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New York Times, Wednesday, July 16, 2014

 Author: Daniel Raymon Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
189/23/20079/6/20170
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02341107
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61110

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 77, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JKVZ} Grid has mirror symmetry This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Raymon. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Daniel Raymon notes: I'm a math guy (it was my major and I do math tutoring), so one day this theme idea dawned on me. It worked out perfectly that ... more
Daniel Raymon notes: I'm a math guy (it was my major and I do math tutoring), so one day this theme idea dawned on me. It worked out perfectly that TRIANGLES has nine letters, which can be grouped into three sets of three, which can then form the three types of triangles shown in the puzzle. I originally had one circle in a different square: the circle on the I in ELITISM was on the I in IAN. I liked it there because then all three triangles had the same base length and their placement was more symmetrical. It was pointed out to me, though, that the top left triangle wouldn't look scalene — at least with the square dimensions published in the NYT. So that had to be changed, unfortunately.

Another thing I like about this puzzle is that it has left-right symmetry. It's always nice to be able to do something different.

I was happy to get in some nice longer fill, though nothing too exciting. I think my favorites are ROMNEY and TEXTERS because of their relative currentness. I also like the clue for 3-Down, which survived the editing process.

Jeff Chen notes: Neat idea today, an elegance to the word TRIANGLES breaking perfectly into three groups of three. There's something so pretty to ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Neat idea today, an elegance to the word TRIANGLES breaking perfectly into three groups of three. There's something so pretty to that. I also liked Dani's natural progression, from a SCALENE (no sides of equal length) to ISOCELES (two sides of equal length) to EQUILATERAL (all three sides of equal length). I really enjoy seeing constructor's background shine through in a puzzle.

It took me a while to figure out what the circled letters were spelling, because I have a propensity to read in a clockwise fashion. I found it to be a bit odd that the TRI / ANG / LES go counterclockwise. Perhaps that's a cultural difference? In any case, I did appreciate the extra layer. Three themers + three triangles + TRI ANG LES fixed into place = a lot of depth.

Speaking of extra layers, I would have loved to see a triangle hinted at in the black squares. If you squint really hard, you can almost see the start of a triangle in the "hill" of black squares (above FLO). It would be very hard to do, especially at the tips of the triangles, but what a neat effect that could be.

Mirror symmetry can be a great tool to have in your arsenal. It's really the only way to pull off today's puzzle, because SCALENE 7 / ISOSCELES 9 / EQUILATERAL 11 can't work with regular crossword symmetry. What a fortuitous coincidence that they're all of odd length, allowing mirror symmetry to work! Another progression that would have worked: SCALENE 7 / RIGHT 5 / EQUILATERAL 11. Hard to leave out the poor right triangle in all its Pythagorean glory, but what can you do.

Quite a few constraints today, and they force a few compromises. Rich Norris at the LAT limits partials to a maximum of two, so A TAB / OH TO / OF A is an unfortunate way to open the puzzle. I understand the constraints of the EQUILATERAL triangle — you can't move around just one of the three vertices — but the SCALENE and ISOSCELES both have enough flexibility that it feels like some of the partials plus the PSAS / ARIS / OST stuff could have been cleaned up by shifting the position of circles.

All in all, an elegant idea with some compromises in execution.

ADDED NOTE: an astute reader, Jean Cranmer, was confused because the bottom triangle didn't look equilateral to her. I smugly sent her definitions of "isosceles" and "equilateral" and then... realized that the sides of the bottom triangle are 5.83 (using the Pythagorean theorem to calculate) whereas the base is 6. I imagine this is the closest Dani could come to an approximate equilateral triangle in a 15x square grid. Thanks for the catch, Jean! (And a good reminder that I'm frequently wrong.)

 1A 2T 3A 4B 5S 6C 7A 8R 9S 10O 11H 12T 13O 14N A M E 15P E R O T 16F E R N 17T M E N 18E R A S E 19A R I S 20W A R 21S C A L E N 22E 23O S T 24E L I 25T I S M 26A T L 27A N T A 28R E C A P 29I 30A N 31S C R A G 32P S A S 33S C E N 34T 35T Y N E 36I 37S O S C E L 38E S 39R 40O 41M N E Y 42C R U 43T 44C 45H 46A D A G E 47F 48L 49O 50S P R E E 51M E L 52T I E U 53P 54A L F 55E 56Q 57U I L A T E 58R 59A L 60R 61E S U R G E 62A C E T A 63T 64E 65S T E I G E R 66G A M E L A W 67T E X T E R S 68E N S N A R E
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0716 ( 23,626 )
 Across Down 1. Run up ___ : ATAB5. Marks for life : SCARS10. "___ be in England" : OHTO14. Big shot : NAME15. Also-ran of 1992 and 1996 : PEROT16. Frond bearer : FERN17. Bootleggers' foes : TMEN18. Begin to correct, maybe : ERASE19. "Exodus" hero and others : ARIS20. Cabinet department until 1947 : WAR21. Like the figure formed by the three circled letters in the upper left : SCALENE23. East of Germany? : OST24. Snobbishness : ELITISM26. 1996 Olympics city : ATLANTA28. Highlights show : RECAP29. Somerhalder of "The Vampire Diaries" : IAN31. Skin-and-bones sort : SCRAG32. Anti-D.U.I. ads, e.g. : PSAS33. A dog might catch one : SCENT35. Newcastle's river : TYNE36. Like the figure formed by the three circled letters in the upper right : ISOSCELES39. He tapped Ryan in 2012 : ROMNEY42. Something to lean on : CRUTCH46. "If the shoe fits, wear it," e.g. : ADAGE47. "Alice" waitress : FLO50. Shopaholic's binge : SPREE51. "Alice" diner owner : MEL52. Traffic problem : TIEUP54. 1936 opponent of Franklin D. : ALF55. Like the figure formed by the three circled letters at the bottom : EQUILATERAL60. Make a comeback : RESURGE62. Overlay material : ACETATE65. "In the Heat of the Night" Oscar winner : STEIGER66. Rules for hunters to follow : GAMELAW67. Some distracted drivers : TEXTERS68. Sucker in : ENSNARE 1. Belgian seaport : ANTWERP2. Wrapped Tex-Mex fare : TAMALES3. Stephen Colbert's "I Am ___ (And So Can You!)" : AMERICA4. Football's Roethlisberger : BEN5. Blueprint details, in brief : SPECS6. Ming vases, e.g. : CERAMICS7. ___ Sea (Asian body) : ARAL8. Comic with a "domestic goddess" persona : ROSEANNE9. Artery implant : STENT10. All ___ sudden : OFA11. Nesting area for wading birds : HERONRY12. Isolde's beloved : TRISTAN13. Treading the boards : ONSTAGE21. Nurse at a bar : SIP22. N.Y.C.'s Third and Ninth Avenue lines, e.g. : ELS25. Zapping, in a way : TASING27. Starts malfunctioning : ACTSUP30. Early nuclear org. : AEC33. Kind of milk : SOY34. Special attention, briefly : TLC37. Get the idea : SEE38. Triage spots, for short : ERS39. Flock member : RAM40. Horatian work : ODE41. The symbol for the Roman god Mars represents it : MALESEX43. Refrain syllables : TRALALA44. Disney collectible : CEL45. Playboy nickname : HEF47. Manicurists, at times : FILERS48. Grazing area : LEA49. Loss of power : OUTAGE52. Ty Cobb, for most of his career : TIGER53. Praline nut : PECAN56. Conk out : QUIT57. The munchies, e.g. : URGE58. Dream states, for short : REMS59. "... ___-foot pole!" : ATEN60. Queue after Q : RST61. Season after printemps : ETE63. La Brea gunk : TAR64. 39-Down's mate : EWE

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

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