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New York Times, Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Author:
Zhouqin Burnikel and Don Gagliardo
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5911/13/20121/25/201919
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
619175462
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1211/13/20129/19/201712
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3151200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58131
Don Gagliardo

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Ms. Burnikel. This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Gagliardo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:

Don: I heard the name Abner Doubleday and thought it was interesting. Knowing how CC feels about baseball, I thought she would enjoy it.

Jeff Chen notes:
A goal of the early-week puzzles is to make crosswords widely accessible, thus drawing newer solvers into the fold. So I think a ... read more

A goal of the early-week puzzles is to make crosswords widely accessible, thus drawing newer solvers into the fold. So I think a Monday or Tuesday puzzle should have little to no "crosswordese" entries (words that are rarely seen/used outside of crosswords), and if it contains esoteric answers, the crossings ought to all be fair. An amazingly difficult task considering there are usually 74-78 answers to squeeze in.

Making an early-week, beginner-level puzzle is one of the toughest challenges in crossword construction, and CC and Don have largely succeeded here. The "word that can follow both halves of the theme phrases" theme type has been done many times before, but the addition of the clever revealer really adds to the puzzle. DOUBLEDAY is a perfect last theme entry to the puzzle.

Plus, I absolutely love their long fill: MR HYDE, LAB COATS, SNIPED AT, ABS SYSTEM, PATTY DUKE. These sparkly answers spice up the puzzle, increasing the chance that a solver will smile or be wowed during his/her experience.

But there's a price to pay for all the great long fill: the PBA/ASSAM/KUNTA crossings. While none of these entries are "crosswordese", if the solver isn't a bowler and isn't up on their Indian geography, will they fill that square in with an "I"? If a beginning solver ends up with KUNTE and ASSEM or (KUNTO and ASSOM), they may learn something useful and/or interesting from their mistake, but will it sour their feelings about crosswords?

So even though PATTY DUKE and ABS SYSTEM are fantastic answers, I might have broken them up, putting black squares at the "D" of THE ROD and at the "S" of SONNET. This would result in 78 words instead of 76, with less sparkly long downs, but would also allow for a cleaner southwest area, thus increasing a novice solver's chance to finish accurately and with satisfaction.

Just this constructor's opinion; there is no right or wrong answer. Difficult trade-offs! ADDED NOTE: thanks to Will for his thoughtful response (below)!

Will Shortz notes:
(In response to Jeff's comments): What percentage of solvers are tackling a Tuesday puzzle for the first time? It must be a fraction ... read more

(In response to Jeff's comments): What percentage of solvers are tackling a Tuesday puzzle for the first time? It must be a fraction of a fraction of 1%. While I do keep beginners in mind, I'm most mindful of the fact that the vast majority of Times solvers are regulars. That's who I'm trying to entertain.

The real question regarding the KUNTA/ASSAM crossing is...is it fair? For a Times audience, I think yes. Kunta Kinte was the lead character in the most popular TV miniseries of all time — he's a cultural icon — and Assam is a celebrated state of India, with a rich history, famous for its tea and silk. These are things Times readers should know, in my opinion. And if they don't, they have failed the test. I'm not editing crosswords for supermarket tabloid readers. I'm editing for a sophisticated, educated Times audience.

My goal is not to guarantee readers error-free solutions. The Times crossword is supposed to be a challenge. That's part of what makes it interesting. I don't think watering down Tuesday's grid with more of the standard 3-, 4- and 5-letter words — with the loss of ABS SYSTEM, LAB COATS, PATTY DUKE, etc. — would have been an improvement. Easier, maybe. But better? No. Well, (as Jeff says), there's no right or wrong opinion.

1
I
2
N
3
T
4
O
5
R
6
O
7
S
8
A
9
P
10
A
11
S
12
T
13
A
14
N
O
R
I
15
O
B
I
S
16
A
R
N
E
L
17
F
I
E
L
18
D
W
O
R
K
19
T
R
I
N
I
20
A
D
A
21
U
S
E
22
F
23
S
T
O
P
S
24
M
E
T
25
O
O
26
H
O
L
Y
W
E
E
27
K
28
Y
A
Y
S
29
T
30
H
E
R
O
D
31
D
U
I
32
K
33
A
S
E
M
34
U
35
N
A
P
T
36
L
A
B
O
R
M
37
A
38
R
K
E
T
39
S
40
T
A
R
S
41
I
C
E
E
S
42
N
O
B
43
S
44
O
45
N
N
E
T
46
T
47
E
48
R
49
M
50
L
U
C
51
K
Y
D
O
G
52
A
S
T
E
R
53
S
O
U
S
E
D
54
R
55
A
T
56
U
G
H
57
P
L
A
N
T
58
D
59
O
U
B
L
60
E
D
A
Y
61
B
E
T
T
E
62
E
V
I
L
63
M
E
L
D
64
A
S
S
A
M
65
D
O
N
E
66
I
S
E
E
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0820 ( 23,296 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Digging ... or word after "digging" : INTO
5
Santa ___, Calif. : ROSA
9
Penne, e.g. : PASTA
14
"Me neither" : NORI
15
Geishas' wear : OBIS
16
Synthetic fiber : ARNEL
17
Research that may be outdoors : FIELDWORK
19
"Lemon Tree" singer Lopez : TRINI
20
Org. recommending regular checkups : ADA
21
Function : USE
22
Camera adjustments : FSTOPS
24
"I'm with you!" : METOO
26
Variable spring period : HOLYWEEK
28
Some cheers : YAYS
29
Something not to be spared, in a saying : THEROD
31
A .08% reading may lead to it, for short : DUI
32
Casey with a radio countdown : KASEM
34
Not suitable : UNAPT
36
What employers tap to get employees : LABORMARKET
39
There are five on China's flag : STARS
41
Alternatives to Slurpees : ICEES
42
San Francisco's ___ Hill : NOB
43
One of 154 for Shakespeare : SONNET
46
Prisoner's sentence : TERM
50
Fortunate sort : LUCKYDOG
52
Late bloomer : ASTER
53
Lit : SOUSED
54
Fink : RAT
56
"Yuck!" : UGH
57
Magician's assistant in an audience, say : PLANT
58
Supposed inventor of baseball ... or a hint to 17-, 26-, 36- and 50-Across : DOUBLEDAY
61
Hollywood's Davis : BETTE
62
Wicked : EVIL
63
Vulcan mind ___ : MELD
64
Source of Indian black tea : ASSAM
65
Ready to come off the stove : DONE
66
"Got it" : ISEE
Down
1
Severe disrepute : INFAMY
2
"I haven't the foggiest" : NOIDEA
3
Bringer of peace : TREATY
4
Medium for Van Dyck or van Gogh : OIL
5
Counterparts of columns : ROWS
6
High wind? : OBOE
7
Word said with a salute : SIR
8
Request : ASKFOR
9
Helen Keller's portrayer in "The Miracle Worker" : PATTYDUKE
10
"This way" indicator : ARROW
11
Attacked anonymously : SNIPEDAT
12
Stiffen through nervousness : TENSEUP
13
Ring king : ALI
18
Couple : DUO
23
___ Poke (candy) : SLO
25
Holocaust hero Schindler : OSKAR
26
Fixing, as the bottom of a skirt : HEMMING
27
Press ___ (media packet) : KIT
29
General on Chinese menus : TSO
30
Part of H.M.S. : HER
33
Auto safety feature, redundantly : ABSSYSTEM
35
Flight destinations : NESTS
36
Attire for scientists : LABCOATS
37
Bandage brand : ACE
38
Like some mil. officers : RET
39
NBC show since '75 : SNL
40
Messes up, as the hair : TOUSLES
44
"___ to Joy" : ODE
45
Dozed (off) : NODDED
47
27 Chopin works : ETUDES
48
Entertain lavishly : REGALE
49
Half of Stevenson's "strange case" : MRHYDE
51
___ Kinte of "Roots" : KUNTA
52
The Braves, on scoreboards : ATL
54
Many an archaeological site : RUIN
55
Like Napoleon, before Elba? : ABLE
57
Org. with balls and strikes : PBA
59
___-lacto-vegetarian : OVO
60
Big inits. in music : EMI

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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