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Puzzle of the Week

New York Times, Saturday, September 9, 2017

Author: John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins
Editor: Will Shortz
John Guzzetta
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1610/9/20129/14/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0322441
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63100
Michael Hawkins
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
91/23/20149/9/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0212121
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63100

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 29 Missing: {JKQX} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Guzzetta. This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Hawkins. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: Michael provided the bottom to get us going, I did the top, and we batted around the east and west until we both liked it. We ... more
Constructor notes:

Michael provided the bottom to get us going, I did the top, and we batted around the east and west until we both liked it. We finished the grid just before a Sept 2016 hike in North Cascades National Park. So we worked on clues while charging up and down mountains. Even though few of the clues survived, it's definitely our favorite collaboration published so far.

Jeff Chen notes: A ton of strong entries today, most all of them hitting home so well for me. That bottom stack in particular — PEACE SUMMIT, PR ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

A ton of strong entries today, most all of them hitting home so well for me. That bottom stack in particular — PEACE SUMMIT, PR NIGHTMARE with its crazy PRN start, and SPIDEY SENSE? Yes, please! And there was so much goodness in those four corners, WORLDS APART to ZONE DEFENSE to HORSE AROUND to VAN DAMME (check out "JCVD" if you haven't seen it — amazing movie!).

And ADOLESCENTS isn't usually an entry I'd point out as an asset, but its clue made it shine. Such an innocent looking [Minority group] clue made me think of voting minorities, not under the age of 18 folks. Perfect wordplay; so clever.

The EMAIL clue, referencing the shenanigans in the 2016 election? Too soon, Will and Joel. Too soon.

I typically hold 72-word themelesses to a very high bar, because they're pretty easy to execute on. For me to pick one as a POW!, it usually has to contain well over 10 great entries, and close to no crossword glue. This one made me rethink my criteria. I counted about 11 assets and 3-4 liabilities. EEE in particular is EEEgregious, a constructor's crutch that I'd never use in one of my puzzles.

But I enjoyed the puzzle so much, that I was able to overlook these issues. Although there were some lost opportunities in the long slots — ARTINESS and GET REST don't do much except take up valuable real estate — the feature entries were so strong. Made me think I need to adjust my evaluation metrics, perhaps giving strong entries one point and super-strong ones two points?

My OCD need to measure and record everything aside, themeless puzzles are all about how the entries hit a solver's personal interests. This one was spot-on for me.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0909 ( 24,777 )
Across Down
1. Like night and day : WORLDSAPART
12. Take another direction : ZAG
15. Alternative to Pandora or Spotify : IHEARTRADIO
16. Words of praise : ODE
17. Became excited : GOTTURNEDON
18. Business concern : NET
19. 2016 campaign topic : EMAIL
20. Difficulty picking up subtleties : TINEAR
22. Comparative indicator : THAN
25. Pool cover : FELT
27. Dormant : IDLE
28. "Ain't gonna happen!" : NODICE
30. Pretension : ARTINESS
33. Loyalty, old-style : TROTH
34. Timorese, e.g. : ASIAN
35. Richest part : FAT
36. Is dormant : SLEEPS
38. Faced with courage : BRAVED
40. Oxford designation : EEE
41. Son-in-law of Chief Powhatan : ROLFE
43. Ebbs : WANES
45. One getting depressed on the road : GASPEDAL
47. Person with a mental bloc? : MENSAN
48. It may prey on a ray : ORCA
49. Team in Houston : NASA
51. Inspiron maker : DELL
52. Means of keeping musical time : TOETAP
55. Date preceder : CIRCA
57. With 10-Down, go wild : RUN
58. President Clinton hosted one in 2000 : PEACESUMMIT
63. Football stat: Abbr. : INT
64. Big headache for a company rep : PRNIGHTMARE
65. They have sgts. : PDS
66. Intuition about something soon to happen : SPIDEYSENSE
1. Drag accessory : WIG
2. "Well, I'll be!" : OHO
3. Like hall-of-fame inductees, typically : RET
4. Time for many TV talk shows, informally : LATENITE
5. Refinery container : DRUM
6. Fire on from above : STRAFE
7. "The Governator" : ARNIE
8. Valencian dishes : PAELLAS
9. Also say : ADD
10. See 57-Across : RIOT
11. Collette of "United States of Tara" : TONI
12. 2-3 or 1-2-2, in basketball : ZONEDEFENSE
13. "We agreed to it, so you'd better deliver" : ADEALSADEAL
14. Recharge, so to speak : GETREST
21. "Little Birds" author : NIN
22. P.G.A. Championship airer : TNT
23. Goof off : HORSEAROUND
24. Minority group : ADOLESCENTS
26. Crow, for one : TRIBE
29. Start of a billet-doux : CHERE
31. Roadway finisher : TAR
32. Knocked out : INAWE
34. C. S. Lewis's symbol of Jesus : ASLAN
37. Edible part of a mesquite tree : POD
39. "Sudden Death" star, 1995 : VANDAMME
40. A star might go on one : EGOTRIP
42. Like a wet noodle : FLACCID
44. Its artists do many sketches, for short : SNL
46. Too slick : PAT
47. Boggy : MARSHY
50. Counterpart of a blitz : SIEGE
53. Pandora and Spotify : APPS
54. Kind of walk : PERP
56. Deli case display : CUTS
59. "___ ohev otach" (Hebrew for "I love you") : ANI
60. Staff : MAN
61. Government org. impersonated in many phishing scams : IRS
62. Starting point for a hole : TEE

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle.

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