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New York Times, Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Author:
Gerry Wildenberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
29/23/20144/21/20150
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0020000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.45010
Gerry Wildenberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Wildenberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Gerry Wildenberg notes:
Though I've done crossword puzzles sporadically all my life, about four years ago I started doing them a bit more seriously than I had ... read more

Though I've done crossword puzzles sporadically all my life, about four years ago I started doing them a bit more seriously than I had in the past. It didn't take me long to realize that I would never be very good unless I improved my knowledge of rap singers, American Idol winners and European rivers, to mention just a few of my areas of ignorance. Since I was unwilling to study these and diverse other topics, I resigned myself to remaining a mediocre (though slowly improving) solver.

But then, somehow, I discovered the world of crossword construction. This would be a new challenge. So I bought Patrick Berry's book on construction and got started. It wasn't long, feeling a bit discouraged, that I wrote to Patrick noting that he claimed anyone could learn to construct puzzles yet fewer than one hundred NY Times debuts occurred each year while 1000's of his book were selling. Despite my misgivings and rejections, I persisted and soon got some LA Times publications. Today is my NY Times debut. I thank Patrick Berry for his book, Nancy Salomon for her invaluable mentoring, Rick Norris for my first crossword publication, and Will Shortz for putting me in the NY Times.

Today's puzzle is actually the second of mine accepted by Will. The present version seems to have been edited sometime after its acceptance as much of the fill in the NE corner and adjacent areas looks new to me. One word I wish I had been allowed to use is "pgdns" (seldom used keys), which can be found in the singular on your keyboard.

Will Shortz notes:
Like almost all puzzles that contain triply-checked letters, like the shaded ones here, this puzzle includes some vocabulary that is ... read more

Like almost all puzzles that contain triply-checked letters, like the shaded ones here, this puzzle includes some vocabulary that is not as crisp or clean as in puzzles with regular checking. That's just the nature of the beast. I thought this puzzle's theme was cool enough to justify the AAR, the LLD'S, the SSE, the ENS, etc. The grid really doesn't have anything awful, and overall it's about as clean as it can be given the constraints.

Jeff Chen notes:
GOLD NUGGETS hidden in the grid today, a neat visual when seen in the print version and pdf. These types of graphics don't occur very ... read more

GOLD NUGGETS hidden in the grid today, a neat visual when seen in the print version and pdf. These types of graphics don't occur very frequently in the NYT crossword, partially because not that many people send things like this in, but also (and maybe more importantly), the NYT's syndication partners can have difficulties reprinting the specialized graphics. Tough business the NYT's in.

This is an audacious debut, not for the faint of heart. It may not look like it's that difficult, but to constrain your grid in six places with those 2x2 sections is a nightmare. Gerry does well to semi-segment them so that he could fill sections one by one, not having to worry too much about one influencing the next. Good use of black squares.

Even then though, each of the six sections carries a compromise. The NW is the closest to rock solid, the nice BOGEYING a real bonus. And I don't mind EWER at all. (Most people call it a pitcher, but an ewer by any other name…) It's a shame that NLERS was necessary to hold everything together. Similar issues arise in each of the six areas. I was especially glad to figure out the theme before hitting the SE, as I wasn't familiar with LLDS or ARLEDGE.

There's some debate whether having each GOLD nugget identically laid out (G in the same position every time, the word going the same way each time) or random orientations is better. The former can be elegant. The latter can be more fun though, especially if the concept is transparent — gives the solver an additional challenge. And from a construction standpoint, given the ultra-heavy constraints, being able to rotate and flip the G-O-L-D letters is a very good thing. I can only imagine how rough the fill might have gotten if each GOLD had been identically oriented.

All in all, a neat visual, forcing some compromises.

1
S
2
O
3
B
4
E
5
G
6
A
7
L
8
A
9
S
10
Y
11
S
12
E
13
R
14
P
L
O
W
15
A
T
O
L
L
16
A
L
D
O
17
E
D
G
E
18
M
A
G
D
A
19
Y
O
G
A
20
N
L
E
R
21
S
22
R
I
A
T
23
A
24
A
A
R
25
D
I
Y
26
A
27
K
I
N
S
28
S
29
U
N
R
A
30
E
N
I
31
G
M
A
32
H
O
N
E
S
T
33
R
E
N
O
34
S
35
I
36
M
37
M
E
R
S
38
G
O
39
L
D
N
U
G
G
E
T
40
S
41
S
O
A
N
D
S
O
42
O
L
43
A
44
F
45
S
46
T
47
R
E
W
N
48
A
49
S
W
I
R
L
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E
R
A
S
E
51
B
52
L
53
A
T
S
54
P
L
O
55
P
U
N
56
D
57
R
E
A
M
58
E
59
A
S
E
S
60
I
D
L
61
E
62
O
G
D
E
63
N
64
L
L
D
S
65
A
G
O
N
66
C
O
L
B
Y
67
L
O
G
E
68
S
E
W
S
69
S
T
E
A
M
70
S
P
E
D
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0923 ( 23,695 )
Across
1
Drink with a lizard logo : SOBE
5
Big balls : GALAS
10
W.W. I's Battle of the ___ : YSER
14
Winter truck attachment : PLOW
15
Lagoon surrounder : ATOLL
16
Brand of shoes or handbags : ALDO
17
Advantage : EDGE
18
One of the Gabor sisters : MAGDA
19
Exercise on a mat : YOGA
20
Reds and Braves, for short : NLERS
22
Rodeo rope : RIATA
24
Swiss river : AAR
25
Like some home improvement projects, briefly : DIY
26
Actor Claude of "B. J. and the Bear" : AKINS
28
Jazz great named after an Egyptian god : SUNRA
30
Riddle : ENIGMA
32
"Trust me!" : HONEST
33
Home of the University of Nevada : RENO
34
Cooks gently : SIMMERS
38
Valuable finds suggested by the circled letters : GOLDNUGGETS
41
Rascal : SOANDSO
42
Snowman in Disney's "Frozen" : OLAF
45
Scattered : STREWN
48
Like the snow in a shaken snow globe : ASWIRL
50
Rub out : ERASE
51
Makes a harsh sound : BLATS
54
Mahmoud Abbas's grp. : PLO
55
"Ugh, German sausage is the wurst," e.g. : PUN
56
Think optimistically : DREAM
58
Settles (into) : EASES
60
Nothing doing? : IDLE
62
Poet Nash : OGDEN
64
Advanced law degs. : LLDS
65
Stravinsky ballet : AGON
66
Cheddarlike cheese : COLBY
67
Pricey seating option : LOGE
68
Darns, e.g. : SEWS
69
What comes out of an angry person's ears in cartoons : STEAM
70
Sprinted : SPED
Down
1
Big ___ (person who takes a date to a fast-food restaurant, jocularly) : SPENDER
2
Well-established : OLDLINE
3
Barely missing par : BOGEYING
4
Pitcher : EWER
5
Group of whales : GAM
6
Maker of Asteroids and Missile Command : ATARI
7
Access a private account : LOGIN
8
Actors Alan and Robert : ALDAS
9
Blind part : SLAT
10
"We did it!" : YAY
11
Everett ___, player of Mr. Bernstein in "Citizen Kane" : SLOANE
12
Mystery prizes : EDGARS
13
Greet with loud laughter : ROARAT
21
Spade of "The Maltese Falcon" : SAM
23
Hit ___ spot : ASORE
27
Lawrence who co-wrote two of the "Star Wars" films : KASDAN
29
Take out of an overhead bin, say : UNSTOW
31
Stimulates, informally : GOOSES
32
Billy : HEGOAT
35
Red Roof ___ : INN
36
Nasty political accusations : MUD
37
Old British sports cars : MGS
39
Gave a cattle call? : LOWED
40
Twaddle : SLIPSLOP
43
Roone who created "Nightline" and "20/20" : ARLEDGE
44
Obeyed a dentist's directive : FLOSSED
45
Brown-toned photos : SEPIAS
46
Plod : TRUDGE
47
Almost had no stock left : RANLOW
49
NNW's opposite : SSE
51
Sired : BEGOT
52
Soup server : LADLE
53
Itsy-bitsy creature : AMEBA
57
Fabulous birds : ROCS
59
"___ well" : ALLS
61
U.S.N.A. grad: Abbr. : ENS
63
Citi Field team, on scoreboards : NYM

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?