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New York Times, Thursday, September 5, 2013

Author:
Damon Gulczynski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3811/8/20047/1/20190
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15608810
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65330
Damon J. Gulczynski

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 out, but I ... read more

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 sixth Shortz-era NYT 'Schrödinger' puzzle; see the others here. These types, having two ... read more

Amazing work from Damon. This is only the sixth 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.

1
MT
2
A
3
O
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I
5
S
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M
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P
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O
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R
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T
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E
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D
13
D
14
O
N
S
T
A
R
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D
R
E
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N
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F
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D
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A
H
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N
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R
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S
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CP
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A
T
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C
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N
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I
G
H
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L
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S
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A
T
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A
L
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O
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U
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D
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A
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P
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F
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A
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W
N
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E
D
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S
T
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R
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G
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O
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O
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PT
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U
T
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P
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A
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C
A
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DR
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T
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M
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0905 ( 23,312 )
Across
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
Down
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: 2 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?