It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox for best results.

New York Times, Saturday, September 28, 2019

Author:
Alex Eaton-Salners
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
272/2/201711/14/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
125411013
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54240
Alex Eaton-Salners

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 44 Missing: {JKQXZ} Grid is asymmetric. This is puzzle # 26 for Mr. Eaton-Salners. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Eaton-Salners notes:
In the aggregate, I spent more time creating this puzzle than any other I have ever made – by a significant margin. Since I ... read more

In the aggregate, I spent more time creating this puzzle than any other I have ever made – by a significant margin. Since I first started working on it in January of 2017, I estimate I spent well over 100 hours (and probably more than 200 hours) working and re-working this idea.

As originally submitted, the puzzle had SWISS ROLL at 1-Across and DESSERT CASES in the last row. It also had a much more aggressive grid pattern, with only three blocks in the lower right corner and only nine 3-letter words along the width of the outermost spiral (as opposed to 12 such words in the final version).

The major breakthroughs that finally enabled the fill to pass muster with Will were (1) scaling back the lower-right corner (turning that corner with 6 blocks is much easier than with only 3); (2) replacing DESSERT CASES with the shorter PATISSERIE (or PATISSERIES in some incarnations); and (3) moving the thematic content to places that were easier to work with than the top and bottom. I also spent a lot of time minutely adjusting the shape of the spiral in different ways. Even moving a single block by one space often greatly changed the fill possibilities. And due to the extremely high level of interlock, replacing even a few objectionable words typically required reworking the entire puzzle.

The caliber of fill cleanliness that the NYT requires for a Friday or Saturday puzzle is extremely high, and it was quite difficult to pull off this grid shape and mini-theme to that exacting standard. During the revision process, I would sometimes put the puzzle away in frustration for months at a time before crawling back to it again. I'm not sure why, but I really wanted to get this one over the finish line.

Jeff Chen notes:
I love 'The Great British Bake-Off,' where SWISS ROLLs have been the subject of many challenges. The basic recipe is simple, but ... read more

I love "The Great British Bake-Off," where SWISS ROLLs have been the subject of many challenges. The basic recipe is simple, but seeing the imagination and creativity bakers inject (sometimes literally) into their creations can be mind-blowing. There's so much artistry involved, trying to figure out how to pull of a wild design, while living within the main criterion: above all, it must taste delicious.

When judging SWISS ROLLs, Paul Hollywood has no hesitations when pointing out the imperfections. Consistency of layer thickness is one of the most common issues. Not today! Such a regular layer of jelly inside, no thin or thick spots, the entire roll three or four letters wide.

Only three letters wide didn't provide for much flavor, though. One of the rules of thumb for a themeless is to minimize your short fill, since it's generally not that interesting and can chop up a solving experience. I was sure my stop-and-go solve would point to a large number of shorties, and indeed — 16 3-letter words and 13 4-letter ones. Not ideal.

I also wanted more spice. SECRET WEAPONS and BEER BARRELS, yes! WALLACE STEVENS and LEGISLATORS, though – that part of the sponge didn't rise as much as it should have, falling flat. A grid like this has such a limited number of long and medium slots that it's critical to use every one to its fullest potential. STIRRED, CLEAN UP, SIMPSON, and the long entries along the bottom … unfortunately not as en fuego as EN FUEGO.

A serviceable themeless with a pretty visual and not many outright technical flaws (aah, perhaps AAAH). Style over substance, though; not nearly enough overall to garner a Jeff handshake.

Jim Horne notes:
1
T
2
H
3
E
4
S
5
H
6
I
7
E
8
L
9
D
10
S
E
A
S
H
A
N
T
I
E
11
S
12
C
H
A
R
L
O
T
T
E
S
W
E
13
B
14
G
L
A
R
E
15
S
P
I
C
E
16
S
17
M
E
W
S
18
U
19
S
20
E
21
S
22
S
T
R
E
W
23
A
A
A
H
24
P
I
N
T
25
A
26
T
E
R
I
27
I
N
R
E
28
I
M
F
I
N
29
E
30
T
B
S
31
L
U
M
E
32
N
33
P
U
R
T
Y
34
W
A
S
35
P
A
T
I
36
S
S
E
R
I
E
37
E
R
R
38
S
T
O
O
G
E
S
39
T
A
R
O
40
L
41
A
42
D
43
S
Y
N
O
D
44
L
A
P
E
L
45
E
V
E
46
S
47
R
E
P
O
L
L
48
W
A
L
L
49
A
50
C
51
E
52
S
53
T
E
V
E
N
S
54
D
I
V
O
R
C
E
P
A
P
E
R
S
55
L
E
G
I
S
L
A
T
O
R
S
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0928 ( 25,526 )
Across
1
Hit FX police drama of 2002-08 : THESHIELD
10
Songs sailors sing : SEASHANTIES
12
Children's classic with the line "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer" : CHARLOTTESWEB
14
Brilliance : GLARE
15
Big exports of Sri Lanka : SPICES
17
Pet sounds : MEWS
18
Exploits : USES
22
Toss about : STREW
23
Sound made while sinking into a hot tub : AAAH
24
Niña accompanier : PINTA
26
Hatcher of plots? : TERI
27
On the topic of : INRE
28
"Nothing's broken" : IMFINE
30
Final Four airer in even years : TBS
31
Unit of light : LUMEN
33
Attractive, colloquially : PURTY
34
Word seen 11 times in the opening line of "A Tale of Two Cities" : WAS
35
Place to buy a 16-Down : PATISSERIE
37
Goof : ERR
38
Ones in funny shorts : STOOGES
39
Crop grown in paddies : TARO
40
Chap : LAD
43
In which you might see an exchange of bishops : SYNOD
44
Something a Mao suit lacks : LAPEL
45
Big nights : EVES
47
Get a second opinion from : REPOLL
48
Winner of the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry : WALLACESTEVENS
54
Union busters? : DIVORCEPAPERS
55
Ones on a diet : LEGISLATORS
Down
1
Printing samples : TEARSHEETS
2
Title creature in an Aesop fable : HARE
3
Subj. of many an after-school class : ESL
4
Japanese instrument with 17 bamboo pipes : SHO
5
It may be measured in gallons : HAT
6
Defensive football stat: Abbr. : INT
7
Verb after vous : ETES
8
Jobs for speech coaches : LISPS
9
Clinton of politics : DEWITT
10
Street food prepared on a rotisserie : SHAWARMA
11
Aces up one's sleeve, so to speak : SECRETWEAPONS
12
Tidy : CLEANUP
13
Stock in a brewery : BEERBARRELS
14
Service launched on April Fool's Day in 2004 : GMAIL
16
Sweet treat depicted in this puzzle's grid : SWISSROLL
18
Reuters competitor : UPI
19
Wallis ___, Time magazine's first Woman of the Year (1936) : SIMPSON
20
Really hot, in slang : ENFUEGO
21
Didn't lie completely still, say : STIRRED
25
Non-pros : ANTIS
29
Center of the symbol of the Illuminati : EYE
32
Minor annoying issues : NITS
36
"Yo" follower : SOY
39
Gets to the point? : TAPERS
40
NSFW : LEWD
41
Benefit : AVAIL
42
Look (into) : DELVE
44
Jimmy, for one : LEVER
46
Painful proceeding : SLOG
47
It might be taken to the pound : REPO
49
Comedian Shaffir : ARI
50
Includes, in a way : CCS
51
Base of kabayaki : EEL
52
Pool facility : SPA
53
Part of an exchange : TAT

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?