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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
109. Location of 59-Across : QUEENSNEWYORK
114. Fly-by-night? : BAT
115. Canapé topper : ROE
116. Computer command : UNDO
117. Time to vote: Abbr. : TUE
118. Italian car, informally : ALFA
119. Lead-in to "Man," "Woman" or "Fool" in Top 40 hits : IMA
120. Further : AND
121. Part of U.S.T.A.: Abbr. : ASSN
122. City grid: Abbr. : STS
123. Enthusiasm : ZEST
124. Lion or tiger : CAT
Down
1. Employs : WIELDS
2. Not for keeps : ONLOAN
3. Low soccer score : ONENIL
4. Wittily insults : ZINGS
5. Number on a trophy : YEAR
6. "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
14. Emotionally detached : ALOOF
15. Jungle predator : JAGUAR
16. Code you don't want to break : OMERTA
17. Returned to earth? : ROTTED
19. "I can't talk now" : CALLMELATER
20. Louisville standout : DERBYWINNER
26. Candidate for rehab : ABUSER
28. Square dance maneuver : DOSIDO
31. Oscar-winning film of 1984 : AMADEUS
32. Revel : CAROUSE
33. College in Boston : EMERSON
37. Whole host : RAFT
38. "Why should ___?" : ICARE
39. Win every game : SWEEP
41. Security agreement : LIEN
43. One way to answer a server? : BACKHANDSHOT
46. Winning words : GAMESETMATCH
47. Guy : FELLA
48. Dweller along the Bering Sea : ALEUT
49. The "L" of L.C.D. : LEAST
52. Genius Bar employees : TECHS
53. Relish : EATUP
54. Rugged, as a landscape : STONY
60. Impotent : HELPLESS
61. Paradigm : EXEMPLAR
64. Submerge : BURY
67. Cybertrash : SPAM
71. Force (into) : SHOEHORN
72. When the diet starts, perhaps : TOMORROW
75. Locale for Charlie Chan : OAHU
77. Dating profile section : INTERESTS
78. Denims : DUNGAREES
80. Purchases at tire shops : RIMS
81. Do well with : THRIVEON
82. Fit to be tied : OUTRAGED
86. How the Quran is written : INARABIC
87. Film-related anagram of AMERICAN : CINERAMA
88. City in Iraq's Sunni Triangle : SAMARRA
89. Clear the air? : FAN
91. "I'll take that as ___" : ANO
93. Proficient in : ADEPTAT
95. Much TV fare during the wee hours : RERUNS
97. Towers over : DWARFS
103. Blue hue : AQUA
105. Metal fastener : TNUT
107. Three-person card game : SKAT
110. Vox V.I.P.s : EDS
111. Forever and a day : EON
112. 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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