NYT Crossword for Sunday, February 12, 2023 by Christina Iverson and Samuel A. Donaldson - Cheap Thrills

Will Shortz notes:

Christina Iverson, of Ames, Iowa, is an assistant crossword editor for The New York Times. Sam Donaldson is a law professor at Georgia State University. They met at last year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and started brainstorming theme ideas.

This one started as a Thursday puzzle and grew into a Sunday when they had too many ideas to fit into a 15 x 15-square grid.

Christina Iverson and Samuel A. Donaldson notes:

CHRISTINA: Sam and I met at ACPT in April of 2022. We quickly discovered we have complementary constructing styles — we both enjoy developing themes, but I prefer laying out a grid, and Sam enjoys writing clues. We played with several other corner-related themes before landing on CUTTING CORNERS as our seed entry. This felt like a puzzle where the Gods of Crucinova were working in our favor, with these four money-related idioms all fitting symmetrically in the grid, with just enough room surrounding them to squeeze in the visual elements. I've always been drawn to rebus-style puzzles like this, and this concept was inspired in part by two Alex Eaton-Salners puzzles, Bird Play and Playing With Food.

Jeff Chen notes:

Fun to get more cheap thrills after we had a CHEAP THRILL two days ago. Like all good Asians, I love little more than getting a great deal. One of my most memorable days of 2022 was when I purchased a broken Cuisinart at a yard sale for four bucks and fixed it. My friends quickly got tired of hearing the legend of the $150 food processor — forget about PINCHING PENNIES and focus on squeezing some Jacksons!

And like all good cruciverbalists, I love me some wordplay. MAKING ENDS MEET hauled ass, four synonyms for "ends" meeting in the middle of the puzzle. So well-hidden in INCAN, ASSET, BUTTE, and ALBUM, too.

Second play on BUCK this week! STRETCHING A BUCK gave us doubled SSIINNGGLLEE, along the same lines as Christina's previous literalisms puzzle, but it didn't work as well this time. Maybe it was the required mental leap from BUCK to SINGLE? This doubling stretched plausibility.

I wasn't hot on BI(CENT)ENNIAL (CENT)ER, because it was so hard to change mindsets and allow the possibility of not just a single rebus square, but a pair of them. CENT isn't easy to imagine in there, either — this geography dummy ARAL as a US time zone and didn't look back. Especially with the BICENTENNIAL CENTER being outdated, I'd have preferred something easier to spot, like A (PENNY) SAVED IS A (PENNY) EARNED.

I enjoyed Christina's last take on literal interpretations more than this one, but it's hard to resist the allure of an Iverson / Donaldson collab; two of my favorite crossworld people. Fun vibe with such fun clues like a PIRATE SHIP being an antagonist on the main and dancers having a ball at a DISCO.

Jim Horne notes:

This is the ninth puzzle in our non-rectangular grids list.

* This article was originally published here


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