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Puzzles for November, 2014
with Will Shortz comments

Sat 11/1/2014
ELATESCIFICOLOR
LETONAARONINANE
BATTLEFIELDCOSTS
OPIEREMDELEHOT
WARLARAMPURE
STENOSNEUTROGENA
ELEMASHEOVER
MARTITATARETILE
IDESTMRBIGVILLA
NOMAAMMANYESSES
ORALONELPERT
REPEATEDLYALSACE
SNOWSALTYRAD
SPFGRAFSOUCANI
PLACEGROSSPROFIT
RIVALEERIEBEANO
YEARSREARSINTER

This 17x17 crossword (a first for the daily Times) has a curious history. It was originally slated for Puzzle #5 at last March's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. By tradition, Puzzle #5 is the killer of the event — the one that separates the champion solvers from everyone else. Trip sent me the puzzle by email on Jan. 8. I loved it, printed it out, and, because it was early, set it on top of my office printer.

A few weeks later the website Business Insider came to interview me at my home. We'd agreed beforehand they would interview me in my living room, but after wandering around my house, they asked if they could set me up in my office instead. At that point I had forgotten all about Trip's puzzle, which was nowhere near the desk where I sat anyway, so I said yes.

Well, wouldn't you know it, during the course of the interview the cameraperson panned around my office, including the printer, stopping, in fact, to dwell for four seconds on Trip's puzzle, which just happened to say across the top: "2014 ACPT Puzzle 5." Sometime after the interview was posted online, a friend who'd seen it emailed me, "Can that possibly be Puzzle #5 at this year's ACPT?" Arrrgggh!

At that point Trip didn't have time to make a new Puzzle #5 for the tournament, so Brendan Quigley stepped in instead. Meanwhile, I still loved Trip's puzzle. Since it was spoiled for the ACPT, I asked him if I could run it in the Times. He graciously agreed. It's probably better suited for the Times, anyway, because this way you have more time to appreciate the theme. It's not something meant to be raced through.

Sun 11/2/2014BP STATION
CDSCRABSTIFFEDGING
WOERELOGAMORRAIDER
PLAQUEARTMAUIUNRIPE
OLLADMZSECRETPALATE
SEATSBOSCZITSMUT
TYBALTICANTSEETHINE
ROAMALEROJOYNER
CHRISTIANPAILCOM
UAEHUMIDPERTHCANAL
BUDDMIRABELORNATELY
INTOWPLANETSTOPIC
SCENETWOLETITGOZANE
THATSMYPOIGEENALEE
TAOTHETHREEPAIRS
SHUTINRANATZINC
HENIECLOISTERLEEVES
OMENRATTREXASIAN
PLAYSOFGLORYCEEURSA
FITTEDOONAPERCHPIER
ONEONEVOLTADORELIE
RENTTOSKYENEXUSEND
Mon 11/3/2014
PICTSLAVSLATE
ADAYWAVEAILED
ZINCAMESREARS
COMPASSCOURSE
SHEBAEENMEL
COLBYCOLLEGE
ALLSODASKIMS
LEERDEBARGNAT
ADDEDOREODNA
COLORCOPYING
IWONTHTOGAS
COUNTRYCOUSIN
IONIAELLSCABS
NECKSAIDEKNEE
GREEKHOEDSTEW

Janet Bender, of Somerset, Pa., is one of the old guard of crossword constructors, starting at the Times during the end of the Maleska era (1992), and, if memory serves, appearing in Games magazine before that. I assume she constructs without computer assistance, because her submissions come with hand-printed grids. Until relatively recently, our correspondence was done entirely by U.S. mail; I don't think she had an email address. Her puzzles have a quiet, unflashy solidness that's comforting, especially on a Monday.

Tue 11/4/2014
HALTSHIGHRAP
ALOHAEGRETISA
CAVEDMOONROCKS
KNEWPERUATOMS
BARONPRITHEE
SNIVELRHINO
TOTEMHOUSETOM
APEBLOGGEDIVE
YESRULESEAMES
SATYRTYLERS
IPHONESHEELS
NOENDYOUDDUFF
BIGSTINKSVOCAL
USESTORKANKLE
DELDDAYTESLA

Is this puzzle a little hard for a Tuesday? The test-solvers thought so. But once you catch onto the clever theme, it goes faster. The clues are almost all Joel's. He's become a first-class clue-writer — precise, colorful, imaginative, sly on occasion, and modern without overdoing it. A real pleasure.

Wed 11/5/2014
REELBRERMASTS
ALLEVIATEINUIT
DOWAHDIDDYDIDDY
OPENSHORSEX
NESTCIALIS
OBLADIOBLADA
SSNOATERATOM
IKOIKOSHBOOM
AIRSAERIEPRO
MMMMMMMMMMMM
STIRINORAL
ABCCSAPRIMO
DOODOODOODOODOO
DUNNOINTERSECT
STEAKOTTOEROS

How Gareth Bain, a South African, understands American crosswords — and culture — so well, I will never understand. This is his 12th puzzle published in the Times, with more in the pipeline.

POW Thu 11/6/2014
SKIPOLESOBIWAN
HEDONISTRESALE
INASENSEEERIER
MOSESEMIGRATED
DERNMOPE
PESACHHONOLULU
AVASEBANNINES
REDPARTINGSEA
INAPTYETIBERG
STTHOMASSPARSE
AMANTIER
GUARANTOREGYPT
ORDAINSAOPAULO
ODDONETIREIRON
PUSHERETERNITY
Fri 11/7/2014
ANGSTDEMOBFDA
LEACHEMBARGOES
KUMARSTAKEOUTS
ARMRESTLABREA
LOOSELIMBEDDRY
INNFINELYCORE
SOMALIMOOED
BULLETINBOARD
WIPEDINDENT
EGADTODATECBS
BBCPENALTYSHOT
FURMANLECTURE
OCEANSIDELORNE
OKEYDOKEYINNER
TSKAREASPESOS
Sat 11/8/2014
EARTHRISEBALSA
BIOWEAPONAMATI
BLOOMBERGSOBER
TETPACTRAPT
IRONTAILGAMMA
DOUSECEREALBOX
ENTERSSOLSAMI
COMBNATS
ORSTOOLLAHORE
BATSIGNALXENON
LYRICYSERBEAM
IGERSNOWIDA
QUARKPOOLROOMS
UNMETPERFECTAS
ESSESGREENTAPE
Sun 11/9/2014COLORFUL CHARACTERS
HOLESBLUEJAYBRICK
WAHINEYOTEAMOETHANE
AGASSIFEELBADLEONID
TARTSLAWTEALPANE
TRAILMIXESMILLIHELEN
NEILTOEPEAS
MAGICACETATESTONE
YIPPROMINENTELI
ASPENYELLOWSEAEDGER
ONSTAGEBESETBTWELVE
MOTHERRESELLSRELIEF
IMOSITARSLANAISGNU
NERDFESTBULBSETS
GREENTEAHAPBLACKEYE
LOSSATLASELOI
LIGHTHARMONICABERRY
ALAIFORMLETTERSDIEU
RIBMOTELBASALBEL
VULGARNEONGASLIABLE
AMELIAATPEACEEMBOSS
SONYSTORKMOON

Tom McCoy is a sophomore at Yale, co-captain of the Yale Road Running team, and a 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholar. Two of his five previous puzzles in the Times have been named "Puzzle of the Week" on XWord Info, and this one might make it three out of six. It's definitely a wow.

Mon 11/10/2014
JAVAQUESTSTUB
AVERUNDUETARO
DONTMAKEMELAUGH
ENDAKINUTTER
EVENIDLE
FUHGEDDABOUDIT
ONIONLEISCOG
RIPSTWIXTPITA
AFTGRABHONEY
YOUREKIDDINGME
NIKERANG
STRIPBANDFYI
THATSRIDICULOUS
OOZEINANEURAL
PRESABYSSGENE

The Monday to Thursday puzzles this week were used last Saturday at the 4th annual Arlington Puzzle Festival at the Arlington (Va.) Public Library. During the past 12 months I've supplied unpublished Times puzzles for 12 events like this around the country — mostly for libraries or other nonprofit institutions. Crossword contests are happy affairs, and I'm happy to help.

Tue 11/11/2014
ETCOKAYATHENS
SOOINCAFIASCO
CUPASOUPTRITON
APPLETVBEAK
REELSUPERDUPER
PERCHELIDEERE
AOLANATRAP
SUPPORTGROUPS
TARSVIEKEN
LSDVEGASRAIMI
CHUPACHUPSONAN
ACHTLOUISCK
MAITAIDOUBLEUP
SHTETLESSEALA
GASSEDCHARMAD
Wed 11/12/2014
ADVPSSTSMOHEL
GAIPUTUPABONE
GRANDMERECORDS
INGEANNEEESOS
EIRECORDESERT
STADTSEOULCSA
TADDECIAER
BROKENRECORD
SAOEPICDIN
ETDMOCHATEAMO
RACIERECORDAS
ANALTHEIRULNA
PERECORDAINING
HYENAWILMABEE
SEWEDLOYALSRS
Thu 11/13/2014
WORKCOLORATOP
ALIIHAIKUCARS
SEASATEITCITY
PASSESTEASELS
CREDOBAD
BACARDIAAHEDAT
ATOMSURGEEDU
NORGENERALRON
DNAOXEYESERE
BELTWAYSMACKER
INCSTOMA
MAESTRIHARRIS
CORDIONIAFORD
BLEUNBCTVELIA
CLAPGEESEDESK
Fri 11/14/2014
APPSCIFIJEB
TOOROAMOFFARR
AWLENDPOSTMEA
LEOVIIITACTICS
ERTEALLBYWETS
PESTLOASILO
CAPITALLETTER
MUSICALNOTE
CHESSMOVE
DECADEALERTS
NOTIVISSHAH
EGOPRINCESAVE
GENERALHOSPITAL
RAISEDLETTERING
ORCASERSCESTA

Joe Krozel never makes a "normal" crossword. Everything he does has some unusual constraint, usually something completely new. Here, the constraint consists of curiously related clues for the three Across answers that are stacked in the middle. In addition, two 15-letter Downs run smack through everything. Pretty amazing. One of the puzzle's test solvers, btw, objected to LETTER appearing in both 31A and 55A — but this doesn't break my rule. I don't allow any entire answer to be part of another answer (or appear in a clue, for that matter). But, generally speaking, I have no problem with part of an answer being part of another one. Most solvers don't seem to mind either. I'm more concerned with getting the best quality of fill, even if that means a semi-duplication like this.

POW Sat 11/15/2014
SOTHATSITIBMPC
KNEEPATCHNOOIL
APPLETREEFROZE
TOILSAFFLUENZA
ETDPILEONWAN
SEAGODSTAPS
WHATTHEYALIE
TOOFASTCLOCKED
ARLESBOOHISS
XKESTSELIOT
CHIMUTTONGMC
HONEYBEARMARIO
ERODEEMILEZOLA
ASNERLASTMOVES
TEENSEXTROVERT
Sun 11/16/2014DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB
IONSMABELELHIDROP
OBOESESTEETEAMRAZR
WILLIAMHURTEMPHASIZE
ATTENDEESSCRAPERTIE
NSECRNSJOHNNYROTTEN
TEATMANIAMEME
BRAMSTOKERMLLEALGID
AIRACEELSIEAAHERNO
SCENAAPTNICOLASCAGE
SEWPASTSANDSRHODES
EPICSEPCOTSTOMP
ARDENTBRIANGLEEHAD
GEORGEBURNSPLYLEOVI
TINYDUCATARIBAXTER
SNEESGOBYBOBBYSHORT
ATOZEAREDARTI
GLORIAALLREDDUOPSAT
AECEXPOUNDJUXTAPOSE
FATASAPIGSTEVIENICKS
FRAUCERAEATATDEKES
ENDSARESAISLESODA
Mon 11/17/2014
STRAPENJOYMAT
POACHLOIREOBE
YENTAKOFIANNAN
RISKISTO
PACMANSAUNTER
ASHTONKUTCHER
THIGHIVANSOPS
TECSPLUMEISLE
IRKEARLEPRIAM
MARIOANDRETTI
IMAGERYYESYES
RAGESPEC
VINDIESELEMPTY
IZECRONEPOSER
NETYALTATWINS
Tue 11/18/2014
ANALBLIPSNARK
DALIAEROCOCOA
SUPERSTARRUTTY
ASHASONWAG
LEARNOFCAPABLE
EASELFULLSTEAM
POPNINDOT
POWERCOUPLE
AWELOATIE
HIGHHORSESOCKS
ITSEASYLETSLIP
CSITYPOAGA
KOOKSMUSCLEMAN
IDYLLOREOSULK
MELEEWNETEPIS
Wed 11/19/2014
RAWHOISTWASTE
ALAOCCURIDIOM
MEXTHERESNOTWO
ERECTEMIGRANT
NORAEPHRONERSE
LARAREV
THAIIMPISLES
NONPRESCRIPTION
TITHESEWPESO
ASKFIFE
DUELNOMINATION
OKLAHOMATEMPO
WAYSABOUTITPET
ESSENDROVEERE
LEERSOATERLAD
Thu 11/20/2014
FONTDAPIMCOLD
UTAHOLEMERRIE
DOZENEZBRAZEN
DEICIDEBUTTOUT
UNIBAEZ
SNORKELERSCAIN
NEWSAGENTACME
ERNEOOZEDPIPE
AVEONINESIDED
KERFMINDLESSLY
ZANEART
ANEMONEAVARICE
LIZARDZEEAZOV
ONEARMERGNOPE
TORSOSBOAODES
Fri 11/21/2014
JONESINGAIRBUS
EMOTICONPROUST
REDSAUCEEASTER
KASEMLIPNITRE
IRAQBASALEDNA
NATPASSIONIAM
FAYSNBAGAME
HELENASCALED
OPENERAATRY
WITDESIREESOR
SPECASTIRNAPE
THROETAZMAXES
HARASSLOCAVORE
ANITASINDIANAN
TYPISTCATALYST
Sat 11/22/2014
FOSHIZZLEKNOWS
EXCUSEYOUEOSIN
WARMONGERSUSIE
ELIEDOSGENOME
RIBPATSDRYBOZ
CECEEEROMUTE
RRRREPLACED
FRACASDEIMOS
BREZHNEVSTE
AIDECRANHTTP
REDRIOLOBOAFB
SNIPEDESLTRIO
EDWINDROIDRAZR
ALIKEMIAMIAREA
TYPEEZEPPOMARX

By my count David's grid has 19 proper names out of 72 answers — a higher percentage than I like, honestly — and it's tricky to know exactly how hard to write their clues. Most proper names involve either-you-know-it-or-you-don't trivia. If the clues for SUSIE, ELIE, CECE, EDWIN, RENEE, and VALERIE, for example, reference obscure people, then you probably have to piece them together letter by letter from the crossings. That isn't much fun, especially when you have to do this repeatedly. On the other hand, if their clues all involve well-known people, then the puzzle becomes too easy. I hope I struck a happy balance here. But hitting just the right difficulty level for solvers on a name-heavy puzzle is an almost impossible task.

With that said, David's puzzle is still excellent work. Besides 1A, I like EXCUSE YOU, PATS DRY, BREZHNEV, DROID RAZR, ZEPPO MARX, REDDI-WIP, OSSO BUCO, WIIMOTES, and PFIZER, and other things. And there's very little in the grid that's bad. That's expert puzzle-making.

POW Sun 11/23/2014SURROUND SOUND
ALPODARRENSKIWANE
FOULSEXPIREIRSOLAV
RANDOMMEMORANDUMMIMI
ONTARIOTALEBABEL
GRANITEPOMEGRANATE
MATEYSMORESEAMBAY
USESPONSORRIBCAGE
LUNARBALLOONERSIR
ENTREATYSCAPEESPN
CACTIMATUREMETRO
MICROTCPAPARAZZIRED
LOLLYWHALEROXFAM
KNEEKOALAACOUSTIC
AREPEWTERCOMPUTER
HASKELLDIETARYORE
UMAASIAERIEMOANED
MENTIONSDIMENSIONS
ORDERCHERTWITTER
RILECOLLIEMELANCHOLY
ECONOLESWIVELEMILE
DATAONEHERESYALAS
Mon 11/24/2014
FEESPREEMOUSE
LAXPRIEDCOZEN
AGAROLLINGPINS
ILLFAMETARS
LETRIPBETAOPT
ONTHEDOWNLOW
CMISLIDIDLE
ROFLYESESPIKE
AONEORCAEAT
FLOORMIRRORS
TATAARETOUSLE
OSLOALUMNUS
LAUGHINGGASOCT
AGREEINANEORE
BONESCURDSPER
Tue 11/25/2014
MASTSBADGESOS
ICONSEVIANUNH
CENTERFIELDSHO
ATAMOATASPIC
HITTINGSTREAK
CAINSALTANTE
FITLOAFSUR
FIFTYSIXGAMES
LICSPANERE
ANATEWESSUSS
YANKEECLIPPER
ALTONFIREIMO
WINJOEDIMAGGIO
AZOONTOPROOTS
YEWYEASTMOTET
Wed 11/26/2014
ISLEBSAALTARS
SPITBALLCARNEY
MASHUNITAVAILS
TABITHAADMIT
ADENSHORELEAVE
RANSHYELILEM
FRUITOSIER
PRESENTARMS
SPLATENACT
ABAIORITSLAD
FIRINGLINESETS
GRADSSOFTENS
HEROICWARGAMES
AMANDAANAGRAMS
NETTEDSTSKNOW
Thu 11/27/2014
PLEASESOPPED
OAXACAPRESTO
MUCHASGRACIAS
PERUMERITSIAN
ALESATEOLGA
ROLEBUZZSKEET
ESSMAGIHOARSE
JUDGEJUDY
SPOUSEMAMATSP
POUTSFIBSRHEA
ETTEILLERRS
DOSSCYLLATOAT
MERCIBEAUCOUP
ALBANYGEORGE
CLINGSSLOTHS
Fri 11/28/2014
MAWSTEAMSSET
ADOSHARLEYPRE
JERUSMCROSSRIA
OLDPROHOTLICK
RESINIVANONCE
NOSHESBEGAT
RATETOTNEWSRT
ODECAPECODALL
SMSLOTROISKEE
EILATBARDOT
PSATBINDMYLAR
ASCETICRAMADA
RIOBLACKFRIDAY
KOIABROADELMO
SNLROBOTSESN
POW Sat 11/29/2014
ADMIRESHOGWASH
DEICERSAGREETO
MALAYANGREENER
ILLNESSSEEKERS
TWITSDEANE
SIBSPAARINSO
ITALIMSAVED
THREELETTERWORD
EVEBESTABER
MOPEAROORAGE
DURANERMAS
REDWOODMENIALS
ISAIDNOANSONIA
BLINDERSTORING
SINKSINCORSAGE
Sun 11/30/2014ZAP!
ADDSFOISTCLARAIBMS
BROAMINDEDHORUSMEAL
ANNOUNCERSIRISHBALLA
ROOSAUDIHARSHAGILE
TITLECANITPREK
TSETSECHANGEOFADRESS
WINCECHAROSERETNT
ONTHESHAYSIDEREDSHOE
AGETASSIWINHAWN
MERINOSARSONZLOTYS
FIVEOCLOCKSHAOW
PAROLESUITSOOCYTES
IDOLSORTBRRROPA
LAYDOWNAOPTIONAGENCY
ANAZOICIOTASRAYON
FOLLOWTHELEAERWARMTO
PINSEDITSCANNA
SLAVEWEENYFJORDRNA
LAIESFIRSTELUCIDATES
ULNAINUSELEGALAVICE
RESTNEPALMESSYANKA