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

New York Times, Saturday, August 23, 2014

Author: Timothy Polin
Editor: Will Shortz
Timothy Polin
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3612/11/20114/16/20172
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
62731602
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.614100
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JKV} This is puzzle # 7 for Mr. Polin. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Timothy Polin notes: Many crosswords have themes involving a uniform feature of some or all of the clues (length or starting letter or spelled-out ... more
Timothy Polin notes: Many crosswords have themes involving a uniform feature of some or all of the clues (length or starting letter or spelled-out message, e.g.). As a rule, these clue-based themes tend to be ornamental. Solvers need not discover them in order to finish the puzzle; oftentimes they don't even notice such themes unless they're specifically pointed out.

I thought it would be fun to try to build a crossword with the opposite approach: the solver would have to discern the clues' thematic feature *before* she could make progress. Each clue would be a microcosm of the overarching theme, and deciphering just one small riddle from anywhere within the grid would allow the solver to unlock the whole thing. A kind of fractal puzzle, if you will.

There were two requirements of the deleted letter. In the first place, it had to be very common. The deleted letter also needed to allow the revealer to be clued like everything else, so that the theme would be embedded within the cluing itself. When I saw that "hint" would reduce to "hit," and that the revealer could be written as though it were a four-part song, I settled on N. Because of its frequent usage in consonants clusters N worked out well.

The major difficulty of construction was that unless an entry was an everyday noun or verb, it was unlikely that it would clue satisfactorily. Entries such as QUASI, LOSES IT and AXON were all chosen specifically for their tricky possibilities. I scrapped a previous grid pattern and its half-clued fill when it got to a point where both ROSE RED and CERISE were necessary and I couldn't figured out how to clue them without repeating the same word containing N.

The usual thank yous and kudos go out to Will Shortz and his unheralded band of behind-the-scenes assistants. Changing my POET clue from [Date, e.g.] to [Doe, e.g.] is so, so cunning. Their ERSATZ clue is beautiful, and is one of my favorites.

*N.B. Ashish Vengsarkar and Narayan Venkatasubramanyan pulled off a similar (and brilliant) theme with TEN ORS back on December 6, 2008. In his Wordplay notes Mr. Vengsarkar mentions the difficult time he had persuading Will to accept the puzzle. As this puzzle encountered no such resistance, I owe them a debt of gratitude. I hope this puzzle in some small way measures up.

Will Shortz notes: Big props to Frank Longo for helping me edit this puzzle, which jointly took us many, many hours. More than half of the clues are ... more
Will Shortz notes: Big props to Frank Longo for helping me edit this puzzle, which jointly took us many, many hours. More than half of the clues are editorial changes. Our goal was to write clues that sound as normal as possible. Most of them, I think, turned out pretty well. And the ones that don't sound normal (like "Umber at the opera," "Sci-fi character remembered for her large bus," and especially "Program that asks 'Are we aloe?,' e.g.") show a wacky humor. I know some solvers will hate this — it's not a crossword, blah, blah, blah — but once in a while, it's nice to shake things up.
Jeff Chen notes: Loved this. Just loved it. Not at all what I expect out of a Saturday puzzle, but I love that too (that's saying a lot, coming from a ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Loved this. Just loved it. Not at all what I expect out of a Saturday puzzle, but I love that too (that's saying a lot, coming from a man who greatly values his routines). I went through the clues once and wrote in exactly zero answers. Momentary freak-out. I almost punted, but I'm so glad I didn't. Enough of the clues sounded odd that something seemed up. There had to be a trick. A Thursday-ish trick on a Saturday! Each clue is indeed missing the letter N (sometimes more than once), producing some great confusion and fun. Big thumbs up.

As Will noted, my favorites were the ones which seemed perfectly normal. [Dramatic cry from people who get subbed] for example made me think about LEAVE ME IN or PLAY ME or something, but it's actually [Dramatic cry from people who get sNubbed]. That's fantastic misdirection. Same goes for the like of [Be-___] which really is [BeN-___].

I did like some of the wacky clues too, like the one for LEIA. But some of them were weaker than others, and a few of those lesser ones gave away the trick for me a little too easily. If each one of the clues had been perfectly normal sounding, I might have added this one to my short list for all-time favorites. Additionally, I wonder if running it on a Saturday was a good thing? I loved the change-up, but I think Will's right about some people grousing about missing out on their Saturday workout.

[Cagey parts, e.g.] to [CagNey parts, e.g.]. [Covert, maybe] to [CoNvert, maybe]. [Covered with slug mud] to [Covered with sluNg mud]. And [Refusal from a boy lass] to [Refusal from a bonny lass]. Dang, I had so much fun solving this well-constructed gem.

1
A
2
M
3
B
4
I
5
T
6
F
7
O
8
U
9
L
10
B
11
E
12
D
13
S
14
P
E
A
C
E
15
A
D
Z
E
16
A
R
I
A
17
E
A
C
H
C
18
L
U
E
I
N
19
P
S
S
T
20
X
T
C
21
S
A
C
22
T
23
A
T
A
M
I
24
F
A
25
D
26
P
E
27
P
28
S
29
S
I
T
A
R
30
E
R
R
O
31
L
32
T
H
E
33
P
U
Z
Z
L
E
34
S
E
A
G
O
35
D
36
A
T
O
N
E
37
P
E
T
38
S
U
39
L
L
I
E
D
40
S
41
T
42
Y
43
M
E
D
E
A
44
T
E
45
M
P
E
R
46
I
47
S
48
M
I
S
S
I
N
49
G
50
R
O
L
E
S
51
Q
U
A
S
I
52
A
X
O
53
N
54
B
I
T
55
T
I
N
C
T
56
S
57
A
A
58
A
59
T
E
60
A
61
E
T
T
U
62
T
63
H
64
E
L
E
T
65
T
E
R
N
66
S
O
R
E
67
A
U
D
I
68
O
W
N
E
D
69
T
R
A
S
70
T
R
U
E
71
P
A
D
D
Y
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0823 ( 23,664 )
Across Down
1. Rage : AMBIT
6. Hardly ice outside : FOUL
10. Places for sprigs : BEDS
14. Quiet parter? : PEACE
15. Pie cutter's tool : ADZE
16. Umber at the opera : ARIA
17. First part of a hit for this crossword : EACHCLUEIN
19. Relative of "Hey, ma" : PSST
20. Arc's target, maybe : XTC
21. Plat pouch : SAC
22. Easter floor mat : TATAMI
24. Pog or Pogs, formerly : FAD
26. Lives : PEPS
29. Bad member to pick? : SITAR
30. Fly of film : ERROL
32. Hit, part 2 : THEPUZZLE
34. Olympia with a watery realm : SEAGOD
36. Perform peace : ATONE
37. Fried with four legs : PET
38. Covered with slug mud : SULLIED
40. Sorters' quarters : STY
43. Dramatically scored sorceress : MEDEA
44. Ager : TEMPER
46. Hit, part 3 : ISMISSING
50. Cagey parts, e.g. : ROLES
51. Early : QUASI
52. Part of a euro : AXON
54. Tige, say : BIT
55. Adds a little toe to : TINCTS
57. Like a great bod : AAA
59. Bled for a social affair, perhaps : TEA
61. Dramatic cry from people who get subbed : ETTU
62. Last part of the hit : THELETTERN
66. Caker, for example : SORE
67. Car whose logo is liked? : AUDI
68. Ever lost to : OWNED
69. Starts of some chorus lies : TRAS
70. Eve : TRUE
71. Chia growth area? : PADDY
1. Crow : APEX
2. Vegas would love this type of world : MEATFREE
3. Casio game : BACCARAT
4. Kat's "I" : ICH
5. Slag for sleuths : TECS
6. Product made by Moe : FAUCET
7. Kid of poetic work : ODE
8. Arm from a Mideast lad : UZI
9. Did a baker's job : LENT
10. Covert, maybe : BAPTIZE
11. Margarie might be described thus : ERSATZ
12. Grad's opposite : DISMAL
13. Gere of "Gulliver's Travels" : SATIRE
18. User's circuit : LAP
23. I pieces : ASUNDER
25. You might board yours at the keel if you take a cruise : DOG
27. Wig of the old Greek army : PHALANX
28. Program that asks "Are we aloe?," for short : SETI
30. Metal worker's claim? : ESP
31. Abruptly becomes violet : LOSESIT
33. Doe, e.g. : POET
35. Bombs without bags : DUDS
39. Sci-fi character remembered for her large bus : LEIA
40. Strad part that becomes frayed : SPLITEND
41. Wet like a seesaw : TEETERED
42. Spas that last 52 wks. : YRS
43. Bugled strokes : MISCUES
45. Deadly gag : MOB
46. Mesa prerequisite : IQTEST
47. Guy who may offer a girl a rig : SUITOR
48. Mystical chat : MANTRA
49. H.L. player : GOALIE
53. Refusal from a boy lass : NAE
56. "Ow!" : STAT
58. O : ATOP
60. Murray who's highly raked : ANDY
63. Be-___ : HUR
64. Ed of some school addresses : EDU
65. Old rival of America : TWA

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?

|