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TO THE POINT

New York Times, Sunday, August 26, 2018

Author:
Olivia Mitra Framke
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
24/23/20178/26/20180
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2000000
RebusCirclePangram
021
Olivia Mitra Framke

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 139, Blocks: 79 Missing: none – this is a pangram. Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 2 for Ms. Framke. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Olivia Mitra Framke notes:
About a year ago I set out to create a puzzle that honored one of the most talented athletes of all time - Serena Williams. She had just given birth to a daughter, and was expecting a ... read more

About a year ago I set out to create a puzzle that honored one of the most talented athletes of all time - Serena Williams. She had just given birth to a daughter, and was expecting a return to the tennis scene in the very next season. Absolutely incredible!! I figured the opportunity to run a Serena-centric puzzle may present itself.

Unfortunately, it wasn't in the stars. But Will et al. were intrigued by the visual elements I had included in the grid, and wondered if I could broaden the theme a bit. So I figured, for The New York Times — let's make a puzzle about one of New York's biggest sporting events of the year!

The visual elements of the puzzle went through some changes: originally, the racket was closed off from the rest of the grid - a big no-no in crosswords, of course. One draft had more shaded squares than just the BALL — two lines down the middle of the racket, with TENNIS RACKET spelled out inside, for example. I'm pleased with how it turned out, and hope solvers will enjoy it as well! I'm especially pleased with the fact that my title made it through edits - "To The Point" acting as both a toast to the sport of tennis and a nod to the pun-tastic spirit of crosswords.

This is only my second puzzle to be published in the New York Times, my first being an Ella Fitzgerald tribute puzzle — also with a cool visual element involved. This feels like a nice followup, but I do hope to one day have one of my non-visual puzzles accepted! If the next one is also visual, well, who knows. Maybe it'll just be My Thing!

Jeff Chen notes:
Delightful grid art! Upon first glance, I thought it was simply an interesting pattern of black squares. I got such a strong click when I realized the center of the puzzle was a tennis ... read more

Delightful grid art! Upon first glance, I thought it was simply an interesting pattern of black squares. I got such a strong click when I realized the center of the puzzle was a tennis racket! Apt for a tribute to THE US OPEN tennis tournament kicking off very soon.

I'm not a huge tennis fan, but I like to keep up on major events. I was proud to plunk down WIMBLEDON at 59-Across without needing a single crossing entry.

D'oh!

Funny that they're the same length. Also funny that as an American, I'm much more familiar with Wimbledon than THE US OPEN. (Note to US Open coordinators: hire away Wimbledon's marketing team.)

I also enjoyed the tennis BALL in the upper left. Might have been more fun to have it in the middle of the tennis racket, but I can see a case for it being represented as if it's just been hit and is flying away. Also, putting the BALL in the middle would have caused much more difficulty in filling that center, given that THE US OPEN was already fixed into place.

Speaking of filling difficulty, I appreciated Olivia's effort to work in as much themage as possible, but LONG RALLY felt a tad like an unforced error (see, I know tennis!). LONG RALLY is a thing, but it feels arbitrary compared to the catchier GAME SET MATCH.

Overall, the grid art helped elevate the puzzle above standard tribute puzzles. I would have liked a couple more strong tennis phrases like GAME SET MATCH – perhaps TENNIS ANYONE?, or maybe punny entries like COURT PROCEEDINGS / MAKING A RACKET – but everything came together pretty nicely for a solidly tennis-ish vibe.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0826 ( 25,128 )
Across
1
Lightheaded : WOOZY
6
Underwater workplaces : SEALABS
13
One of four on the annual tennis calendar : MAJOR
18
Navel formation? : INNIE
19
Not renewed : CANCELLED
21
1836 siege setting : ALAMO
22
First name on the high bench : ELENA
23
Follower of deuce : ADVANTAGE
24
Wordsmith Peter Mark ___ : ROGET
25
Lot of back and forth? : LONGRALLY
27
Alternative to grass : HARDCOURT
29
Place for a prize ceremony : DAIS
30
Nellie who wrote "Ten Days in a Mad-House" : BLY
31
Point of no return? : ACE
34
Certain corp. takeover : LBO
35
It's meant to be : FATE
36
NBC hit since '75 : SNL
37
Ingredient in a Dark 'n' Stormy : RUM
38
Muslim holy men : IMAMS
40
Designer inits. : YSL
42
"Awesome!" : RAD
43
Lead-in to line : BASE
44
Rod who was the 1977 A.L. M.V.P. : CAREW
45
"Bridesmaids" co-star : WIIG
47
Food with an unfortunate-sounding last two syllables : FALAFEL
50
Really fancy : ADORE
51
Dreams up : IDEATES
55
Sophocles tragedy : ELECTRA
56
Get further mileage from : REUSE
57
Vegetable or pasta, e.g. : NONMEAT
58
Drip, drip, drip : LEAK
59
Annual sporting event that is this puzzle's theme : THEUSOPEN
62
Outside: Prefix : ECTO
63
Really green : LUSH
64
Stingy sort? : BEE
65
Many a presidential hopeful: Abbr. : SEN
66
Treasure map markers : XES
68
Ostracize : SHUN
69
Lead-in to boy or girl : ATTA
70
Standard info on stationery nowadays : URLS
72
U. of Md. player : TERP
73
Spot : ESPY
74
Conjunction in the Postal Service creed : NOR
76
The Eagles, on scoreboards : PHI
78
Pérignon, for one : DOM
79
"Nature is the ___ of God": Dante : ART
81
Something to live for : TODAY
83
Chaney of silents : LON
84
One at home, informally : UMP
85
Ape : MIMIC
88
"Zip it!" : SHUSH
89
Things found in clogs : FEET
90
Bourbon Street's locale, informally : NOLA
92
Frenzy : MANIA
94
Stadium name near Citi Field : ARTHURASHE
96
Spectators' area : GRANDSTAND
98
"Harlequin's Carnival" painter : MIRO
99
James ___, Belgian painter in the movement Les XX : ENSOR
100
Flowchart symbol : ARROW
101
Saskatchewan native : CREE
102
It represents you : AVATAR
104
Old-timey : RETRO
106
First and last black key on a standard piano : ASHARP
108
Gas type: Abbr. : REG
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Location of 59-Across : QUEENSNEWYORK
114
Fly-by-night? : BAT
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Canapé topper : ROE
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Computer command : UNDO
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Time to vote: Abbr. : TUE
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Italian car, informally : ALFA
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Lead-in to "Man," "Woman" or "Fool" in Top 40 hits : IMA
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Further : AND
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Part of U.S.T.A.: Abbr. : ASSN
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City grid: Abbr. : STS
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Enthusiasm : ZEST
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Lion or tiger : CAT
Down
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Employs : WIELDS
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Not for keeps : ONLOAN
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Low soccer score : ONENIL
4
Wittily insults : ZINGS
5
Number on a trophy : YEAR
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"Alas ..." : SADLY
7
One of a well-known septet : ENVY
8
Inits. in 2010 news : ACA
9
Broadway's Cariou : LEN
10
Computer key : ALT
11
Utterly uninspiring : BLAH
12
Oscar-nominated George of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" : SEGAL
13
Designer Jacobs : MARC
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Emotionally detached : ALOOF
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Jungle predator : JAGUAR
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Code you don't want to break : OMERTA
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Returned to earth? : ROTTED
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"I can't talk now" : CALLMELATER
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Louisville standout : DERBYWINNER
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Candidate for rehab : ABUSER
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Square dance maneuver : DOSIDO
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Oscar-winning film of 1984 : AMADEUS
32
Revel : CAROUSE
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College in Boston : EMERSON
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Whole host : RAFT
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"Why should ___?" : ICARE
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Win every game : SWEEP
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Security agreement : LIEN
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One way to answer a server? : BACKHANDSHOT
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Winning words : GAMESETMATCH
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Guy : FELLA
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Dweller along the Bering Sea : ALEUT
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The "L" of L.C.D. : LEAST
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Genius Bar employees : TECHS
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Relish : EATUP
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Rugged, as a landscape : STONY
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Impotent : HELPLESS
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Paradigm : EXEMPLAR
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Submerge : BURY
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Cybertrash : SPAM
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Force (into) : SHOEHORN
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When the diet starts, perhaps : TOMORROW
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Locale for Charlie Chan : OAHU
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Dating profile section : INTERESTS
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Denims : DUNGAREES
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Purchases at tire shops : RIMS
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Do well with : THRIVEON
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Fit to be tied : OUTRAGED
86
How the Quran is written : INARABIC
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Film-related anagram of AMERICAN : CINERAMA
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City in Iraq's Sunni Triangle : SAMARRA
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Clear the air? : FAN
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"I'll take that as ___" : ANO
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Proficient in : ADEPTAT
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Much TV fare during the wee hours : RERUNS
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Towers over : DWARFS
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Blue hue : AQUA
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Metal fastener : TNUT
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Three-person card game : SKAT
110
Vox V.I.P.s : EDS
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Forever and a day : EON
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Red Sox Hall-of-Famer, to fans : YAZ
113
"Bravo!" : OLE

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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