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New York Times, Thursday, September 10, 2015

Author:
Tracy Gray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
289/8/201010/10/20196
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7445710
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61451
Tracy Gray

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 37 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 13 for Ms. Gray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tracy Gray notes:
Thanks to my husband for using the idiom 'spill the beans' in a story he was relating to me and for planting a fun theme idea into my ... read more

Thanks to my husband for using the idiom "spill the beans" in a story he was relating to me and for planting a fun theme idea into my constructor's brain. There was a bumper crop of phrases that ended with a type of bean but not all of them could make the cut including MCHALES NAVY, YO SOY, and ROYAL JELLY. I submitted the puzzle in March 2014 and, after a few minor tweaks to the fill, the puzzle was accepted in August 2014.

My original puzzle made it obvious that there was a trick going on as I purposely left out the clue numbers and clues on the downward "spilled" (bean) portion of the theme entries. The other way I had considered was to number the down boxes and clue them as "---". However, I was very pleased to see that Will and Joel's editing gave the theme entries some clever misdirection by numbering and cluing both the across and down words and cluing the bean types — not as beans, but with completely different definitions.

I hope you enjoy the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes:
Turning puzzle, various types of beans 'falling,' cued by SPILLED THE BEANS. We've seen many puzzles which bend themers, so these days ... read more

Turning puzzle, various types of beans "falling," cued by SPILLED THE BEANS. We've seen many puzzles which bend themers, so these days I think it's important to have a really good reason and/or an apt revealer to justify it. I like this one, although the puzzle doesn't quite get at how I imagine things spilling willy-nilly all over the place. It's a pretty orderly set of spills.

Apparently green beans are known as "snap beans" in places. Who knew?

I like how Tracy disguised the four falling BEANS. SNAP is a perfect example of it, where by itself it gets a football-related clue, and OHS / SNAP gets one with a completely different meaning. Makes for an entertaining bout of confusion when I realized the answer has to be OHS, but that didn't at all fit [Playful response to a good dig].

Turning puzzles usually cause difficulty in filling around the bends, and Tracy does pretty well here. The upper right and lower left corners are so separated from the rest of the grid that this gives her a lot of freedom to fill them cleanly. (I'm not a huge fan of ALAR, but I think it's a fine answer.)

No surprise that the roughest region is the bottom right, where the revealer bends right into a relatively big swath of white space. Tracy gets so close to a perfectly clean fill. Sigh, ITER, such a convenient entry with common letters and alternating consonant vowel … and such an old-school piece of crosswordese.

I was a little confused during my solve as I couldn't quite figure out where the themers were, so I highlighted them below. Notice the total lack of symmetry — I would have liked at least some level of symmetry, perhaps having the across parts of the themers placed in symmetrical spots. Some will argue that this asymmetry actually makes it more interesting, because it removes the predictability and thus produces a more challenging solve, but a crossword without any sense of symmetry in the themers personally strikes me as inelegant.

Nice idea, perhaps some potential left on the table giving all the crazy interpretations that might better reflect a chaotic SPILL.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0910 ( 24,047 )

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Across
1
Chophouse orders : STEAKS
7
Some band practice : JAM
10
Subsidiary of Gap Inc. : OLDNAVY
14
Effort to resolve a dispute : PARLEY
15
Fishing lure : FLY
16
Cow, in Colombia : VACA
17
On one's feet : ARISEN
18
1996-97 Deep Blue opponent : KASPAROV
20
Not starter-level : SECONDSTRING
22
Saintes-Maries-de-la-___, French resort on the Mediterranean : MER
23
Even one : ANY
24
Group of investments : PORTFOLIO
27
Worker for Deloitte, for short : CPA
30
Romance novelist Roberts : NORA
31
Butt of many 1970s automotive jokes : FORDPINTO
34
Stinging reply? : OUCH
36
Muck : MIRE
38
___ to go : RARIN
40
University of Delaware mascot : BLUEHEN
42
Bleep-worthy : OBSCENE
44
Mall sweepstakes prize, maybe : SPREE
45
Major blow : GALE
47
Receptacles for street performers : HATS
48
Provider of green energy? : SALAD
50
Seeing : WITH
52
First of two columns in a fashion magazine : DOS
53
Blab ... or a literal hint to completing five answers in this puzzle : SPILLTHEBEANS
56
Playful response to a good dig : OHSNAP
59
Institution founded by Thos. Jefferson : UVA
60
Galileo, for one : HERETIC
64
Game whose name is derived from its sound : PINGPONG
67
Know-it-all : SMARTY
68
Banned plant growth regulator : ALAR
69
Barroom fixture : TAP
70
Holds from : DENIES
71
What may be good for the long run? : LOPE
72
What Khloé might call Kim : SIS
73
Put into groups : ASSORT
Down
1
Some cruise ship amenities : SPAS
2
Weigh station factor : TARE
3
___ Church, country singer with the #1 hits "Drink in My Hand" and "Springsteen" : ERIC
4
Old newspaper columnist Joseph : ALSOP
5
Partial to : KEENON
6
Doctor's diagnosis : SYNDROME
7
Historical 1991 Oliver Stone film : JFK
8
Enterprise alternative : ALAMO
9
Yours truly : MYSELF
10
Female gametes : OVA
11
Actress ___ Flynn Boyle : LARA
12
Big name in rodent control : DCON
13
Shade of blue : NAVY
19
Rap sheet entries : PRIORS
21
A or B in music class? : STRING
25
A ways away : FAR
26
Leafy plant also called mountain spinach : ORACH
27
Ones that are all ears? : COBS
28
Reduces to mush : PULPS
29
TSX automaker : ACURA
32
Sinking feeling : DREAD
33
Tonto rode one : PINTO
35
They may be high at a party : HEELS
37
Chipped-flint tool : EOLITH
39
Capone's nemesis : NESS
41
Pile high : HEAPUP
43
Neighbor of Chevy Chase : BETHESDA
46
Cobbler's punch : AWL
49
Fairway gouges : DIVOTS
51
High-end bag maker : HERMES
54
Veranda in 57-Down : LANAI
55
Nothin' : BEANS
56
Stone that shimmers : OPAL
57
Biggest city on the Big Island : HILO
58
Football play starter : SNAP
61
The Marx Brothers, often : TRIO
62
Old Roman road : ITER
63
Dermatologist's concern : CYST
65
Princeton Review subj. : GRE
66
Conversation interrupter in a car, maybe : GPS

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?