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New York Times, Thursday, September 5, 2013

Author: Damon Gulczynski
Editor: Will Shortz
Damon J. Gulczynski
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1.64320
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 39 Missing: {BJQXZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Gulczynski. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Damon J. Gulczynski notes: An early version of this puzzle only had the revealer PORT, with four 'P or T' squares. I wasn't thrilled with how it came ... more
Damon J. Gulczynski notes: An early version of this puzzle only had the revealer PORT, with four "P or T" squares. I wasn't thrilled with how it came out, but I liked the idea, so I set it aside in my (massive) "Puzzles To Rework" folder. Over the next few weeks I made note of any "letter x or letter y" words that came into head. Once I got enough decent ones I made this puzzle.

I was surprised by how constraining the theme was in constructing. The four symmetric revealers made the fill tougher than I expected. Many times I put in a snazzy long answer, only to delete it shortly thereafter. The original version I submitted had OSCARBUZZ instead of OSCARNODS, but the double zees caused a chain reaction that lead to PROTONIC being 39-Down. Mr. Shortz didn't like it, which I understand. Protonic is an inferable word, but... it's no electronic, that's for sure.

Overall I'm satisfied with the non-theme fill. (Thanks to Frank Longo whom Will enlisted to fix a potential Natick.) My biggest regret with this puzzle is that I thought of better theme answers shortly after it was accepted: JANE[D/R]OE is great, as is [C/P]RANKCALL. Oh well. Is there such a thing as a puzzle sequel?

Will Shortz notes: I'm amazed that Damon managed to find four pairs of theme answers that would work in this puzzle. And the addition of PORT, MORT, CORP and DORR is sheer brilliance.
Jeff Chen notes: Amazing work from Damon. This is only the fifth Shortz-era NYT 'Schrödinger' puzzle; see the others here. These types, having two ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Amazing work from Damon. This is only the fifth Shortz-era NYT "Schrödinger" puzzle; see the others here. These types, having two equally correct answers, are so tough to construct without making the clue too broad ("Five-letter word", e.g.), favor one answer over the other, or sound forced. We've had some good puzzles this week (and still more to come), but this one is fantastic.

From a construction standpoint, this grid may not look like much. Four pairs of intersecting theme answers and four 4-letter words, what's the big deal, right? Consider this: because eight of Damon's theme answers are short (three, four, or five letters), that means he had to incorporate longer fill in order to obey the 78 word limit. His grid has six long fill slots, and he populated them with OSCAR NODS, NIGHT OWL, TIGHT WAD, ART TATUM (one of my favorite pianists), STRATEGO, ODD OR EVEN, all snazzy entries. Six out of six! Talk about sticking the landing.

To be fair, as with any puzzle there are slight compromises. Some solvers might find the UNEVIE/ACELA crossing unfair, and DORR isn't as nice a theme answer as the much more natural PORT, CORP, and MORT. But these are minor issues, ones easily overshadowed by the puzzle's overall excellence.

Finally, David Steinberg uncovered perhaps the first Schrödinger puzzle in the NYT. Amazing what David has turned up in his pre-Shortzian efforts. Please save a job for me for when you take over the world, David. Er, Mr. Steinberg.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0905 ( 23,312 )
Across Down
1. Belief system founded in China : MAOISM
7. Dessert wine ... also what can fill the square at the crossing of 50-Across and 51-Down : PORT
11. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Roush : EDD
14. G.M. navigation system : ONSTAR
15. Eins und zwei : DREI
16. Negative conjunction : NOR
17. Spark : INCITE
18. ___ shui : FENG
19. Shade provider? : DYE
20. Relied (on) : LEANED
21. "The Governator" : AHNOLD
23. Explorer John : RAE
24. Shot out diffusely : SCATTERED
27. Reds, for short : CIN
29. One putting off retirement as long as possible? : NIGHTOWL
31. Bogotá bears : OSOS
33. Warring, say : ATIT
34. Not tacitly : ALOUD
38. Pie piece? : RADIAN
40. Emphatic confirmation : IDIDSO
41. Brain tickler : POSER
42. Gush (over) : FAWN
45. Critic Richard : EDER
46. Game with scouts and miners : STRATEGO
49. Three-time Hart Trophy winner : ORR
50. Bumbled verbally : SPUTTERED
53. Standard : PAR
55. Biblical land : CANAAN
56. Kitchen gadgets : DICERS
59. Furthermore : AND
60. 'Vette roof option : TTOP
63. Maupassant's first novel : UNEVIE
64. The Tigers of the N.C.A.A. : LSU
65. Western tribe : UTES
66. Gomez of "Ramona and Beezus" : SELENA
67. Discernment : EYE
68. Comedian Sahl ... also what can fill the square at the crossing of 1-Across and 1-Down : MORT
69. Downers, in brief : TRANKS
1. Work hard : MOIL
2. Actress Bancroft : ANNE
3. Showbiz nominations : OSCARNODS
4. 1986 rock autobiography : ITINA
5. Glossy fabric : SATEEN
6. TV character who "will never speak unless he has something to say" : MRED
7. Sharable PC file : PDF
8. Resource in the game Settlers of Catan : ORE
9. Lead role in the film "La Cage aux Folles" : RENATO
10. Scrooge : TIGHTWAD
11. "Return of the Jedi" battle site : ENDOR
12. Watson's creator : DOYLE
13. Titular judge played by Stallone : DREDD
22. Nervous one? : NELLIE
24. ___ Pepper : SGT
25. Fraternity letter : CHI
26. Bar fig. : ATT
27. N.Y.S.E. listing ... also what can fill the square at the crossing of 24-Across and 25-Down : CORP
28. Golfer Aoki : ISAO
30. Sir ___ Holm : IAN
32. Rest of the afternoon : SIESTA
35. Roulette choice : ODDOREVEN
36. One at a keyboard : USER
37. 1841 rebellion leader ... also what can fill the square at the crossing of 56-Across and 56-Down : DORR
39. Blind jazz piano virtuoso : ARTTATUM
40. ___ Group (Dutch banking giant) : ING
42. Word repeated before "away" : FAR
43. Put away : ATE
44. Not single : WED
47. Have as a tenant : RENTTO
48. View sharer : OPINER
50. Union wage : SCALE
51. Flowering plant : PANSY
52. Excessive : UNDUE
54. What's on the fast track? : ACELA
56. Sign of neglect : DUST
57. Milieu of 49-Across : RINK
58. Vast expanses : SEAS
61. The Who's "Love, Reign ___ Me" : OER
62. Sea-Tac setting: Abbr. : PST

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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