It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox for best results.

New York Times, Saturday, August 19, 2017

Author:
Mark Diehl
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
7511/11/19849/6/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
3214720362
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.573038
Mark Diehl

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 60, Blocks: 22 Missing: {JQXYZ} Spans: 1 Average word length: 6.77 This is puzzle # 67 for Mr. Diehl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mark Diehl notes:
This puzzle was spawned entirely by the grid. While wandering around XWord Info I noticed there was a section titled 'Most Wide ... read more

This puzzle was spawned entirely by the grid.

While wandering around XWord Info I noticed there was a section titled "Most Wide Open Grids" and hey I like wide openness, so challenge accepted! I ripped off Sherry O. Blackard's awesome wide open grid from 04/14/07, knocked off the two cheater squares, and tada — all that was needed was a clean fill to set a new NYT record.

Seventeen descending 15-letter entries trials later I stumbled onto a promising fill for the NW quadrant — then only 57 almost acceptable fills of the other quadrants before I had a complete fill I could live with. Submitted it to Will and it was accepted!

Then came the wait for publication followed by another unexpected twist — Will contacted me and asked if he could use it as the final on stage puzzle for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 2016. What could I say but YES (check off bucket list item) and make plans to attend and watch the finals in person. Howard Barkin's dramatic win was the cherry on the top of the whole experience.

As soon as I returned home, I started the whole process again — today's puzzle is a completely different fill of the same grid.

Jeff Chen notes:
Mark's byline is one I both look forward to and fear the most. Few constructors tackle giant swaths of white in themelesses, and even ... read more

Mark's byline is one I both look forward to and fear the most. Few constructors tackle giant swaths of white in themelesses, and even fewer do it without using extra black squares to make things easier on them. (Adding black squares at the beginning and end of DENTAL INSURANCE would make the puzzle much easier to fill, for example.) Mark usually ends up with daunting-looking tracts of white that seem impossible to even break into, much less complete. Perfect for a Saturday puzzle — it's supposed to be the hardest of the week, after all.

Often, puzzles like these require made-up sounding RE-, UN-, -ER, etc. words — unsavory tricks that constructors can use to fill difficult areas. I love that Mark refuses to go there, trying to even include a couple of colorful long entries like PRISON RIOT. With its fantastic clue, playing on joint problems ("joint" = slang for jail), I appreciated it so much as I fought my way through the puzzle.

There was another reason I liked PRISON RIOT even more: because this puzzle is so segmented, with the three sections only connected by two answers apiece, I wanted those two answers apiece to be standouts. Sort of eases the blow when you feel like you've been dead-ended in one of the corners.

DENTAL INSURANCE surprisingly gave me a similar reaction. Usually, I'd think this is a dull entry, but 1.) what a great clue, playing on dental bridges vs. river bridges, and 2.) Mark is a dentist! Cool to get the constructor's little wink.

I didn't care for some of the long answers — OISE RIVER felt forced (usually just "Oise" or "The Oise," yeah?), FIVE LOVE sounded odd (granted, I don't watch that much tennis these days), RESIDING and ARIDNESS were a bit arid. But overall, I love this type of wide-open challenge when I can get at least a few sparkly answers like VALID ID, IF IN DOUBT …, PEAR TARTS, HAM ACTOR. Along with DENTAL INSURANCE and PRISON RIOT and their standout clues, I thought this one turned out well.

1
I
2
S
3
O
4
L
5
A
6
T
7
E
8
D
9
G
10
R
11
O
12
W
13
U
14
P
15
F
I
V
E
L
O
V
E
16
R
E
C
I
P
E
17
I
D
E
A
L
M
A
N
18
I
S
O
L
D
E
19
N
E
R
D
I
E
S
T
20
D
I
N
E
O
N
21
D
O
W
S
E
S
22
A
23
R
I
D
N
E
S
S
24
O
R
R
I
S
25
F
L
O
R
I
O
26
U
D
O
N
27
P
R
I
S
O
N
R
28
I
29
O
30
T
31
B
E
T
32
S
E
I
N
I
N
G
33
M
I
R
34
T
R
E
35
S
P
A
S
S
E
S
36
V
I
S
A
37
M
A
R
C
U
S
38
L
A
T
E
N
39
H
40
A
41
M
A
C
T
O
R
42
M
O
L
A
R
S
43
A
C
A
C
I
A
44
A
45
P
E
R
I
T
I
F
46
L
O
C
K
E
R
47
N
O
S
E
D
I
V
E
48
A
R
R
E
S
T
49
C
O
N
N
I
V
E
R
50
S
N
O
R
T
S
51
E
R
E
A
D
E
R
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0819 ( 24,756 )
Across
1
Like a hermit : ISOLATED
9
Response to a sophomoric comment : GROWUP
15
Score after opening with an ace, informally : FIVELOVE
16
Secret ___ : RECIPE
17
Catch of all catches, of a sort : IDEALMAN
18
Singer of the Wagner aria "Liebestod" : ISOLDE
19
Least cool : NERDIEST
20
Make a feast of : DINEON
21
Looks forward to the next spring? : DOWSES
22
Feature of Namibia and Libya : ARIDNESS
24
Root used in perfumery : ORRIS
25
James ___, 1990-94 New Jersey governor : FLORIO
26
Noodle soup noodle : UDON
27
Joint flare-up? : PRISONRIOT
31
Got some action : BET
32
Method of fishing : SEINING
33
Station that people once looked up to : MIR
34
Goes over the line? : TRESPASSES
36
Company added to the Dow 30 in 2013 : VISA
37
Dr. Brody of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" : MARCUS
38
Draw toward dark : LATEN
39
Scenery chewer : HAMACTOR
42
Grinders, of a sort : MOLARS
43
Tree favored by giraffes : ACACIA
44
Dubonnet or Campari : APERITIF
46
Box at the gym? : LOCKER
47
Bad news on the stock market : NOSEDIVE
48
Part of a record : ARREST
49
Lowdown sneak : CONNIVER
50
Quick shots : SNORTS
51
Many people take them to bed nowadays : EREADERS
Down
1
"Should there be any question ..." : IFINDOUBT
2
Corn on the cob, e.g. : SIDEORDER
3
Replaced, as on a computer : OVERWROTE
4
Shows the way : LEADSIN
5
Force in the Battle of Dunkirk : ALLIES
6
Shakespeare's First and Second Folios, e.g. : TOMES
7
Spacewalks, in NASA lingo : EVAS
8
It covers bridges, typically : DENTALINSURANCE
9
Primitive cooking equipment : GRIDIRONS
10
Situated (in) : RESIDING
11
Alito's predecessor on the Supreme Court : OCONNOR
12
Toon who uses his middle initial : WILEE
13
High styles : UPDOS
14
Ones always banging their heads against things? : PEENS
23
Female factory workers in W.W. II, informally : ROSIES
25
West Coast locale mentioned in "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" : FRISCO
27
Some fruit pastries : PEARTARTS
28
Like store brands vis-à-vis name brands, typically : IMITATIVE
29
Waterway that lent its name to two French departments : OISERIVER
30
Students arriving late? : TRANSFERS
32
Most airheaded : SPACIEST
35
Clam : SMACKER
36
T.S.A. requirement : VALIDID
38
___ Ochoa, 2017 Golf Hall of Fame inductee : LORENA
39
Papa Bear of the N.F.L. : HALAS
40
Kind of squash : ACORN
41
Photog's lens : MACRO
42
Intervening, at law : MESNE
45
"How ___ are they that have not patience!": Iago : POOR

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 6 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?