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New York Times, Thursday, June 22, 2017

Author:
Ruth B. Margolin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
92/26/201412/20/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3013200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.50100
Ruth B. Margolin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 6 for Ms. Margolin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ruth B. Margolin notes:
One of the things I am enjoying as I gain experience in the world of crossword construction is learning more about the technical ... read more

One of the things I am enjoying as I gain experience in the world of crossword construction is learning more about the technical details of the process. I discover a lot by trial and error, but I learn that others analyze the process, and they have interesting and helpful wisdom to share.

For example, this puzzle initially had EYESEEEYE in the middle. Including a fifth theme answer seemed like a good idea, but I did have way too many 3-letter words in my puzzle. I couldn't seem to reduce the number, and I didn't think to blame that on my innocent-seeming fifth theme answer. What I learned from Joel is that a middle 9-letter answer (which has to have 3 black squares — "blocks" — on either side of it) tends to force a lot of 3-letter words because the perimeter columns must either be side-by-side sets of 7-letter words or side-by-side sets of 3-block-3, which makes for a lot of 3-letter words. It seems so obvious, now that I've had it pointed out to me! So now that Joel and I SEE EYE to EYE, you don't see EYESEEEYE.

I also continue to be amazed at how crucial each fill word is. Nearing the end of the revision process, I had a solid draft of this puzzle, with some fun long fill. Alas, it included SANDH (as in Green Stamps, or Shipping and Handling), which Will called "a puzzle-killer," so that draft was officially dead. As solvers, we all know that unappealing words creep into puzzles with some regularity. But it isn't for lack of trying on the part of the constructor or lack of attention on the part of the editors!

While most solvers and I are unlikely to FACEMEETFACE, I do hope that this puzzle made some of you EARSMILEEAR!

Jeff Chen notes:
I have to admit; I didn't completely grok the theme until well after I finished. EARSMILEEAR is a literal representation of 'smile ... read more

I have to admit; I didn't completely grok the theme until well after I finished. EARSMILEEAR is a literal representation of "smile from ear to ear." But I hitched on TOESTANDTOE, not quite seeing the connection to "stand toe to toe," or how FACEMEETFACE meant "meet face to face." Don't these more imply "stand from toe to toe" and "meet from face to face"?

And HANDPASSHAND ... I think that's "pass from hand to hand," which does seem like good wordplay. But the base phrase didn't immediately jump to mind. I'd happily put SMILE FROM EAR TO EAR in a themeless crossword, but PASS FROM HAND TO HAND would make me hesitate, wondering if that was strong enough.

I like that Ruth pushed her word count down to 72, helping to make the puzzle feel more like a tough, late-week puzzle. The middle O of OUTDOORSY would usually be a black square, for example, and opening that up lets Ruth work in both OUTDOORSY and GOOD IDEA, strong additions. The price of EDDA (tough bit of trivia) was well worth it for me.

It also gave her a lot of seven-letter slots to work with, and Ruth used most of them well. As a huge Harry Potter fan, AZKABAN delighted me (and Ruth made sure every crossing was fair, for you poor muggles). I like Juliette BINOCHE too, and OBADIAH is an interesting Biblical name. Some might argue that crossing these two propers is unfair, but I think all educated solvers ought to at least heard of one or the other.

I paused at IN SPACE. The clue, referring to the show "Lost in Space," made it feel like a long partial, a huge violation of the specs most editors hold to. Can IN SPACE stand on its own? Tough call. At best, I didn't feel like it added much to the puzzle.

I like it when Thursday puzzles have tricksy elements to them. This one made a good attempt, but it didn't resonate with me. Instead of a fantastic a-ha moment, it was more of a slow process of trying to understand the concept. Still, a generally smooth and well-executed grid with some nice bonuses.

1
S
2
H
3
O
4
G
5
I
6
A
7
S
8
H
9
E
10
G
11
E
12
A
13
R
14
I
O
W
A
N
15
R
E
A
D
16
O
R
S
O
17
G
L
E
N
S
18
O
U
T
D
19
O
O
R
S
Y
20
H
A
N
D
P
21
A
S
S
H
A
N
D
22
H
A
Z
E
S
23
E
I
24
L
25
A
26
T
27
S
28
T
29
N
I
C
K
30
O
31
B
A
D
I
A
H
32
C
H
I
33
E
A
34
R
35
S
M
I
L
E
E
A
R
36
O
R
C
37
A
38
B
U
Y
I
N
39
A
I
M
E
40
T
O
E
S
41
T
A
N
D
T
O
42
E
43
N
A
E
44
T
A
N
K
I
N
G
45
C
L
46
A
S
P
S
47
S
T
E
A
D
48
A
49
P
H
I
D
50
F
A
51
C
52
E
M
E
E
T
F
53
A
54
C
55
E
56
C
57
E
58
S
T
L
A
V
I
E
59
I
R
I
N
A
60
A
L
E
E
61
R
E
S
T
62
S
E
L
E
S
63
T
S
A
R
64
E
L
S
A
65
T
E
S
T
Y
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0622 ( 24,698 )
Across
1
Japanese chess : SHOGI
6
Name attached to a North Carolina "-ville" : ASHE
10
1, 2, 3 or R : GEAR
14
Hawkeye : IOWAN
15
Enjoy Wilde or Wilder, say : READ
16
+/- : ORSO
17
Hollows : GLENS
18
Fond of hiking, camping, etc. : OUTDOORSY
20
Transfer, as in a bucket brigade : HANDPASSHAND
22
Initiates badly? : HAZES
23
Israeli resort city : EILAT
27
One flying during the holiday season, informally : STNICK
30
Book of the Bible after Amos : OBADIAH
32
___-Town : CHI
33
Grin broadly : EARSMILEEAR
36
Menace with four-inch teeth : ORCA
38
Poker tournament fee : BUYIN
39
"Je t'___" : AIME
40
Confront one another head-on : TOESTANDTOE
43
Typical Scottish Brexit vote : NAE
44
Going south : TANKING
45
Joins hands? : CLASPS
47
Place : STEAD
48
Honeydew producer : APHID
50
Rendezvous : FACEMEETFACE
56
"That's the way the cookie crumbles" : CESTLAVIE
59
Olympic skater Slutskaya : IRINA
60
Protected, at 58-Down : ALEE
61
Symbol of silence : REST
62
Palindromic tennis champ : SELES
63
Pre-Red head : TSAR
64
"Frozen" princess : ELSA
65
Irascible : TESTY
Down
1
Heaved "ho"? : SIGH
2
Spanish welcome : HOLA
3
John Irving's "A Prayer for ___ Meany" : OWEN
4
Who said "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" : GANDHI
5
Where the Robinsons were lost on 1960s TV : INSPACE
6
Stopped lying : AROSE
7
Doctor of letters? : SEUSS
8
Possesses, once : HATH
9
Ancient Norse work : EDDA
10
"I like the way you think!" : GOODIDEA
11
Jump the gun, e.g. : ERR
12
Balaam's talking beast : ASS
13
Mr. Rogers : ROY
19
Either co-star of "Paper Moon" : ONEAL
21
Prison guarded by Dementors : AZKABAN
24
Some 1960s protests : LIEINS
25
TripTik, e.g. : AAAMAP
26
N.B.A. long shots : THREES
27
"Feed your lawn" brand : SCOTTS
28
Place for a frog : THROAT
29
Christians' ___ Creed : NICENE
30
Cut : OMIT
31
Juliette of "Chocolat" : BINOCHE
34
What'll give you a leg up? : RUNG
35
Children's author Hoff : SYD
37
Inquire about : ASKAFTER
41
Like some colossal bores : TIDAL
42
Snob : ELITIST
46
Like Consumer Reports : ADFREE
48
Out of order : AMISS
49
Katniss's partner in "The Hunger Games" : PEETA
51
Nursing, say : CARE
52
Daredevil Knievel : EVEL
53
Troubles : AILS
54
Popular tech review site : CNET
55
"Whoa, slow down there, partner!" : EASY
56
Hipster : CAT
57
Loop loopers : ELS
58
See 60-Across : SEA

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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