It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox for best results.

New York Times, Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Author:
David J. Kahn
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1843/15/19948/14/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4451326571326
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5514231
David J. Kahn

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVX} This is puzzle # 173 for Mr. Kahn. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David J. Kahn notes:
A big thanks to Kevin James for this one. If he hadn't come up with BLART as the last name of the mall cop in his 2009 comedy, who ... read more

A big thanks to Kevin James for this one. If he hadn't come up with BLART as the last name of the mall cop in his 2009 comedy, who knows if BLUNT to SHARP is even possible. The other piece of luck is that this particular ladder isn't too long for a 15x15 and that the middle rung is BLADE. This allowed me to logically add RAZOR and KNIFE to the grid.

Jeff Chen notes:
Word ladders have been mined for crossword themes so much, that it takes a lot for one to stand out. I like David's added layer, not ... read more

Word ladders have been mined for crossword themes so much, that it takes a lot for one to stand out. I like David's added layer, not just going from BLUNT to SHARP, but stopping in the middle with an appropriate BLADE. Fun to also get RAZOR and KNIFE, two objects that often need that BLUNT to SHARP change.

Sometimes I wonder if word ladders would be more fun for me in crosswords if the rungs weren't clued. The clues feel mostly superfluous anyway, as you know that you can look at the previous and next rungs to figure out that answer. The reason why I like word ladders outside of crosswords is that it's fun to see if you can figure out the entire thing, futzing around with one letter at a time.

Pretty good execution for how much constraint the word ladder forces onto the grid. Sure, the themers are all short, but when you have 11 short words that you need to fix into place, it can make for a hairy construction.

Take the middle, for example. BLARE over BLADE over SLADE is bound to cause some hair-pulling. But David uses his black squares wisely, sort of separating that area from the rest of the puzzle, helping him finesse it.

Also smart to place RAZOR and KNIFE at the perimeter of the grid, and then to NOT put any theme answers directly around them. RAZOR's proximity to SLADE and BLART did put some strain on the west section of the grid, resulting in AN ERA / IN BAD, but thankfully there wasn't much crossword glue elsewhere.

Not a surprise that the symmetrical east also showed a little strain, with RELET / EWELL / EPEES. I do think that EWELL is fair game, as "To Kill A Mockingbird" is in many English Lit curricula. And EPEES is fine by me, but it does tend to draw some eye-rolling from more experienced solvers, who see it ad infinitum.

The added touches are much appreciated, given how overused word ladders have become in crosswords. Even a few great clues, like [Book slips] innocently misdirecting toward pieces of paper instead of ERRATA, helped to keep up my interest.

1
B
2
L
3
U
4
N
5
T
6
A
7
S
8
S
9
E
10
S
11
E
12
G
13
G
14
R
O
S
I
E
15
B
L
U
R
T
16
T
O
O
17
O
B
A
M
A
18
B
A
R
R
E
19
A
R
T
20
B
L
21
A
R
T
22
A
W
23
E
I
G
H
24
R
25
A
26
I
L
E
D
27
S
T
A
P
L
E
S
28
A
N
N
E
A
L
29
B
L
A
R
E
30
Z
E
B
31
F
I
32
E
R
I
33
D
E
34
R
35
E
36
K
37
O
R
A
38
L
39
B
L
A
D
40
E
41
S
E
W
N
42
R
A
D
I
43
O
44
I
C
E
R
45
S
46
L
E
I
47
S
L
48
A
D
E
49
I
T
50
S
E
L
F
51
U
52
K
53
U
L
E
L
E
54
C
U
T
T
L
E
55
D
O
R
E
M
I
56
S
57
H
A
D
E
58
D
A
B
59
I
G
60
L
O
O
61
I
N
62
F
63
O
64
R
65
E
L
A
66
S
H
A
R
E
67
O
C
H
R
E
68
R
A
N
69
S
T
Y
E
S
70
S
H
A
R
P
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0830 ( 24,767 )
Across
1
*Not pointed ... and the start of an eight-step word ladder : BLUNT
6
Pinheads : ASSES
11
It may be coddled : EGG
14
Perez who was nominated for an Oscar for "Fearless" : ROSIE
15
*Say impetuously : BLURT
16
Follower of "me" as a statement and "you" as a question : TOO
17
He said "What Washington needs is adult supervision" : OBAMA
18
Ballet support : BARRE
19
With 45-Down, some drawing rooms : ART
20
*"Paul ___: Mall Cop" (2009 comedy) : BLART
22
No longer in bed? : AWEIGH
24
Ranted (at) : RAILED
27
The "L" in this store's logo hints at the store's name : STAPLES
28
Temper, as metal : ANNEAL
29
*Announce with great fanfare : BLARE
30
Grandpa Walton, for short : ZEB
31
"Guy's Big Bite" Food Network host : FIERI
33
N.F.L. QB Carr : DEREK
37
Articulated : ORAL
39
*Feature of a 24- and 36-Down : BLADE
41
Tailor-made : SEWN
42
What comes in waves? : RADIO
44
Cake finishers : ICERS
46
Kauai keepsake : LEI
47
*Rock band with six #1 British hits in the 1970s : SLADE
49
The "se" in per se : ITSELF
51
Popular Jazz Age instrument : UKULELE
54
Sea creature with eight arms : CUTTLE
55
Cabbage or kale : DOREMI
56
*Throwing ___ (dissing someone publicly) : SHADE
58
Bit of cream : DAB
59
Ice pad? : IGLOO
61
Going to experience : INFOR
65
She, in Portuguese : ELA
66
*Not be a pig : SHARE
67
Earth tone : OCHRE
68
Operated : RAN
69
Eye woes : STYES
70
*Pointed ... and the end of the word ladder : SHARP
Down
1
"My man" : BRO
2
Upshot? : LOB
3
Winner of 46 gold medals at the Rio Olympics : USA
4
Spry : NIMBLE
5
Fortunetelling aid : TEALEAF
6
Rep. or Dem., e.g. : ABBR
7
Blind side? : SLAT
8
Big ___ : SUR
9
Book slips : ERRATA
10
Flight attendant : STEWARD
11
Cyber Monday business : ETAIL
12
Stuff oneself : GORGE
13
Ancient barbarians : GOTHS
21
Forgo the teleprompter, say : ADLIB
23
Pentathlon needs : EPEES
24
Item with a 39-Across : RAZOR
25
End of ___ : ANERA
26
Not getting along (with) : INBAD
27
Part of a water park : SLIDE
29
Aid after a neck or ankle injury : BRACE
32
Skip over : ELIDE
34
Filled again, in a way : RELET
35
Mayella ___, "To Kill a Mockingbird" character : EWELL
36
Item with a 39-Across : KNIFE
38
Smooth cotton thread : LISLE
40
Jong who wrote "Fear of Flying" : ERICA
43
The Rebels of the S.E.C. : OLEMISS
45
See 19-Across : STUDIOS
48
Land : ALIGHT
50
Landfill emanation : STENCH
51
Milk source : UDDER
52
Marsupial without a tail : KOALA
53
Kind of renewal : URBAN
56
Teed off : SORE
57
Dirt movers : HOES
60
Set (down) : LAY
62
Govt. loan backer : FHA
63
Top defenseman of all time, per The Hockey News : ORR
64
Workout unit : REP

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?