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New York Times, Saturday, June 1, 2019

Author:
Ari Richter
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
16/1/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000001
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54000
Ari Richter

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 62, Blocks: 39 Missing: {JQZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Richter. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ari Richter notes:

A 62-answer debut?

In the words of Bob Seger, "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then..."

Jeff Chen notes:
Something gorgeous about the flow of this grid. Most themelesses pack their punch in the four corners, so I admire the novelty of this ... read more

Something gorgeous about the flow of this grid. Most themelesses pack their punch in the four corners, so I admire the novelty of this layout, featuring so many long entries from top (BLANKET HOG) to middle (THIS SECOND, STOLEN CARS), to bottom (MASHED PEAS).

Almost looks like a racetrack, starting from BONDS, doing a figure 8 around the two loops in the NE then SW, finishing up at LYONS. Appropriate to include [Hot wheels?], an outstanding clue (repurposing the popular toy brand) that made STOLEN CARS even better.

Those big, flowing corners can make construction tough (see: SIMONES / SOG, yikes!). The extra black squares – three in the NE corner, three in the SW – make a constructor's job easier. (I'd guess about a factor of five times easier.) I don't mind the visual appearance, but some editors have let me know that they feel differently.

I appreciated that Ari still managed to work in some great material around those tough corners. NONE FOR ME is good. SCREENER too, as well as AD COUNCIL. That last one didn't wow me, but it felt fresh; something I hadn't seen in many (any?) crosswords before.

Oh, that NW corner. When people ask me to critique their grids-in-progress, I usually do a quick scan to identify potential trouble spots. Most of the time it's tough letter sequences that raise yellow flags, but big, open spaces can also do it.

I'd have advised breaking up that space, as a 6x5 region constrained by two long answers is generally going to be rough. See: UNARMS, RETOOK, ONELS, NATAL. None of those is a puzzle-killer, but it's an unfortunate way to kick off a themeless solving experience. Perhaps moving the black squares above TAHOE to the left, to create more of a 5x5 space in the NW, would have helped.

I appreciated the unique, fresh feel to the grid layout. Too many compromises required, though.

1
B
2
O
3
N
4
D
5
S
6
E
7
S
8
I
9
G
10
N
11
U
N
A
R
M
12
S
13
A
X
E
L
R
O
14
D
15
R
E
T
O
O
K
16
S
C
R
E
E
N
E
17
R
18
B
L
A
N
K
E
19
T
H
O
G
20
W
E
R
E
21
S
L
E
E
P
A
P
N
E
22
A
23
F
A
A
24
T
H
I
S
S
E
25
C
O
N
D
26
P
27
A
28
T
29
R
I
O
T
30
G
O
R
G
E
31
S
A
D
F
A
C
E
32
S
33
W
I
M
M
E
R
34
O
S
C
A
R
35
R
Y
E
S
E
E
D
36
S
T
O
L
E
37
N
38
C
A
R
S
39
P
R
U
40
D
A
L
M
A
T
41
I
42
A
43
N
44
S
45
A
I
N
46
T
47
M
A
S
H
E
D
P
E
A
48
S
49
D
E
C
I
50
S
I
V
E
51
N
E
P
A
L
I
52
S
I
M
O
N
E
S
53
D
A
L
T
O
N
54
L
E
G
G
S
55
L
Y
O
N
S
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0601 ( 25,407 )

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Across
1
Baseball great who was the subject of the 2006 best seller "Game of Shadows" : BONDS
6
Authorize, as a digital contract : ESIGN
11
Takes heat from : UNARMS
13
Political figure who became a CNN commentator in 2015 : AXELROD
15
Won back : RETOOK
16
Advance showing of a film : SCREENER
18
Annoying bedmate : BLANKETHOG
20
"___ doomed!" : WERE
21
Subject of an overnight lab study : SLEEPAPNEA
23
D.O.T. branch : FAA
24
Right now : THISSECOND
26
Winner of the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in N.F.L. history (16 total points) : PATRIOT
30
Overindulge : GORGE
31
:( : SADFACE
32
Pool party? : SWIMMER
34
Word before bait or buzz : OSCAR
35
Certain grain source : RYESEED
36
Hot wheels? : STOLENCARS
39
Boston skyscraper, with "the" : PRU
40
They're spotted at fire stations : DALMATIANS
45
"___ so" ("Nuh-uh") : AINT
47
Classic baby food : MASHEDPEAS
49
Like Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo : DECISIVE
51
Many a yak herder : NEPALI
52
Gymnast Biles and others : SIMONES
53
"License to Kill" star : DALTON
54
Big name in hosiery : LEGGS
55
Longtime film/theater critic Jeffrey : LYONS
Down
1
Start of many a morning commute, informally : BURB
2
Some first-years after undergrad : ONELS
3
___ astrology, study with horoscopes : NATAL
4
Means of surveillance : DRONE
5
Go to pot? : SMOKE
6
Potential recidivists : EXCONS
7
Classic blazer fabrics : SERGES
8
Ending with quart- or quint- : ILE
9
Developed : GREW
10
"I'm fine, but thanks" : NONEFORME
12
Nonbeliever : SKEPTIC
13
Part of a fireplace : ASHPIT
14
Disturbed : DERANGED
17
Literary anthology : READER
19
Squaw Valley backdrop : TAHOE
22
Backing : AEGIS
25
Wasted word to a housecat : COME
26
Turnovers, e.g. : PASTRIES
27
Group working on P.S.A. campaigns : ADCOUNCIL
28
Big name in cookware : TFAL
29
Stood on the hind legs, with "up" : RARED
31
Product made with steel wool : SOSPAD
32
Dark-skinned grape used in winemaking : SYRAH
33
Locale of London's Leicester Square : WESTEND
35
Abu Simbel statue honoree : RAMSES
37
Activity for new parents : NAMING
38
Percussionist's wooden sticks : CLAVES
41
As good as it gets : IDEAL
42
Try to get in, say : APPLY
43
"Suh-weet!," quaintly : NEATO
44
Do business? : SALON
46
Proctor's declaration : TIME
48
Septet in Dante's "Purgatorio" : SINS
50
Lose crispness, in dialect : SOG

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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