NYT Crossword for Monday, December 12, 2022 by Anthony J. Caruso and Zhouqin Burnikel
TONY: It's always a treat to work with my x-word mentor, C.C. She can grid like nobody's business. C.C. probably remembers better, but this started as Play Fetch, and we went a few tries with her honing the grid and me playing with the cluing.
C.C: I enjoy brainstorming with Tony. He has many fun ideas and is quick and creative with theme entry selections. We settled down on a conservative grid, with no fill longer than the shortest theme entry. Probably unnecessary since we have * in the clue entries.Jeff Chen notes:
There's discussion of getting a dog in our household, which usually gets shut down when I say that whatever poop the kids don't pick up will magically GO FETCHed to their bedsides. Appropriate that MESS and KISMET made appearances in the grid.
Such a great clue to freshen up MESS! We don't have Spaghetti Sunday since our kids won't touch anything blighted by even a molecule of red sauce (insert dramatic snubbing-face here), but I can only imagine the cleanup.
Nice work in disguising the FETCHed items. BALL is difficult to deballify, but BALL OF FIRE is much more obfuscating than SOCCER BALL or the like. It's a great phrase, too. STICK TO IT is particularly well camouflaged since the noun STICK changes into a verb. I also appreciated that newsPAPER wasn't immediately apparent, hidden by a subtle PAPER TRAIL.
I loved that BEAGLES crossed GO FETCH. This wouldn't typically be possible with a standard all-horizontal-themers layout. It's such a great bonus; excellent reason to use the "windmill" pattern.
No symmetrical partner for BEAGLES, though? A quick perusal of dog breeds turned up SHIH TZU. That Z might have created some SNAFUS, however, and SNAFUS is a great bonus entry. Hardly a FAULT in the gridwork.
I told a friend that Will Shortz isn't taking many "hidden words" puzzles these days, but he is still interested in "how are these words related?" concepts. This is a simple example of that genre, but it's effective.
* This article was originally published here
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