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New York Times, Friday, September 16, 2016

Author:
Patrick Berry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2297/11/199911/4/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
741241679512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980
Patrick Berry

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 28 Missing: {QZ} Grid has both 90- and 180-degree symmetry. Minimum word length: 4 This is puzzle # 215 for Mr. Berry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Patrick had me at the clue for ENGINEERS: [Scientists dream about doing great things. ENGINEERS do them.] It's something we all know ... read more

Patrick had me at the clue for ENGINEERS: [Scientists dream about doing great things. ENGINEERS do them.] It's something we all know to be true, deep down in our hearts, isn't it? Admit it! If James Michener said it, it must be true. Ipso facto, Q.E.D.!

No? Dammit Jim, I'm an engineer, not a logician!

Speaking of engineering, what a great job of engineering in this grid. Typical themelesses rely on a lot of three- and four-letter words to hold the longer material together. Without the shorties, the constructor is forced to work with giant open spaces, the likes of which often prove unfillable — unless you resort to a lot of neutral or flat-out ugly entries, that is. I rarely tackle any sort of quad-stack, since I've found that after dozens of hours, I end up relying on a couple of ugly little bits, along with some ho-hum space-fillers. That's not the kind of solving experience I relish.

None of Patrick's four corners is absolutely perfect, but they all get pretty darn close. The SW stood out for me, so much great material packed into that stack. COIN PURSE / HONOR ROLL / JET SETS are all excellent, with just ENGRAFTED a bit blah. But with KING JAMES running through it all — along with no liabilities down there — that's some incredible work.

Patrick uses a construction technique today that I've slowly picked up on over the years: it doesn't look or feel like he's segmenting the grid into quadrants, but he carefully places his middle black squares so that he can very nearly work on each section by itself. Once you place the S of ACHES, the S of PRATES, and set KING JAMES in, that SW can be tackled independently of everything else.

It's a tremendous advantage to be able to work on a subsection without worrying about the rest of the puzzle. And since there are enough entrances in and exits out of each corner, the puzzle still breathes. Great trade-off between the constructor's and the solvers' needs; very smart placement of those central black squares.

I wasn't aware of OLD BAILEY, a British criminal court, but I enjoyed learning about it. Along with some fantastic clue / entry pairs — [Life preserver?] getting at Life cereal in a CEREAL BOX, e.g. — it's a beautiful piece of grid engineering. Most weeks I'd easily give it the POW! but later this week there's another one I liked even better.

1
C
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K
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0916 ( 24,419 )

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Across
1
Handle things : COPE
5
Try out : TEST
9
Additional : OTHER
14
With nobody playing, say : ACAPPELLA
16
Retro stereo component : PHONO
17
Life preserver? : CEREALBOX
18
Katherine of NBC's "State of Affairs" : HEIGL
19
Observes closely : TAKESNOTE
20
Girl adopted by Silas Marner : EPPIE
21
Anxious : INASTEW
22
Anti-___ League (Progressive Era organization) : SALOON
24
Blade brand : ATRA
26
On the program : BILLED
28
Feels deep sympathy : ACHES
32
Site of Oscar Wilde's trials : OLDBAILEY
34
By and by : SOON
35
Sound effects pioneer Jack : FOLEY
36
Mandatory courses : CORE
37
Eponym of Bible history : KINGJAMES
39
Ehrich ___ a.k.a. Harry Houdini : WEISS
40
Was unconsciously disturbing? : SNORED
41
"I, Claudius" figure : NERO
43
Blathers : PRATES
45
Component of some biodiesels : CORNOIL
50
Ones coming ashore : SURFS
51
Put away for someone : ONRESERVE
53
Drafted : WROTE
54
One with changing needs : DIAPERBAG
55
It may be off the charts : ISLET
56
Like some physicians : ATTENDING
57
Fuses : MELDS
58
Person offering you a fortune : SEER
59
Command that a dog shouldn't follow : STAY
Down
1
Section of a botanical garden : CACTI
2
School zone? : OCEAN
3
Top of the winter : PARKA
4
Swords, in Sèvres : EPEES
5
PC-linking program : TELNET
6
It's hard to find in a crowd : ELBOWROOM
7
8:00-9:00 on TV, e.g. : SLOT
8
Proverbial certainty : TAXES
9
Shakespeare character who coins the term "primrose path" : OPHELIA
10
Winner of back-to-back Best Rock Instrumental Grammys in 1980 and 1981 : THEPOLICE
11
The ordinary folk : HOIPOLLOI
12
"Scientists dream about doing great things. ___ do them": James A. Michener : ENGINEERS
13
Capacity : ROLE
15
Gigli and pici, for two : PASTAS
23
"Dear ___" (1960s-'70s radio program) : ABBY
25
Longtime "Voice of the New York Yankees" : ALLEN
27
Easter stock : DYES
28
Does some grilling : ASKS
29
Quarters' quarters? : COINPURSE
30
Group that almost can't fail? : HONORROLL
31
Added to a plant : ENGRAFTED
33
Treat with violent disrespect : DESECRATE
35
Become dull : FADE
38
Lives the high life : JETSETS
39
Go downhill : WORSEN
42
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard : ROEPER
44
Soft options? : SODAS
46
Brainy high school clique : NERDS
47
Cosmic path : ORBIT
48
Former Trump Organization member : IVANA
49
Like Ziegfeld girls : LEGGY
50
Thick of things, in a manner of speaking : SWIM
52
Kid Cudi's "Day 'n' ___" : NITE

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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