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New York Times, Friday, September 16, 2016

Author: Patrick Berry
Editor: Will Shortz
Patrick Berry
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2277/11/199911/10/20172
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
721241679512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980

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

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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 ... more
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 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.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0916 ( 24,419 )
Across Down
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
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, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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