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New York Times, Friday, July 24, 2015

Author:
Patrick Berry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2297/11/199911/4/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
741241679512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980
Patrick Berry

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 28 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 200 for Mr. Berry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
One of the things I like best about Patrick is that he hardly ever delves into the same themeless pattern; he's always expanding his ... read more

One of the things I like best about Patrick is that he hardly ever delves into the same themeless pattern; he's always expanding his repertoire to give solvers variety. Today he dips into one of the most difficult areas to get clean and colorful — the quad-stack. Doing a 9x4 section is much easier than doing a 15x4 quad-stack of course, but it's still very difficult. Only a few people have pulled off 9x4s with colorful answers and super-clean (Berryesque) fill.

Modern-day choppers

Fine work in those big corners, both of them not only squeaky-clean but containing long entries running through them. The NW corner has three great answers — INSIDE MAN, NEW MEXICO, HIT OR MISS — and IM SO SORRY running through. Nothing to be sorry about! CHASTENED did feel like a neutral entry just taking up space, but overall, it's beautiful.

Similar story in the SE. SWEET N LOW, ANTINOVEL, even SKELETONS are pretty good, and GHOST TOWN crossing them all is the coup de grace. Again though, COMPUWARE didn't feel nearly as strong as the other entries.

This is a common problem with quad-stacks (of any length). It's hard enough to smash three great long answers together so the crossings work out. Doing it with four is much, much harder, often requiring at least one filler entry.

I'm usually not a big fan of any sort of quad-stack, because they almost always require some ugly crossings or a neutral to bizarre long entry. And if you need to throw in a neutral entry, why not stick to a triple-stack and save space, leaving yourself extra room elsewhere in the puzzle to try to work in another sizzling entry into the puzzle? I do appreciate the variety, though.

A candidate for best clue of the year: [Wood choppers of old] looks so innocuous, probably referring to stone age axes or similar tools? Nope, it plays on "choppers" = slang for teeth.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0724 ( 23,999 )
Across
1. Helper in a heist : INSIDEMAN
10. Group with rackets : MAFIA
15. U.S. state with the oldest capital city : NEWMEXICO
16. To any degree : ATALL
17. Newly humble : CHASTENED
18. Is in demand : SELLS
19. Wildly uneven : HITORMISS
20. Tokyo-based electronics giant : CASIO
21. Minor concessions : SOPS
22. "The Cryptogram" playwright David : MAMET
23. "Get cracking!" : GOTOIT
26. Immoderately priced : DEAR
28. Shorts go-with : TEE
30. Unable to react : INERT
31. Rustic dwellers : COTTAGERS
33. Disinheritor of Cordelia : LEAR
34. Deity with 99 names : ALLAH
35. Junker : HEAP
36. Member of a pop duo whose debut album was titled "Whole Oats" : DARYLHALL
38. ___ mouth : POTTY
39. Film director Lee : ANG
40. Omission statement? : OOPS
41. Extends a line, say : FISHES
42. 1980s-'90s singer Terence Trent ___ : DARBY
44. Man of urbanity : GENT
45. Gives the slip : LOSES
46. Dancers in danse macabre imagery : SKELETONS
51. Ornamental garment panel : INSET
52. Literary term popularized by Sartre : ANTINOVEL
53. Over-the-counter name for naproxen : ALEVE
54. Big name in the mainframe business : COMPUWARE
55. "Brideshead Revisited" surname : RYDER
56. Product in pink packets : SWEETNLOW
Down
1. Narrow margin : INCH
2. Classic pop : NEHI
3. Try to beat the buzzer? : SWAT
4. "My deepest condolences" : IMSOSORRY
5. Bankruptcy declarer of 2013 : DETROIT
6. Off the hook : EXEMPT
7. Some M&M's : MINIS
8. Excellent, slangily : ACES
9. Silent signals : NODS
10. Cause of black eyes? : MASCARA
11. Crack squad : ATEAM
12. Wood choppers of old : FALSETEETH
13. "X" signer : ILLITERATE
14. Furthermore : ALSO
22. Quadratics, e.g. : MATH
23. Rita Hayworth film briefly featured in "The Shawshank Redemption" : GILDA
24. Perfect match : ONEANDONLY
25. Put down, in a way, as a group of rioters : TEARGASSED
26. What plangonologists collect : DOLLS
27. Bibliographer's abbr. : ETAL
29. Awards show since 1993 : ESPYS
31. Honor an honoree, say : CLAP
32. Nobody's home : GHOSTTOWN
34. Hearty greeting? : AHOY
37. Bisque bit : LOBSTER
38. Biscotto bit : PINENUT
41. One of baseball's Alous : FELIPE
43. One of Chaucer's pilgrims : REEVE
44. "Capeesh?" : GETME
45. Unreliable narrator : LIAR
46. Alveoli, e.g. : SACS
47. Have in mind? : KNOW
48. Like some lockets : OVAL
49. Husband of ancient Rome's Poppaea Sabina : NERO
50. Big bunch : SLEW

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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