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# New York Times, Monday, July 17, 2017

 Author: Tom McCoy Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3011/14/201311/19/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
15815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61351

## This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 27 for Mr. McCoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Tom McCoy notes: When constructing a crossword, the more flexibility you have in your theme answers, the easier it is to fill the grid. This means ... more
Tom McCoy notes:

When constructing a crossword, the more flexibility you have in your theme answers, the easier it is to fill the grid. This means that this puzzle would have been much easier to make if the theme had been loosened up a little bit. For example, allowing any odd numbers (rather than using exactly the set of single-digit odd numbers) would have made construction easier because it would've increased the number of possible theme answers by allowing phrases such as FRESHMANFIFTEEN or FOREVERTWENTYONE.

The puzzle also would've been much easier to make if the numbers were not necessarily presented in order--for me at least, the start of construction usually involves lots of moving theme answers around to find the arrangement that works best, but having them in a fixed order removes a lot of the freedom in theme positioning.

However, I thought it was important to restrict the theme to being exactly the five single-digit odd numbers presented in order because a theme of "phrases ending in odd numbers" didn't seem quite tight enough without these extra features. Luckily, there are enough phrases ending with ONE, THREE, and FIVE to make the theme workable despite these constraints.

As always, thanks to the editing team for making this puzzle much better than the version I submitted!

Jeff Chen notes: ODDS AND ENDS played upon today, construed as 'phrases whose last words are odd numbers.' I hesitated when I got to the revealer ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

ODDS AND ENDS played upon today, construed as "phrases whose last words are odd numbers." I hesitated when I got to the revealer — wouldn't ODDS ARE ENDS or ENDS ARE ODD be more apt? Alas, neither of those are real phrases. Stupid crossword gods!

It would have been all too easy to stick with ONE THREE FIVE SEVEN — with the revealer, that would have made five total themers, just about right for a dense, meaty grid. But it would have felt incomplete without the final single-digit odd number, NINE. Kudos to Tom for going the whole NINE yards (*rimshot*), working with an extremely high theme density. Six themers is no joke.

The grid is well crafted, not a surprise given that Tom is one of the best in the construction business. So smooth, just a minor YTD (and we business folks don't even blink at that). I usually keep a running tab of crossword glue, since I prize smoothness so highly in Monday puzzles — to get only that one minor tick is fantastic. Makes the puzzle so accessible to a newer solver.

I do wish the NW and SE corners hadn't been so sectioned off from the rest of the puzzle. There are two answers — AIR FORCE ONE and WORSTS — connecting the NW to the rest of the puzzle, so it's not as bad as it could be, but I prefer a bigger passageway, allowing for more solving flow.

Speaking of bigger passageways, Will once asked me to avoid "stair steps" of black squares involving three-letter words, i.e. the narrow RAS / SAX region. I didn't understand the feedback back then, but these days I do notice how constricted such a stair step can make a puzzle feel.

All these narrowings are prices to pay to get that ON CLOUD NINE entry in — so many black squares are needed to separate so many themers — so I like the trade-off.

Fantastic JEDI clue. "Force-ful" characters indeed!

Simple theme but executed well. If the revealer had generated a stronger a-ha moment for me, it would be POW! material.

 1S 2T 3R 4A 5W 6C 7D 8S 9H 10A 11M 12S P E E D O 13D R E W 14I D O 15A I R F O R 16C E O N E 17T E X 18I N N S 19S U M O 20E 21C O L I 22L E S 23S T R I K 24E T H R E E 25R A S 26L I A M 27L 28A 29T E X 30G 31I 32M M E F I 33V 34E 35A L I T 36M O V E S 37I S E E 38G A M E 39S E V E N 40A N S E L 41E L A N 42U G G 43O 44N C L O U 45D 46N 47I N E 48R 49A 50M 51B E A S T 52I O N S 53J U D O 54E A R 55O 56D D S A N 57D E N D S 58Y T D 59M I N E 60A U D I T S 61S O S 62E N T 63G E I C O
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0717 ( 24,723 )