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New York Times, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Author:
John Guzzetta
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2110/9/20122/8/20195
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1322463
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63100
John Guzzetta

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 69, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JKQZ} This is puzzle # 16 for Mr. Guzzetta. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Guzzetta notes:
The inspiration for this puzzle came from looking in the mirror. I have a gap wide enough to stick a screwdriver through. ... read more

The inspiration for this puzzle came from looking in the mirror. I have a gap wide enough to stick a screwdriver through.

Initially, I laid this out as a Sunday 21x, wanting to have all the gaps exactly in the middle of the puzzle. Even when I tried some rebus ideas (like Delaware Water GAP and SinGAPore), and threw in the names of famous people with gaps, there just wasn't enough there for a Sunday, and I boiled it down to a 15x.

Initially, I had SPREADS TOO THIN where SEED PEARLS / ILES is now but chose to break symmetry and bump it up a row in order match the tenses of the verbs.

Jeff Chen notes:
DIASTEMA? That's a … gap in one's teeth? I was confused at the end of my solve, having missed the concept, but I got a nice ... read more

DIASTEMA? That's a … gap in one's teeth? I was confused at the end of my solve, having missed the concept, but I got a nice a-ha when I realized that John split theme answers so that they were "gap-toothed": TOOT / HIS OWN HORN, DO UNTO / OTHERS, SPREAD TOO / THIN. Fun twist on the old "words hidden within theme phrases" theme type.

DIASTEMA is an unusual revealer. I might have chosen to go with GAP TOOTHED so as to be more transparent, but there's something to be said about using DIASTEMA to delay the a-ha moment; to make the solver work for it. It does run the risk of the solver finishing the grid without understanding the theme, and putting the puzzle aside.

I get John's point about matching verb tenses in the themers, but I found the lack of symmetry odd. Along with DIASTEMA being in an unusual location for a revealer — with no symmetrical theme answer — the layout felt a little clunky. Other solvers might not notice any of this, but symmetry is such a core feature of crosswords that breaking it requires an extraordinary or theme-specific reason to do so, in my book.

I wonder if it would have helped to split MOLAR, CANINE, INCISOR, etc. instead of just TOOTH? Or to use TEETH?

Some tough fill. Totally fine to use esoteric words in a Thursday puzzle, like DUMONT, RYDELL, NESSUS (and DIASTEMA!). But too many of them can be a turn-off, especially when they leave room for a solver to finish with an unfair error. I finished with SHIEST / RIDELL instead of SHYEST / RYDELL, and DOMONT / CENSORED instead of DUMONT / CENSURED. Ultimately, I think both errors are more on me than on the puzzle — SHIEST is apparently a variant spelling — but that didn't stop me from coming away frustrated.

Neat concept, fun to see those gaps in the TOOTHs (maybe it should have been TEETH!). Some problems in execution, though.

1
A
2
L
3
A
4
S
5
A
6
C
7
M
8
E
9
R
10
O
11
B
12
S
13
C
O
M
A
14
C
H
I
L
15
D
16
E
R
I
E
17
T
O
O
T
H
I
S
O
W
19
N
H
O
R
N
20
S
U
E
21
D
22
M
A
N
I
F
E
S
T
S
23
C
E
N
S
U
24
R
E
D
25
C
A
C
H
E
26
G
E
T
27
M
A
D
D
28
E
29
N
30
R
O
S
S
31
I
N
T
32
R
O
S
33
S
E
U
34
S
S
35
D
O
U
N
T
36
O
O
T
H
E
38
R
39
S
40
S
T
A
F
41
F
42
R
Y
D
E
L
43
L
44
N
45
E
46
S
T
47
S
T
E
48
V
I
E
49
V
I
E
50
E
X
U
L
51
T
52
D
I
A
S
53
T
E
M
A
54
S
P
R
E
A
55
D
56
T
O
O
T
H
I
N
58
S
E
E
D
P
E
A
R
L
59
S
60
I
L
E
61
S
62
U
R
D
U
63
S
T
A
I
R
64
E
L
S
E
65
S
T
O
P
66
A
S
N
O
67
F
E
S
T
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0914 ( 24,782 )
Across
1
Interjection derived from the Latin for "weary" : ALAS
5
Peak : ACME
9
Rips off : ROBS
13
Food ___ (post-Thanksgiving meal condition) : COMA
14
Innocent sort : CHILD
16
Sal's canal, in song : ERIE
17
With 18-Across, what a boastful guy might do : TOOTHISOWNHORN
20
Wouldn't settle, say : SUED
22
Exhibits : MANIFESTS
23
Condemned : CENSURED
25
Save for later : CACHE
26
What comes before a clue? : GET
27
___ NFL (video game franchise) : MADDEN
30
Antarctica's ___ Ice Shelf : ROSS
31
They're often made at icebreakers : INTROS
33
Dr. of verse : SEUSS
35
With 37-Across, start of an ethical rule : DOUNTOOTHERS
40
Prop for Gandalf : STAFF
42
"Grease" high school : RYDELL
44
Twitter site : NEST
47
Singer Nicks : STEVIE
49
Fight : VIE
50
Rejoice : EXULT
52
Formal term for the gap suggested by 17/18-, 35/37- and 54/57-Across : DIASTEMA
54
With 57-Across, overextended : SPREADTOOTHIN
58
Tiny treasures from the sea : SEEDPEARLS
60
Dots in la mer : ILES
62
Language of the Lahore Post : URDU
63
Way up : STAIR
64
In addition : ELSE
65
Quit : STOP
66
Come ___ surprise : ASNO
67
Celebration : FEST
Down
1
It's the law : ACT
2
Something to tie up : LOOSEEND
3
Become in life : AMOUNTTO
4
Fills : SATES
5
German cry : ACH
6
Put in one's two cents, with "in" : CHIMED
7
Does sumthing wrong? : MISADDS
8
University near Greensboro : ELON
9
Did a dry run : REHEARSED
10
Jesse who pitched in a record 1,252 major-league games : OROSCO
11
Demographic statistic : BIRTHS
12
Faculties : SENSES
15
Cause for a suspension, in brief : DWI
19
Giants' grp. : NFC
21
Early TV network competing with NBC, ABC and CBS : DUMONT
23
Most movie explosions these days, for short : CGI
24
Some Jamaicans, informally : RASTAS
28
Job listing abbr. : EEO
29
Burrowing South American rodent : NUTRIA
32
Found, as grub : RUSTLEDUP
34
Most retiring : SHYEST
36
___-mentioned : OFT
38
Rising notes? : REVEILLE
39
Dieter's goal : SLIMNESS
41
Gangsters' wear, in old movies : FEDORAS
43
Place for a shepherd : LEA
44
Centaur who was killed by Hercules : NESSUS
45
Black belt, e.g. : EXPERT
46
"You betcha!" : SUREDO
48
Quintet instrument : VIOLIN
51
Weak punch? : TAP
53
Dickens's Fagin, e.g. : THIEF
55
Paris's Pont ___ Arts : DES
56
"Toodles!" : TATA
59
Above capacity, for short : SRO
61
Harden : SET

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?