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New York Times, Thursday, June 14, 2018

Author:
Joe Krozel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
877/7/20066/14/201815
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4147242621
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48057
Joe Krozel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 81, Blocks: 44 Missing: {FJQXZ} This is puzzle # 87 for Mr. Krozel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joe Krozel notes:
Anyone who solved my NYT puzzle from Sunday 1/18/2015 knows that I like to add new features to traditional constructs like word ladders. ... read more

Anyone who solved my NYT puzzle from Sunday 1/18/2015 knows that I like to add new features to traditional constructs like word ladders. Curiously, though, the current puzzle idea came about when I wasn't actively seeking candidates for a word ladder; the concept 1-A + 44-A + 78-A was mentioned on the news one day, and the daydreaming half of my brain immediately noticed how easily 1-A could transform to 44-A. Suddenly, the analytical half of my brain engaged itself with the challenge of getting from 44-A to 78-A. No real difficulties there except for avoiding repeat words and proper nouns. (Meanwhile … I sometimes wonder what vital information I might be missing all the time when daydreaming along with the news).

The puzzle construction challenge was to lay out eleven four-letter words on successively lower rows of a 15x15 grid. I added the constraint of forbidding any non-thematic Across entries from being four letters long. The thematic content was spread out left-center-right to minimize the impact on the Down entries. So, the grid layout alone offered good chances of acquiring lively surrounding fill. In the end, I was especially happy that the longest entries were lively … and mostly unused before.

A few months after this puzzle was accepted, David Kahn had an NYT puzzle published (on 8/30/2017) involving a similar theme: a word ladder consisting of nine five-letter words with a thematic element at the halfway point. I was happy for David's success, but I thought it meant that my own puzzle would probably stay on hold for about a decade. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. I'm guessing that stylistic differences — including the absence of clues for the ladder words — provided enough freshness to receive a normal publication date.

Jeff Chen notes:
Word ladder, from ROLL to CALL to VOTE. That's a fun concept, linking these words in an interesting way. This might have been better as ... read more

Word ladder, from ROLL to CALL to VOTE. That's a fun concept, linking these words in an interesting way.

This might have been better as a straight-up word ladder (like in a Penny Press word games magazine), not as a crossword puzzle. Word ladders have been done to death in crosswords, so you have to do something amazing to make them stand out.

I get that Will simply wants to make Thursday puzzles harder than Wednesday puzzles. But it was SO much work to uncover the unclued steps of the word ladder, and for such little payoff.

I would have given up halfway through if I didn't feel obsessed with completing the puzzle every day.

I did appreciate Joe's efforts to try to snazz up the solving experience, working in great bonuses like ROYAL BLOOD, AERIAL PHOTO, CHOKE COLLAR, LOVERS LEAP – that's great stuff! But it wasn't enough to get past 1.) all the crossword glue necessary to hold all those short themers together, or 2.) the mismatch between how hard it was to fill in the rungs of the ladder and how little of an a-ha moment there was.

Jim Horne notes:

Hmmm. I thought this one was fun.

1
R
2
O
3
L
4
L
5
A
6
B
7
S
8
T
9
V
10
V
11
C
12
R
13
E
G
G
O
14
S
15
P
O
L
16
L
17
A
I
S
H
A
18
E
L
B
O
W
19
R
O
Y
A
20
L
B
L
O
O
D
21
L
E
T
T
E
22
R
I
23
P
A
L
L
24
P
A
L
25
M
26
B
E
A
27
S
28
T
29
S
30
A
31
W
32
A
33
I
T
S
34
O
35
W
36
L
E
T
37
O
A
T
38
C
A
L
M
39
A
40
E
R
I
A
L
P
41
H
O
T
O
42
A
R
L
O
43
S
44
C
A
L
L
45
C
E
N
T
O
46
C
H
O
K
E
47
C
O
L
L
A
48
R
49
M
A
L
L
50
I
O
U
51
M
E
L
E
E
52
I
53
B
I
S
E
S
54
A
L
T
55
A
I
R
56
M
57
A
L
E
58
M
A
T
59
E
60
M
E
N
61
S
62
R
63
E
64
A
65
L
66
O
67
V
E
R
S
L
68
E
69
A
P
70
C
L
E
A
N
71
I
V
A
N
I
72
M
O
T
E
73
H
A
D
S
T
74
D
A
N
D
D
75
N
E
D
76
V
O
T
E
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0614 ( 25,055 )
Across
1
With 44- and 76-Across, way to put legislators on record ... or the start, middle and end of a word ladder : ROLL
5
Some six-packs : ABS
8
Dual-purpose viewing equipment : TVVCR
13
Toasted breakfast items : EGGOS
15
Second word in the word ladder : POLL
17
Talk show host/actress Tyler : AISHA
18
Nudge : ELBOW
19
Nice genealogical find : ROYALBLOOD
21
Start to instigate? : LETTERI
23
Third word ... : PALL
24
Fourth word ... : PALM
26
Wild ones : BEASTS
30
Watches for : AWAITS
34
Barn youngster : OWLET
37
Multigrain component : OAT
38
Fifth word ... : CALM
39
Many a postcard picture : AERIALPHOTO
42
Author Bates and musician Guthrie : ARLOS
44
Sixth word ... : CALL
45
100, in Italy : CENTO
46
Tight restraint : CHOKECOLLAR
49
Seventh word ... : MALL
50
Note in a poker pot : IOU
51
Free-for-all : MELEE
52
Sacred birds of Egypt : IBISES
54
Bright star of Aquila : ALTAIR
56
Eighth word ... : MALE
58
Ninth word ... : MATE
60
Criminal intent, at law : MENSREA
65
Promontory with a tragic romantic story connected to it : LOVERSLEAP
70
Free of drugs : CLEAN
71
First in a line of Russian autocrats : IVANI
72
Tenth word ... : MOTE
73
Possessed, in the Bible : HADST
74
Classic fantasy game, informally : DANDD
75
Homer's neighbor : NED
76
End of the word ladder : VOTE
Down
1
Part of a film archive : REEL
2
Spend a long time checking out? : OGLE
3
Pride parade letters : LGBT
4
Heist take : LOOT
5
Earth Day month : APRIL
6
Rude response from the bleachers : BOO
7
Skilled at deception : SLY
8
Mobile workstation : TABLETPC
9
Vacation home : VILLA
10
Brandy letters : VSO
11
Comic Margaret : CHO
12
"Groovy," updated : RAD
14
Tidied up, in a way : SWEPT
16
Place for a grandchild, maybe : LAP
20
Pigeonhole : LABEL
22
Tabula ___ : RASA
25
Mood around the office : MORALE
27
Part of A.S.A.P. : SOONAS
28
Say what someone naughty did : TATTLE
29
Bar fixtures : STOOLS
30
Gum arabic source : ACACIA
31
Source of multicolored Maos : WARHOL
32
With full strength : ALLOUT
33
"How are you?" response : IMOK
35
Artist de Kooning : WILLEM
36
___ land : LALA
40
E.P.A. subject: Abbr. : ECOL
41
Powerful engine, informally : HEMI
43
Like the western Great Plains, climatewise : SEMIARID
47
Breath mint brand : CERTS
48
Tick off : RILE
53
Yank from the game : BENCH
55
Change : AMEND
57
Superexcited : AMPED
59
Common street name : ELM
61
Pole, for one : SLAV
62
Overhaul : REDO
63
Only direction not in a state name : EAST
64
Pot part : ANTE
65
Pot part : LID
66
Inventory at a fertility clinic : OVA
67
Ryder rental : VAN
68
Lo-o-ong stretch : EON
69
Took the cake? : ATE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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