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New York Times, Thursday, July 12, 2018

Author:
Joe DiPietro
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1318/26/19957/12/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
281072242283
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59326
Joe DiPietro

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JX} This is puzzle # 131 for Mr. DiPietro. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
We've highlighted the HANDS dropping down to make the theme more apparent. For example, there's a FOREhand dropping down out of ... read more

We've highlighted the HANDS dropping down to make the theme more apparent. For example, there's a FOREhand dropping down out of DEFOREST.

FOREhand, LONGhand, SURE hand, IRON hand. I like that Joe picked all four-letter words to drop down. That's perfect consistency.

I might have made different choices, though. FOREhand and LONGhand, yes! SURE hand … doesn't "sure-handed" sound a lot better? IRON hand also didn't ring as well to my ear as FOREhand or LONGhand.

Perhaps FREE, in DEEP FREEZE or DEGREES OF FREEDOM? And maybe GLADhand, in BANGLADESH?

People often assume that Thursdays are the hardest grids to make. Often not the case! Sure, you can be forced into crazy constraints, but you can also toss in some oddball entries. That's usually okay (if not desirable), since people who solve Thursdays tend to be the die-hard regulars who will have at least heard of things like SHUL and the Sea of AZOV.

It's not easy to work with crossing themers, which is essentially what Joe had to build around. Fixing DEFST / FORE into place will often mean problems in the surrounding fill (see: SHUL).

I'm all for long bonus fill to spice up a grid. But if the bonuses are of the LAY RUBBER ilk, I'd rather break that up, which would make for a smoother grid. LAY RUBBER detracted from the puzzle for me, since it sounds so much worse than "burn rubber". Take that out by putting a black square at the R of HEAR – which would allow for the removal of ESTOP – and that's a win-win for me.

Overall though, solid Thursday concept. Enough trickery to keep me interested.

Jim Horne notes:

This is a milestone puzzle for Will Shortz. His NYT career began 9,000 days ago with this delightful, controversial, and very non-Maleskan Sunday crossword.

1
D
2
E
3
F
4
S
5
T
6
S
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P
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A
9
N
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G
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A
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H
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I
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A
L
O
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A
15
K
A
Z
O
O
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W
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D
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S
C
R
U
B
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I
G
O
T
A
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N
A
M
E
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H
E
L
L
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A
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E
V
A
L
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T
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N
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N
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O
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O
V
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S
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H
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A
S
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P
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C
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A
H
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G
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H
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A
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T
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R
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K
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S
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F
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40
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S
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C
E
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R
Y
42
I
N
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H
E
D
Y
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O
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A
N
D
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N
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A
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I
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K
E
N
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N
O
T
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S
A
Y
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T
R
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M
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A
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P
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W
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L
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B
B
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R
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D
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D
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A
Q
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D
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A
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W
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S
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N
Y
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0712 ( 25,083 )

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Across
1
Clear of trees : DEFOREST
6
Smack-dab : SPANG
11
Sushi fish : AHI
14
___ shirt (colorful garment) : ALOHA
15
Musical instrument almost anyone can play : KAZOO
16
Joined : WED
17
Third-stringer : SCRUB
18
1973 Jim Croce hit : IGOTANAME
20
Extremely, in slang : HELLA
22
"Desperate Housewives" co-star : EVALONGORIA
23
J's value in Words With Friends : TEN
24
"Lux" composer of 2012 : ENO
26
Rack sites : OVENS
27
Samples some, as beer or wine : HASASIP
29
Pro wrestling star John : CENA
31
"Awesome, dude" : EPIC
32
One of Popeye's foes : SEAHAG
34
Sight on a rack : HAT
37
One radio format : ROCK
38
Surrounding area : ENVIRONS
39
One way to play it : SAFE
40
Self starter? : ESS
41
V8 component : CELERY
42
About : INRE
43
Lamarr of old Hollywood : HEDY
44
Protractedly : ONANDON
46
Poet Conrad : AIKEN
49
What "-" may represent in a Google search : NOT
50
"___ uncle" : SAY
51
It often features an "X" : TREASUREMAP
55
Four-time winner of the Masters : WOODS
57
Accelerate a vehicle suddenly : LAYRUBBER
59
iPhone rival : DROID
61
Atmospheric pollution meas. : AQI
62
Bump, in poker-speak : RAISE
63
___ flask (lab container) : DEWAR
64
Something credited to a pitcher : WIN
65
Bar in court : ESTOP
66
Young lad : SONNY
Down
1
"___ Rheingold" : DAS
2
Tightwads : ELCHEAPOS
3
Field of "CSI" : FORENSICS
4
Synagogue : SHUL
5
Some addenda in research papers : TABLES
6
Go downhill in a hurry? : SKI
7
Beep : PAGE
8
Sea of ___ (arm of the Black Sea) : AZOV
9
___ bene : NOTA
10
Concur : GOALONG
11
Up on stuff : AWARE
12
Leave no way out for : HEMIN
13
"Intelligence ... is really a kind of taste -- taste in ___": Susan Sontag : IDEAS
19
Salmon variety : NOVA
21
Ouzo flavorer : ANISEED
23
"Voilà!" : THERE
25
Aboveboard : OPENLY
28
Cry of dismay : ACK
29
"Wisest and justest of all the centaurs," in Greek myth : CHIRON
30
"Slow down, big fella" : EASYNOW
33
Abbr. on a GPS screen : AVE
34
Easily ... and a hint to four answers in this puzzle : HANDSDOWN
35
Like a sizable proportion of Caribbeans, ethnically : AFROASIAN
36
Wee : TEENY
39
Confession topic : SIN
41
Public rebuke : CENSURE
43
When repeated, a cry of approval : HEAR
45
Unable to agree : ATODDS
46
Attorneys ___ : ATLAW
47
Neighbor of a Syrian : IRAQI
48
Record, as data : KEYIN
52
Degrees for many execs : MBAS
53
Slightly : ABIT
54
Capital of Colombia : PESO
56
Treat with a Thins variety : OREO
58
Account exec : REP
60
Having less vermouth than the norm : DRY

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

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