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New York Times, Thursday, July 31, 2014

Author:
Jill Denny and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
57/5/20107/4/20165
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0200300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68200
Jill Denny
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1027/5/20108/29/201961
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2678182698
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.637222
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 42 Missing: {F} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 3 for Ms. Denny. This is puzzle # 29 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Jill: This crossword was born on Camano Island during a rainy weekend getaway back in 2010. Jeff and I often brainstorm crossword ... read more

Jill:

This crossword was born on Camano Island during a rainy weekend getaway back in 2010. Jeff and I often brainstorm crossword ideas while travelling, and this particular theme came to us at the breakfast table. Pancakes and crosswords, what could be better? I tend to admire constructions that have a visual element to the theme, like Jeremy Newton's brilliant "Ode to Joy" puzzle or so many of Liz Gorski's creations.

The original vision was that the squares containing SPACE at the bottom of the puzzle would be merged into a single rectangle resembling the spacebar on a keyboard, but there are understandably limitations on how much the grid can be altered in print. As for the construction process, collaborating with Jeff is always a delight. That's why I married him.

Jeff:

Wait. It wasn't my dashing good looks?

Jeff Chen notes:
Today on XWord Info: a colossal clash, a fiery fight, it's... MAN VS. MACHINE! In the red corner, we have one of the puzzle's ... read more

Today on XWord Info: a colossal clash, a fiery fight, it's...

MAN VS. MACHINE!

In the red corner, we have one of the puzzle's constructors. The Brawn from Taiwan, the Absurd Nerd of Crossword, he'll punch in those squares (along with a bunch of swears). Representing the human race… Jeff "THE BIG BOSSMAN" Chen (if I say if often enough, maybe it'll stick). Since he hasn't seen this puzzle in over three years, it seemed only fair to allow him to study and memorize the answer grid for 24 hours before solving. Fair is fair, after all.

In the blue corner: the upstart challenger, an artificial intelligence program which has worked its way into the top 100 finishers at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Armed with a database of answers, clues, and puzzles from throughout the ages, it employs an arsenal of pattern matching algorithms stemming from the mind of the brilliant but nefarious Matt Ginsberg. Introducing… Dr. Fill!

Who will win in this epic engagement? Will the human race come out swinging against its cunning creation? Or will the progeny punch out its pugnacious producer, making men mewl "Mercy!" to their mechanical masters?

Jeff's time: 3 minutes, 3 seconds.

Dr. Fill's time: 5 seconds flat.

Thankfully for humanity (collectively shaking their heads at my slowness), Dr. Fill came up with a few errors. Matt mentioned that his program was unable to see that SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE was an actual word. I declare victory on the basis of nonsensicality! Cue the music:

Seriously though, I'm fascinated by Matt's efforts toward building crossword AI, and by man's attempts to keep one step ahead. I'm practicing communicating in binary code for the near future. Beep boop.

1
L
2
O
3
E
4
B
5
C
6
H
7
I
8
C
9
A
10
A
11
H
12
A
13
B
14
E
A
V
E
15
H
U
N
A
N
16
L
O
C
O
17
D
R
A
G
18
O
L
O
R
D
19
B
L
E
W
20
C
O
21
M
P
U
T
E
R
22
K
E
Y
23
U
24
S
U
R
E
R
25
E
A
R
B
26
O
27
B
28
S
T
A
R
W
A
29
R
30
S
31
C
A
N
T
I
N
A
32
T
O
T
A
L
33
O
O
H
34
S
A
B
I
N
35
E
V
E
36
D
A
V
I
37
D
38
L
O
G
39
D
E
S
40
P
41
A
I
R
42
L
E
43
S
44
S
E
N
S
45
R
I
S
K
46
D
E
U
S
47
R
48
E
49
W
O
R
K
50
P
B
A
51
N
52
D
53
J
54
A
X
E
55
SPACE
SPACE
56
SPACE
57
SPACE
58
SPACE
SPACE
SPACE
59
A
R
I
60
Z
I
N
61
G
S
62
J
A
B
63
S
64
Q
U
I
B
65
O
L
D
E
66
A
G
A
67
T
R
E
E
68
R
E
S
T
69
M
E
R
70
S
U
D
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0731 ( 23,641 )
Across
1
Financial writer Marshall : LOEB
5
Girl of Guatemala : CHICA
10
Captain played by Patrick Stewart : AHAB
14
Shade provider : EAVE
15
Chinese province known for its spicy cuisine : HUNAN
16
Plumb crazy : LOCO
17
Be long and boring : DRAG
18
Prayer starter : OLORD
19
Ruined, in a way : BLEW
20
55-Across, e.g. : COMPUTERKEY
23
Shark : USURER
25
Dangling piece of jewelry : EARBOB
28
55-Across, e.g.? : STARWARSCANTINA
32
Come to : TOTAL
33
"Amazing!" : OOH
34
Antipolio pioneer : SABIN
35
Second of all? : EVE
36
Sardonic Larry : DAVID
38
Journal : LOG
39
Low state : DESPAIR
42
Drops : LESSENS
45
Lender's assessment : RISK
46
Mars, e.g. : DEUS
47
Edit : REWORK
50
Easily prepared lunch item, informally : PBANDJ
54
Fire truck item : AXE
55
Visual representation of this puzzle's theme : SPACESPACESPACESPACESPACESPACESPACE
59
Jackie's #2 : ARI
60
Insults : ZINGS
62
Left or right : JAB
63
Short news item : SQUIB
65
Sign word after "Ye" : OLDE
66
Ottoman V.I.P. : AGA
67
___ rings : TREE
68
One with a staff position? : REST
69
___ Noire (Russie borderer) : MER
70
Lather : SUDS
Down
1
Trailblazed : LED
2
Stroke, in a way : OAR
3
Empties : EVACUATES
4
Irish oath : BEGORRA
5
Who said "The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers" : CHOPRA
6
Alternative to standard TV : HULU
7
"How could ___?" : INOT
8
Attention to detail : CARE
9
Bargnani of the N.B.A. : ANDREA
10
Home of Banff National Park : ALBERTA
11
People swear by it : HOLYBIBLE
12
Strikeout star : ACE
13
Where the nose is : BOW
21
Whimper : MEWL
22
Nebr. neighbor : KANS
23
You, on the Yucatán : USTED
24
Pilot's place : STOVE
26
___ rings : ONION
27
Feature of some cuts : BANGS
29
Howard of Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" : ROARK
30
Part of U.S.S.R.: Abbr. : SOV
31
Word with honey or flower : CHILD
36
You might need a lot of it for your files : DISKSPACE
37
It's far out : DEEPSPACE
40
Master : PRO
41
Areas that may be protected by military jets : AIRSPACES
43
Regions within regions : SUBSPACES
44
Nine-digit no. issuer : SSA
47
It might make one's shadow disappear : RAZOR
48
The Roman dramatist Seneca, once : EXILE
49
Proceeds indirectly : WENDS
51
Pacific nation once known as Pleasant Island : NAURU
52
Like prunes : DRIED
53
Agrees : JIBES
56
Hit 1996 live-action/animated film : SPACEJAM
57
We're living in it : SPACEAGE
58
Name for 55-Across : SPACEBAR
61
Fetch : GET
64
Bev. units : QTS

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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