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New York Times, Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Author: Jacob Stulberg
Editor: Will Shortz
Jacob Stulberg
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2612/25/20135/1/20180
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2248640
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59780

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. ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

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.

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W
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F
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N
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16
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B
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0927 ( 24,795 )
Across Down
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
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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