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New York Times, Friday, July 15, 2016

Author:
Matt Ginsberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
481/17/200811/1/20187
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1603015464
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57330
Matt Ginsberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 26 Missing: {JQW} This is puzzle # 44 for Mr. Ginsberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Matt Ginsberg notes:
Will definitely saved me on this one. I sent him two very different versions — one with the minitheme that you see here, and one ... read more

Will definitely saved me on this one. I sent him two very different versions — one with the minitheme that you see here, and one with a ton of examplars like this, but with unionized still far and away the best. He wisely decided to stick with what you see, and I hope everyone liked it!

As I often do, a video of Dr.Fill solving today's puzzle. It has no trouble with it, which isn't a total surprise because all of the words in the puzzle are obviously in my database.

Speaking of which, I've been working on both Dr.Fill and the my word list recently, trying to use some additional techniques from machine learning to improve performance on both sides. The word list is definitely better, which should help Dr.Fill as well, since one of its criteria when it's a bit confused is just trying to guess how good any specific fill is from a crossword perspective. The machine learning stuff on clue analysis is a bit more complicated, and I can't tell yet if it's going to be effective or not. I've got lots of time to get ready to challenge the humans next spring at Stamford, though!

Jeff Chen notes:
Cool finding, UNIONIZED either pronounced as UN-I-ON-IZED by a CHEMIST, or UN-ION-IZED by a PLUMBER. Fun mini-theme holding this ... read more

Cool finding, UNIONIZED either pronounced as UN-I-ON-IZED by a CHEMIST, or UN-ION-IZED by a PLUMBER. Fun mini-theme holding this themeless together.

Themelesses are usually seeded with a few strong entries, and many times these get moved around from place to place, shifted back and forth without regard to symmetrical placements, in order to get better flexibility in filling. Forcing a placement of UNIONIZED in the center of the grid, along with CHEMIST / PLUMBER in symmetrical spots, is a tough way to start.

I like a lot of the entries Matt worked in, UNCLE LEO one of my favorite minor characters of all time. DIET DRUG right on top was fun, too. I'm not totally familiar with PETE BEST, but his auspicious place as a person called the "the fifth Beatle" makes him a neat addition to that corner.

But as a solver, I like a lot of grid flow, and this grid was too sectioned off for my taste. Each of the four corners was a bit of a mini-maze, with one entrance and one exit. I ended up getting badly stuck in the NW, as GREASY didn't totally seem like [Insincerely polite] and EUGENIE / IONA didn't come quickly. No doubt, sectioning a grid off like this helps immensely in construction, but can sometimes lead to dead-ends and frustration for solvers.

And overall, there wasn't enough sizzling fill for my taste, many of the long slots filled with the type of ADDED ON, LACED UP (not far away from UP UP), RAILED AT, PREBAKE entries that felt more neutral than colorful to me. It's tough to create a snazzy themeless when you fix three entries into place with such little flexibility.

I did really enjoy the UNIONIZED syllabication differences though. It would have been really neat to find a few more of these and create a themed puzzle around them.

1
G
2
R
3
E
4
A
5
S
6
Y
7
A
8
F
9
R
10
I
11
C
12
A
13
N
14
S
15
L
A
U
R
I
E
16
R
A
I
L
E
D
A
T
17
A
N
G
O
R
A
18
A
L
L
I
N
D
I
A
19
C
H
E
M
I
S
20
T
21
L
E
A
S
E
R
S
22
I
O
N
A
23
T
A
24
P
E
25
D
O
D
O
S
26
A
M
I
S
27
S
28
B
E
N
29
D
30
R
O
B
E
31
L
E
E
32
I
33
S
O
N
34
O
35
P
E
N
I
N
36
U
N
I
O
N
37
I
Z
E
D
38
L
39
E
40
R
N
E
R
41
A
C
E
S
42
P
43
C
44
S
45
A
X
E
S
46
E
47
I
N
E
48
T
49
A
R
O
T
50
C
A
S
E
51
S
52
S
T
U
53
B
54
D
E
V
O
55
E
M
P
T
I
56
E
S
57
P
L
58
U
M
B
E
R
59
D
I
E
T
D
R
U
60
G
61
O
P
I
A
T
E
62
U
N
C
L
E
L
E
O
63
T
U
R
K
E
Y
64
P
E
T
E
B
E
S
T
65
S
P
E
E
D
S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0715 ( 24,356 )
Across
1. Insincerely polite : GREASY
7. 13-Down natives, e.g. : AFRICANS
15. Hugh who played TV's House : LAURIE
16. Laid into : RAILEDAT
17. Wool source : ANGORA
18. Subcontinent-wide : ALLINDIA
19. One for whom 36-Across has four syllables : CHEMIST
21. Many new car drivers : LEASERS
22. Island west of Mull : IONA
23. Red stuff to cut through : TAPE
25. Dim bulbs : DODOS
26. Off : AMISS
28. Compromise : BEND
30. Trial cover-up : ROBE
31. Gray head : LEE
32. Has the stage : ISON
34. What exterior doors typically do : OPENIN
36. See 19- and 57-Across : UNIONIZED
38. Lyricist who adapted "Pygmalion" : LERNER
41. Clubs to beat people with? : ACES
42. Chrome runners, maybe : PCS
45. x, y and z : AXES
46. Mozart title starter : EINE
48. Devil's deck : TAROT
50. Lawyer's workload : CASES
52. Admission evidence : STUB
54. Musical group known for wearing red hats called "energy domes" : DEVO
55. Recycling bin fill : EMPTIES
57. One for whom 36-Across has three syllables : PLUMBER
59. Figure-changing agent : DIETDRUG
61. Calmer? : OPIATE
62. Lesser "Seinfeld" role played by Len Lesser : UNCLELEO
63. Bomb : TURKEY
64. Early Beatle : PETEBEST
65. Going rates : SPEEDS
Down
1. Beyond slow : GLACIAL
2. Sought safety, say : RANHOME
3. Princess in line to the British throne after Beatrice : EUGENIE
4. Agents in some therapy : AROMAS
5. When told "I'm sleepy," she sometimes says "I hope you're not driving" : SIRI
6. Rising generation? : YEAST
7. The Era of ___ (1964-74 Notre Dame football) : ARA
8. Like some angels and arches : FALLEN
9. Really bug : RILE
10. Paris fights in it : ILIAD
11. Like many bad words : CENSORED
12. Appended : ADDEDON
13. Safari Capital of the World : NAIROBI
14. Nine-time presidential contender of the 1940s-'90s : STASSEN
20. Shaving the beard with a razor, in Jewish law : TABOO
24. Bit of décor in a sports bar : PENNANT
27. It makes a wave : SINE
29. Nap : DOZE
33. Top of the line? : SIRE
35. Tick, e.g. : PEST
36. Fill with anxiety : UNSETTLE
37. Freeze : ICEUP
38. Like skates and corsets : LACEDUP
39. Scrutinize : EXAMINE
40. Word repeatedly spelled out by Franklin : RESPECT
42. Make as a heat-and-serve product, say : PREBAKE
43. Much-sought-after : COVETED
44. British floors : STOREYS
47. Time after Time? : ISSUES
49. Think much of : ADMIRE
51. Backtrack? : SIDEB
53. Calligraphic messes : BLOTS
56. Creator of the lawyer Perry : ERLE
58. "Superman" catchphrase starter : UPUP
60. Grokked : GOT

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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