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New York Times, Thursday, August 17, 2017

Author:
Peter A. Collins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1085/2/20064/7/201912
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
612253614105
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.565313
Peter A. Collins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 39 Missing: {JX} This is puzzle # 100 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes:
Once I had the idea for this puzzle, I had a harder time than I thought I would to come up with expressions of the form FOUR ___, ... read more

Once I had the idea for this puzzle, I had a harder time than I thought I would to come up with expressions of the form FOUR ___, where the second word has exactly four letters and is in-the-language. What made it even tougher is I had the additional constraint that two of the four letters had to be embedded in the long answer (which, in each case, is really a definition of FOUR ___). One other possibility I considered was (FOUR) IRON hooked onto the "IR" in FAIRWAY CLUB, but I realized IRON (without the FOUR) would be a perfectly good answer (definition) of "fairway club" on its own.

I like the multiple meaning of GANG OF FOUR in the context of the puzzle.

I'm happy I stuck with the consistency that in all three instances, the gang of four circled letters is always read clockwise from the upper left. As I was building the grid, I toyed with the idea of having them start in various locations, with some going clockwise and some counterclockwise. Yikes!

Sorry, not a lot of bonus fill. QUIZ SHOW is kind of fun, I suppose.

Jeff Chen notes:
This is Pete's 100th NYT puzzle! Congrats, sir. He sent me a post Jim did about him from almost a decade ago, which was funny to read. ... read more

This is Pete's 100th NYT puzzle! Congrats, sir. He sent me a post Jim did about him from almost a decade ago, which was funny to read. I guess he didn't run out of steam after all!

The GANG OF FOUR played upon today. (Never thought I'd say those words, considering their infamous place in history!) I like Pete's novel take, using 2x2 blocks — GANGs of FOUR squares, if you will — that intersect their defining answers. (four) STAR = GOOD RATING, the (four) TOPS = MOTOWN SINGERS, etc.

I usually don't care for dictionary definitions — it's not much fun to struggle and toil, with only something as stilted as GLASSES WEARER as your reward — but I appreciate that Pete found definitions that can contain the appropriate GANG OF FOUR. MOTOWN SINGERS is a good phrase, so to work the T O of (four) TOPS in there is neat.

For those of you non-baseball fans, SLUGGER gets a fun clue, referring to Barry BONDS. Nice way to disguise Bonds vs. bonds by having that word start the clue. (Assuming you knew who Barry Bonds was, of course.)

With definitional themes, I think it's even more important than usual to include a ton of bonus fill to jazz up the solving experience. I love QUIZ SHOW, CARGO NET, even BORZOI and HAGGIS are fun. But my favorite was the confusing AND SOON … er, AND SO ON. Great use of a mid-length slot, providing a mini a-ha moment when I finally parsed that correctly.

Given the extra constraints put on by those three GANGs of FOUR, and the need to include all the bonus fill for spice, I think some ISR, TIA, OTC (over the counter), FAS, QAT (what a Scrabble-friendly word!) is not bad in terms of crossword glue.

This one didn't quite clear my (very high) threshold for the definitional theme type, but I appreciated Pete's interesting pairing of the definitions with the literal GANGs OF FOUR.

1
A
2
B
3
I
4
T
5
H
6
A
7
G
8
G
9
I
10
S
11
Q
12
A
13
T
14
T
O
D
O
15
A
T
R
E
S
T
16
U
N
O
17
E
R
I
N
18
G
O
O
D
R
A
19
T
I
N
G
20
A
Z
O
21
T
E
M
P
22
K
A
Z
O
O
23
M
O
T
24
O
W
N
S
I
25
N
26
G
E
R
S
27
I
S
P
Y
28
N
I
A
29
S
H
30
O
31
D
32
S
L
33
U
34
G
G
E
R
35
I
O
W
A
36
O
37
T
38
C
39
A
R
E
40
L
B
41
S
42
W
E
B
43
D
I
A
44
Z
45
A
N
46
D
S
O
O
47
N
48
D
A
R
E
49
L
E
Y
50
B
E
51
T
52
S
53
G
L
54
A
S
S
E
55
S
56
W
E
A
R
E
57
R
58
A
59
V
O
I
D
60
L
A
I
R
61
A
C
E
62
G
A
N
G
O
63
F
64
F
O
U
R
65
A
V
O
N
66
O
N
E
67
P
L
A
T
T
E
68
G
E
N
T
69
G
E
T
70
T
O
S
S
E
D
71
O
L
D
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0817 ( 24,754 )
Across
1
Somewhat : ABIT
5
Scottish delicacy : HAGGIS
11
Arabian stimulant : QAT
14
___ list : TODO
15
Still : ATREST
16
Colorful card game : UNO
17
One side of St. George's Channel : ERIN
18
First set of circled letters : GOODRATING
20
Like some synthetic colorants : AZO
21
Stand-in, maybe : TEMP
22
Instrument anyone can play : KAZOO
23
Second set of circled letters : MOTOWNSINGERS
27
Game often played on car rides : ISPY
28
Vardalos of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" : NIA
29
Like a racehorse : SHOD
32
Bonds, e.g. : SLUGGER
35
Its motto is "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain" : IOWA
36
Like Tylenol PM, for short : OTC
39
"___ you not entertained?" : ARE
40
About 1,400 of them is the record for a human: Abbr. : LBS
42
Attic construction : WEB
43
Barrymore and Liu's "Charlie's Angels" co-star : DIAZ
45
Yadda yadda yadda : ANDSOON
48
Impetus for a bungee jump, maybe : DARE
49
ESPN broadcaster Bob : LEY
50
Parlays : BETS
53
Third set of circled letters : GLASSESWEARER
58
Verb for a dieter : AVOID
60
Home in the woods : LAIR
61
Crack : ACE
62
Faction in China's Cultural Revolution ... or a hint to each set of circled letters : GANGOFFOUR
65
River through Bath, England : AVON
66
"Rogue ___" : ONE
67
River paralleled by I-80 through a long stretch of the Plains : PLATTE
68
Mannerly man : GENT
69
Pick up : GET
70
In the trash : TOSSED
71
Delta 88, e.g., informally : OLDS
Down
1
Starters : ATEAM
2
Russian wolfhound : BORZOI
3
"The Complete ___ Guide to ..." (popular book series) : IDIOTS
4
Shipping unit : TON
5
Golfer Walter with 11 major championships : HAGEN
6
Smithereens : ATOMS
7
Searching blindly : GROPING
8
Subj. of a Kaplan prep course : GED
9
Eastern Med. land : ISR
10
Commercial interest : STAKE
11
Quest for knowledge? : QUIZSHOW
12
A.D. part : ANNO
13
Like some orders : TOGO
19
Tibia connectors : TARSI
21
Tharp of dance : TWYLA
24
Black ___ : OPS
25
Nobelist Bohr : NIELS
26
"Grand Hotel" actress : GARBO
30
Be in the red : OWE
31
Dollop : DAB
33
Range located along the 60th meridian : URALS
34
Things in pools : GENES
36
Like the number of games in a "best of" series : ODD
37
One in la familia : TIA
38
Mesh for securing items in a truck bed : CARGONET
41
Lacking sauce? : SOBER
44
1983 Woody Allen film : ZELIG
46
What knitters need to match, often : DYELOTS
47
Govt. org. whose funding is perennially debated : NEA
51
Commit a court violation : TRAVEL
52
Baseball position, informally : SECOND
54
Take in : ADOPT
55
Pan-fry : SAUTE
56
Hyper : WIRED
57
Lets : RENTS
58
All atwitter : AGOG
59
Pointer for a meteorologist? : VANE
63
Rapper ___ Rida : FLO
64
Scale notes : FAS
65
Past : AGO

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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