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New York Times, Thursday, May 5, 2016

Author:
David Poole
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
98/9/20101/10/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0213300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59101
David Poole

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 35 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Poole. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Poole notes:
The inspiration for this puzzle came from another puzzle I was constructing that included the entry ACE IN THE HOLE. It struck me that ... read more

The inspiration for this puzzle came from another puzzle I was constructing that included the entry ACE IN THE HOLE. It struck me that it would be fun to interpret that literally. That idea led me to try hiding ACE in a solitary black square and building words around those. I had never used that gimmick before so it was a nice opportunity to see if I could pull it off.

The construction had one major challenge: where to place the ACEs and, related to that, satisfying the symmetry constraint for the theme answers. The four theme entries exploiting the two corner ACEs were the easy ones. The two side ACEs worked well for their corresponding across entries, one of which is the revealer. However, it took a bit of work to settle on the down entries for these two since ACE had to appear in the middle of those entries. There are surprisingly few decent choices for these. Eventually, I settled on ???ACE???? (and its symmetric counterpart) leading to the grid you see.

Will and Joel improved a number of the clues to make the puzzle appropriate for a Thursday. I'm very happy with the result. I hope solvers enjoy it!

Jeff Chen notes:
ACEs hidden IN THE HOLEs (see below for a visual representation). I like that David separated the four 'holes' from any other black ... read more

ACEs hidden IN THE HOLEs (see below for a visual representation). I like that David separated the four "holes" from any other black squares — if they had been connected to others, that would have made them look less hole-like. That was important to Ellen and me when we did our FIRE IN THE HOLE a while back.

LIBER(ACE) in all his finest

Fun to find those ACES, AMAZING GRACE the best of the bunch for me. I almost always enjoy uncovering rebus-like strings when they're part of a colorful phrase. (ACE)TATE, VERS(ACE), LIBER(ACE), ADJ(ACE)NT TO are all fine entries, though I don't get nearly the same rush as I did upon figuring out that the odd AMAZINGGR string should actually be parsed into AMAZING GRACE.

Tough to fill a puzzle with both snazziness and cleanliness once so many crossing theme entries get fixed into place. Notice how each theme pair seriously constrains a corner. Those big SW and NE areas are especially tough to work with once you fix ADJACENT TO/ACE IN THE HOLE and AMAZING GRACE/CRETACEOUS in place. I like bonus material such as IRONWARE and DEMORNAY. DERR and ANO/BLAU … not so much.

The other corners are tough, too, since fixing those intersecting perimeter answers into place puts heavy constraints on the adjacent fill. I love BLACK SHEEP and JULES VERNE as long fill. I don't love IIN, EEKs, STA, or IS OUR crossing ESE. They're all reasonable trade-offs, but they keep the puzzle from being outstandingly-filled in my eyes.

I'm curious to see how the NYT digital team is going to represent this one. I was a little disappointed that the print version didn't change those four special black squares into black circles, or at least round off the corners. Would have been fun and different.

1
T
2
A
3
T
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E
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B
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I
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B
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S
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N
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D
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C
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B
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K
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P
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C
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0505 ( 24,285 )
Across
1
Cel material : ACETATE
5
Things often seen near lobsters : BIBS
9
Where to find the Capitol and the Library of Cong. : INDC
13
Former TV partner of Barbara, Joy and Elisabeth : ROSIE
14
Israeli port : ACRE
15
A few bucks? : DEER
16
Family outcast : BLACKSHEEP
18
Break : TAME
19
"... and ___ my cap" (line from "A Visit From St. Nicholas") : IIN
20
Trite : STALE
21
Holder of The Sun and The World : TAROT
22
Nonstick pan brand : TFAL
24
Spiritual that lent its name to a 2015 Broadway musical : AMAZINGGRACE
26
Approvals : YESES
28
Fluoride, e.g. : ANION
29
Julio is in the middle of it : ANO
31
With 32-Down, pilot's place : GAS
33
TV spot, often : DEN
34
Color of der Ozean : BLAU
35
Short piece at La Scala : ARIETTA
39
Classic Sunday newspaper feature that spawned multiple museums, informally : RIPLEYS
41
Charlie Chan's creator Earl ___ Biggers : DERR
42
Dated : OLD
44
Michael Bloomberg or Jeff Bezos, for short : CEO
45
'01 album that knocked the Beatles' "1" off the #1 spot : JLO
46
Professes : AVERS
48
Line on a receipt : TOTAL
52
Hidden advantage that this puzzle employs four times? : ACEINTHEHOLE
55
Starting half? : DEMI
56
Banister post : NEWEL
57
Soap ___ : OPERA
59
Needle : RIB
60
Bolshevik's target : TSAR
61
Whom Unesco lists as the world's second most translated author, after Agatha Christie : JULESVERNE
63
Rent : TORN
64
Play ___ (perform with the band) : ASET
65
"A Mighty Fortress ___ God" (hymn) : ISOUR
66
White Monopoly bills : ONES
67
N.L. East team : METS
68
Big name in Italian fashion : VERSACE
Down
1
"L'chaim!" : TOLIFE
2
Yoga positions : ASANAS
3
Part of XXX : TIC
4
Cartoonish cries : EEKS
5
"Grand" place near Florida : BAHAMA
6
European country whose telephone directories list people alphabetically by first name : ICELAND
7
More carefree : BREEZIER
8
Mo. with Talk Like a Pirate Day : SEP
9
Collar attachment : IDTAG
10
7 on the Beaufort scale : NEARGALE
11
Cruise's "Risky Business" co-star : DEMORNAY
12
Period when dinosaurs became extinct : CRETACEOUS
13
Sourness : ACERBITY
17
Stop: Abbr. : STA
21
Spike TV, formerly : TNN
23
Cubist Fernand : LEGER
25
Like some Greek columns : IONIC
27
Didn't go anywhere, say : SAT
32
See 31-Across : STOVE
34
Relations : BLOOD
35
Neighboring : ADJACENTTO
36
Trusts in : RELIESON
37
Some pots and pans : IRONWARE
38
Tavern : ALEHOUSE
40
Stroke : PET
43
Bit of dew : DROPLET
46
Sports org. with the Calder Cup : AHL
47
Precipitates in a bad way? : SLEETS
49
ISIS activity : TERROR
50
Not perfect, but close to excellent : AMINUS
51
Longtime Vegas performer : LIBERACE
53
Coastal fliers : TERNS
54
Places to get the lead out? : ERS
58
Tel ___ : AVIV
61
Showy basket : JAM
62
Boulder-to-Little Rock dir. : ESE

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?