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New York Times, Saturday, September 28, 2013

Author:
Joe Krozel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
877/7/20066/14/201815
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1.48057
Joe Krozel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 22 Missing: {JQVXZ} Spans: 2 Average word length: 6.34 This is puzzle # 66 for Mr. Krozel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
Judging by comments on the blogs, you either love Joe Krozel or you hate him. I lean more towards the former. Joe is always pushing ... read more

Judging by comments on the blogs, you either love Joe Krozel or you hate him. I lean more towards the former. Joe is always pushing the envelope, in this case with a super-low word count. As in most puzzles of this sort, there are compromises — as with NINS, D'ALENE, AT US, RUNTIEST, and TREEN crossing TREES.

On the other hand, the grid has a lot of great entries — PAW PRINT, SCHOOLMATE, TIME SINK, SHEESH, MILLIONTH, WENT SOUTH, BIG BANG crossing BIG BANK, and both 15-letter entries. I wouldn't want every themeless puzzle to push the envelope like this. But once in a while? Absolutely.

Jeff Chen notes:
I love to climb. Every week I do at least two good hard sessions at my local climbing gym, usually topping out at 5.11b-rated routes. ... read more

Hanging on... I love to climb. Every week I do at least two good hard sessions at my local climbing gym, usually topping out at 5.11b-rated routes. I tend to avoid 5.11c or higher because I'll usually flail, exhaust myself, and fail, but one of my climbing partners usually goads me into getting onto a 5.11c or even 5.11d. "It'll be good for you," he says with an evil smile. And he's completely right. I barely ever make it fully up, I usually come down with heart pounding as if I were dying, and I always learn something, coming away better for the experience.

Let's evaluate the grid from a constructing perspective. There are only a couple dozen themeless puzzles with a lower count than today's 64-worder, and Joe does something most of these other ultra-low word count puzzles do: keeps the grid wide-open (mouse over some of those other puzzles to see how segmented they usually are). As a constructor, it's a daunting task to face those two gigantic corners in the NW and SE. Even a 6x5 corner of white space will cause problems, so just imagine what a challenge an 8x8 region represents. Kudos to Joe for having the guts to try it.

For the most part, he manages to get in reasonable entries without a ton of junk. Nothing besides LISTENS TO REASON and ORNAMENTAL TREES are a "wow!" type entry, but most do a workman-like job. In the NW, subpar answers like POTTIES, AT US, and REMISE hold the region together, which is what those big sections often require. In the SE, THERMOSET plays that "glue" role. That BARTOLI/THERMOSET crossing was a total guess for me (I could have sworn I worked with THERMASET materials back when I was a mechanical engineer) but after some thought, that's more my fault than the puzzle's. A recent Wimbledon winner should be fair game, so I'll file MARIAN BARTALI away for the future.

Aargh, it's MARION BARTOLI, consarnit!

It takes a great deal of practice and perseverance to be able to accurately solve something like this. Puzzles like these are useful in that they force many of us to stretch beyond our abilities and learn something, coming away better for the experience. I have a great deal of respect for Joe as a constructor and appreciate today's 5.11d+ workout.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0928 ( 23,335 )

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Across
1
Clemson Tigers logo : PAWPRINT
9
Mistreating : MEANTO
15
Not left hanging, say : REELEDIN
16
Draws : INFERS
17
Mimosas and such : ORNAMENTALTREES
19
Toddler seats? : POTTIES
20
___ Day (May 1) : LEI
21
___ gratia : DEI
22
Become completely absorbed : OBSESS
23
Florida's ___ National Park : BISCAYNE
25
Rhone feeder : SAONE
26
It can be found beneath the lower crust : PIETIN
27
"Look ___" (Vince Gill hit) : ATUS
28
Sauce often served with oysters : MIGNONETTE
32
See 43-Across : LIT
33
Beginning of time? : BIGBANG
34
Mao's designated successor : HUA
35
Snoop Dogg, to Cameron Diaz [fun fact!] : SCHOOLMATE
37
Kind of check: Abbr. : CERT
38
Coeur ___ : DALENE
39
Capitale européenne : BERNE
40
Angry Birds or Tetris, e.g. : TIMESINK
43
With 32-Across, study of Hesse and Mann, informally : GERMAN
44
W.W. II battle site, for short : IWO
45
One might be a couple of years old : TOT
46
2013 women's singles champ at Wimbledon : BARTOLI
47
Shows levelheadedness : LISTENSTOREASON
50
Mobile advertising medium? : TSHIRT
51
Hardly like the pick of the litter : RUNTIEST
52
"Oh man, that's bad" : SHEESH
53
Words after "say" or before "bad" : ITISNTSO
Down
1
Ring accompaniers : PROPOSALS
2
Like stunt pilots' stunts : AEROBATIC
3
Headed toward bankruptcy : WENTSOUTH
4
Printer rollers : PLATENS
5
Release a claim to, legally : REMISE
6
What the French think? : IDEES
7
Marxist Andrés and writer Anaïs : NINS
8
Boom source : TNT
9
Centennial, e.g. : MILESTONE
10
Good at drawing? : ENTICING
11
Continental abbr. : AFR
12
Attention-seeking, say : NEEDY
13
Woodenware : TREEN
14
Davis of Hollywood : OSSIE
18
Put off : ALIENATE
23
Occupy opponent : BIGBANK
24
Suffix with hex- : ANE
26
Eyeshades? : PIGMENTS
28
Like a customer who may get special notice : MILLIONTH
29
Plastic that can be made permanently rigid : THERMOSET
30
See red? : TURNALOSS
31
Corroded : EATENINTO
33
Braggadocios : BOASTERS
36
Inauguration recitation, maybe : ODE
37
Confirmed : CERTAIN
39
Ones above military heads : BERETS
40
Lists : TILTS
41
"Would that it were!" : IWISH
42
Former Israeli president Katsav : MOSHE
43
Adorned, per menus : GARNI
46
Something with round parts? : BOUT
48
Draw : TIE
49
Part of 8-Down : TRI

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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