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21

New York Times, Sunday, May 27, 2018

Author: Andrew Chaikin
Editor: Will Shortz
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21/12/20145/27/20180
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Andrew Chaikin

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 126, Blocks: 71 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 6 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Chaikin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Chaikin notes: I'm a musician (Kid Beyond) and meditation teacher; I moonlight in game and puzzle design. This idea came after a long day in the recording studio. I liked the notion of cluing '21' with 21-letter phrases, ... more
Andrew Chaikin notes:

I'm a musician (Kid Beyond) and meditation teacher; I moonlight in game and puzzle design. This idea came after a long day in the recording studio.

I liked the notion of cluing "21" with 21-letter phrases, allowing a meta-reference at the bottom. And I loved creating a grid with horizontal and vertical symmetry — it feels like Mexican tile art.

The first draft had a bunch of grand ideas — like running the puzzle on January 21, with "1/21" cluing DATE YOU ARE SOLVING THIS. Will gently told me all the problems this would cause... so out it went.

Another ambitious idea was to cram 21's throughout all the clues. I whipped up about 50 of them: references to Century 21, "21 Jump Street," the 21 Club, pop stars Twenty One Pilots and 21 Savage, etc. Most of these were too stretchy for Will, but he graciously kept a few.

This is my second puzzle for the Times. I remain humbled by how many hours go into making a good idea great — pushing for ever-better fill, redoing the whole grid over and over, trimming blocks down to the bare minimum...

Many thanks to puzzle sensei Tyler Hinman for all his tireless feedback, Jeff Chen for xwordinfo.com and his wonderful Word List, Antony Lewis for the indispensable Crossword Compiler, and of course Will for nurturing my work!

Hardcore puzzlers may note that this puzzle has only 126 entries, the lowest Sunday word count ever. Now that I've broken a world record, I won't have to take up competitive hot-dog eating! What a relief.

Jeff Chen notes: Definitional puzzle riffing on the number 21. I usually find these themes dry, as uncovering dictionary-like entries can be more work than pleasure. AGE FOR DRINKING LEGALLY isn't going to win any crossword ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Definitional puzzle riffing on the number 21. I usually find these themes dry, as uncovering dictionary-like entries can be more work than pleasure. AGE FOR DRINKING LEGALLY isn't going to win any crossword awards, for example.

But Andrew found a nice range of answers, from drinking age to the Adele album, to the 21 gun salute, to blackjack. And I enjoyed the final twist, the last themer telling us that each of the themers had 21 LETTERS IN THESE ANSWERS – each of them a grid-spanning length. Fun punchline, very meta.

I was SURE that SPOTS ON ALL SIDES OF A DIE was incorrect. A standard die has opposite sides that equal to seven, i.e. one + six = seven. So the total has to be even!

Oh, wait.

Carry the eight, round down, dot the i's … oops.

Yes, the sum of one through six = 21, indeed. I knew that.

With just six themers, you'd think that a Sunday 140-word puzzle wouldn't be difficult. And it's not too bad.

But going down to the nearly unheard of 126 words? That's crazy! I can understand the allure to work in such great bonuses as ELIE WIESEL, MALEFICENT, ONE TOO MANY – it's important to get a ton of bonuses in, since the themers are a bit dry. But it's virtually impossible to execute on a 126-word grid, without glopping a ton of crossword glue all over.

Hoo boy, was there a lot. I would have sent this one back to smooth away ABLAST, ALOAD, SSTS, OESTE, etc. I stopped keeping track after I hit ten, and it kept right on going. It would have been better to deploy a lot more black squares to separate the themers, facilitating a higher quality of fill.

But I did appreciate the innovative thinking, the wide range of subjects covered by the number 21, and the punchline. Rare for a definitional puzzle to make me smile at the end.

JimH notes: This sets a record for fewest words in a Sunday grid with 126. Here are the other low word count Sundays. There's one (now two) at 128 and a few at 130.
1
C
2
O
3
A
4
S
5
T
6
A
7
T
8
A
9
T
10
I
11
M
12
E
13
C
14
H
15
I
16
T
17
A
18
M
A
N
T
L
E
19
T
R
I
S
T
A
N
20
H
O
T
E
L
21
S
22
A
G
E
F
O
R
23
D
R
I
N
K
I
N
G
24
L
E
G
A
L
L
Y
25
Y
E
T
26
B
R
E
A
S
T
27
S
C
R
I
E
S
28
E
T
D
29
A
S
I
30
A
31
O
M
I
T
32
H
A
M
S
33
E
X
O
N
34
N
U
M
B
35
E
R
O
N
E
36
A
37
L
38
B
U
M
B
Y
39
A
D
E
L
E
40
S
P
E
L
L
41
P
O
E
42
D
I
D
D
Y
43
A
R
44
A
45
B
46
S
47
P
C
T
48
T
49
E
50
N
L
B
51
G
52
U
53
N
S
I
N
A
M
54
I
L
I
T
55
A
R
Y
S
A
L
56
U
57
T
58
E
59
O
N
E
T
O
O
M
A
N
Y
60
E
L
I
E
W
I
E
S
E
L
61
O
C
C
62
B
L
T
63
O
P
T
64
T
R
I
65
F
A
C
66
S
67
I
68
M
I
L
E
69
S
70
M
A
L
E
71
F
72
I
73
C
E
N
T
74
S
P
O
T
S
O
N
A
L
L
75
S
I
D
E
S
O
F
A
D
I
E
76
R
I
T
A
S
77
I
N
N
78
S
T
E
N
S
79
S
80
H
81
O
U
T
82
W
C
S
83
O
E
84
S
85
T
86
E
87
W
I
N
N
I
88
N
89
G
90
B
91
L
A
C
K
92
J
93
A
94
C
95
K
T
O
T
A
L
96
I
S
A
K
97
E
U
R
O
98
E
L
L
E
99
F
A
V
A
100
L
P
S
101
H
A
V
A
N
102
A
103
S
T
I
E
R
104
S
105
R
E
P
106
L
E
T
107
T
E
R
S
I
N
T
108
H
E
S
E
A
N
S
109
W
E
R
S
110
S
E
A
G
A
L
111
N
O
N
A
G
O
N
112
E
T
H
A
N
E
113
D
R
I
L
Y
114
S
L
O
G
A
N
S
115
L
S
A
T
S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0527 ( 25,037 )
Across Down
1. New Hampshire's is 21 kilometers long : COAST
6. Simultaneously : ATATIME
13. Actress Rivera : CHITA
18. Layer of the earth : MANTLE
19. Knight in a medieval romance : TRISTAN
20. Monopoly pieces : HOTELS
22. 21 : AGEFORDRINKINGLEGALLY
25. But nevertheless : YET
26. Chicken choice : BREAST
27. Practices crystal gazing : SCRIES
28. LAX listing, for short : ETD
29. Where the Bactrian camel is native : ASIA
31. Leave unsaid : OMIT
32. Scenery chewers : HAMS
33. Former Nebraska senator James : EXON
34. 21 : NUMBERONEALBUMBYADELE
40. One might be cast in a Harry Potter film : SPELL
41. Famous writer who entered West Point at 21 : POE
42. Alias of rapper Sean Combs : DIDDY
43. Sadat and Arafat, e.g. : ARABS
47. Polling abbr. : PCT
48. Certain dumbbell weight: Abbr. : TENLB
51. 21 : GUNSINAMILITARYSALUTE
59. What a hungover person might have had : ONETOOMANY
60. Who said "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference" : ELIEWIESEL
61. Line of work: Abbr. : OCC
62. Crunchy sandwich, for short : BLT
63. Pick, with "for" : OPT
64. Prefix with cycle : TRI
65. Replicas : FACSIMILES
70. Doing evil : MALEFICENT
74. 21 : SPOTSONALLSIDESOFADIE
76. Moreno and Hayworth : RITAS
77. B&B : INN
78. Old British firearms : STENS
79. What "you know you make me wanna" do, in a classic R&B song : SHOUT
82. Loos : WCS
83. Dirección toward sunset : OESTE
87. 21 : WINNINGBLACKJACKTOTAL
96. "Out of Africa" author Dinesen : ISAK
97. 21st-century currency : EURO
98. Competitor of Allure : ELLE
99. ___ bean : FAVA
100. The Stones' "Aftermath" and "Flowers" : LPS
101. The U.S.S. Maine sank in its harbor : HAVANA
103. "M*A*S*H" actor David Ogden ___ : STIERS
105. Agent, informally : REP
106. 21 : LETTERSINTHESEANSWERS
110. Action hero Steven : SEAGAL
111. Shape of every Baha'i temple : NONAGON
112. Component of natural gas : ETHANE
113. Without smiling, say : DRILY
114. "Workers of the world, unite!" and others : SLOGANS
115. Hurdles for aspiring D.A.s : LSATS
1. Pens : CAGESUP
2. Erstwhile : ONETIME
3. Raiders' org. : ATF
4. One covered with food stains, say : SLOB
5. Hellion : TERROR
6. Transport "to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem" : ATRAIN
7. Sad, in French or Spanish : TRISTE
8. "___ that somethin'?" : AINT
9. Bit of a scolding : TSK
10. End of an illness? : ITIS
11. Fu ___ : MANCHU
12. Memory trace : ENGRAM
13. Inferior in quality : CHEESY
14. Harleys, e.g. : HOGS
15. Suffix with señor : ITA
16. Sent an important message, once : TELEXED
17. In sum : ALLTOLD
18. Settlers of the Yucatán Peninsula : MAYANS
21. Summer Olympics host after Atlanta : SYDNEY
23. Showcase : DEMO
24. Something a sea star can regenerate : LIMB
30. So much fun : ABLAST
33. Nonpoisonous, as mushrooms : EDIBLE
35. California town whose name is Spanish for "the river" : ELRIO
36. Put in (for) : APPLY
37. Sets of points on graphs : LOCI
38. Davis of old Hollywood : BETTE
39. He lost to Dwight twice : ADLAI
44. Time span with a tilde : ANO
45. Little girl, in Italy : BAMBINA
46. Parts of "at" symbols : SMALLAS
48. Big hits : TRIPLES
49. It starts with E, in two different ways : EYETEST
50. State whose capital is 21-Down: Abbr. : NSW
51. Clowns : GOOFS
52. Twist open : UNCAP
53. Brand of wafers : NECCO
54. Dossier contents : INTEL
55. Lots : ALOAD
56. You, in Yucatán : USTED
57. Italian city where St. Valentine was born : TERNI
58. Movers and shakers : ELITE
66. White's co-author of "The Elements of Style" : STRUNK
67. Query from Judas : ISITI
68. Witty zinger : MOT
69. Guardian Angel Curtis ___ : SLIWA
70. Capital of Belarus : MINSK
71. Unfriend? : FOE
72. Otherwise : IFNOT
73. Start for every Perry Mason title, with "The" : CASEOF
75. Old civil rights org. : SNCC
79. Guzzles : SWILLS
80. Unlike dial-up internet service, informally : HISPEED
81. How one might wish : ONASTAR
84. Ogle : STAREAT
85. Bars : TAVERNS
86. Tick away : ELAPSE
88. Almost : NEARLY
89. Sirs, to Brits : GUVS
90. Smarts : BRAINS
91. Bygone Cambodian leader with a palindromic name : LONNOL
92. George, Jane or Judy, on old TV : JETSON
93. Contents of a saucer, maybe : ALIENS
94. "21 Grams" actress DuVall : CLEA
95. Niblet : KERNEL
101. Get better : HEAL
102. Scandium's is 21: Abbr. : ATNO
103. Sonic the Hedgehog creator : SEGA
104. Retired fliers, for short : SSTS
107. ___ Fridays : TGI
108. Witch : HAG
109. "Huh?" : WHA

Answer summary: 13 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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