Game with a 32-card deck / TUE 4-1-14 / Peak in Greek myth / Opera singer in an opera / Robb Stark's realm in "Game of Thrones," with "the" / Genetic sequence groups

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Constructor: Andrew Reynolds

Relative difficulty: It'll make a fool out of you

THEME: "HEADS OR TAILS" — (37A: Winner of the wager in 17-/56-Across, depending on how you fill the circled squares in this puzzle), with (17A/56A, Common format for a wager) being BEST THREE / OUT OF FIVE

Word of the Day: NOLTE (40A: Nick who was named People's Sexiest man alive in 1992) —
Two sides of the same coin.

• • •

Andy Kravis here, rubbing for Sex. I mean, subbing for Rex. April Fools'!

Did you remember today was April 1st? Will Shortz and Andrew Reynolds sure did. I expected some trickery today, and I was not disappointed. Today's puzzle gives us five circled squares, representing coins, each of which can be filled with either H or T:

Theme answers:
  • GUS(H/T) (3D: Sudden outburst) crossing IS(H/T) (19A: Suffix with cartoon)
  • FIS(H/T) (11D: It may be landed with a hook) crossing BAS(H/T)ES (21A: Clobbers)
  • (H/T)INT (24D: Bit of color) crossing (H/T)UMBLE (24A: Bring down)
  • (H/T)ONES (37D: Improves, in a way) crossing (H/T)(E/A)(A/I)(D/L)S (37A: Winner of the wager in 17-/56-Across, depending on how you fill the circled squares in this puzzle)
  • (H/T)AUNT (46D: Plague) crossing (H/T)OOT (46A: Blast)
Besides HONES and TONESthe HEADS/TAILS entry affects three more down entries: MALT and MELT (32D: Diner menu item)TIT and TAT (33D: Part of retribution, in a phrase); and RILE and RIDE (34D: Antagonize). By my count, that's 8 squares (and 13 clues) that have two possible answers.

Puzzles like these, which can be filled more than one way and still be correct, are commonly referred to as Schrodinger puzzles. Most recently, the January 30, 2014 NYT was also a Schrodinger puzzle, though the quantum element was limited to a single square. And, lest anyone ever let us forget, Will Shortz's favorite crossword puzzle of all time is the famous CLINTON/BOB DOLE Schrodinger puzzle of 1996.

Back to the puzzle at hand. Once you've filled in all five circled squares, at least three will contain either H or T, and that's how you know whether HEADS or TAILS won. In my initial speed solve, TAILS won 3-2, even though I had HEADS at 37A. But since Mr. Happy Pencil doesn't come up in Across Lite unless you've got 5 H's and HEADS at 37A, I think we all know who the real winner is. Which side of the coin won your solve?

This is an extremely impressive construction. 78 words and 40 blocks are reasonable numbers for a Tuesday puzzle. Of course the gimmick would be much better suited for a Thursday puzzle, but it's a fantastic April Fools' puzzle. And the theme is really the star here: the surrounding fill is fairly unremarkable, about on par with or slightly better than with most other Tuesday NYT puzzles. Mostly 3- to 6-letter entries, with the only long non-themers being the unremarkable MOUSE PADS and UNINSURED (the latter with a nice Obamacare reference in the clue). There are a few entries that I think are slightly out-of-place for a Tuesday: CODONS (44D: Genetic sequencing groups); UVEAS (25D: Eye parts -- side note, did you notice the "eye parts" mini-theme running through the grid?); maybe MT. IDA (32A: Peak in Greek myth) is too hard for Tuesday, maybe not. Not a fan of the plurals ROES and ETHELS, nor OST, ERAT, or ENE. Given how difficult this grid was to build, "unremarkable surrounding fill" is a huge accomplishment.

There were a couple of entries that had some noticeably nice, fresh clues (which I suspect came from the relatively young Mr. Reynolds): NORTH (30D: Robb Stark's realm in "Game of Thrones,"with "the") and fun. (57D: Band with the 2012 #1 hit "We Are Young"). Also nice to see ARGO clued as the Best Picture Oscar winner (as it has been more often than not since 2012), though for some reason Argo feels to me like it happened a lot longer ago than "We Are Young."

All in all, one of my favorite early-week NYT puzzles this year. Getting such a challenging puzzle on a Tuesday? ICING on the cake.

Signed, Andy Kravis, (H/T)ipster of CrossWorld


jae 12:27 AM  

Another Tues. that was on the tough side.  Very clever and fun.  Had to correct RILE to RIDE and then put the A in TAT to get HEADS as I went with HONES instead of TONES.  Nice change of pace for the red-haired step-child (@Wade) of the crossword week.  Gotta love a record setting Schrodinger! 

If I knew CODONS I've forgotten it.

Thanks Andy for helping out.

Moly Shu 12:33 AM  

I'll probably be in the minority, but I just didn't like it that much. I appreciate the difficulty in getting the grid to work in different ways, but it fell flat to me. Not even a GofT reference or ARGO could rescue it. Maybe still hung over from yesterday's good vibes. Who knows?

John Child 12:39 AM  

I guess I'm a DNF here, though I'm not sure if it's my stupidity or Magmic's. I got the "either answer" gimmick early and filled in the circles with a rebus, (HT). That's OK as far as it goes, since Magmic accepts the (HT) rebus or H or T in those squares. But, curiously, not (TH).

Magmic also accepts either MALT or MELT and TIT or TAT, but without any cross checking, so I got the happy song with 37A reading (HT)EILS, which is obviously wrong.

George Barany 12:42 AM  

I thought this was a fabulous puzzle by Andrew Reynolds. Enjoyable to solve, but also incredibly difficult to conceive and construct.

Now to shift gears, but still appropriate to the day, allow me to share Stacked Dreck by Martin Ashwood-Smith. Readers of this blog may especially appreciate the two triple stacks, and a triple surprise tucked away in the grid. Once having solved the puzzle, be sure to check out the midrash.

mathguy 12:46 AM  

I had never done a Schrodinger before. What an amazing work! I wouldn't have known it was one without this blog. I would have put it down as a mildly amusing Tuesday.

If my combinatorics haven't failed me, I think that there are 22 correct solutions.

Steve J 1:02 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 1:05 AM  

Andy, you nearly made me spit out my wine with your Nolte "two sides of the same coin" juxtaposition.

I really like a good Schrödinger puzzle (our guest blogger today had a great one for Super Bowl Sunday; his puzzles have universally been fun, in my experience), and this one was really done well. Took me a bit to figure out that the circles were coins, and I did have a moment where I had the central themer as HAALS (clearly so they could be used on the COUGHS at 44A). (And, yes, I know that's not how the cough drops are spelled. But it is how I always want to spell them.)

Had a couple tripups where I misread the clue and briefly had Bucharest in Hungary, and I had an eye rather than a TIT or a TAT. Combine that with CODONS and a Game of Thrones clue, and this was crunchier than normal for a Tuesday. (I suppose GoT doesn't automatically make something more challenging. But, as discussed a few days ago, I have zero interest in the show, which means I now have Harry Potter and GoT that will continually trip me up in the realm of mass cultural phenomena I will only pick up from crosswords.)

Fill was pretty solid, if not especially zippy, considering the theme constraints. But there were some nice bits, like BENDY and UNINSURED. Plus anything referencing MONTY Python gets points in its favor. Very fun Tuesday.

Jisvan 1:09 AM  

@John Child: was waiting for you to come up with the Magmic magic answer, something akin to SIDE PI, but the HT rebi and HTEILS does not give me a happy pencil. : ( Aside from that frustration, I loved this puzzle! Thought it was too easy for Tuesday at first glance, then awed by how complicated it actually was. Good job, Andrew Reynolds!

Jisvan 1:56 AM  

I got it! I had to use every letter in HEADS and TAILS, rebus fashion.
Happy April Fools day, Rexworld!

Anonymous 1:57 AM  

Magimic was clearly confused. I just used Hs in all 5 circles (didn't attempt rebuses) but had a wrong letter elsewhere in the grid, and it still accepted it.

Anonymous 2:00 AM  


I knew the famous one(Clinton/Bob Dole)

The puzzle itself may not have been memorable but the combinatorics after was fun. I agree that of the 32 possible answers, ten were unacceptable, (5 each with 3+ H, answer Tails, and vice versa.)

Since Schrodinger was binary I think this more appropriate:

Unexpected Fractal Result

Anonymous 2:05 AM  

Oh, I meant to say, 22 distinct correct solutions: AWESOME!

chefwen 3:25 AM  

Nick Nolte rented a house next to ours while filming a movie, we spotted him in town a couple of times (second photo) and Jon, solving his own copy said "Nick Nolte was named Sexiest Man Alive" you gotta be kidding me".

Very cute April Fools Puzzle. Had to change my innIE to and OUTIE at 47D and laughed out loud at my goof at 38D, LOo before LOU. Skip to my British bathroom my darling.

Anonymous 3:38 AM  

My biggest problem was accepting that Nolte was voted the sexiest man alive. 'Surely not? Must be someone I don't know!'. But there it was.

April F. 5:16 AM  

I wonder if the constructor is a Fireball subscriber ...

loren muse smith 5:17 AM  

What an idea. I. Loved. It. Minor cool point no one else has mentioned – how serendipitous that BEST THREE OUT OF FIVE divides evenly between words! Andrew, I wonder if your pulse shot up when you counted *that* one out on your fingers! (Ok, I always count letters on my fingers. You may very well use BEADS. . .)

And there seem to be periphery wager stuff: BET, EVEN, NINE.

So here I was being all smart about transitive/intransitive. . .I had no idea you could TUMBLE something. Well, I guess I knew you could TUMBLE rocks – Buy a Rock Tumbler is right up there in between Buy a Goldfish and Buy a Hamster on the parents' list of things really they should avoid but end up learning the hard way.

I really got a kick out of the homophones OUTIE and AUDI crossing. And RANCID crossing SCENTS. I just don't understand some people's perfume choices, and I know some wonder about mine.

EVEN as an adult, when I have nothing else to do waiting for my Patty MELT (one of the most delicious inventions on the planet), BENDY straws never fail to entertain and fascinate me.

UNderINSURED – Last night I caught a little bit of that movie that had everyone so upset recently 'cause they didn't know it - John Q.

I didn't realize it's already April 1st. Heck. And I have no jokes planned. One of my best was when my son was in kindergarten. I packed his lunch every day, and on April Fools Fool's Fools' Day, I put in only a can of refried beans and a raw artichoke but was waiting in the wings with Wendy's take-out. I'll never forget the stunned look on his face, and I'll always be grateful to the teacher – who understood immediately that it was a joke – said, "Gardiner, sweetie, can I get you a can-opener?"

Andrew – this is a puzzle I will always remember. Excellent idea and execution. Bravo!!!

Z 6:18 AM  

Great puzzle, but I'm fixated on the Game of Thrones/Obama combo in today's puzzle. Is this Shortz' attempt to sublimely condition crossword solvers to the future kingship of B.H.O? Inquiring minds ... no, we really don't care. I do wonder if Mr. IHateObamaClues threw down his pencil (or iPad or Computer) in disgust upon reading the clue for 59A.

My Tigers had to overcome four MISDOs yesterday, but the weather was fantastic, our temporary shortstop came through at the bat twice, and Two-Hearted Ale is available at the ball park. I am a happy fan.

Full MONTY COUGHS seem like an uncomfortable way to do the hernia test even if you are UNINSURED.

jberg 6:42 AM  

I fell a victim to my own laziness -- I had rUSH at 3D before I got the theme, and ended wondering idly how rUST fit the clue, but didn't stop to think about it long enough. I had no idea about ARGO anyway, but maybe the GUST/GUSH would have occurred to me if I had given it a chance.

What I learned today: MT IDA isn't from the Bible.

Nice to time UNINSURED with the end of the first Ocare open enrollment.

Early morning for me, so I'm out of here.

Danp 6:50 AM  

Brilliant! And I am thrilled that AR was able to make it a Tuesday-level puzzle. Less experienced solvers should get to see what wonders can be done with a simple lettergrid and the amazing English language.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Is Robb the new Arn?

Mohair Sam 7:57 AM  

Puzzle made an April fool out of me when, within a minute of starting, I said to my wife, "That could be an H or a T, how'd Shortz let that crap get through?"

Like the crowd here we really enjoyed this one. Amazing that Reynolds could construct this grid with Tuesdayish clues. Impressive.

SIRI's back, with a clue that made you want the gimme "Jobs" - neat. Another GofT clue, but at least it was directional hence gettable. Perfect day for the Obamacare clue, btw (appropriate whether you love it or hate it). Liked the clues for KARMA and TOSCA. NOLTE was sexiest man alive? Hell, next year I throw my hat in the ring.

AliasZ 8:06 AM  

This was FUN!

My coin toss winner was HEADS with three T's and two H's. Solution accepted. How can that be? Then I realized the trick. It wasn't a MIXUP, a MISDO or an epic fail, just a HUMBLE TUMBLE. One of the coolest puzzles in a long time.

True, the HEADS/TAILS has been done before, but what hasn't? The strangest coincidence was that the word MISDO also appeared in David J. Kahn's ANDREW (JOHN/JACK)SON Schrödinger puzzle three years ago. How weird is that?

Listen to Angela Gheorghiu from ROMANIA and her (then) husband Roberto Alagna in the final scene of TOSCA. They announced their divorce in Jan. 2013, and in Jan. 2014 a baby girl was born to Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and Roberto Alagna. So much for a period of grieving.

The moral of the story: don't marry a diva.

Happy appreciation day to all you fools out there.

Susan McConnell 8:20 AM  

Loved it, and soooo appreciate the effort that must have gone into this. I was HEADS all the way, but when filling in the answer about the winner idealized it could go either way and was amazed.


chefbea 8:26 AM  

What a great puzzle!!! Had heads and got the theme right away. Loved it!!!

What a great day to have a root canal. Never had one before. Gotta get going.

Kris in ABCA 8:29 AM  

Sometimes as solvers it seems we ride on the coattails of a constructor whose creation, while extraordinarily clever, is utterly joyless. Today's puzzle manages to be both outrageously inventive and a pleasure to solve. A really great puzzle - thanks.

John V 8:30 AM  

Fun stuff! I well remember the DOLE/CLINTON offering. Good job, Andrew. And thanks for the guest blog, Andy.

wordie 8:33 AM  

Absolutely awesome puzzle! I also loved the write-up, thanks, Andy! Got a belly laugh out of the r/subbing bit! Luckily I had finished my tea.

Ludyjynn 8:38 AM  

Thanks, Andy Kravis, for your comprehensive review of Andrew Reynolds' intricate creation. Everyone reading it should be able to see "both sides now" (apologies to Judy Collins), esp. poor Nick Nolte.

Like @Z, I can't wait for Mr. I Hate Obama's rant to appear here today. He must be having a coronary right about now. Hopefully, he's got ins. coverage.

@AliasZ, I think you meant to say, Don't marry a divO, under the circumstances you described!

Happy April Fools Day, all.

joho 8:40 AM  

I have to run but not before I heap tons of praise on this incredible puzzle: I LOVED IT!!!

It's so interesting how both H and T versions work so seamlessly both being a perfect answer to the clue. I especially love how 33D can be either TIT of TAT. Nice touch!

Brilliant, Andrew Reynolds, absolutely brilliant!!!!

Questinia 8:54 AM  

Fun puzzle, fun write-up, sunny and going up to near 60 in NYC.
I hope Spring's not fooling.

Evan 9:06 AM  

Thanks for rubbing for sex, Andy.

This was great. Even if the fill had some minor blotches, the theme more than made up for it. I'm not surprised that Patrick Blindauer had a similar puzzle in 2010 -- Patrick has done several Schrödinger puzzles before. Plus, I'm giving Andrew Reynolds the benefit of the doubt on this: we don't know when he submitted it, Fireball puzzles aren't searchable in the Cruciverb-L database, and you'd have to be pretty specific in your Google searches for the 2010 crossword to turn up (for instance, knowing that constructors call it a Schrödinger puzzle).

@jon and @mathguy:

I feel like I'm wading into dangerous waters challenging people who may be math experts where I am not, but technically, aren't there 64 distinct solutions? Here's what I came up with on this permutations calculator:

Permutations with repetition (n=2, r=5)

List has 32 entries.
{H,H,H,H,H} {H,H,H,H,T} {H,H,H,T,H} {H,H,H,T,T} {H,H,T,H,H} {H,H,T,H,T} {H,H,T,T,H} {H,H,T,T,T} {H,T,H,H,H} {H,T,H,H,T} {H,T,H,T,H} {H,T,H,T,T} {H,T,T,H,H} {H,T,T,H,T} {H,T,T,T,H} {H,T,T,T,T} {T,H,H,H,H} {T,H,H,H,T} {T,H,H,T,H} {T,H,H,T,T} {T,H,T,H,H} {T,H,T,H,T} {T,H,T,T,H} {T,H,T,T,T} {T,T,H,H,H} {T,T,H,H,T} {T,T,H,T,H} {T,T,H,T,T} {T,T,T,H,H} {T,T,T,H,T} {T,T,T,T,H} {T,T,T,T,T}

And you would multiply that by two, since those permutations work for both HEADS and TAILS in the center.

I mean, I guess you could remove the permutations that don't have a 3-2 split to make them BEST THREE OUT OF FIVE....and then you'd get 20 solutions in that above list, and multiplied by two for both HEADS/TAILS there would be 40 sets overall.

Sir Hillary 9:08 AM  

The BESTTHREE/OUTOFFIVE pair and the five H/T squares are good enough, but the HEADS/TAILS juxtaposition puts this one into the realm of the sublime. Best Schrodinger puzzle I have done since Tom Pepper's LINCOLN/KENNEDY stalwart on Gaffney's site last year. And the freshest themed NYT puzzle since I don't know when. I will not even bother mentioning the few minor nits that I have, so pale are they in comparison to this construction.

Brilliant. Period.

OISK 9:12 AM  

Oh, this was great! Never heard of the John Lennon song, and originally spelled "skat" "scat", but he wouldn't have a song called "Instant Carma," would he, so avoided the Natick. Was also "thrown" by Game of Thrones, which I have never watched, and have no idea what it is about. Yet it all worked, saw both solutions, smiled…what a wonderful Tuesday puzzle!! And April Fools as well! (I share the surprise that Nolte could ever have been named "sexiest,")

chefbea 9:13 AM  

Thank you @Evan!!!!

Andrew R 9:15 AM  

Bah! Of course Patrick Blindauer beat me to it. Just like the "Simpsons Did It" episdoe of South Park...oh well, consider it a tribute puzzle to PB's excellent (original) idea!

Thanks for the feedback everyone. Initially I was bummed that Rex was out today, since I thought there was a glimmer of hope I might receive the gladiatorial thumbs up, but Andy's write up was more than I could have asked for (thank you!). The Nick Nolte mug shot was the image in my head when I dropped him name into the grid, so I love the juxtaposition with the People cover.

Until NEXT time!

evil doug 9:35 AM  

It feels somehow wrong to say "thank you!" for a positive critique---as though you're sucking up to stimulate a similar result in the future. "Oh, many thanks, kind and gracious critic, for saluting my humble puzzle with your wise and plentiful accolades...."

I think a more appropriate reaction would be a simple, "I'm glad you enjoyed it," or "I appreciate all of the criticism, pro and con, because I can use that to improve the product."

It was a fine puzzle---well executed, and it didn't suffer the normal flaws that a clever theme ordinarily brings along in the fill. But you don't have to thank me. If your next one sucks, I'll still let you know.


lawprof 9:35 AM  

I got 4 T's and only one H. that technically a DNF?

Otherwise, a delightful Tuesday puzzle, and I'm happy to learn that there's a name for it.

Z 9:40 AM  

I count 32 possible solutions.
IST/H is two.
IST can be paired with BASTES/BASHES as can ISH, for four possible combinations.
Continuing this pattern, 2-4-8-16-32 means there are 32 possible solutions.

Casco Kid 9:44 AM  

@mathguy you are correct 22 correct solutions and 10 more that are logically incorrect but that will be accepted as correct by Magmic and perhaps a few others. That 2^5=32 distinct acceptsble submissions. My kind of answer space! I hit one of them. One of the logical 22 in fact.

40 minutes here, with one google that was bad enough to be called a cheat. I just didn't know MTIDA, so I essentially appealed to a xwdb. All but the center was done in 25 minutes as I selected 2 Ts and 2 Hs. As I came down to the best of five theme clue, I contemplated TeeeS and HachS as the winners. I looked up the spelling of H, which is AICH BTW, and was adrift. I wanted RILE for the down clue. Finally I pressed MTIDA Iinto place, considered HONE/TONE duality, and submitted successfully with TAILS. Then I noticed that HEADS also worked. Since I was 2-2 going into the last clue, it made sense.

In the post mortem, I checked @Amy Reynaldo's blog and then saw all of the plasticity in solution space.

Nice piece of work. I don't mind the Tuesday DNF one bit.

wreck 9:56 AM  

It's "best 3 out of 5" -- so you could have 3, 4, or 5 "H's" or "T's" in the circles and therefore have many more combinations for a correct solve -- or am I thinking wrong?

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

@Evan: I'm sure the math guys will weigh in in detail, but you should re-work your analysis by realizing that you have to start by picking "heads" or "tails" for 3A. That leaves only 4 "Schrodinger" squares, but those squares must be filled in consistently with your choice of "heads" or "tails" (in other words, if you use "heads" for 37A, you can't have more than two of the other "Schrodinger" squares be "T."

C'mon Man 10:10 AM  

@Evil Doug - Since no one did that ( say "thank you!" for a positive critique) your point is, well, pointless. Except that it affords you another opportunity to be gratuitously dickish. No, it really didn't afford you anything, you pulled dickishness out of thin air.

What Andrew did was say "thanks for the feedback".

Pete 10:17 AM  

Once again everyone's missing Schrödinger's point - quantum mechanics is invalid at the macro level - The cat's either dead or alive. There's only one outcome.

Arlene 10:20 AM  

This was one (H/T)otsy puzzle! I love the math discussions too!

Z 10:23 AM  

I don't see how having HEADS then requires at least two other H answers for the solution to be correct (logically or otherwise). It seems to me that you are adding something into the clue for 37A that isn't actually in the clue. Take out "depending" and everything after it and you have a point, but that clause opens up having the "losing" flip as the answer for 37A and still fitting the clue.

@wreck - I think so.

Erwin Schrödinger 10:28 AM  

@Pete - Are you sure?

Milford 10:30 AM  

I never even considered the date while solving, so I totally missed the connection. I DNF ( I think) because I had my center read HEALS, a combo of HEADS and TAILS. After looking at my completed grid I finally got it!

For the record, I also had all my "coins" flip to H, so 5 out of 5. The only HINT of TAILS was choosing RILE instead of RIDE.

Like NITTANY, RANCID, CODONS, HAUNT, and even ETHELS I liked as a plural because the clue was clever and didn't just say "and others" (which I'm sure is necessary in many instances but always feels like a cop out of a clue).

The NOLTE clue was awesome. I think Mel Gibson has also won it. Maybe it's a curse to get that title.

@Z - for a school fundraiser my husband and I worked at a Lions game and were given the choice of working either the Guinness or Atwater beer portable. We picked the Atwater (Dirty Blonde and the Pale Ale), and made sure to conduct frequent quality-control checks on our product.

I think my captcha is my old phone number growing up.

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

Great way to celebrate April 1st!
The heads/tails in the center is the icing on this very yummy cake.
Thanks Andrew for the puzzle and for stopping by.
Funny write up Andy. Well done.

Gotta go rig the kitchen sink sprayer with a rubber band to fool PuzzleMate when he turns on the faucet.

Pete 10:33 AM  

Oh, by the way [sarcasm, attempted joke] I'm so smart I figured out the conceit of the puzzle, chose H for the first three intersections in doubt, filled in HEADS, then left the fourth and fifth theme squares blank because Heads had already won [/sarcasm attempted joke]

quilter1 10:34 AM  

As MT IDA totally eluded me I DNF, but enjoyed every bit of this. Thanks, Andrew, and I hope that's the last April Fool I fall for today.

evil doug 10:40 AM  

Yes, part of what he expressed gratitude for was the "feedback", and you're right---if that means, as I suggested in my post, to be used as a tool to hone his skill.

But what he also said, was, "...I thought there was a glimmer of hope I might receive the gladiatorial thumbs up [from Rex], but Andy's write up was more than I could have asked for (thank you!)."

More what? In that context, it sounds like 'more praise' to me. You don't see those soaring words of enthusiastic 'thanks!' with negative reviews.


Bob Kerfuffle 10:43 AM  

My first look at the grid elicited the thought, "That is the most strongly segmented grid we've had in a while - three distinct sections with only a single link." But given all the constraints that had to go into making this work, I have no complaint.

Marvelous puzzle, and a nice write-up, too.

Only slowed down a bit by the fact that, working off just the ending LE, I initially had 24 A as TOPPLE; easily corrected. And I did stop and think a bit before entering all the double letters of 37 A, T/H A/E I/A L/D S/S.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

I gather I must be IHATEOBAMA clues. But I will agree it is indeed a perfect day for Obama Fools.

The better clue for UNINSURED would have been "30 Million AFTER Obamacare". And you can - in the words of Casey Stengel - "look it up" at that right wing rag aka The Washington Post.

That's a clue I would have appreciated.

Gill I. P. 10:55 AM  

Well I'm off to find the CONE shaped hat, put it on and go sit in a corner.
I had HAILS for 37A. After I finished I thought to myself that this was the dumbest puzzle I've ever done.
Never heard of Schrodinger - his cat or otherwise...
Thank goodness for this blog because I would have just put the puzzle down and grumbled away the day.
Now I see it. Now I get It. Now I love it too.
Ok, now that you've made me a what's his name lover, I could do these every Tuesday or Thursday.
Good job Andrew and @Evil...Pffrt.

Mohair Sam 11:04 AM  

@Anonymous 10:48 - I have family on the extreme left politically who will sit you (or anyone else) down and explain how the Washington Post and the New York Times are indeed right wing rags.

Evan 11:12 AM  

To build from @Z's comment -- I suppose if we're being precise, there are 2^5=32 permutations of the Schrödinger squares, 16 showing HEADS winning, 16 showing TAILS winning. So if you have three H's and two T's, then you must put in HEADS in the center.

But I say, whatever! If I flip five heads, and I say that TAILS won, I'm-a do it. It's April 1, after all.

Two Ponies 11:26 AM  

@ Andy, forgot to thank you for the clip from No Country for Old Men.
Very memorable and chilling scene from one of my favorite films.

Also, I hope we see an end to Game of Thrones clues soon.

wreck 11:27 AM  

@ pete

Actually you are right! In order to to get 5 outcomes, you have to 5 coin flips. If you got the same result each time, the game would be over after 3 coin flips. Therefore, for the puzzle to be correct, you would need to have a mixed result (3 heads - 2 tails) or (3 tails - 2 heads).

pauer 11:32 AM  

Great puzzle, Andrew, even if it did have an air of familiarity for some. Different venue, about 4 years ago, with a very clever and original twist: my TaH is off to you! And a new record for the number of two-way squares in a 15x15 NYT puz, to boot! Bravissimo!

For those who like wacky gimmicks, there's a new puz on my website you might enjoy, and my latest Puzzlefest (Xword University) is for sale there, too. No fooling!

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

You picked the two parts i couldnt parse. CONDON and MTIDA. it would have helped to know skip to my LOU instead of LOo, but oh well. i like AUDI crossing OUTIE

mac 11:36 AM  

Brilliant and exciting puzzle! Super, super aha-moment. Thank you Andrew.

And thank you Andy, for a funny and very good write-up, so thoroughly explaining all the layers of this beauty.

Casco Kid 11:42 AM  

"O! be some other name"

It is not lost on me that the various anonymous posters here are in fact regular members of the forum who -- and get this -- don't want to sully their regular *aliases* with what they know EREPUTATION damaging. What's in a name? Quite a lot, evidently, even if it is just your old CB call sign or AT trail name transformed as an EHANDLE.

R&J Ii.2 Orchard ( not MASCARADEPARTY)

Jul. ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part 45
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes 50
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

For my part, I haven't the craft for two constructed personae.

pburns 11:46 AM  

For those looking for it, the NYT app accepted (HT) in rebus for the individual boxes, and I had 37a reading (HT)(EA)(AI)(DL)S. Only then was the answer accepted. great puzzle though!!

dk 11:48 AM  

🌕🌕🌕🌕 (4 Moons - no foolin)

Just a delight and on a Tuesday no less.

The mini drug theme with HEMP, SCENT, COUGH and MONTY Python… err and NOLTE is also "cute."


C'mon Man 11:52 AM  

@Evil Doug - Rather than your hypothesizing Andy R's intention, one may assume it could simply be the sentence he wrote: That he had hoped to get a thumbs up for Rex, but getting a thumbs up from Andy Kravitz, a well respected constructor, made up for the dissapointment of Rex's not being here.

Masked and Anonymo9Us 12:07 PM  

Sad to see some of the neatest of the 384 possible combos just so automatically dismissed.
Frinstance, my fave 37-Across choice: HAULS.

Interestingly, probably because of the grid layout, I ended up doin the center area last. At that point, my circle H's and circle T's were knotted up, at two apiece. So, HAULS was the tie-breaker. Didn't take long to get the gimmick, after readin the 37-Across clue. Left HAULS in there, anyway. Moves the U-count to double digits, after all...

fave weeject: IS(T/H).
fave fillins: THREE ON HEMP. ERAT, then!

Really clever puz. Learned what O is in SOS. (Scrub Our Skillet). QED FUN.

@Andrew: (T/H)umbsUp, dude.

Lewis 12:28 PM  

Nothing to add. Very clever piece of work, no matter how many possibilities there are! And bringer of not only a good aha, but a wow!

Questinia 12:32 PM  

April Fools has got to have originated for when it was customary for women to prank suitors.
Heads or Tails?

Numinous 12:46 PM  

I went into this mindful of the date (how could I forget? it's my wife's birthday AND the annaversary of a previous marriage) thinking this is going to be F(mess)ed up. I happily went about solving and forgot about my prediiction. I entered a few letters I figured were probably going to be wrong and wound up switching some Ts to aitches and vice versa but didn't TUMBLE to the gimick until I ended by changing HONES to TONES and entering TAILS. After scratching my head some, I decided I liked this one a lot.

Thumbs up, Andrew (is there an echo in here?).

Back in 1971 or so, I worked for a small film company in Minneapolis editing 12 two-minute commercials for Northern States Power Company featuring the yet to be "Sexiest Man Alive." They had limited facilities so I had to work nights to have the use of the editing machine. The young Mr. Nolte used to come in and watch me. I was also an opportunity for him to study his performances. One night, we got to talking and he told me he was all ASEA not knowing who or what he was supposed to be, that he wasn't getting much in the way of direction from the director. I thought about it and since the commercials were mostly Mr. Method talking to the camera about the benefits of nuclear power in various representative settings, I told him he was "Knowledge" personified. He bought it. His performances actually improved after that. He came of as much more assured. Anyhoo, I told the director about that conversation and the director replied, "What does he know? He's just a dumb fucking cowboy from Arizona." What's the tag line here? I don't remember the director's name at all.

AliasZ 1:02 PM  

Did you hear the latest announcement from The New York Times?

- The NYT decided that from now on the order of difficulty will be reversed: Monday will be toughest and Saturday the easiest. Sunday will stay at the current Tuesday level.

- The NYT decided that the words ORR, OTT, ONO, ELO, EMO, ENO, REECHO and MISDO will no longer be allowed in puzzles.

- The NYT decided to double their current payment to constructors for both the daily and Sunday puzzles.

- The NYT decided to abandon the new, better way to play on-line, and the new, better format of the "Wordplay" blog page, and revert back to the old, worse way, to the great pleasure and satisfaction of all premium crossword subscribers and Wordplay commenters.

- The NYT decided to include an "Enlarge grid" link for the Sunday timed puzzle applet, so people are not forced to peek through a 15x15 hole to see only a portion of the 21x21 grid.

- The NYT decided to listen to subscribers' suggestions and immediately address all issues to everyone's satisfaction.

- Will Shortz announced his retirement today, and his decision to hand over the reins to Rex Parker.

Happy April Fools' Day!

efrex 1:04 PM  

I'm gonna grumble just a bit that this was Totally Not A Tuesday puzzle, but just a bit. With that much challenging the construction, I can forgive the gunkier fill, and any reference to BENDY straws (use one in your MALT, but not your MELT) gets a smile out of me. Figured out the theme pretty quickly, and finished in standard Wednesday time.

Well played, Mr. Reynolds!

EdFromHackensack 1:05 PM  

I guess 1992 really WAS a long time ago. I finished 100%, got the theme and was very impressed. Maybe I am missing something obvious, but how is this an April Fools puzzle? Because you can switch the H/T? I dont get it

foxaroni 1:21 PM  

DNF. Didn't realize the "H"(s) and "T"(s) represented coin tosses. Didn't notice the rebuses/rebi. Clueless.

I was a Fool before being a fool was cool!

Penna Resident 1:38 PM  

i only see 12.

1. depending on how you fill it either H or T wins.
2. the winner must be in 37A.
3. there are 5 coins on the board, so it must be 3-2.
4. uniqueness is order dependent.

so it is 2 * 4!/(2*2) = 12.


LaneB 1:46 PM  

Terrific (and a bit harder than standard Tuesday) puzzle for April Fools Day. I struggled with the MALT v. MELT, TIT v. TAT, HONES v. TONES, RIDES v. RILES and. The ultimate HEADS v. TAILS. Great fun to finally see the light and finished feeling good.

JTHurst 1:50 PM  

I wasn't going to comment because everyone did such a wonderful job in explaining the puzzle but then @Pete 10:17 brought up Schrodinger's cat and his confusion on whether it was in the box or not and if so was it dead or alive and the only answer we know for sure is that we don't know for sure. But then I became confused because @questinia started talking about women prangen (the Germanic origin of prank which means to be in full splendor) her suitors and being undecided about heads or tails. Which circles back to Schrodinger's prank leading to chaos or the theory thereof.

Anyway what is with this Mt Ida supposedly in Turkey or Crete? Anybody know of any Turkish women named Ida? I don't think so. We crossword puzzle solvers only know one Ida and she drinks apple cider.

Ludyjynn 1:52 PM  

@Anonymous 10:48 a.m., as your pal, Ronnie Reagan, said, "There you go again." How apt this was aimed at Jimmy Carter debating him on the topic of universal health coverage. See:

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Fred Romagnolo 1:57 PM  

Completely and totally missed the point. Only reading the blogs revealed it to me. My admiration for Reynolds is great. Because I ended up with "heals" in the center, it's a DNF. My first one in a long time. Feel slightly "humbled." But, as Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day.

mathguy 3:17 PM  

Evan: There can only be 32 ways to fill in the five circles. These 32 include 16 with H in square 37, the first letter of the winner of the wager, and 16 with T in square 37. If the wager entailed the two players flipping coins until one player reached three, I agree with you that we should look at the permutations with a 3-2 split. So there are 6 with H in square 37 and 6 with T there. That would make 12 correct solutions. This is what Penna Resident said.

My saying that there are 22 correct solutions is based on five flips having been made regardless of
the running score. For example, five coins could be flipped simultaneously.

Wreck: The key is square 37. H if heads is the winner and T if tails is. So if H is in square 37, I counted the permutations with two, three, or four Hs in the other four circles. Respectively 6, 4, and 1.

mathguy 3:21 PM  

Evan: There can only be 32 ways to fill in the five circles. These 32 include 16 with H in square 37, the first letter of the winner of the wager, and 16 with T in square 37. If the wager entailed the two players flipping coins until one player reached three, I agree with you that we should look at the permutations with a 3-2 split. So there are 6 with H in square 37 and 6 with T there. That would make 12 correct solutions. This is what Penna Resident said.

My saying that there are 22 correct solutions is based on five flips having been made regardless of
the running score. For example, five coins could be flipped simultaneously.

Wreck: The key is square 37. H if heads is the winner and T if tails is. So if H is in square 37, I counted the permutations with two, three, or four Hs in the other four circles. Respectively 6, 4, and 1.

sanfranman59 3:28 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Tue 9:08, 8:32, 1.07, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:49, 5:11, 1.12, 80%, Medium-Challenging

Glimmerglass 3:33 PM  

Greart puzzle. Fine write-up. Great fun for me all around. This kind of puzzle plays into a fantasy of mine that I will one day compete a corner of a puzzle and find when checking the solution (or this blog) that my solution was completely wrong by the lights of the constructor (or WS) -- only to determine on further review that my answer was an alternate correct solution to the given clues. Hasn't happened yet, this puzzle (especially 37 across) shows that it is possible.

wreck 3:57 PM  


Yes! I failed to take into account what 37A limits the outcomes by.

Z 4:19 PM  

"It seems to me that you are adding something into the clue for 37A that isn't actually in the clue. Take out "depending" and everything after it and you have a point, but that clause opens up having the "losing" flip as the answer for 37A and still fitting the clue."

Also, as @mathguy pointed out, some of you are assuming the flips were sequential.

32 correct solutions.

Since I repeated myself, I'm only half over the limit.

Bonus Math Puzzler

Using only the four basic math operators (+, -, *, and /) make the following a true sentence:

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 = 500

(no, you can't use exponents)

M and Also 4:19 PM  

Best that M&A can do, for an April Fools themeless. Sorry...

Runtpuz FAQs:
Q1. Where are all yer previous runtpuzs? A1: In some cloud. Consult "Cloud Atlas".
Q2. Why won't this puz work on my iPad? A2: I'm told they don't work on a tablet. So, take two tablets.
Q3. What does "??" at the end of the clue mean? A3: Trouble brewin.
Q4. Why are U doin this? A4: To make @63 love the NYTPuz more.
Q5. Why the 7x7 size. A5: Cuz any yahoo could make a 6x6 runtpuz. I am a masked yahoo.
Q6. When will you come out in compilation book form? A6: Next time some mutt rains on yer book.
Q7. Why won't U identify yourself? A7: Problems with creditors, mostly. I suspect @muse is a bill collector. She is awful scary persistent. And frisky.


Anonymous 4:35 PM  

@pete, @Resident Penna, @mathguy

I'm largely with mathguy in that since this a crossword puzzle a solution requires filling in the grid. (If I leave blank spaces I have "answers" that don't match their clues.)

This is analogous either to saying a single coin must be flipped 5 times or saying 5 coins are flipped simultaneously. In which case I counted 4-1 and 5-0 outcomes as winners as well as 3-2.

If we insist the "best three out of five" limits our solutions to only 3-2 outcomes then Resident Penna's analysis is half right. There are 12 outcomes that are only determined by the fifth toss, but half of them have the loser winning the fourth toss so there are actually only six consistent solutions.

Sir Hillary 4:39 PM  

@Z - That's a fun math puzzler.

Sfingi 4:53 PM  

Did finish w/o "help." (Thus, it is a Tuesday, to me.) Did like. Did not "win," But am very impressed.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:54 PM  

@M&A - #15 - 9:42, no help, no fooling. Truly a unique grid!

Happy Holiday!

Penna Resident 4:56 PM  

sorry Z, but this is 2 days in a row that you are wrong - though the 5 beers may have been the reason that you didnt read the bold phrase in my ford quote yday.

you are misinterpreting the clue. 37A can be either H or T, depending on how you answer the other circles, but it must be the winner of the game, not the loser.

the puzzle states that the game is best 3 out of 5, which is played by sequential flips (eg, when you are playing 2 out of 3 and the other person gets the first 2, so the game then becomes 3 out of 5).
@mathguy's 22 is right if you toss up 5 coins, so it is a possible answer, but the most reasonable interpretation is that it is 12.

@jon. good point but only half right. we are not counting unique paths of H/T - we are counting unique solutions to the puzzle. the coins are flipped sequentially, but the circles can be filled in any order.

Benko 5:59 PM  

@penna is right. The full answer for 37 across must be the winner. So you can't enter a losing "H" for the circle and still make winning "TAILS" the correct answer, or vice versa. That would spell "HAILS" (or TEADS) which are obviously incorrect answers for 37 across. Since the full entry available depends on the letter entry in the circle, the circle at 37 across must logically be the winner.

tom pepper 6:18 PM  

@Z - How about just using the + sign?
444 + 44 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 500

Carola 6:22 PM  

Super puzzle, very fun to solve. Somehow I ended up with all Ts and TAILS - apparently a hidden consonant preference I was unaware of. Was agog that both HEADS and TAILS fit. Loved the way the coins were unevenly scattered where they fell.

@Kris 8:29 - Totally agree.

loren muse smith 6:25 PM  

@pauer – you are one class act, man.

@M&A – I almost choked on my grape Jolly Rancher when I read "bill collector" – where do you get this stuff?! Har! (I'm forcing myself to finish the raspberry ones and grape ones before I can enjoy the truly good ones: apple, watermelon, and cherry.)

I got the whole right side quickly but the left took a lot longer. The tricky tense of 1D got slowed me way down. Nice job!

Connect Four 6:48 PM  

444 + 44 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 500


4 x 4 + 444 + 44 - 4 = 500


4 x 4 x 4 + 444 - 4 - 4 = 500

Anonymous 6:51 PM  

Nothing major to add that hasn't been said or at least hinted at, but the 'prove you're not a robot' box is offering me the opportunity to type in

werldfu idle

and I just can't pass that up.

Z 6:54 PM  

@Benko and @penna - Do you remember drawing a cube with two squares and four lines connecting the corners? Do you remember looking at that cube and thinking it was sitting one direction, but then you'd blink your eyes and all of a sudden it would be going the other direction? Do you remember that?

@tom pepper - You weren't supposed to give it away. And here I thought adding the exponent comment would get people off on the wrong track for ages.

Now I'm at 4.5 comments. I'll be sure to cut my posts in half tomorrow.

Evan 7:00 PM  


I see now. For some reason I had it in my head that there were five Schrödinger squares outside of 37-Across -- including that one as one of the five limits the number of possibilities.

Anonymous 7:27 PM  

@Mohair "I have family on the extreme left politically…" Exactly. They are so extreme left, even the NYTimes is to their right. Few outside of Moscow, Havana, Beijing and Academia can say the same.

JFC 7:57 PM  

@Evil Doug, having exchanged a number of emails with Andrew over the past year on puzzles and constructing puzzles, I can assure you that he is what he appears: hard-working, honest, sincere and just a regular good guy. He’s in your neck of the woods and you two might actually enjoy each other. Not everyone has an agenda or a hidden motive, though I sense from your writings you might find that hard to believe. Andrew is amazing at constructing puzzles and in this puzzle showed an awesome cleverness.


Anonymous 8:12 PM  

@Resident Penna

I'll try once more, not from pride or contentiousness, but perhaps from pedantry.

The problem as I see it is that we are at the messy juncture of colloquial English and precise mathematical modelling.

In my first analysis (which I still prefer), I (and others) determined there were 32 permutations of this puzzle, based on the assumption that the H/T choices corresponded to Heads/Tails outcome of coin tosses. (Perfectly justified and ruling out 37A answers like HAILS or TEALS, which would have fit the down clues but not made any sense for 37A.) In that scenario we imagined 5 coin tosses, counting a "win" as any outcome with three or more of the two possibilities. We noted there were ten permutations of the puzzle in which 37A contradicted the rest of the grid.

So far so good, but it was pointed out the BEST THREE OUT OF FIVE seemed to exclude the 4-1 and 5-0 outcomes, so our first model could only be described as "best of five".

Okay so that limits our outcomes to 3-2 wins. Your model was to take five coin tosses and declare a "win" if exactly three coins agreed.

This is a perfectly good mathematical model and yes in this case there are 12 possible combinations.

My problem here is this doesn't seem at all like "a common format for a wager".

So imaging how someone might flip five coins to decide a wager I drew the analogy of a "best of five" sports playoff and assumed the only outcomes of interest for this puzzle were ones that took 5 games to decide. A true "BEST THREE OF FIVE". So yes I assumed the sequence matters.

I would say that each of us are choosing a (not necessarily justified) assumption and taking it to the logical end.

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

P.S. @mathguy, thank you for answering Evan, as a math tutor I was feeling bad that no one (i.e. me) had answered his question.

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

Really clever and fun. One of my all-time favorites. Andrew must be a very smart guy.

RnRGhost57 10:22 PM  

Thank you Andrew. A clever diversion on a cold, rainy Fool's Day.

Steve Kowarsky 10:54 PM  

Great explanation, Rex. I thought it was not just the best Tuesday of the year, but one of the best of the year period, maybe one of the best of any year.

Benko 11:31 PM  

@z: If you can explain how one answer can contain a "T" in it and still spell out "HEADS", I'd love to hear it. Because that was my point.

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

Very clever. Brilliant. I didn't finish but I so enjoyed reading the blog on it.

ahimsa 1:09 AM  

Late comment, and no time to read all the other comments, but I wanted to post to say how much I loved it!

I figured out the Schrödinger nature of the circles early. Then I was pleasantly pleased to find that both HEADS and TAILS worked in the center.

Kudos to Andrew Reynolds!

And many thanks to Andy Kravis for the guest blogging.

Penna Resident 1:42 AM  

@jon i think you only succeeded in pendantry, but to raise your pendantry by one, here is a last post.

you said that you are assuming that your model was like the sports series, which is the correct interpretation of the game referenced in the puzzle. however your model doesnt match that game. i was also assuming that this was like the traditional "colloquial english" best 3 out of 5, which is where i got 12.

the model is that there were 5 sequential flips, but what i think you missed is that the order of the physical location of the coins on the board doesnt matter. in other words, i could have flipped 46 or 24 first...

i am not a math tutor, but i do have a graduate degree in probability theory. we dont often get to talk about math and logic here.

sanfranman59 1:49 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:04, 6:12, 0.98, 38%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:09, 8:32, 1.07, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:02, 3:58, 1.02, 56%, Medium
Tue 5:39, 5:11, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging

evil doug 3:46 AM  


"I can assure you that [Andrew] is what he appears: hard-working, honest, sincere and just a regular good guy."

And, of course, I never suggested that he wasn't any of those things. I offer plenty of 'dickishness' for you to counter; you don't have to extend comments I never said nor implied.

If anything, he's *too* 'good a guy'---overly polite?---if he feels obliged to thank a critic. Nor, I hasten to add, should a constructor condemn a critic for negative reviews. Once the author creates, submits, sells and has published a puzzle, he/she should simply take in the feedback and apply/ignore for future reference as applicable. While it happened to be Andrew's puzzle that led me to comment, my thoughts were aimed at many others who regularly do the same.

"Andrew is amazing at constructing puzzles and in this puzzle showed an awesome cleverness."

And, again, you seem to ignore that I praised the puzzle. Unlike some of my colleagues here---who find it necessary to rejoice over any grid---that doesn't happen every day. I hope that reinforces Andrew to stay the path; no thanks necessary---you know me, I'm happy to help....


RickA 1:07 PM  

The "how many correct solutions" discussion overlooks the possibility of a "rebus" answer in the "Schrodinger" squares. My assumption is that when the puzzle grid is initially blank, each of the five Schrodinger squares starts out as the rebus "H/T." I also assumed that the game proceeds one coin at a time (I understand the "flip all 5 at once" approach, but that is not how the game is really played, and the puzzle is more fun when understood as a real game that is played each time the grid is completed). This means, for example, that if the first three coins all come up "H" or all come up "T," the remaining coins will not be flipped, and will remain as "H/T" rebuses. The final assumption is that the coins can be flipped in any order, provided that the 37A across coin is flipped before the game ends.
On these assumptions, if 37A is "Heads," then the 4 remaining Schrodinger squares must include exactly 2 "H" squares, with the other squares being either "T" or the "H/T" rebus. There are three possibilities (1) H, H, H/T, H/T; (2) H, H, T, H/T; or (3) H, H, T, T. However, within each group, the coins can be distributed in any order among the four Schrodinger squares (again, on the assumption the coins could be flipped in any order). There are 6 possibilities for group (1) ["4 choose 2"], 12 possibilities for group (2) ["4 choose 2"] multiplied by ["2 choose 1"], and 6 possibilities for group (3) [again, "4 choose 2"], for a total of 24 possible correct grids with 37A being "Heads." The analysis for 37A being "Tails" is identical, so there are a total of 48 possible correct grids.

ahimsa 2:37 PM  

I thought saying "thank you" was a fairly common response to a compliment? Standard etiquette, even? I guess I'm getting old because I can't figure out how saying thank you is a bad thing.

Sure, it may not be necessary to post a thank you message. Or any message at all. (Is anything posted on this blog strictly "necessary"?) Different strokes and all that.

But a simple thank you message does not seem out of line. After all, it's not like the online world suffers from an excess of polite behavior. :-)

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

Well said.

Tita 8:59 PM  

Way late here. Loved this puzzle - thank you so much Mr, Reynolds.

@lms - I too was infatuated (still am) with BENDY straws. Thought I was the luckiest kid alive if I could snag one.

Nancy 10:00 PM  

Finished the puzzle with mostly Ts and TAILS. Thought each answer I wrote down was THE answer. Like Fred, I missed the whole point of the puzzle. (Were we the only people who did?) So clever, so hard to construct. I apologize for overlooking A.R.'s genius.

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spacecraft 11:55 AM  

W-O-W! Not since that kid genius built that dice cube, with O's for pips, have I been so blown away. Andrew, to paraphrase two Jacks in one movie:

"You...are my number one...guy."

Ya had me at NITTANY; my son (whose name, BTW, is Andrew!) went to Penn State. I did find this grid unwieldy, with but one door each from the NE/SW corridor into the NW and SE quadrants. A small price.

First of all, as a syndilander the 4/1 date meant nothing to me; now it's the day after Cinco de Mayo. So as I sailed across that NE/SW hallway, I solved 37d as HONES, but later had to "correct" to TONES when I determined that 37a "had to be" TAILS. Then in the west I had TINT and TUMBLE--and thought: well that's cute; that could just as easily be HINT and HUMBLE, the way the clues are written. And then: wait a sec. NONES/TONES? But HAILS didn't make...Oh, Em, Gee! You can change them all! W-O-W!

I assume the Schrodinger reference appearing here is to the famed "cat" experiment, in which the act of observation alters the outcome. Not sure that this puzzle is a great example of that, but anyway, it is ultra-cool. I did like my original crossing of TIT/TAILS, that MOTIF continued in the SE with the image of Dolly in NINE to FIVE.

Until NEXT time? Andy, my man, let's hope that time is soon.

Little boat, 3's over 2's.

spacecraft 11:58 AM  

Note to self: proofread your blog, dummy. That should be "HONES/TONES," of course.

DMG 2:12 PM  

What fun! Didn't get the H/T thing until I, belatedly, got to 37A, which appeared, in my solution to be HAILS, which made no sense, given the clue.. So, I went back to,the circled squares, got the idea and changed enough of them to make TAILS the winner. Sadly, didn't work out the HEADS solution.

Enjoyed the comments from the math guys. Understood enough to enjoy the brain exercise, but not enough to add anything to the conversation. Been a long time since I played with that kind of fun math.

Hand not worth mentioning!

Solving in Seattle 3:37 PM  

I finished the puzzle and had HEAlS in 37A. Figured that couldn't be right. Then I noticed that my five circled letters were either an "H" or a "T." I had three Hs and two Ts. Light bulb - heads and tails. I changed RILE to RIDE and "viola," HEADS. So I got one of the two puzzles correct. Didn't see the other permutations until I came here to math class.

Thanks, Andrew for one of the cleverest puzzles in quite a while. Also, good work coming out of the bullpen, Andy. (Trust that wasn't too effusive, ED.)

Two pair. Fold.

Dirigonzo 5:20 PM  

I had TAILS as the winner and was thinking how cool it would be if it could be HEADS, too, when the light belatedly came on. Clever beyond words - loved it!

Nines full of eights might carry the day it seems?

rain forest 5:47 PM  

Hard to add to what has already been said, so let me say it. This was truly Schroedinger at his best, in my case.

The April 1st thing obviously doesn't apply to we syndi-peeps, so no joy there. So, I did the puzzle, placing H in all the circles (only at H/TUMBLE did I blink an eye, not even noticing that either worked), and then had to deal with 37A. Heals, Heils, Hails, Haals--what the'? HEADS finally came to me, and I thought "OK, it's heads or tails", but it did not *ever* occur to me that I could have entered T in the other "themers", and gotten Tails for 37A.

Ergo, I have a "correct" solution, or do I? Only Schroedinger knows, or maybe his cat.

two pair: 3's and 2's. Or is it 2's and 3's? Doesn't matter.

strayling 7:26 PM  

That was beautiful. AMBI-faceted even, now that I see 1d may have been a hint.

My first pass through had two tees and three aitches, then I looked again and ended up with the reverse, which also worked.

A hip of the tat to you, Mr. Reynolds!

Anonymous 1:45 AM  

as we didn't get this in our paper until May 6th, the whole April Fool thing is meaningless. this puzzle arriving on a Tuesday in May just seems stupid.

Ben Silver 2:29 PM  

I believe there are 2^5 = 32 correct solutions!

Ben Silver 2:31 PM  

Ah never mind 😁

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