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New York Times, Saturday, September 16, 2017

Author: Natan Last, Finn Vigeland and the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class
Editor: Will Shortz
Natan Last
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
227/17/20079/16/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3111097
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60220
Finn Vigeland
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1410/20/20109/16/20174
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6123011
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64220

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 29 Missing: {FQXZ} This is puzzle # 22 for Mr. Last. This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Vigeland. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: FINN AND NATAN: We're having a lot of fun at the JASA class by making types of puzzles as yet untried by the group, and someone in ... more
Constructor notes:

FINN AND NATAN: We're having a lot of fun at the JASA class by making types of puzzles as yet untried by the group, and someone in the class was hungry for a themeless with chunky, stacking corners. We were tickled by the SHE LOVES ME / HE'S A KEEPER combination, and spent a lot of time tinkering with the lower left, which is our favorite section. Our last puzzle in May debuted ARREST HIM; we're pleased to bring the entry back to the Times a second time.

It's tough to write a themeless in the first place, let alone as a group, since you want to make sure you've really exhausted every possibility to ensure the cleanest possible grid. The class was very patient as we all tested and retested new fill in the corners. If we recall correctly, the bottom right had a few other types of RACEs and LINEs at some point in time.

At this point, the JASA folks who make these puzzles are pros at all the aspects of construction, but the group clearly has a knack for clever cluing. [Sea as in Cannes] for MER and [Celebration after a run?] for CAST PARTY are among our favorites the class came up with. Will, Joel, and team did a lovely job neatening our clues, which tend to be overlong (Natan's fault) and overflowing, happily, with puns and alliteration (the class's!). A lesson in the original clue for PANIC BAR: [Don't push it!]

Hope you enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes: The JASA class is back! With a standard themeless layout — four sets of triple-stacks, one in each corner — you have to ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

The JASA class is back! With a standard themeless layout — four sets of triple-stacks, one in each corner — you have to make every one of those long entries count. So many colorful assets, from SHE LOVES ME (she loves me not) to ARREST HIM! to ENEMY LINES to SHARK TANK (I love me some Mr. Wonderful!). High conversion rate, making good use of those 12 long slots.

But that's not all! They could have gone the easy route by doing a 72-word puzzle — perhaps by putting black squares at the Rs of EMERGEN-C and of ATTORNEY. A 70-word puzzle allows for a couple more juicy long entries, in this case allowing for some PANIC BAR goodness.

The stretching did come at a price, though. See how EMERGEN-C and RHEOSTAT (a boring term, even for this mechanical engineer) extend in toward the middle of the grid? That makes the NE corner much less flexible. As a result, in order to get the GO IN PEACE / SID CAESAR type goodness, they had to dab in some ERTES, TROI, MER.

Those three are fairly ignorable (although ERTES is tougher to swallow, taking up slightly more real estate), but those types of trade-offs occurred in other places too, notably the SE. TTY is … tele … typewriter? Huh. GOL attempted to be cute by misdirecting toward the much more common OLE, but it's not a good entry. Along with the mysterious CHAYOTE in that region and the groan-worthy A-TESTS, it felt like the weak part of the grid.

Speaking of that, POTATO RACE? Again, huh. Wikipedia says it's basically a race involving potatoes. Go figure.

But overall, kudos to the class for producing a mostly solid grid with a good number of feature entries. Also, a nice wink to get MEEMAW, from the senior-aged class!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0916 ( 24,784 )
Across Down
1. Plucky words? : SHELOVESME
11. Flags : SAGS
15. "That's some boyfriend you have" : HESAKEEPER
16. "Star Trek: T.N.G." role : TROI
17. Low-stress address? : EASYSTREET
18. Like the middle of Australia : ARID
19. It holds the world record for most passengers on a commercial airliner [1,088] : ELAL
20. Fizzy vitamin supplement : EMERGENC
22. They try to get into your head : PSYOPS
25. Recipe amount : DASH
26. Attraction in Bath, England : SPA
27. Roll around : WALLOW
29. Alternative to Chanel No. 5 : ESTEE
31. Prefix with gender : CIS
34. Some signals from pitchers : NODS
35. Flaps : HOOHAS
36. Fireplace receptacles : ASHPITS
38. Shylock's daughter in "The Merchant of Venice" : JESSICA
39. Pressing need : STARCH
40. Young stud? : COLT
41. Sea as in Cannes? : MER
42. Beat : THROB
43. Something to watch : THEGAP
45. Neighbor of Iran: Abbr. : PAK
46. Area worth the most bonus troops in the game Risk : ASIA
48. Underground activity in the '50s : ATESTS
52. Guarantee of the Sixth Amendment : ATTORNEY
54. Hill of ___, site of Ireland's Lia Fáil : TARA
55. "The O.C." protagonist : RYAN
56. "Run that by me again" : IDONTGETIT
60. A parent may tell a child to watch it : TONE
61. Fair competition : POTATORACE
62. Belly laughs : YUKS
63. Dangerous thing to cross : ENEMYLINES
1. Blind followers : SHEEP
2. Gets better : HEALS
3. Application requirement, maybe : ESSAY
4. Hunkered down : LAYLOW
5. Checks off on : OKS
6. Check out : VET
7. "The noblest hateful love that ___ I heard of": "Troilus and Cressida" : EER
8. Small suits : SPEEDOS
9. Grandmother, in dialect : MEEMAW
10. Many 1920s Harper's Bazaar covers : ERTES
11. Animal form of Harry Potter's Patronus : STAG
12. "Officer, that's the thief!" : ARRESTHIM
13. Gentle farewell : GOINPEACE
14. 1950s TV personality who appeared in "Grease" : SIDCAESAR
21. Current regulator : RHEOSTAT
23. Door part often fitted with an alarm : PANICBAR
24. Poor work habit : SLOTH
28. Relig. affiliation of more than six million Americans : LDS
30. Request for an island getaway? : SOS
31. Celebration after a run? : CASTPARTY
32. "Do my eyes deceive me?" : ISTHATYOU
33. Popular ABC reality show starting in 2009 : SHARKTANK
35. Andrew Wyeth's "The ___ Pictures" : HELGA
37. One for the money? : PRO
38. "Morning ___" : JOE
40. Gourd also known as a vegetable pear : CHAYOTE
43. Attached, in a way : TIEDON
44. Who's depicted in Russia's "Bronze Horseman" statue : PETERI
47. Dig : SNIPE
49. He "wept with all six eyes," per Dante : SATAN
50. Flash : TRICE
51. Slakes : SATES
53. Kind of place for the summer? : ONES
57. Subject of Noam Chomsky's "American Power and the New Mandarins," briefly : NAM
58. Communication device for the deaf: Abbr. : TTY
59. Cry at a Real Madrid game : GOL

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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