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New York Times, Saturday, August 24, 2013

Author:
Frederick J. Healy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
145/24/20042/11/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
01000310
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59000
Frederick J. Healy

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {BJQV} Spans: 4, (2 double stacks) This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Healy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
An excellent puzzle, one that would have earned the vaunted POW! (Puzzle of the Week) if Ian's themeless hadn't run yesterday. Note ... read more

An excellent puzzle, one that would have earned the vaunted POW! (Puzzle of the Week) if Ian's themeless hadn't run yesterday. Note the fine execution of the near triple-stacks (17A/20A/22A and 42A/51A/53A). Often triple-stacks contain an ugly or a blah 15-letter entry, but Frederick gives us six long entries that would each qualify (in my book) as a marquee answer. Impressive feat.

Solvers will also typically complain that triple-stacks force ugly crossing answers. That definitely can be true, since a triple-stack requires 15 sets of parallel constraints, but Frederick does it admirably here. The top one is especially nice, with not a clunker in there. OF TEA and A RUDE in the bottom half are perfectly acceptable, but they're not ideal. I didn't know GELEE, but was interested to learn what it was.

Will gets more themeless submissions than any other type, so we as constructors have to up our game to get serious consideration for a themeless acceptance. A small number of subpar entries (esoteric, partials, abbreviations, etc.) can be cause for rejection, and even a single poor entry can nix a puzzle. Given this fact, getting enough "sparkly" answers is a tough feat to accomplish. By my estimate, a themeless puzzle needs at least 10 of them to even be in the running these days.

If you have time, you might consider browsing older "Pre-Shortzian" themeless puzzles (thanks to David Steinberg for leading the "litzing" efforts) available on xwordinfo. Amazing to see how much cleaner and more interesting themeless puzzles are these days.

Jim Horne notes:
Jeff is right that modern fill is often much cleaner but, for me, the value of the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project is that it ... read more

Jeff is right that modern fill is often much cleaner but, for me, the value of the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project is that it demonstrates how much creativity and downright cleverness existed from the earliest NYT crosswords. Many of the gimmicks we consider to be modern actually have a long history. Every era builds on the pioneers who came before but constructor ingeniousness, humor and imagination have always been there.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0824 ( 23,300 )
Across
1
Start of a phobia? : XENO
5
All the best? : ALIST
10
Five-time U.S. Open winner : GRAF
14
Immensely : ATON
15
Leisurely : LENTO
16
Sign of virtue : HALO
17
Malted alternatives : CHOCOLATESHAKES
20
Be ruthless : TAKENOPRISONERS
21
Run-___ : ONS
22
Pair of word processors? : CUTANDPASTE
23
Instinctive reaction : GUT
24
Verbal gem : MOT
25
Bygone country name or its currency : ZAIRE
28
Safe to push off : SEAWORTHY
34
It springs from Monte Falterona : ARNO
35
Brush off : SPURN
36
Place for tiger woods? : ASIA
37
Get going : KICKSTART
39
Not at all sharp, maybe : ONKEY
40
A shot : PER
41
Plant production: Abbr. : MFG
42
"Go figure!" : IMAGINETHAT
48
One of the muskrats in the 1976 hit "Muskrat Love" : SAM
51
Play savior : COMETOTHERESCUE
53
Dual diner dish : APPLEPIEALAMODE
54
Stickler's citation : RULE
55
"Or else ___ despiser of good manners": Shak. : ARUDE
56
Newton, e.g. : UNIT
57
Event with body cords : EPEE
58
Not at all sharp : DENSE
59
Lands : GETS
Down
1
Brand of blades : XACTO
2
Brand of literature : ETHAN
3
Where seekers may find hiders : NOOKS
4
Almost never : ONCE
5
Go-for-broke : ALLOUT
6
Proceeded precipitately : LEAPT
7
IV component : INTRA
8
Chain of off-price department stores : STEINMART
9
Guzzle : TOSSDOWN
10
Home of the world's largest artificial lake : GHANA
11
Ground crew gear? : RAKES
12
Like prairie dogs, notably : ALERT
13
"Pippin" Tony winner : FOSSE
18
As if scripted : ONCUE
19
"Get the lead out!" : HOPTO
23
Get inside and out : GROK
25
Director/screenwriter Penn : ZAK
26
"Exodus" character : ARI
27
Magazine with an annual "500|5000" conference : INC
28
Likely result of excess 17- and 53-Across : SPARETIRE
29
Prefix with 36-Across : EUR
30
Seemed to be : RANG
31
Bit of chiding : TSK
32
Not dally : HIE
33
"That's fantastic news!" : YAY
35
One bound to hold notes? : STENOPAD
38
Venom : SPITE
39
Spot ___ : OFTEA
41
Actress Matlin : MARLEE
42
Words of support : ICARE
43
Do the final details on : MOPUP
44
Not coming up short : AMPLE
45
Frost, to François : GELEE
46
Human Development Report publisher, in brief : THEUN
47
About 50% of calls : HEADS
48
Turnover alternative : SCONE
49
Tax burden? : AUDIT
50
Measures up to : MEETS
52
Like many a goody-goody : SMUG

Answer summary: 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?