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# New York Times, Thursday, September 8, 2016

 Author: Joanne Sullivan Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
22/23/20109/8/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56010

## This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 82, Blocks: 41 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Ms. Sullivan. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joanne Sullivan notes: Here's a brain-teaser: How did Will Shortz and Joel Fagliano increase this puzzle's total word count (i.e., the number of ... more
Joanne Sullivan notes:

Here's a brain-teaser: How did Will Shortz and Joel Fagliano increase this puzzle's total word count (i.e., the number of across and down answers) from 74 to 82 without changing any letters or the pattern of black and white squares?

There are several ways to format this puzzle. Will and Joel debated how to present it and chose a different approach than the one I submitted.

This grid's edited version is numbered as though all the black squares are regular blocks. The version I submitted treated the five black squares used in the theme answers as white rebus squares that were colored black to complete the theme words. (Rebus squares have pictures or multiple letters in them.)

Instead of treating COAL and FEET as two words (17 and 18-Across), I combined them into one long 17-Across answer reading COAL BLACK FEET (as in a "Wheel of Fortune" Before & After style answer). I used wacky clues for the combined answers. (Result of firewalking? = COALBLACKFEET). I'd also considered using two straightforward clues separated by a slash for the combined theme answers.

I treated the five black theme squares as rebuses hiding in plain sight. Another option would've been keeping them white and letting solvers color them black (or squeeze in the word "BLACK" in tiny letters).

Since my version treated COALBLACKFEET as one answer, the number 18 wasn't in the square with the F in FEET but was essentially hidden in the black rebus square between COAL and FEET. My clue for BLACKSHIRT was numbered 18-Down instead of 21-Down.

Since I regarded the black theme squares as letter squares and not black blocks, I avoided putting them in locations where white squares would've been invalid (e.g. between 1 and 5-Across). That constraint made constructing the puzzle more challenging.

Jeff Chen notes: Black squares get a literal interpretation today, five of them used as the word BLACK (see illustration below). I had some great a-ha ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Black squares get a literal interpretation today, five of them used as the word BLACK (see illustration below). I had some great a-ha moments, struggling with how FEET could possibly be [Montana Indians]. Very cool click to realize it was (BLACK)FEET. Same with [Driveway covering], which had to be TAR … except it was the much more interesting (BLACK)TOP.

Neat to have so many theme answers squeezed in. We "fix up" answers so they match the given clues, so there was quite a bit of work today — 18 answers to correct for our word list / database! That's a ton of theme material to squeeze in. Granted, much of it is just three or four letters long, but when you intersect so many of them, a grid quickly becomes inflexible. We highlighted all the theme material to demonstrate how many crossings Joanne had to work with.

Pretty nice job, filling around so many constraints. There were very few entries that made me hitch — I even liked YOSHI, as back in the day, I played many a Nintendo game all the way through. Even scanning through a second time, I couldn't pick out much that disturbed me.

I did notice that there were a ton of short answers; very few long themers / pieces of fill. I like a few long entries here and there, which helps a grid to breathe; to not feel constricted. A main reason for the slightly choked feel of the grid is that Joanne went up to 82 words, four past the normal 78 limit. Understandable given all the constraints she put on herself, but there is a good reason that most 15x15 crosswords rigidly adhere to the 78-word limit.

(I read Joanne's commentary with great interest. Such a different original intent; not sure which I like better.)

I would have liked some way of making the five special black squares stand out more, as there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why those five squares acted as BLACK and the others didn't. Using logic like "black squares that don't touch any others are the special ones," or better yet, a visual within those special squares? But overall, uncovering all those theme answers in unexpected places entertained me.

 1N 2O 3S 4Y 5D 6U 7M 8B 9C 10L 11A 12M 13P 14I R K S 15A B E L 16R A R E R 17C O A L 18F E E T 19E M I L Y 20E M T 21S O R T 22M A P S 23T E E 24T H E 25J 26A C K 27T 28O 29P 30Y O S H I 31O R C 32V I V A 33E R 34E 35E A R 36E D E N 37P 38A 39I N T I 40T 41M A 42I L E R S 43A I D E 44F O 45P 46E N V 47C R E W 48F R A 49T E 50S 51T 52S 53E Y E 54B E A N 55O H T H A T 56F 57A L L 58T 59Y P E 60E R A 61A 62K I R A 63S H O E 64L I S T 65T E X T S 66K E R R 67B L U E 68E G E S T 69A R E A 70S A S S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0908 ( 24,411 )
 Across Down 1. Given to eavesdropping : NOSY5. Cry made repeatedly while slapping the forehead : DUMB9. C in shop class? : CLAMP14. Gets to : IRKS15. Big brother's victim, once : ABEL16. Like perfect games vis-à-vis no-hitters : RARER17. Jet : COALBLACK18. Montana Indians : BLACKFEET19. Post with many rules : EMILY20. One rushing to work, for short? : EMT21. Manner : SORT22. Google ___ : MAPS23. What babies do in their first two years : TEETHE25. "Nacho Libre" star, 2006 : JACKBLACK27. Driveway covering : BLACKTOP30. Nintendo dinosaur : YOSHI31. Elf's foe : ORC32. "___ la Vida," #1 Coldplay album : VIVA33. Lead-in to long : ERE35. Where waves come in? : EAR36. First place : EDEN37. 1966 #1 Rolling Stones hit : PAINTITBLACK41. People holding on to secrets : BLACKMAILERS43. Second : AIDE44. Many a metrosexual : FOP46. It might have a street name: Abbr. : ENV47. J. follower : CREW48. ___ diavolo (sauce) : FRA49. Assays : TESTS53. Football player's application : EYEBLACK54. Ingredient in some chili and burritos : BLACKBEAN55. Words sometimes followed by "It's nothing" : OHTHAT56. When leaves 56-Across : FALL58. Info for a dating site : TYPE60. Napoleonic ___ : ERA61. Director Kurosawa : AKIRA63. Person whose work shines : SHOEBLACK64. Ban : BLACKLIST65. Comments from ones who are all thumbs? : TEXTS66. Bygone Broadway critic Walter : KERR67. Like Cookie Monster and Grover : BLUE68. Cast out : EGEST69. Flooring calculation : AREA70. Cheek : SASS 1. Fine point : NICETY2. Cry from a Veronese lover : OROMEO3. Carefully avoids, with "around" : SKATES4. Haute couture inits. : YSL5. Actor Willem : DAFOE6. There's an app for that : UBER7. 1998 Brad Pitt film : MEETJOEBLACK8. Crispy lunch : BLT9. What old knees may do : CREAK10. Product from soot : LAMPBLACK11. Former Haitian president : ARISTIDE12. Man's name that's Latin for "honey" : MEL13. Wrest open : PRY21. Italian Fascist : BLACKSHIRT22. "In Flanders Fields" poet John : MCCRAE24. What orange is said to be : THENEWBLACK26. Biblical region from which the name of a language is derived : ARAM28. High, as a guess : OVER29. Frittata equipment : PANS32. 1990 #1 hit for Alannah Myles : BLACKVELVET34. Gustave with a tower named after him : EIFFEL37. Tempo : PACE38. Like an atrium : AIRY39. Obsession : IDEEFIXE40. Part of a battle cry : TORA42. Solvent : INTHEBLACK45. 1960s-'70s radical : BLACKPANTHER50. E. preceder : SHEILA51. Set of ankle bones : TARSUS52. California and Baja California : STATES54. Really good time : BLAST55. Grammy category : OPERA57. Witchcraft : BLACKARTS59. Bygone days : YORE61. Took in : ATE62. Gunpowder holder : KEG63. Some music of the Wailers : SKA64. Reduced weight? : LBS

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?