Working with four 15-letter theme entries was interesting because it presented both a degree of rigidity and interchangeability in placing them. Rigidity in that the answers had to be in rows 3, 6, 10, and 13, or else there would be too much segmentation and too many 3-letter answers. Interchangeability in that the entries could be placed in one of 24 possible combinations. The choice of which combination to use came down to how well the two middle entries worked together, particularly in the east and west. The options quickly dwindle when one considers that not much good fill ends in V or U, for instance (in VALENCIA and BLUES).
I'm excited to have my second crossword in the New York Times and especially to have it published as I prepare for my last finals before I complete my undergraduate degree. I hope it makes for an enjoyable solve.
I'm excited to make my New York Times Crossword debut and to write constructor notes on XWord Info. I started making crosswords around 18 months ago and have found this site quite useful, both in finding entries and in reading constructors' comments, so it feels cool to now contribute my own notes.
I made this puzzle around 11 months ago, and theme first theme entry was BEAARTHUR, as she seemed to be the only BEA known well enough to be included in a crossword. After searching for possibilities for the other themers of various lengths, I decided upon BMINORMASS. This, and rotational symmetry knocked out options for the other theme answers like BEEHIVESTATE or BESTILLMYHEART, but, as a music major, I couldn't waste the opportunity to include Bach.
In filling the grid, I decided not to use the letter B outside of its four theme appearances and tried to find entries which could be clued smoothly. I ran into trouble in the northeast, with the weird combination of FLC in AFLCIO, but I'm happy with how it turned out. In the northeast, the editing team replaced SISI with YETI, which is a far better and stronger piece of fill and works just as well with the crosses. Additionally, DONE/DOLES became PONE/POLES.
I'm glad to see that many of my better clues were kept while all my weaker "Baccalaureate receiver"-type clues were replaced. As a (Detroit) Tiger's fan, the only clue I miss is the one referencing LOU Whitaker, but I suppose he may not be nationally known enough for a Monday.
It feels great to have a New York Times Crossword puzzle and I hope it makes for a smooth and enjoyable solve.