNE
22
Like a well-written thriller : TAUT
23
Onetime Chicago Outfit establishment : SPEAKEASY
27
Wallops : BELTS
28
Many first graders : SIXYEAROLDS
30
Heat shields, of a sort : FIRESCREENS
31
Treatment : MEDICALCARE
32
Boy Scouts founder Robert ___-Powell : BADEN
33
Drivers in cabs : TEAMSTERS
37
History course topics : ERAS
38
Herring relative : SHAD
39
Up-to-the-minute : NOW
40
Singer Winehouse : AMY
41
Druidic monument : STONECIRCLE
45
Rafter connectors : TIEBEAMS
47
Bird whose name means "golden" : ORIOLE
48
Say repeatedly : ITERATE
49
Result of one too many misdeeds : BADREP
50
Wagner's Tristan and Parsifal, e.g. : TENORS
51
Cynical responses : SNEERS
Down
1
American candy company since 1904 : BRACHS
2
Beat soundly : LARRUP
3
Like a bed you're in : UNMADE
4
It's picked up in a mess : FOOD
5
Roll up : FURL
6
Ophthalmological ailment : STYE
7
20th-century comedian who was known as "The Clown Prince of Denmark" : BORGE
8
Runnin' ___ (N.C.A.A. team) : UTES
9
Shriek of pain : YOW
10
Green valuables : EMERALDS
11
Dishes that might be prepared in Crock-Pots : RAGOUTS
12
Sister brand of Ortho : SCOTTS
14
Retro amusement center : PENNYARCADE
16
Minds one's place? : HOUSECLEANS
18
Doesn't go out : STAYSATHOME
22
Obsolescent online connection provider : TELNET
24
Parts of a rambling oration : ASIDES
25
Popular Japanese beer : KIRIN
26
Fortune reader, maybe : EXEC
27
Orange Free State founders : BOERS
29
Enlarge, in a way : REAM
30
Gaza Strip guerrillas : FEDAYEEN
31
Bread spread whose tagline is "Love it or hate it" : MARMITE
32
1983 Record of the Year : BEATIT
34
Added numbers? : ENCORE
35
Brush alternative : ROLLER
36
When people meters are used : SWEEPS
38
Trading card figures : STATS
41
Brown : SEAR
42
Ear parts : COBS
43
1979 revolution site : IRAN
44
Tease relentlessly : RIDE
46
Mate : BRO

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?