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New York Times, Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Author: Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
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1.58032
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 18 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Bruce Haight notes: A bunch of 'Estee' phrases — 111 letters of interlocking theme material but not the most riveting theme. I'm happy with the ... more
Bruce Haight notes:

A bunch of "Estee" phrases — 111 letters of interlocking theme material but not the most riveting theme. I'm happy with the way this puzzle turned out, but to tell you the truth I would rather write about my recent ping pong showdown with Will Shortz:

I happened to find myself in Pleasantville recently (the city, not the state of mind), running an errand for the ACPT. Peter A. Collins and I were supposed to pick some things up from Will Shortz's house and schlep them to the tournament site in Stamford, CT . We got there early — you don't want to keep Will waiting if you are a puzzle constructor — and he told us most of the stuff was at his Ping Pong Palace — aka the Westchester Table Tennis Center. When we got there he brought out these high powered inverted dimple ping pong paddles (I was hoping for the old sandpaper surfaced ones myself) and invited us to rally with him!

Will has played ping pong 1000 or so days in a row now he says, but I am not a total slouch at the game myself. I grew up with a table in my basement and I've twice won ping pong tournaments on cruise ships — for my last "gold medal" I had to beat a crafty 75 year old Asian woman in the finals and she was sporting the dreaded penholder grip! I'm a year younger than Will and my arm span is WAY longer — I'd been dreaming of this showdown for years....

Part of my strategy (in addition to trick serves and throwing out distracting questions about anagrams) was to wear Will down by hitting a few wild shots off the table and forcing him to run them down, hopefully having to reach under davenports and such to retrieve them. This was working perfectly, sort of — I lost the first 20 or so points but he was starting to look a bit exasperated. At one point after retrieving one of my errant shots I thought I saw him clutch at his lower back a bit like I might have aggravated an old injury. Then, out of the blue, he came up with a feeble excuse about the crossword tournament starting soon and having to drive there and we had to stop the match! Here is a video excerpt, mercifully compressed to 13 seconds.

I have two pieces of advice if you are thinking you would like to play Will Shortz in ping pong. First, keep your favorite paddle in your back pocket any time you are within shouting distance of him, because you never know when you will be pressed into service to help him in his quest to enter the Guinness Book for the most consecutive days of table tennis. Secondly, don't play him for money.

Jeff Chen notes: ESTEE hinting at 'two-word phrases that start with S and T.' As with one of his previous puzzles, Bruce goes big by packing in a ton ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

ESTEE hinting at "two-word phrases that start with S and T." As with one of his previous puzzles, Bruce goes big by packing in a ton of theme material. I've highlighted the 12 (!) theme answers below to better demonstrate just how much he worked in.

As with the previous one, Bruce picked letters that are easy to work with — there are probably hundreds of S T phrases out there. It's not the most exciting set of letters to see featured in a puzzle, but it'd be pretty hard to incorporate 12 V-W or Q-T phrases, for example.

I was bothered by hitting the awkward ENOW early in my solve, but I was pleasantly surprised to see not much other crossword glue except a little AGS (Attorney Generals) and ESTES. Some people might complain about STYE, but it's a common enough ophthalmic issue, and given that Bruce is an ophthalmologist, it seems appropriate.

I would have liked the theme phrases to be more snazzy — SEA TRIP didn't hit my ear very well, SEASON TWO seemed arbitrary, SORE THUMBS felt odd as a plural — but when you have such high theme density, something will suffer a bit. And getting some SWEET TOOTH, STAR TREK, SNEAK THIEF, SURE THINGS was pretty fun.

I hadn't ever thought of ESTEE pronounced ess-tee — I thought it was more ess-tay? — but it turns out different people have different ways of saying it. What with the inelegant placement of the revealer (where else are you going to jam it in, given the theme density?) I might have preferred no revealer. Still, nice to learn something new.

1
C
2
A
3
B
4
S
5
A
6
L
7
P
8
S
9
S
10
O
11
F
12
A
13
R
14
O
M
A
N
15
D
O
I
T
16
I
H
O
P
E
17
S
I
D
E
18
T
A
B
L
E
19
T
H
R
O
W
20
I
D
E
A
S
21
S
O
N
22
G
T
I
T
L
E
23
K
A
24
T
25
T
O
N
I
26
S
O
D
27
S
28
E
29
A
T
R
I
30
P
31
A
G
32
S
33
I
N
C
H
34
S
O
35
R
36
E
T
H
U
37
M
38
B
39
S
40
B
O
R
I
41
S
42
L
O
X
43
T
R
O
U
T
44
S
W
E
E
T
45
T
O
O
T
46
H
47
E
M
L
Y
48
F
A
B
49
S
A
50
D
T
A
L
E
51
E
52
R
53
G
54
R
A
55
F
56
T
57
M
E
H
58
S
O
U
59
L
T
R
A
I
60
N
61
V
I
62
X
63
E
64
N
65
T
A
S
E
R
66
S
E
A
67
S
O
N
T
W
O
68
E
S
T
E
E
69
T
U
N
E
70
G
R
O
G
71
S
T
O
R
K
72
S
P
O
T
73
S
A
K
S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0726 ( 24,367 )
Across Down
1. Ones whose business is picking up? : CABS
5. Yodeling locale : ALPS
9. Up until now : SOFAR
14. Mideast monarchy : OMAN
15. "Stop procrastinating!" : DOIT
16. "From your mouth to God's ears!" : IHOPE
17. *Drink holder near a sofa : SIDETABLE
19. Discombobulate : THROW
20. Think tank output : IDEAS
21. *Listing on a Billboard chart : SONGTITLE
23. Kit ___ bar : KAT
25. Braxton with seven Grammys : TONI
26. Instant lawn : SOD
27. *Carnival cruise, e.g. : SEATRIP
31. Dept. of Justice heads : AGS
33. Move slowly (along) : INCH
34. *Things that stick out conspicuously : SORETHUMBS
40. Foe of Rocky and Bullwinkle : BORIS
42. Deli delicacy : LOX
43. Rainbow ___ : TROUT
44. *Craving for desserts : SWEETTOOTH
47. "Little" girl in "David Copperfield" : EMLY
48. ___ Four : FAB
49. *Tearjerker : SADTALE
51. Fraction of a joule : ERG
54. Huckleberry Finn carrier : RAFT
57. "Not impressed" : MEH
58. *Bygone R&B showcase : SOULTRAIN
61. Prancer's partner on Santa's team : VIXEN
65. Stun gun : TASER
66. *What good ratings for a new show can lead to : SEASONTWO
68. Girl's name that phonetically provides the initials to the answers to the asterisked clues : ESTEE
69. Adjust, as guitar strings : TUNE
70. Pirate's quaff : GROG
71. Bird on a birth announcement : STORK
72. Dick and Jane's dog : SPOT
73. Nordstrom rival : SAKS
1. "___ Fan Tutte" : COSI
2. Surrounded by : AMID
3. Requested : BADE
4. *Shoplifter, e.g. : SNEAKTHIEF
5. Decay-fighting org. : ADA
6. Defensive tennis shots : LOBS
7. Charles Lindbergh, e.g. : PILOT
8. ___ pad : STENO
9. *"Don't go anywhere!" : SITTIGHT
10. "Fancy meeting you here!" : OHHI
11. Knox and Dix : FORTS
12. Speed skater ___ Ohno : APOLO
13. Take some new vows : REWED
18. Winter Palace autocrat : TSAR
22. Cookout annoyance : GNAT
24. "___ a pity" : TIS
27. Close kin, for short : SIBS
28. Sufficient, to a bard : ENOW
29. Part of a plot : ACRE
30. Casual Friday shirt : POLO
32. *Really safe bets : SURETHINGS
35. Friend of Pooh : ROO
36. Tel. no. add-ons : EXTS
37. N.Y.C. cultural center : MOMA
38. Animal in a Wall Street sculpture : BULL
39. Irritating subject for an ophthalmologist? : STYE
41. *Film words before "Nemesis," "Into Darkness" and "Beyond" : STARTREK
45. Ski lift : TBAR
46. With 52-Down, Sunday entree : HAM
50. "Whip It" rock band : DEVO
51. ___ Park, Colo. : ESTES
52. See 46-Down : ROAST
53. Zeal : GUSTO
55. Eschews food : FASTS
56. Traffic jam : TIEUP
59. Evil look : LEER
60. Small Apple offering : NANO
62. More, in ads : XTRA
63. Furry Endor creature : EWOK
64. Yuletide quaffs : NOGS
67. Game-match connector : SET

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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