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HIDDEN TACTICS

New York Times, Sunday, July 7, 2019

Author:
Jack Reuter
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
17/7/20190
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1000000
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Jack Reuter

This puzzle:

Rows: 22, Columns: 22 Words: 150, Blocks: 80 Missing: {Q} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Reuter. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: Instructions: The center of this puzzle represents a 70-Down/55-Down, in which you can achieve a 122-Across by moving the 25-Across.
Will Shortz notes:

Jack Reuter, 25, is a freelance app developer for Android devices in Montrose, N.Y. He says he likes crosswords that have an extra layer to them — which this unusual puzzle definitely does.

It is Jack's debut for The Times

Jack Reuter notes:
This is my first puzzle to get accepted for publication, which I'm very excited about! I've always been interested in puzzle construction, mostly for the challenge of creating a fun, vibrant grid. ... read more

This is my first puzzle to get accepted for publication, which I'm very excited about! I've always been interested in puzzle construction, mostly for the challenge of creating a fun, vibrant grid. I'm a big fan of games like Bananagrams and Boggle, and generally find the problem of stacking words neatly into a symmetrical grid very appealing. I think it appeals to the math-y side of my brain.

This puzzle has been in the works for a while. I've been going back to it sporadically for the past year or two, and just finally hunkered down and finished it. I came up with the idea after going to the World Chess Championship in NYC back in 2016. I was on a big chess kick—playing online and doing chess tactics every day—and thought ‘hey, wouldn't it be cool if you could somehow put a chess tactic inside a crossword puzzle?'

After that, it took some fiddling to figure out how best to do it. I knew it had to be a checkmate, so I spent some time looking through some "mate-in-one" puzzles to find a suitable one. I eventually found one I thought could work, saw that the solution KNIGHT TO B EIGHT lined up length-wise with CHECKMATE-IN-ONE, and decided to try it out. With some adding and removing of pieces (while being careful to keep the checkmate intact) I was able to fit it into the grid and fill in the rest from there.

Jeff Chen notes:
I immediately thought of a previous chess puzzle in the NYT (so did Jim), but that's no knock on today's. Jim and I are hardly your average solver. I feel bad for electronic solvers today. ... read more

I immediately thought of a previous chess puzzle in the NYT (so did Jim), but that's no knock on today's. Jim and I are hardly your average solver.

I feel bad for electronic solvers today. The experience behind my keyboard was terrible, to the point that I'd have considered not issuing electronic files whatsoever. The print version is SO much better. It still took me a while to figure out what was intended, but in the end, Jack sets up an interesting chess problem whose solution isn't immediately obvious.

(Unless you're Matt Gaffney, who's a chess aficionado. Or ... if you read 25-Across. Huh.)

(For non-chess folks, the knight is confusingly not represented by K – that's the king. The knight is N, perhaps with a nod to the silent K?)

Some nice touches in the execution. Did you notice that the black crossword squares in the middle of the puzzle lie atop only black chessboard squares? (See image below.) I didn't notice that during my (electronic) solve, so I'm glad I took a second look.

I also liked the use of black squares to (sort of) outline the BOARD / CHESS – er, CHESS / BOARD. Those long black bars on all four sides remind me of the peanut gallery, watching a critical chess match from above.

There are a lot of problems in grid execution. It could have used a few more rounds of revision to get rid of stuff like ANASS, ENOTE, EROSE, MATIC, AKU, and about 15 other ugly entries. Not to mention swapping the order of BOARD / CHESS. If you're going to go to a 22x22 grid and 150 words – much higher than usual max – bite the bullet and make it a smooth 156-word puzzle. It's not like longer entries like THE RANGE and LANDED ON will do much for anybody, anyway.

Some of the best things in life come from the mix of two disciplines that aren't immediately connectable. Chess and crosswords? Absolutely! I'd have enjoyed this one more if it had depicted the end of a championship match. Or a famed chess move with a cool name.

Or better yet, a contest puzzle! Send in the answer to something like BLACK'S MOVE, MATE IN THREE. I'd have tried my hand at that, for sure.

Jim Horne notes:
I liked this more than Jeff did for a few reasons: I'm a sucker for novelty, and this puzzle is undoubtedly innovative. The layout is a plausible end-game situation. The mate-in-one ... read more

I liked this more than Jeff did for a few reasons:

  • I'm a sucker for novelty, and this puzzle is undoubtedly innovative.
  • The layout is a plausible end-game situation.
  • The mate-in-one problem is non-trivial but simple enough for casual players to see.
  • I care less about inelegancies than Jeff does.

Fun fact: this is the first 22x22 NYT crossword.

Update: One of the great things about the Internet (truly) is that when you say something stupid online, you get a flood of responses pointing out your, let's not say abject stupidity, but rather, uh, well, stupid is close. I previously somehow claimed that squares without circles or triangles were not legitimate chess symbols. Not even close. There are extra Rs, an extra N, and even an extra K (We Three Kings!) Even my first comment about innovation is incorrect. Patrick Blindauer created a similar puzzle in 2007 for the New York Sun, edited by Peter Gordon.

Thanks to all our loyal readers who called me out.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0707 ( 25,443 )
Across
1
Cleaning product in a dangerous 2010s viral internet challenge : TIDEPOD
8
"Home" in a classic song : THERANGE
16
Jack of children's rhyme : SPRAT
21
"Agreed" : ICONCUR
22
Escapes, as molasses : OOZESOUT
23
Irregularly notched, as a leaf : EROSE
24
Protein found in hair and hooves : KERATIN
25
Possible move in 70-Down : KNIGHTTOBEIGHT
27
Watson's creator : IBM
28
Pain for a tiler, maybe : SOREKNEES
30
Yearbook : ANNUAL
31
Side represented by : BLACK
34
Adams and Elgort : ANSELS
35
Doctor's order : MEDICINE
37
Dorothy's caretaker in "The Wizard of Oz" : AUNTIEEM
40
Irritate : VEX
41
Irritable : TESTY
42
Verify the addition of : RETOTAL
43
Nabisco product with an exclamation point in its name : CHIPSAHOY
49
That guy's : HIS
50
Ill repute, to a Brit : DISHONOUR
52
Santa ___ winds : ANA
55
Some ovations : BRAVOS
60
Become attentive : PERKUP
61
Succeeds : MAKESIT
65
Cowboy flick : OATER
66
Eve's counterpart : MORN
67
What a plant may exude : RESIN
69
Freak out : PANIC
71
Treasure : ADORE
72
When doubled, a Thor Heyerdahl book : AKU
73
Mother ___ : TERESA
74
[Grumble, grumble] : HUMPH
75
Pith holders : RINDS
76
Set aside for now : TABLED
78
Score elements: Abbr. : PTS
79
Digital message : ENOTE
80
Old gold coin : DUCAT
81
Map of Hawaii or Alaska, often : INSET
82
1974 Gould/Sutherland C.I.A. spoof : SPYS
83
Lushes : WINOS
84
Deteriorate with age : SENESCE
86
Cut into bits : CHOPUP
88
Prevents, legally : ESTOPS
89
Letters near an X-ray machine : TSA
90
People native to Tennessee and the Carolinas : CHEROKEES
92
"While I have you ...," in a text : BTW
95
Classic 1922 film subtitled "A Symphony of Horror" : NOSFERATU
98
Brown-headed nest appropriator : COWBIRD
104
"Fighting" college team : IRISH
107
Maker of pens and lighters : BIC
108
Sheer fabric : GOSSAMER
109
First commercial film shown in stereophonic sound : FANTASIA
111
Key of Bizet's first symphony : CMAJOR
116
Side represented by : WHITE
117
87 is a common one : OCTANE
118
Conspicuous : PROMINENT
121
Yuletide contraction : TIS
122
Possible result of 25-Across : CHECKMATEINONE
125
Arrests : COLLARS
128
Outpost for an osprey : AERIE
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No longer needed for questioning : FREETOGO
130
Senator Tammy Duckworth or former senator Max Cleland : AMPUTEE
131
Symbol of directness : LASER
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Arrived at, as an answer : LANDEDON
133
Swollen area : ABSCESS
Down
1
Hangout often near a pool : TIKIBAR
2
Glacial hue : ICEBLUE
3
Like Mount Kilimanjaro : DORMANT
4
Doe in Bambi : ENA
5
Polling fig. : PCT
6
French acceptances : OUIS
7
Title 1962 film villain : DRNO
8
Valentine heart, e.g. : TOKEN
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Urban cacophony : HONKS
10
Slate, e.g. : EZINE
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Touch up, as styled hair : REGEL
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Some airborne particulates : ASHES
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What dashes may represent in internet searches : NOTS
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Kind of reaction : GUT
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Ike's W.W. II command : ETO
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Veto on movie night : SEENIT
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Figure in many a fairy tale : PRINCE
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Mischievous : ROGUISH
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One-named singer with the 2002 #1 hit "Foolish" : ASHANTI
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Some cuppas : TETLEYS
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No longer edible : BAD
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Computing acronym : RAM
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Silicon Valley start-up V.I.P. : CTO
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Baby fox : KIT
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Unexceptional : MEH
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Prefix with planet : EXO
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St. Louis's ___ Bridge, the oldest span over the Mississippi : EADS
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Biblical high priest : ELI
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The "u" spelling of 50-Across, e.g.: Abbr. : VAR
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Figures in the Sistine Chapel : CHERUBS
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Part of Africa or an orchestra : HORN
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Your signature might be in this : INK
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Came down hard : POURED
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Terrific : SUPER
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Chatter : YAK
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City that hosted the 1974 World's Fair : SPOKANE
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Rare beneficiaries of royal succession : NEPHEWS
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Together : ASAUNIT
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Equipment for 70-Down : BOARD
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Dating app distance metric : RADIUS
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Stat : ATONCE
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Lush : VERDANT
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Son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon : ORESTES
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Enter incorrectly : MISTYPE
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Jawbone of ___ (biblical weapon) : ANASS
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How early Beatles songs were recorded : INMONO
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Best : TIPTOP
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Suffix on many an infomercial product's name : MATIC
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Self-inflicted ritual death of a samurai : SEPPUKU
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Subject game of this puzzle : CHESS
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Leash : TETHER
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Dulce de ___ (confection) : LECHE
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Notice : SPOT
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___ Luis Obispo : SAN
87
One of 24 in un giorno : ORA
88
Those: Sp. : ESOS
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Banned aerosol propellant, for short : CFC
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Green: Prefix : ECO
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Like some lenses : BIFOCAL
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Wrong pipe, so to speak : TRACHEA
94
Spends December through March (in) : WINTERS
96
Bit of judo attire : OBI
97
One-named singer with the 2014 hit "Chandelier" : SIA
99
Indianapolis-to-St. Louis dir. : WSW
100
"Phooey!" : BAH
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Ape : IMITATE
102
Calls it quits : RETIRES
103
Boutique stock : DRESSES
105
Barbie's younger sister : STACIE
106
Long (for) : HANKER
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Part of an M.A. program application : GRE
110
Religious sch. : SEM
111
Called out : CRIED
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Any of the Apennines : MONTE
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In ___ (grumpy) : AMOOD
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War hawk : JINGO
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Situation after a leadoff single : ONEON
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Ball ___ : PEEN
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Big org. in Saturday afternoon TV : NCAA
120
"Indiana Jones" setting : TOMB
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Half of a 1955 union merger : AFL
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Singer's syllable : TRA
126
They'll sound sped up at 45 r.p.m. : LPS
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French director Besson : LUC

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 7 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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