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New York Times, Friday, July 7, 2006

Author:
Joe Krozel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
877/7/20066/14/201815
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4147242621
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48057
Joe Krozel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQWX} Spans: 5, (1 triple stack) This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Krozel. NYT links: Across Lite
Joe Krozel notes:

I constructed the middle stack of this puzzle by developing an algorithm in an Excel spreadsheet. First, I created a list of hundreds of 15-letter movie titles in Excel with one letter to each column. Above that list I had a working area to build a hypothetical triple stack. For the sake of brevity here, I entered good candidates for the top two movies in the stack and evaluated the goodness of fit for all the remaining movies as the third in the stack.

The evaluation was to determine whether the 3-letter combinations of each column could produce viable (vertical) entries. For instance, in the solution grid the successive letter triples which cross the middle stack are: ERE, VEN, ITE, LUM, URY, etc. These were assigned numbers from 0 (= worst) to 9 (= best) for their capacity to form numerous words ... ERE = 8, VEN = 7, ITE = 9, LUM = 4, URY = 3, etc. The net score for the word ENEMY AT THE GATES was assigned the lowest of these values, 3. A non-zero net score meant that the stack was worth transferring to graph paper to build a puzzle with.

For constructors interested in more details, I eyeballed numerical values for all 17676 (=26x26x26) 3-letter combinations ... which include the numbers mentioned above. (This wasn't such an insurmountable task since over 90% of them are 0 anyway). I placed these numbers in a 676 x 26 table which could be accessed with the VLOOKUP function in Excel. I configured this function to use the first two letters (ER, VE, IT, LU, UR, etc.) as the Lookup_value and the third letter (E, N, E, M, Y, etc.) as the Col_index_num ... Enough already!

So, that's what I did before I owned a copy of Crossword Compiler software. Today, I could build the same puzzle quite trivially by removing all the 15-letter entries from my word list except for the movie titles!

1
A
2
T
3
A
4
U
5
S
6
A
7
F
8
S
9
H
10
A
11
N
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I
13
A
14
G
O
D
15
S
P
E
L
L
16
R
E
C
O
I
L
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A
P
A
S
S
A
G
E
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T
O
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N
D
I
A
19
N
A
P
E
20
I
D
O
21
S
E
E
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A
Z
T
23
M
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B
A
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E
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M
T
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P
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P
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S
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S
A
O
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L
A
O
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B
O
R
O
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E
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V
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I
L
U
N
36
D
E
R
T
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H
E
S
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N
38
R
E
T
U
R
N
O
F
T
H
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K
I
N
G
39
E
N
E
M
Y
A
T
T
H
E
G
A
T
E
S
40
C
A
R
P
41
R
D
S
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R
E
A
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T
E
A
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F
D
A
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E
S
L
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S
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H
48
E
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T
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I
E
51
S
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P
A
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R
O
A
M
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R
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A
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S
E
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T
H
E
T
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I
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T
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N
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C
59
A
P
O
L
L
O
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S
U
R
E
F
I
R
E
61
H
O
N
E
S
T
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O
P
E
N
63
A
Y
E
© 2006, The New York TimesNo. 0707 ( 20,695 )

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Across
1
___ minimum … : ATA
4
Thunderbird grp. : USAF
8
First name in country music : SHANIA
14
1971 musical based on the Bible : GODSPELL
16
Rifle effect : RECOIL
17
1984 David Lean film : APASSAGETOINDIA
19
Place to be picked up? : NAPE
20
Inaugural oath starter : IDO
21
Match, in a way : SEE
22
Zidovudine, familiarly : AZT
23
W has one : MBA
25
Responder in a van: Abbr. : EMT
27
Letter abbr. : PPS
30
___ Jorge, part of the Azores : SAO
31
Language that is mostly monosyllabic : LAO
32
Queens, e.g., informally : BORO
33
1982 Inspector Poirot movie : EVILUNDERTHESUN
38
2003 trilogy completer, with "The" : RETURNOFTHEKING
39
W.W. II action film of 2001 : ENEMYATTHEGATES
40
Nitpick : CARP
41
Rtes. : RDS
42
Mens ___ (criminal intent) : REA
43
Something overthrown shortly before the American Revolution : TEA
44
Kind of approval : FDA
45
Alien subject?: Abbr. : ESL
46
___-bear : SHE
49
Davis Cup match-up : TIE
51
Place to relax : SPA
53
Wayfare : ROAM
54
1980 film based on a Clive Cussler best seller : RAISETHETITANIC
59
Subject of a temple at Delphi : APOLLO
60
Guaranteed : SUREFIRE
61
"No lie" : HONEST
62
Welcoming : OPEN
63
When doubled, a familiar cry : AYE
Down
1
Capital of Guam, old-style : AGANA
2
Old Mercury : TOPAZ
3
Not stand still : ADAPT
4
Brown letters : UPS
5
Mermaid setting : SEA
6
Painful ending? : ALGIA
7
Cut out : FLED
8
Box office sign : SRO
9
Bad job? : HEIST
10
Bad spots? : ACNE
11
Good news on an apartment rental : NODEPOSIT
12
The last King Richard : III
13
___ king : ALA
15
From Omaha to K.C. : SSE
18
How some meteors fall : TOEARTH
23
Five-time baseball All-Star ___ Wills : MAURY
24
French artist Pierre : BONNARD
26
Many Little League spectators : MOTHERS
28
Cut back : PRUNE
29
Numbers : SONGS
30
Dry spell : SLUMP
31
Some hooks : LEFTS
32
Lebanese valley : BEKAA
33
Like squirrels' ears : ERECT
34
___ cavae : VENAE
35
Yadda, yadda, yadda, e.g. : ITERATION
36
A, to Samuel Morse : DOTDASH
37
He purportedly said "Only one man ever understood me, and he didn't understand me" : HEGEL
44
Bleeds (for) : FEELS
45
Start-of-meal urging : EATUP
46
Poet Sanchez of the Black Arts Movement : SONIA
47
Like a 100-mile-an-hour taxi ride? : HAIRY
48
Mike holder : EMCEE
50
___ Royale : ISLE
52
100 centavos : PESO
53
Heroic W.W. II grp. : RAF
54
Bowl sound : RAH
55
How to address a sgt.? : APO
56
"Sesame Street" watcher : TOT
57
Burning sensation? : IRE
58
Hottie, perhaps : TEN

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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