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21

New York Times, Sunday, May 27, 2018

Author:
Andrew Chaikin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
21/12/20145/27/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2000000
RebusCirclePangram
000
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' ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

Jim Horne 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
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
Down
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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?