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New York Times, Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Author:
Jacob Stulberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3012/25/20131/2/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3449640
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.597100
Jacob Stulberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVZ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Stulberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Nice idea here, a THREE RING CIRCUS visually represented, featuring a GLASS EATER, WIREWALKER, and FIRE DANCER in literal rings. ... read more

Nice idea here, a THREE RING CIRCUS visually represented, featuring a GLASS EATER, WIREWALKER, and FIRE DANCER in literal rings.

So tough to fill around those rings of letters, as they put a ton of constraints around the surrounding areas. Anytime you have "triple-checked" letters — ones that must work with acrosses, downs, plus one more constraint — you're bound to need some crossword glue to hold everything together.

Jacob does well to place a few black squares in the centers of the rings, which helps immensely in facilitating fill. I doubt this grid would have even been possible (unless you used an entire bottle of crossword glue) without at least one black square in the center of each ring.

The more black squares in the centers of rings, the better. Notice how much cleaner the top ring was than the bottom ones? Yes, FSTAR is not good (random letter + STAR = constructor's crutch), and SELAH is tough, but those are the kinds of compromises common to triple-checked letter puzzles.

The SW: ANC, NAGIN, DEGS, EFS, ERTE. The SE: KER, ESSES, SWE, LATH, ASSAI. Yikes. And yikes. One set alone would have been too much for a single puzzle. (I'm personally fine with ASSAI, but I'm not sure non-musicians would agree.)

I might have tried to reposition those bottom two rings, such that it was possible to get more black squares in their centers.

It would have been nice to get something more familiar than a GLASS EATER — perhaps a lion tamer or trapeze artist or a contortionist — but those last two are so long that it would have made things even harder.

I loved the thought behind the puzzle, but not the execution.

1
W
2
A
3
T
4
T
5
F
6
L
7
A
8
P
9
S
10
S
11
T
12
A
13
N
14
E
L
O
I
15
S
E
R
G
E
16
W
A
C
O
17
L
O
W
E
18
T
O
T
A
L
19
E
X
A
M
20
T
U
N
D
21
R
A
22
A
23
F
L
C
I
O
24
C
Y
P
R
25
E
26
S
27
S
H
I
L
L
28
H
29
A
R
E
M
30
M
A
A
31
G
U
I
32
L
33
E
34
E
R
I
S
35
B
O
R
N
36
E
37
P
N
I
N
38
A
C
E
39
M
A
T
A
D
O
40
R
41
I
E
D
42
T
H
R
43
E
E
R
I
N
G
C
I
44
R
C
U
S
45
T
R
I
O
46
R
E
D
O
47
A
48
N
C
49
U
N
50
I
O
N
51
K
52
E
53
R
54
D
N
A
55
E
M
A
N
U
E
56
L
57
S
O
58
W
59
E
D
G
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E
R
61
L
D
S
62
A
63
S
S
A
I
64
G
R
I
F
T
65
L
I
E
66
T
W
E
R
P
67
S
E
N
S
E
68
Y
E
S
69
H
E
S
S
E
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0927 ( 24,795 )
Across
1
Power figure? : WATT
5
Parts of airplane wings : FLAPS
10
"South Park" kid voiced by Trey Parker : STAN
14
Victims of the fictional Morlocks : ELOI
15
Fabric with diagonal ridges : SERGE
16
1993 Branch Davidians/F.B.I. standoff site : WACO
17
Rob of "Parks and Recreation" : LOWE
18
Damage beyond repair : TOTAL
19
What a prep course preps for : EXAM
20
Where caribou roam : TUNDRA
22
Big workers' grp. : AFLCIO
24
Hip-hop group with the triple-platinum album "Black Sunday" : CYPRESSHILL
28
Area in a sultan's palace, once : HAREM
30
Goat's bleat : MAA
31
Artful deception : GUILE
34
Dwarf planet beyond Pluto : ERIS
35
Carried, as by the wind : BORNE
37
Nabokov novel : PNIN
38
Near-impossibility on a par-4 hole : ACE
39
One waving a red cape : MATADOR
41
Roadside bomb, briefly : IED
42
Confusing situation ... or what this puzzle contains literally? : THREERINGCIRCUS
45
Rock's Cream was one : TRIO
46
Change the décor of : REDO
47
Nelson Mandela's org. : ANC
49
Marriage : UNION
51
Lead-in to plop or plunk : KER
54
Evidence in paternity suits : DNA
55
Chicago mayor Rahm : EMANUEL
57
Mother in a pen : SOW
59
Landscaper's neatener : EDGER
61
Mormons, in brief : LDS
62
Very, in music : ASSAI
64
Petty swindle : GRIFT
65
Risk a perjury rap : LIE
66
Insignificant sort : TWERP
67
Pick up on : SENSE
68
Magic 8 Ball response : YES
69
"Siddhartha" author : HESSE
Down
1
Evidence of a whipping : WELT
2
Surname of three Giants outfielders in 1963 : ALOU
3
News spreader of long ago : TOWNCRIER
4
Colors, hippie-style : TIEDYES
5
Polaris, e.g., in astronomy : FSTAR
6
Durocher in the Baseball Hall of Fame : LEO
7
Dealmaking, some say : ART
8
___ Tour : PGA
9
Interjection occurring frequently in Psalms : SELAH
10
Become bloated : SWELLUP
11
Accountants' service for low-income individuals : TAXCLINIC
12
Smoothie berry : ACAI
13
Hideo ___, 1995 N.L. Rookie of the Year : NOMO
21
Tachometer abbr. : RPM
23
Garden of Eden tree : FIG
25
With more heart than head : EMOTIONALLY
26
Kitchen wrap brand : SARAN
27
Birds found in semideserts : SANDGROUSES
28
___-seeking missile : HEAT
29
Keystone's place : ARCH
32
"In ___ of flowers ..." : LIEU
33
Two slices of a loaf : ENDS
35
The "Ba" of BaSO4 : BARIUM
36
Epoch characterized by the rise of mammals : EOCENE
39
La Baltique, par exemple : MER
40
Free (of) : RID
43
Yadda, yadda, yadda : ETC
44
Soldier from Seoul : ROK
47
Traitorous Major ___ of the Revolutionary War : ANDRE
48
Ray ___, mayor of New Orleans during Katrina : NAGIN
50
Many a low-budget film : INDIE
52
Pothook shapes : ESSES
53
Leonine sounds : ROARS
54
M.B.A. and Ph.D., for two : DEGS
55
"Symphony in Black" artist : ERTE
56
Backing for plaster : LATH
58
Moist towelette : WIPE
60
They're worth 0 toward G.P.A.s : EFS
63
Abba's home: Abbr. : SWE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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