It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.

New York Times, Saturday, August 15, 2015

Author: Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
817/5/20103/14/201848
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2467131768
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.634192

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 62, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQWZ} This is puzzle # 41 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: I like exploring rough waters. Low word count themelesses are really tricky, so most of my ventures in this area haven't been very ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I like exploring rough waters. Low word count themelesses are really tricky, so most of my ventures in this area haven't been very successful (that's code for "they stunk up the joint"). In fact, I had thrown in the towel a few years ago, vowing never to waste my time on low word count grids, most of which necessitate heavy crossword glue and not a lot of colorful entries. What sort of solving experience is that?

Recognize the KNIFE BAR now?

And then Tim Croce used a grid pattern I had never seen before, one I thought was visually stunning. Not only wide-open and ultra-low word count, but it was something that looked like it should be hanging on a wall (kind of like a KNIFE BAR!). I liked it so much, I decided to get back on the horse and see what I might be able to do with a similar layout.

I'm a big fan of feature entries, and Tim's grid only allowed for nine-letter entries, nothing longer. So I shifted some blocks around, tested out what might produce flexible patterns, and settled upon a layout featuring two 13-letter words. THOUGHT POLICE was on my mind after having re-read "1984," so I tested that out in both of the slots. When it became apparent that HAN SOLO, one of my favorite characters of all time, might work crossing THOUGHT POLICE, I decided to dive in.

Some hundreds, maybe thousands of iterations later, I had worked out two of the quadrants pretty well. But the area in the middle wouldn't cooperate, not allowing me to knit the pieces together. Ugly situation, potentially untenable. Quit-worthy. I came up with a few options, but nothing would hold the quadrants together at 20D, a key entry. After dozens of hours sunk into this venture, it felt like the puzzle had beaten me.

But, I'm stubborn. I ran through several sources to search for everything under the sun that might possibly work in that slot. When PEN CAPS popped out, I reminisced about using pen caps as projectiles in rubber band slingshots (my parents were politely asked to remove me from Chinese school), I decided to see where that led. Thankfully, things fell from there.

Meaning, I only had another half to do.

The entire grueling experience reminded me of my original clue for PEN CAPS: [Hard things to chew on in class].

Jeff Chen notes: I owe Joe Krozel for all the good advice he's given me over the years. Hearing from him and reading commentary he's written for his older puzzles has been invaluable.
1
A
2
C
3
T
4
A
5
S
6
O
7
N
8
E
9
D
10
O
11
L
12
E
13
S
H
O
R
T
T
O
N
14
D
O
R
I
A
15
T
A
U
C
R
O
S
S
16
B
I
R
D
E
R
17
I
N
C
L
O
S
E
18
H
O
T
M
E
A
L
19
T
H
A
D
20
P
A
S
S
E
R
B
Y
21
E
M
E
22
R
23
G
E
N
C
Y
R
O
O
M
24
P
U
T
O
N
S
25
S
U
V
A
26
S
27
U
28
M
29
P
E
A
C
O
30
C
31
K
32
T
E
N
33
A
P
O
34
P
35
F
A
L
A
N
36
A
37
T
H
O
U
38
G
39
H
T
P
O
L
I
C
40
E
41
S
E
N
T
R
I
E
S
42
F
U
R
43
S
44
C
A
R
T
I
E
R
45
T
46
H
E
T
R
I
47
P
48
O
V
O
I
D
S
49
S
H
E
B
E
A
R
S
50
R
A
C
E
S
51
T
E
X
A
S
T
E
A
52
E
L
K
S
53
S
M
A
R
T
A
S
S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0815 ( 24,021 )
Across Down
1. Not diverge : ACTASONE
9. Its plantation features the Pineapple Garden Maze : DOLE
13. U.S. freight measure : SHORTTON
14. Italian admiral for whom several ships were named : DORIA
15. Symbol of the Franciscan order : TAUCROSS
16. Jays' fan, maybe : BIRDER
17. Greatly magnified : INCLOSE
18. One letting off steam at the dinner table? : HOTMEAL
19. Jazz trumpeter Jones : THAD
20. Witness by chance : PASSERBY
21. Setting of many a revival : EMERGENCYROOM
24. Pranks : PUTONS
25. South Pacific's largest city : SUVA
26. Sigma signification : SUM
29. Recipient of Argus's 100 eyes, in myth : PEACOCK
32. Base of many operations : TEN
33. Per : APOP
35. Singer/actress once called the "Black Venus" : FALANA
37. Iconoclast stiflers : THOUGHTPOLICE
41. Ones with halting speech? : SENTRIES
42. Cold-weather wear : FURS
44. Longtime jeweler to royals : CARTIER
45. Peter Fonda cult film about an acid experience : THETRIP
48. Eggs, e.g. : OVOIDS
49. Cubs' supporters, maybe : SHEBEARS
50. Makeup of humanity : RACES
51. Crude, in slang : TEXASTEA
52. Group started as the Jolly Corks : ELKS
53. Snarky sort : SMARTASS
1. Bubbly option : ASTI
2. "De-fense! De-fense!," e.g. : CHANT
3. Comeback to a comeback : TOUCHE
4. Searchlight light : ARCLAMP
5. Approached like John Wayne, with "to" : STRODEUP
6. Relatives of Winnebagos : OTOS
7. 1-Down quality : NOSE
8. Enterprise position: Abbr. : ENS
9. Loft additions : DORMERS
10. Call for Chinese, say : ORDEROUT
11. Be superposed on : LIEABOVE
12. Concern of paleoanthropology : EARLYMAN
14. Like a rattlebrain : DITSY
16. Good pear for poaching : BOSC
18. Film figure who said "I take orders from just one person: me" : HANSOLO
20. Things removed before signing : PENCAPS
22. GPS output: Abbr. : RTE
23. Pursue : GOAFTER
26. Consideration for college admission : SATSCORE
27. Sturm und Drang : UPHEAVAL
28. Apollo collection : MOONROCK
30. One side in college football's annual Big Game, informally : CAL
31. Accessory with a magnetic strip on a kitchen wall : KNIFEBAR
34. Glaziers' supplies : PUTTIES
36. Maximally intense : ACUTEST
38. Plotting aids : GRIDS
39. Speeds : HIES
40. Slips of paper? : ERRATA
43. Studbook figures : SIRES
45. One side of a feud : THEM
46. Prefix related to benzene's shape : HEXA
47. G.I. Joe's "Knowing is half the battle" spots, e.g. : PSAS
49. GPS input: Abbr. : STS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?