Dutch requirements / SUN 9-6-20 / Weepy Patti Page hit / Author born Truman Streckfus Persons / Laundry soap since 1908 / Churchill's signature gesture / Some 1990s Toyotas / Jazz composer with Egyptian inspired name

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Constructor: David Kwong

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (9:16)

THEME: "Could You Repeat That Number?" — All double-numbered Acrosses (e.g. 11A, 22A, 33A, etc.) require you to mentally supply "Double" at the front of the clue, and the one triple-numbered Across (111A) requires you to mentally supply "Triple":

Theme answers:
  • ROPES (11A: Dutch requirements) (Double dutch)
  • RBI (22A: Result, maybe, in brief) (Double result) (!?!? phrasing ?!?!)
  • "YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE" (33A: 07 film) ("Double" 07)
  • VEE (44A: U preceder) (double "U" i.e. "W")
  • LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY (55A: Day competitor) (Doubleday)
  • ONO (66A: "Fantasy" Grammy winner) ("Double Fantasy")
  • TINKER TO EVERS TO CHANCE (77A: Play combo of old) (double play)
  • LIE (88A: Dealers do this) (double-dealers)
  • INTERCONTINENTAL (99A: Tree alternative) (Doubletree)
  • RTE (!!??) (111A: A suggestion) (Triple A, i.e. AAA) (and who doesn't love trick clues on three-letter crosswordese!?) 
Word of the Day: KAREN O (80D: Lead singer of rock's Yeah Yeah Yeahs (who uses just the initial of her last name)) —
Karen Lee Orzolek (born November 22, 1978), known professionally as Karen O, is a South Korean-born American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. She is the lead vocalist for American rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs. [...] O and Spike Jonze collaborated on a 2005 Adidas commercial, Hello Tomorrow, after Jonze had directed the video for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 2004 single "Y Control". O composed all songs on the soundtrack of Jonze's film Where the Wild Things Are (with the exception of a cover of the Daniel Johnston song "Worried Shoes") in collaboration with Carter Burwell. She is listed on the soundtrack as "Karen O and the Kids". The song "All Is Love", written by O and Nick Zinner and included in this soundtrack, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, a songwriter's award, at the 2010 Grammy Awards. //  O also contributed "The Moon Song" to Jonze's 2013 film Her. O and Jonze were nominated in 2014 for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "The Moon Song". (wikipedia)
• • •

A Sunday with just four themers? That is what I assumed. I finished this puzzle with (almost) no idea what was going on. I got the "Double" thing, but only for the longer Acrosses (you know, the ones that looked like themers). I did not see that all those longer answers had double numbers for their clues until well after I'd finished, and I didn't see that the double-number thing applied to Every double-numbered Across clue in the grid until I asked on Twitter how in the hell [Dealers do this] equals LIE. So many issues with this theme, but let's start with the fact that you really only have four (traditional, longer) theme answers and yet ... with a Sunday-sized grid, you expect ... more. And if not more by volume, well then you expect much more interesting things to be happening in the shorter fill. With just four (apparent) themers, I expect the grid to *sing*, and this one just sort of sat there. Not bad, but again, your theme is barely there, real estate-wise, so why isn't there more, and more interesting, stuff going on? 

I also found the theme kind of muddled, in that it tries to do two things, when the title is really only referring to the *one* thing, which is the structural (clue-number) thing, which lots of people aren't going to notice (I mean, I didn't notice it at first, and didn't grasp the big idea of the theme without help, so ... if I'm alone, I'm alone, but that seems unlikely). Instead, people are going to wonder why the title is "Could You Repeat That Number?" when the theme *answers* have nothing to do with repeating a *number* — well, that first long one (double 07) kinda does, but then the rest do not, so ... yeah, it's baffling. I was baffled for something like 5-10 minutes after I finished, wondering what the hell "number" had to do with anything. And then I wondered "why are there only four themers? And then, just for visual reference for myself, I circled the (apparent) themer clues—and bam: 33, 55, 77, 99. All "double" numbers. Later (thanks, Eric Berlin), I learned that lots of short double-numbered Acrosses followed this same pattern. I'm sure this is a very impressive feat of construction, but as usual, feats like this often don't register with people, and even if/when they (eventually) do, they don't add in any way to a solver's actual solving enjoyment. So I guess we're supposed to clap for the feat, but as usual, I don't feel much like clapping for something that didn't make the solve better. The themers, as a set, seem fine, though if you don't know (old) baseball, then woe unto you I guess with TINKER TO EVERS TO CHANCE. And if you don't know hotels, then woe unto you as well. Woe unto me, actually. If I had to name a hundred hotel names, I would never have come up with INTERCONTINENTAL. First I'm hearing of it. 

Today I learned that EULER was from the 18th century!??! (118A: "Elements of Algebra" author, 1770). LOL, I learned his name from crosswords, but in my head he was a much, much more recent figure. Like, 20th-century recent. Wow. The only things I really grooved on in this puzzle (besides the baseball themer) was KAREN O and TOM FORD (6D: American fashion designer who once served as the creative director of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent). Those seem pretty original. I remember putting KAREN O in a puzzle I made ... I forget where / for whom ... like a decade ago. She's kind of an irresistible 6-letter answer, with that terminal "O." I don't really know who TOM FORD is, but his name burrowed into my brain somehow, thank god. Struggled some with DWELT, COPTO, and "I CRIED," and obviously I struggled with the short "themers," which I just wrote off as "strange clues I don't really get" (except for the clue on VEE, which, as written, without the "Double" in front of it, is demonstrably wrong) (44A: "U" preceder). But mostly I found the fill, as I said up front, kind of listless. P.E. RATIO is never, ever gonna light my fire (13D: Equity valuation stat), and that's one of the more *lively* non-theme answers in the grid. Having to have a puzzle's theme (partially) explained to me is never a great feeling, and after having it explained, yes, I'm mad at myself I didn't see it, but seeing it isn't making me like it any more. So I'll grant you that some of the problem lies with me, but I wonder if the lack of clarity isn't something other solves will feel (and not particularly appreciate) as well. We'll see. Enjoy your day. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:02 AM  

Shouldn’t the clue for 111A (RTE) have an abbreviation? (This was the first thing that I questioned – instinctively. Which goes a long way in illustrating the plight of being me. *sigh* 🙄)

I’m not crazy about the title. The “Number” part is what kept me from grokking the theme to the point where I had to look it up on Wordplay.

Never would I have been able to figure out that the word “double” said (and definitely said, not written) before the clue is what got you to the correct entry. Never. Or maybe the day after that.

Some of the things that would happen before I got the theme:
blue moon
flying pigs
trump pearls of wisdom
simultaneous sightings of Sasquatch, Chupacabra, and Nessie
@Lewis hates a puzzle

Furthermore, I was going to ask how VEE (44A) is a “U preceder”, until I realized it was a double U. Just now. I saw it just this minute.
(And BTW, VEE and VSIGN in the same grid? Tsk!)

Now, I’ve gotta search for more… Aha! 88A LIE (double) “dealers do this”

Which brings me back to 111A (RTE) again – is this supposed to be another “double” clue?? Double A doesn’t work, but if you put two letter As before the “A” of the clue, you get AAA - Triple A - and then RTE makes sense. Seems kinda sloppy if that’s the intention, but whatevs.

As for the regular ol’ fill, it’s depressing and more than a little embarrassing to admit that I had some difficulty with it as well. 😒. But, most of the misdirects were fun and enjoyable to suss out. Not a lot of ick.

Some nits:

68A ASIS Seems more like a bargain basement or yard sale caveat than “The way things are currently going…”

I didn’t count the number of clues/entries that were sports-related but it seemed like enough to warrant calling it a second (mini) theme.

And not the puzzles fault, but do I ever hate the Captain Judge J. McJudgy-Pants term SINTAX. Especially when you consider the passel of blockheaded hypocritical ne’er-do-wells who enact such laws. Thppp! 😝

Overall, I very much enjoyed this one…solving as a themeless, that is.


Joe Dipinto 12:03 AM  

Triple A at 111a

Joaquin 12:03 AM  

It was nice to have a puzzle that was more challenging than the fill-in-the-blanks fare we often get on Sunday. But the theme! Holy smokes! Since when is sussing out the theme supposed to be the biggest challenge? The theme was hidden as well as a tiger in one of Mr. Kwong’s magic shows.

Melrose 12:05 AM  

Finished it without having a clue as to what was going on. Ridiculous theme.

km3t 12:06 AM  

Yeah, not a fan. At all. I don't like criticizing when I admit I can't construct a puzzle myself but this was unenjoyable.
I also admit I didnt get the theme so just solved it via brute force (crosses). It's clever, I can appreciate it. But my dislike is primarily the themers. Because even knowing the trick wouldn't have helped at all with 2 of the supposedly "marquee" answers. TINKER TO.... what? I mean who younger than 80 has heard (or cares) about this? A quick check of Wikipedia shows the "In Popular Culture" references for this 1920's poem are all in the 50's 60's and 70's. Seriously?
Add to that the relative obscurity of both Little Brown and Doubleday.... yeesh. What a slog.

This is a cute idea which, in retrospect, should have been sent back to the drawing board for better fill.

Frantic Sloth 12:10 AM  

Good grief! I should have read Rex first! The double numbered clues! ARGH!! So, I missed a few of these as well as the significance of “Number” in the title.

I should realize by now that the hissier I get about something, the more likely I am going to be proven excruciatingly, blatantly, and thoroughly wrong.

Now even the village doesn’t want me back. 😒

Harryp 12:15 AM  

This Theme was too convoluted for me to figure out, so I checked up on what Mr. Kwong had to say about it. Only then did I see Double- 33A AGENT, 55A DAY, 77A PLAY, 99A TREE. I am wondering if 88A DOUBLE- DEAL could also mean LIE. We also got the ubiquitous car model at 5D. I liked Price Earnings RATIO at 13D. Rinso soap detergent has been around since 1908, and is still sold by Unilever Co. in Dollar Stores.

ScottK 12:21 AM  

I think Rex missed that 111A is also a themer, but you have to add “triple” to he clue.

ScottK 12:23 AM  

111 is also a themer. You have to use triple instead of double.

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

you are a thief of joy. it seems like you hate every nyt puzzle you do

ghkozen 12:52 AM  

These Tinker, Evers, and Chance characters appear to have played together 110 years ago. So... that’s completely ridiculous. Are Newsy Lalonde and Cy Denneny acceptable clues now too?? (they’re contemporary hockey stars) Good riddance.

Unknown 12:59 AM  

You left the final themer off: 111-Across ("A suggestion") produces RTE because the clue is really "Triple A suggestion."

KenInBoston 1:06 AM  

111A "A suggestion" needs to be preceded by (Triple), ie 111 is a triple-digit number. So the clue reads "Triple-A suggestion". An outlier, but, I guess consistent.

Anonymous 1:13 AM  

Under ten minutes? I don’t think that I could fill in all the squares in that amount of time if I just chose letters at random. My hat is off to you.
As for me? One mistake. Ono, I had Eno. Never checked the clue for 56 down. Bleat seemed a proper word.

egsforbreakfast 1:28 AM  

1. I give the theme and concept an A. I love involving the square numbers with the answers.
2. The execution was a C+. I got the theme very early, and it was kinda boring thereafter. Oddly, my favorite was 44A (U preceder), which seemed like a no-brainer as tEE until you got the theme.

The work to pull this off was undoubtedly mind boggling. But what would have made it a classic would be to have each double number be the start of both an across and a down. Probably beyond the ability of human constructing.

Al-in-all a great puzzle, for which I thank you Mr. Kwong.

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

Woof, what a rough puzzle.

Terrible Natick at 72D/77A/83A because if you don't know old baseball, painters, or a golfer (who hasn't been relevant for decades) I guess you're SOL.

Can't believe that got through editing and made for a miserable solve.

jae 2:13 AM  

Easy. I thought this was just OK until I read Xwordinfo and realized I’d missed half the theme answers. Like @Rex, the other half were “strange clues I don’t really get”.

Very clever and post-hoc enjoyable even though I needed help with the ahaness, liked it.

Ando 2:15 AM  

Oh haha, I just came here to ask in what world "U preceder" is VEE, which added like 7 mins on my time as I went through every answer in the puzzle trying to find the error. Now I get it.

Ando 2:25 AM  

Thanks to this blog for explaining the theme, I thought it only included the four long answers. I really like the cleverness. One themer is missing though, 111-across, "A suggestion" (RTE) is actually "(Triple)A suggestion".

chefwen 3:39 AM  

Got all my little squares filled in correctly, figured out all the long ones, no problem. Double tree, double play, etc. the short ones totally escaped me, as Rex predicted.

Not in my top favorites.

ZenMonkey 4:49 AM  

@Ando, I was positive that I was going to learn there’d been a typo. Somehow I just rationalized all the “weird” theme clues and was also perplexed at only four theme answers. I do enjoy feats of construction even if the solving is awkward, though. I'm impressed, and that’s fun.

Lewis 5:45 AM  

Hah! And OMG! This was SO inventive and ably executed.

• Creating a grid where the double (and triple) numbers all fell in the right places. Do you know how hard that is to do?
• Have the manipulation happen not to the theme answers, but to the clues!
• Coming up with theme clues that actually worked. Try coming up with more and I think you’ll see it is not easy. The one for VEE was especially devilish.
• Make the grid solvable, yet leave the solver knowing that there’s a riddle still left to be solved, something involving double numbers and some clues that didn’t fit.
• Make filling in the grid enjoyable with expert cluing and interesting answers, so that even (to echo David’s brilliant BOGEY clue) if David [Got one over on] you and you didn’t crack the riddle, the getting was still good. And if you did, what an aha!
• Coming up with this concept in the first place!

David, you are brillig and one slithy tove, and what a Kwongmire you created! This is one of those that will stick with me, one of those iconic memorable ones. Thank you greatly for this!

JD 6:39 AM  

I'd just like to say that I had no idea what the puzzle was about but after coming here and finding out what the theme was must've been having more fun than I knew!

Anon @ 12:39, no one can be a thief of real joy if one only believes in Ones Elf.

@Frantic, Darling come home. The village wants you. It turns out there was a hidden second theme, Incomprehensibilty, that you and many others among us intuitively grasped.

mmorgan 6:41 AM  

Finished the puzzle, could not figure out the theme. No thank you. My least favorite Sunday experience.

I was so desperate and confused I went to Wordplay. Oh, okay, I see, very clever. Blah blah blah.

No thank you.

Colin 6:43 AM  

O-o-h-h-h, all the double-numbered clues are part of the theme... I saw some of them but still didn't put 2+2 together! I disagree with Rex: This is clever. OK, he was right in that a lot of people would not notice. But I appreciated this once clued in. A challenging puzzle. Needed spousal support on this.

Ah, "AAA" at 111A. But that's triple, not double. Hmm.

Once again, the old criticism of "if I haven't heard of it, it must be obscure and a bad clue" - well, the Intercontinental is a large and well-known (and higher-end) hotel chain, although more an alternative for a hotel like the Omni. And it seems OFL has not heard of The Enlightenment, of which Euler was one of the exceptional figures. (The "!??!" gives away some resentful undercurrent.)

Like others, I also wondered about TINKERTOEVERSTOCHANCE. This is not just old baseball trivia. Wikipedia to the rescue! - Turns out this is in a well-known (to some) poem:
"Baseball's Sad Lexicon," also known as "Tinker to Evers to Chance" after its refrain, is a 1910 baseball poem by Franklin Pierce Adams. The eight-line poem is presented as a single, rueful stanza from the point of view of a New York Giants fan watching the Chicago Cubs infield of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance complete a double play. These three players helped the Cubs win four National League championships and two World Series from 1906 to 1910.

"Baseball's Sad Lexicon" became popular across the United States among sportswriters, who wrote their own verses along the same vein. The poem only enhanced the reputations of Tinker, Evers, and Chance over the succeeding decades as the phrase became a synonymous with a feat of smooth and ruthless efficiency. It has been credited with their elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
These are the saddest of possible words:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."

Enjoy the rest of your long Labor Day weekend, everyone!

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

Oof, a rough puzzle... so much dated and poor fill combined with an obscure inconsistent theme... no thanks!

Franklin Pierce Adams 7:08 AM  

These are the saddest of possible words:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double.
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

So it's a bad puzzle because no one "solved" it? That's funny!

One nit: 88d: LEOTARD doesn't work - Double ballet???

Hungry Mother 7:26 AM  

Quite the slog this morning, felt like TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP.

Carola 7:29 AM  

Verrry clever. And very satisfying to figure out - to the extent that I did, that is. Those ROPES kept nagging at me: "Do some people just call it 'Dutch"?", and I also raised an eyebrow at the (car?) dealers slur; but I didn't catch on to the "double" trick until INTERCONTINENTAL. Then I went back and scoured the grid for more, loving how they were randomly sprinkled about (I thought). I missed RBI and ONO, and, crucially, the double-barreled clue numbering. Wowza! And I'm still smiling at TINKER TO EVERS TO CHANCE.

Thank you, @David Kwong. I thought this was diabolical in the best way.

Unknown 7:35 AM  

Totally agree.

pauer 7:48 AM  

It's a marvel of construction. Bravo, David!

Twangster 7:52 AM  

Before going to Wordplay, I thought V preceded U as TV's Law Enforcement: SVU (Special Victim's Unit).

And I thought the lying dealers was a reference to either car, drug, rug or card dealers, which seemed like a reach.

Dr. Cooper 7:56 AM  

Despite the theme being cloaked in secrecy, the puzzle was very fair since I could finish it in a good time (for me) without having a clue (no pun intended). Tinker to Evers to Chance could have tipped me off (maybe) if I had stopped to think about why that is the result of its clue, but whatever. Once I hit the “Success” sign, I figured Rex would help me understand. Turns out it made no sense to him during the process either. 🙂

Lewis 8:00 AM  

@anon 7:15 -- The theme answers are only on the ACROSS double numbers (and one triple number).

ChuckD 8:22 AM  

CON GAME is apt fill for this tedious junk. Why riff on a thing like clue numbers that I would assume no one cares about - I don’t and further when you’re not solving on paper you really don’t even keep track of them. I would argue that TINKERS... is slightly more than obscure baseball trivia and has some general American culture significance. I did like to see Newton, EULER and KEROUAC so there’s that I guess. Overall this was an unenjoyable chore.

WhatDoing 8:23 AM  

First puzzle I’m deliberately leaving unfinished in a looooooooong time, mostly due to the utter crap that is 77 across. Come on! It’s bad enough I have to endure baseball clues, but most times I’ve at least heard of the term. Go down this path and we will be dealing with COUPDROITDAUTORITE before you know it! And I’m supposed to know, or care, who won the 1998 Masters? Who won the 2002 World Cup of rowing? Don’t know do you? How about the lead singer of the 80s punk band Mol Triffid? Those clues would be as whack a doodle as what we got today. Ick! Just horrible.

ncmathsadist 8:25 AM  

WTF is 77A?

Pamela 8:31 AM  

OK, so the construction was brilliant.

No fun for me. Never got the theme until reading Wordplay, hated all the PPP’s and other obscurities. DNF on SUNRo/CoNES- by then I was so sick of the puzzle that I didn’t even try to find my mistake.

So what’s the goal here: Construction as an art form, meant to bedazzle and confuse us with its brilliance, and leave us (me, today) on the outside looking in? Or as entertainment for the solver, like the one earlier this week that made us laugh along the way- and that nearly everyone loved?

EJames 8:43 AM  

This one defeated me.

Which is fine...I'm fairly new to this and I can't solve them all.

Usually, though, when I admit defeat and go look up the answers I laugh because it seems obvious in retrospect. Clever. Fun.

This puzzle felt like none of those things. Obscure fill, vague theme, and it left me feeling annoyed.

Time to go do some archived puzzles to get this bad taste out of my mouth.

Colin 8:51 AM  

@Carola, 7:29 am: "...diabolical in the best way" - nicely phrased!!

Rube 9:08 AM  

Right you are Lewis. Very cool tricks with the short themes like "U preceder". Best clue in a crossword in months.
Why do people whine and complain when they actually have to figure out something at all different. How much better is "A suggestion" instead of a boring "Way to go"

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

A tedious slog. Worst Sunday this calendar year.

CS 9:25 AM  

For once I agree with Rex. At first it seemed straightforward-is, with 33A .... then, nothing. Really nothing. I filled in most of the grid without really getting it - and that was so annoying because I usually really enjoy the "puzzle" within a puzzle. But no, not this one. It was just too convoluted and inconsistent. Oh well.

Thanks to the group for additional insights, and for helping me to feel that I'm not alone.

Hope all have a good (and safe and healthy) Labor Day


Sixthstone 9:32 AM  

Plowed through this like a no-themer. I had no idea at all what the theme was or how the title played into the puzzle. Fill was actually pretty good, but the convoluted theme and the obscurity of the big 4 themers are terrible (doubly or triply terrible perhaps). I essentially got all the themers by crosses only. So no real joy, no "ahas", and no smiles for me. Actually, I did get one good smile when I finally figured out that the state capital on the Colorado river is where I live (Austin)! I had been thinking about the much larger Colorado river out west.

albatross shell 9:36 AM  

@Lewis 8am
Yes they only work on the downs, but there is perhaps a suggestion that maybe more was considered.
11D REVIVAL clued as "Play back?". Might also be clued as "Play playback" or "Replay play". or if REVERSE were used instead REVIVAL then it could be doubled as the others with "Back?". We would need a different 07 film, but who could resist one with twice in the title for this puzzle? There are only a few downs that would need double cluing.

ALAS for LEO. Mr. TARD's name has been canceled by the culture. Maybe he had doubledown syndrome.

Sorry to the breakfast club. Good or bad, taste is timeless.

Nancy 9:39 AM  

"Dutch requirements". ROBES, ROLES, ROPES, ROSES??? Don't know the answer, don't get the answer, don't care about the answer. Especially when it crosses...

BERATIO, LERATIO, PERATIO, SERATIO??? For the "equity valuation stat". Don't know or care about that one either.

Would someone like to tell me why a "tree alternative" is INTERCONTINENTAL???

As someone who worked in publishing, I've known LITTLE BROWN AND COMPANY for years. But who's "Day"???*

I was completely baffled by much of this puzzle. What I wasn't baffled by I found mostly bland and uninteresting.

*And now I come here to find that I worked for the 55A theme clue!!! Day = Doubleday!!! My employer!!!! (Doubleday owned The Literary Guild).

I now see what was going on! Pretty tricky. The trick is hidden in the clue, not in the answer -- always harder to suss out. I should have picked up the trick at 33A (07). But I didn't. That's on me. But did I enjoy this? Not at all. I suppose that's on me, too.

Sixthstone 9:42 AM  

One more nit to pick: This puzzle literally has nothing from the 21st century. I mean NOTHING from the last 20 years. Only NAZ (2003 hit) and KARENO (Yeah Yeah Yeahs formed in 2000) sneak in, but this puzzle could have been published twenty years ago and no one would miss a beat.

Ernonymous 9:47 AM  

@anon 2:01 I agree. There was also another proper name mixed in with the 3 you mention: KARENO.I never heard of this singer, or the old golfer or the painter. 4 proper names all in interlocking squares might be some kind of record. TINKER, KARENO, OMEARA, SART all crossing each other on vowels.Quadruple Natick. There's a puzzle theme!

KnittyContessa 9:49 AM  

I finished this puzzle in average Sunday time but I truly hated it. I didn't know what the theme was until I came here but that wasn't the real issue. TINKERTOEVERSTOCHANCE over OMEARA crossing SERT. Why would anyone do that? UGH.

Z 9:52 AM  

Kwong is almost always too cute by half. Maybe if I had sussed it out on my own I’d appreciate it more, but I was looking at RBI with an arched eyebrow and then said, “I guess.” And that’s the major flaw of this theme, fully six of the themers work without “double” or “triple” appended to the clue. An RBI is a result just like a RTE is “a suggestion” and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is an 07 movie (especially since the missing ‘ alerts you to not wanting 07 to be a year). We see that sort of stretching of clues all the time. Not actually needing your theme conceit for a majority of your theme answers is most definitely sub-optimal.

My favorite moment was throwing down AUSTIN without wasting even a single precious nanosecond. The Antifa sinking of the Trump Armada was all over Twitter last night so I had looked up Lake Travis, thus learning that AUSTIN is on the other Colorado River. And, yes, there are the usual numnuts asserting that it had to be Antifa’s doing, not the usual stable geniuses that are Trumpkins ineptitude.

Sir Hillary 9:57 AM  

Yep, had no idea about any themers beyond the four long ones, which were no-brainers. Didn’t notice that they were all double numbers or that there were a bunch of others. Very clever, although @Rex is right that they should have been more noticeable during the solve.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Don't mean this is in a snobby way, but I'm pretty sure the Intercontinental Hotels are 5-star resorts, unlike the Doubletree Hotel chain. Would not consider one as an "alternative" of the other.

RooMonster 9:59 AM  

Hey All !
Guess what I had today? Beside not figuring out the theme, that is. My one-letter DNF! Of course. Put in the last letter, Almost There! Argh! Thought that the PE RATIO thing was wrong, but the crosses were solid. Amazingly enough, found my error at IRINe/PeSEOS. Had IReNe at first, then changed the first E to I with 3D, but never changed the second E. And I knew there was an A somewhere in PASEO. Drat.

This had to be way tough to construct to get the long themers to line up with the numbering Doubles, 33 55 77 99, but why put that much strain on yourself when the theme has a bunch of people scratching their heads? Not sure how many saw all the Double-Numbers were themers, I didn't. I just gave up trying to figure out the theme, and kept solving, wondering what was happening with some of the clues. Terrific construction, but *wah wahs* on the solving.

Gt the "007" one first, saw ONLY and TWICE, looked at Title of puz, figured they would all have Numbers that doubled, or something. That notion didn't last long. Doesn't help I haven't heard of 55A.

isn't the CONTINENTAL the hotel in "John Wick"?

So, I did like the puz for the ambitious construction, and for the relatively clean fill considering the constraints, but the solving experience lacked what it should have been. My two cents. But, nobody cares about my two cents! 😊

Had a few writeovers I can't remember now, (ah, the ole brain), and am going to stop my inanity now, hoping my phone doesn't auto-refresh and I lose these words of wisdom!

Three F's

Hartley70 10:00 AM  

77a ruined my morning. I think I’ll bang my head against the wall to feel better.

Unknown 10:05 AM  

Is completing a puzzle without getting the theme an accomplishment or a failure on the constructors part.
I did it, all the while thinking the clue "U preceder" had to be wrong

Old guy in Idaho 10:16 AM  

Shrug... maybe a “meh”...

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

No Rex, you are not alone - totally confused by this puzzle. The double play answer was horrific, no idea who those guys are. I don’t speed solve, but generally I complete all 7 days of the NYT puzzle, and this was choppy, weird and no fun. It really seems like the editing of clues was wanting.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Tinker to Evers to Chance gave me double trouble. I wasn’t familiar with it. Like you, I also got answers for smaller theme clues like 11a without realizing they were theme clues (which left me oddly wondering what rope was doing there ... and rope turned out to be a lucky guess as I was also considering the possibility of rose or robe). I wasn’t so lucky with the double play. If only I’d taken French instead of Spanish, I would have gotten Tinker. Happy to say “adios” to this puzzle ...

Arden 10:29 AM  

I completed the puzzle perfectly, although I had no idea what the theme was until reading it just now. The crosses were fair. I was really puzzled by Tinkertoevers etc and figured it was wrong but left it in anyway.

Joaquin 10:29 AM  

I am surprised at how many here were stumped by 77A. I always thought TINKERTOEVERSTOCHANCE was as well established in baseball lore as Babe Ruth or Joe DiMaggio.

Guess I'm just old!

Barbara 10:31 AM  

Is iit weird that an answer like “TIEBAR” comes up twice in one week?

I never grokked the theme, but finished the puzzle. I didn’t hate it. It’s a puzzle, I expect to have to figure stuff out. I actually like when a puzzle takes me an hour. Or 30 minutes on Saturday and another hour on Sunday.

I got Little, Brown and Tinker to Evers and Intercontinental because I’m familiar with all three, but had no idea why they answered the clues. Was mystified when I had (from crosses) TINKERTOE, but there’s no way to get a Y in there. A few more crosses and the Chicago Cubs win!

I’m not as old as EULER, but I was a math major.

Mr. Cheese 10:32 AM  

I’m stunned by the construction. Does one sit down and say, “let’s see, how about using the double numbered clues to use an implied “double” in the clue.” Yeah, that’s what I’ll do!
Wow! Not much fun solving but credit is due... no?

The Clerk 10:34 AM  

Unfun. Next.

SouthsideJohnny 10:37 AM  

Huge swing and a miss by both the Times and myself today. A low percentage of the posters here (who tend to be more proficient solvers) seem to have groked/enjoyed the theme - so where does that leave solvers closer to the middle of the bell curve ? As for me, it just becomes a brutal solve when the themers are out of reach and the trivia was (once again) out of my wheelhouse. So, no chance of a completion without assistance for me today - however, I shall continue to garner the strength to pursue what is for me becomming my own personal great white whale - that elusive first Sunday completed solve - hopefully in CY 2020 !

Z 10:42 AM  

@ncmathsadist - See @Franklin Pierce Adams above. It’s turn of the last century baseball poetry.

KAREN O. Maps is probably the Yeah Yeah Yeahs most widely known song, but they put out some great music. They’ve been on “hiatus” since 2013, though, so even though they are definitely this century they haven’t been much in the music news for quite awhile already.

jberg 10:47 AM  

Like Rex, I had no idea about the shorter themes, and was willing to believe rhatVEE as “U preceded” was just a sloppy mistake. Now that I understand the whole thing, I think it’s cool (but not HEP.)

TJS 11:00 AM  

Loved it and hated it, didnt understand alot of it and still finished it. And tiebar strikes again, what are the odds?

Enjoy the holiday, people. Down here in the D.R. we all have to be home by five, just like when we were kids. Monday we can go wild because we don't have to be home until 7.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Hear 2!
Got it all + only now see why

What? 11:13 AM  

Completed solve but no idea how it relates to the theme. Ok now I know. Pretty sneaky and convoluted. Example of a difficult to construct puzzle with a not much fun to solve puzzle. Shortz seems to have a soft spot (head?) for difficult constructs regardless of fun for the solver. This is just one of many examples in recent years.

Walt Kelly says... 11:22 AM  

E is for Evers,
His jaw in advance;
Never afraid
To Tinker with Chance.

Stix 11:29 AM  

The trouble with the theme for me was doing it on the app. The clue numbers in the squares are so tiny I never can make them out, or try to. So , yeah U PRECEDER was baffling to me. I finished hit don’t know how. Very sloppy execution from the constructor.

GILL I. 11:30 AM  

@Frantic....I know what you mean about the village; they won't take back this idiot either. Maybe we can hold hands and tip- toe through the tulips.
I'm running out of oofs. The theme says NUMBER. Right there in big fat letters. So I get the 07 film and I'm thinking NUMBERS because David is telling me two. Let's see...he's a magician. Hmmmm. Then the mind begins to wander again. I don't like magicians; they are like clowns....they scare me. Who the hell pulls Thumper out of a hat? He's up to something says I. Make coffee, put some fig jam on my freshly baked olive bread, sit down and ponder the jelly. Oooooh....Doubletree = INTERCONTINENTAL. Why you sly fox....its double for my trouble. @Rex.....You've heard of INTERCONTINENTAL.... you just don't know it. They have several brands. I know you know the InterContinental Mark Hopkins and I know you know the Crowne Plazas. Well, maybe you don't...but you should. Try the crumpets at Mark Hopkins.
Back to the puzzle. 77a had me befuddled. Then I remembered that phrase somewhere - even though I hate baseball. I also hate hot dogs and Budweiser beer. That had to be double something....play?
Then on back up to LITTLE BROWN AND COMPANY. I'm glad @Nancy knew it referred to Doubleday. I didn't. Now I know.
Most of this was just fill in the spaces and then do a few hail Mary's and hope I find those doubles hiding in the trees. I only sniffed the long branches. The others - pointed out by @Rex - were lost in the barren forest. My bad.
You are very clever, David Kwong.....just leave Thumper out of it....

David 11:32 AM  

No clue about the double thing even though I had R_PES and brain said, "Oh, they mean double Dutch." Then a little later, with U preceder, brain said, "Oh, they mean W." Not with 07 though, because that was just obvious.

Given we have over 5,000 books in our house, with more coming in each week, I was surprised to see Little Brown and Company (filled quickly off crosses), I had about 8 crosses when I saw Intercontinental without even looking at the clue. As for the double play guys, even if I knew what the reference was, I would have had to fill it off crosses. Sure dealers lie, drug dealers.

Two golf players? Lots of sports and pop stuff. Not bad, just kind of boring to me. Three letter rap guy in NYTXW? It's gonna be Nas. But leavened with lots of less boring stuff, so overall I'd rate it okay.

P.E. Ratio is always going to light my fire. Back in the 60s, when the stock market was just the stock market and was rarely mentioned on the evening newscasts, that's how buyers decided which stocks to purchase. That is to say, a corporation had to be actually making stuff and turning a profit if it wanted to sell stock. Nowadays, when the vast majority of citizens (and the sitting "president") believe the stock market to be the economy, and it gets hyperbolic 24/7 news coverage, people can become billionaires by having an idea followed by an IPO just by convincing the media how great their idea is, then go quarters, and even years, without turning a profit as their stock prices soar. Oh, and, of course, some don't even actually have to make anything, except other people into debt slaves. It's really quite amazing, and really quite bad for the actual economy.

Aj-nyc 11:34 AM  

Absolute least favorite puzzle this year. Way too much old trivia, which is my number one pet peeve. Great if you are over 50 I guess. Even if I got the theme (which I didn’t), I’d still have absolutely no clue on the long across answers. Also, in no way is Intercontinental competing with Doubletree.

GHarris 11:36 AM  

@jberg almost took the words right out of my mouth. Like Rex, I got the theme but thought it applied only to the long answers. Thought I had correctly completed the grid even though I felt constrained to enter pee,. Now it’s very clear to me that solving online has a great advantage to solving on paper, which is what I did. Without the electronic warning that something was amiss, I failed to note that hip should have been hep and pee had to be vee.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

TINKERTOEVANSTOCHANCE was extremely well-known at one point. It's not some random obscure poem from 1910. Everyone knew this poem when I was growing up, and references appeared in sitcoms in the 1960s and 1970s.

Although it seems its time passed several decades ago, it was very famous for several decades. I think it's legit to have it in the puzzle, even if younger people will have no idea what the reference is.

Tom R 11:42 AM  

In terms of a Sunday puzzle, its "Meh" for me. In terms of the theme, I still don't understand all the explanations even after reading Rex and some comments. U preceder in particular just does not click with my brain. The only U preceder for me is "t" (rstuvw) Where does double u (w) come in as a preceder to U? Absolutely meaningless to me. A theme that mangled is not worthy of the name theme.

Azzurro 11:45 AM  

Clever idea, but I had to read two different blogs to even get the theme. And so much Natick that I was too grumpy by then to appreciate it.

thefogman 11:45 AM  

Glad I checked in here to find the gimmick. I got burned on one letter. The K in KARENO. Not an enjoyable solve. The puzzle was designed to defeat solvers not delight them - and that’s never a good thing.

Teedmn 11:51 AM  

I was fated to never understand this theme. Solving with AcrossLite on my iPad, with the grid set-up as I had it, the title of the puzzle read, “Could You Repeat That” with Number appearing off the page. Thus, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE was the only theme answer (as I understood them) that made any kind of sense , but not all that much. INTERCONTINENTAL is a hotel?

Anonymous 11:59 AM  


jazzmanchgo 12:06 PM  

@Nancy -- "Double Dutch" is a jump-rope game, usually played by girls (and these days, usually African-American girls), using two ropes at once. It's actually a pretty spectacular urban art form, all the more wonderful to see in an era when most kids spend their days sitting along, staring into a screen. Check 'em out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ej81hIvf3U

That being said -- old-time baseball is a hobby of mine, so "Tinker to Evers to Chance" was a personal gimme. But I could see it NATICK'ing the hell out of people who aren't aficionados.

nyc_lo 12:15 PM  

Thank you @Colin and @Franklin Pierce Adams for the explanation on TINKERTO... I was prepared to gnash my teeth through the rest of the long weekend over this seemingly random string of sports figures. Surely, I thought, this should have some use in the vernacular to justify its use. And you provided it. I now have a grudging respect for the answer, having learned something TOBOOT.

RTE still chaps my hide, though. Boo.

SouthsideJohnny 12:21 PM  

@ Tom R. The letter that precedes W (Double U) is VEE - you have it right in your post. You are correct though - this theme is definitely enough to scramble one’s brain. Either trying to impress solvers, or maybe just plain trying too hard to be special - in any event, another all-too-frequent substandard effort from the deadwood at the NYT crossword team.

GILL I. 12:21 PM  

@Aj-nyc....Holiday Inn is a subsidiary of INTERCONTINENTAL. They own lots of properties.

JC66 12:24 PM  

Hand up for only seeing the 4 long themers.

I've been reading this blog since almost the beginning and I can't remember @Rex and 90% of the commenters not grokking the them.

That's on the constructor/editor, not on the solver.


If you don't know the theme (add double to start of the clue), it's understandable that ROPE for Dutch is hard to see.

Barbara S. 12:33 PM  

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Ungrokkable puzzle with answers absurd.
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
In spite of the title suggesting we double,
My grid looks like nothing but lexical rubble,
My streak – fading dim in a field of coarse stubble.
Thanks! “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Apologies to Franklin Pierce Adams. For the original, see Colin 6:43 am/Franklin Pierce Adams (himself!) 7:08 am.

In spite of the above poetic jottings, I kind of liked this puzzle, even though I never did figure out the theme and had to come here. But I had more of an “Aha!” than an “Oh, no!” response when I did. I completed the grid, although with a forest of question marks above my head. I was lucky that a fair amount of the PPP was known. The strange thing is that when I’d filled in TINKERTOEVERSTOCHANCE through crosses, I thought, “Wait a minute, I’ve heard of this trio. And didn’t someone write a poem about them?” I’m not knowledgeable about baseball, past or present – how could I have run across these guys before? Have they been in a NYTXW before today?

So, I guess you’d have to put me in the positive camp, with one big disclaimer: I do think that the majority of solvers should be able to understand a theme completely during the solving process – and that simply wasn’t the case today.

sixtyni yogini 12:37 PM  

So not fun!! Ok, hated it.
But I will think twice in future and look a little harder for the “logic” when confronted by such 🤪 confusion. 🤪
Ugh 😩😖😝

Masked and Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Heckuva thing to construct. That Kwong dude musta suffered, bigtime. So did M&A's precious solvequest nanoseconds, appropriately.

For instance, I musta stopped and sniffed the 11-A ROSES/then ROPES answer for a near eternity. Then right after that I sat and stared at 22-A's RBI answer for about as long.

Got the 33-A answer almost immediately, tho, thanx to the puz's title. Repeat the "0"; made some sense. Plus the answer had "TWICE" in it, which seemed to maybe be relevant. Next "double jeopardy moment" to occur happened to be 55-A, where I was expectin a number in the clue. har and nope. M&A immediately felt not so smart after all.

staff weeject picks: VEE [especially nice, sadistic "U" clue]. Also the other mini-themers: RTE, RBI, ONO, LIE. Unprecendential theme respect for the little pups. Like.

Is it fair to have little themers mixed in, unannounced, with the longball ones? In this case, I reckon it's sorta kinda ok, because there's a clear method to the madness: All the double and triple-numbered puz entries are themers. U just have to somehow notice that, or prepare to wander thru the puz in a partial M&A-like daze. Interestin twist.

There were 34 weejects in this puzgrid rodeo. The lil darlins were no doubt essential aides in gettin the double-numbered entries to come out in the right positions.

Diabolical but different, so I gotta give it a crooked thUmbsUp.
Thanx for the double helpin of torture, Mr. Kwong.

Masked & Anonym8Us


Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Agree with those who are saying that the puzzle and theme are well-made, but the theme should have been made more obvious by the cluing, or even an editorial note. Rex isn't the only crossword blogger who didn't get the whole picture without assistance. If the crossword bloggers don't understand it, the average person is completely lost.

John Tjia 12:58 PM  

My main objection: 13 names in the Across clues and 12 names in the Down clues! Feels like a cop out.

egsforbreakfast 1:00 PM  

@Barbara S. 12:33 pm. Great parody of Franklin Pierce Adams!!! 👍😂.

I just have to say again, since most commenters are slamming the theme, that I thought it was wonderful. It is also far easier to understand than many commenters are making it. Just say “double” before saying the rest of each “double digit” across clue. In the case of triple repeating digit across clues (of which there is one) say “triple” before saying the rest of the clue. For those criticizing the editor for 111A, please note that it is the constructor’s favorite part of the puzzle.

Sorry to be repetitive, but it seems like many are still trying to make this something far more complex than it really is.

lukiegrifpa 1:04 PM  

Me too. That was a gimme for me. So many outraged about that one. Guess it’s more in line with Christy Mathewson or Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Swagomatic 1:05 PM  

I totally whiffed on the theme. I meant to go back and try to figure it out, but forgetfulness got the better of me. I did like the puzzle, though.

Stevelo 1:07 PM  

Just dumb.

lukiegrifpa 1:09 PM  


T is for Tinker.
In all his endeavors
He won’t go to Chance
Without going through Evers.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

This was an exceptionally clever puzzle. If we didn't get every part of it, that's our problem, not the puzzler's. Why shouldn't puzzles be obscure? I don't get the hate for this puzzle.

old timer 1:24 PM  

I finished the puzzle (or thought I finished) and said to myself, "I just don't get it". Could have in retrospect: the title was a giveaway. Didn't. Plus, a rare DNF, as I put in "ego" instead of ECO and had IRENE Gara instead of CARA as a result. I only got KAREN O on crosses, because I don't know pop culture much past Altamont. AMA about the films and music of the Fifties and Sixties, I probably know it.

And I certainly knew TINKERS TO EVERS TO CHANCE -- saw that poem many times, and as a kid listened to baseball on the radio, and heard the phrase, ancient though it was even then.

I do not put INTERCONTINENTAL in the same league as the Paris Ritz, the Palace in Madrid, or the more deluxe hotels in New York, especially the Plaza of old. Got a bargain room there on my honeymoon, and when they found out it was our honeymoon, we were upgraded to a suite! We repaid the favor by booking a suite there during some economic downturn, when it was affordable. My entire family stayed at the Intercontinental in Zurich for a night or two, and it was very nice, but not one of those places you remember for the rest of your life. I remember it best because I'm a streetcar buff, rode it at night, and followed a bunch of drunken young men into a first-rate place for bier und wurst. Zurich has a charming main drag, but only gnomes love it. I imagine a lot of folks stay there mainly because it has a good airport, and also good train connections.

dan x 1:26 PM  

Hated it

Nancy from Chicago 1:29 PM  

I'm with everyone else who didn't get the theme, at least not most of it. I finally "got it" with respect to the 4 long ones with INTERCONTINENTAL being clued as "tree alternative" and then looking back at the only other complete long themer I had at the time the ("07 movie" clue). Even after finishing though, I thought the short themers were just inexplicable answers. Not as much fun as I hope for from a Sunday theme.

ghthree 1:30 PM  

When I saw 77A, I immediately put in TINKERTOEVERSTOCHANCE with no crosses. I might not have gotten it without the "of old" clue. I knew it was before my time (I turn 84 next month), but "Play combo" by itself probably wouldn't have been enough. Like several other (Hi, Joaquin et. al.) I felt it had been part of baseball lore for some time.

We (my wife Jane and I) found it relatively easy. We normally solve together on separate clipboards, passing questions and answers orally over coffee. We don't time ourselves, but it's very rare to finish a Sunday before lunch.

I'm pretty sure most people solve electronically. We tried that, but found no joy in using Across Lite, sitting with our backs to each other. A hint to those of you who prefer paper: as for the "Newspaper Version" when given the chance. It avoids the many of the problems of the (device-dependent) online versions.

When we are done, we check our answers with Rex. We get a few DNFs (mostly Naticks) late in the week. We enjoy the comments (both Rex's and everyone else's).

Stay well, everybody!

Chippah 1:34 PM  

My favorite Sunday in a long while!

MarthaCatherine 1:41 PM  

Hoo Wee! this was a tough one. I saw the theme title and one of the first answers I got was ONESELF, followed quickly by YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, and started looking for something with three or third. So I didn't even come close to figuring out the theme even though I completed the whole puzzle. Thought maybe more than one answer would have "one" or "twice" or different numbers or ordinals. And then 44A was just WRONG! VEE follows U! Thought "Ooooh, Rex is gonna have an aneurism!" But, of course, the clue was double U.

Knew Tinker to Evers to Chance (not sure why or how), but I've always thought what made the play so amazing was that it was a TRIPLE play. Sumpin new every day.

Seems like some sort of visual clue or better title would have helped. I'm always amazed when some of you say you didn't need the shaded square or the asterisked clue. This one needed something to say that the "repeat" and "number" in the title refers to the clue number. Don't know how that would be done. I've seen puzzles where the trick was in the wording of clue itself or in the answer, but never in the clue number.

Vewwy twicky.

new Object 1:46 PM  

That sweet sweet combo of hard AND boring. Had no clue on the theme even after finishing etc, except "oh a zero is missing from 007" Bleh

JD 2:00 PM  

@David, Thanks for the lesson on how it was before they brought Wall Street to Main Street, and the 401(k) turned retirement into a crap shoot.

Also, I knew Tinker et al. but had to get past Tinkertoe with the V. It awas fun to remember it (have no idea why I even know it) and read the poem and the ditty from @Walt.

Frantic Sloth 2:12 PM  

@JD 639am I believe in Mice ELF (nod to Sly Stone & fam), but nary a joy was had today upon learning that that "somewhere village" was missing - and couldn't EVEN with - its idiot. Incomprehensibility is my middle name, but "Frantic I. Sloth" seems so hoity-toity.
Missing the entire theme was bad (stoopit) enough, but that 111A deal with the triple clue/answer was especially d'oh! (shiny stoopit). It had me slapping my forehead to smithereens. And now I'll need a map to find smithereens because I'm gonna need that back. Ironically.

@Lewis 545am nailed it. I've always suspected magicians were part alien, and this puzzle is further evidence. I'm still in awe. There oughta be a law. See saw Marjorie Daw. (hee haw)

@Colin 643am Thank you for the explanation and the poem. I gotta wonder, though...what are the odds that people who hate baseball in crosswords will feel any better about baseball poetry? 😂
Oh...see @WhatDoing 823am for the answer to that! 😆

@Pamela 831am I feel your pain. This is very much one of those FOC*-centric puzzles which grate. Inexplicably, it didn't bother me as much as it usually does. Maybe ignoring the theme during the solve helped? It was only after the fact that I could truly appreciate it, so I get your gripe.

@albatross shell 936am 🤣🤣

@Barbara 1031am TINKERTOE has me doing all kinds of mental/imagery gymnastics! LOL! So envious I didn't see that!

e.g., Is TINKERTOE another word for fairy gout?

@SouthsideJohnny 1037am Excellent point. Can you imagine a new solver attempting this? Ugh!

@GILL 1130am 😂😂 At this point, let's just TRAMP through the tulips. And "I don't like magicians; they are like clowns....they scare me. Who the hell pulls Thumper out of a hat? He's up to something says I." 🤣 Great minds. (See my alien remark)

@JC66 1224pm I can always rely on you to make me feel better! Thanks!

@Barbara S. 1233pm Brill! 👍👏 I dare say FPA would also appreciate it. 😉

*Feat Of Constructioneering

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

any hit can result, maybe, in an RBI. in all, too clever by half.

bocamp 2:49 PM  

@ Anonymous 12:39 AM wrote:

"you are a thief of joy. it seems like you hate every nyt puzzle you do"

Obviously, you speak for yourself (and maybe a few others), but I feel the need to chime in on the subjects of joy and hate.

First, I don't believe one's joy can be stolen by another's words unless one allows it to be. "a joyful heart is good medicine".

Second, I've followed Michael's blog almost from the beginning, and I'd wager that one wouldn't find many critiques where he says he "hates" the puzzle. He's honest about his feelings and may use the word "hate" as applied to one or more words, ideas, concepts, etc., but that doesn't necessarily define the puzzle as a whole. Yes, there are some puzzles he "has no use for" or just don't "float his boat", but that doesn't make him a "hater"; it just makes him a honest "critiquer" (fr.), which is the purpose of his blog.

Peace 🕊

chance2travel 2:54 PM  

First DNF in 2 years - had a filled grid after 20 minutes and it might as well have been gibberish

Had siRENO and RINSe crossing the unparsable TINs ERTeE VERSTO CHANCE - what do I do with that?! And not realizing the number repeat referred to the clue and not the answer, I was looking at some theatrical play combination 🙄

Also hated the short 3 fill, especially in the NE where "Result, maybe, in brief' might as well not have been a clue - so no way to get RBI with proper names on either side - think I had IlEpECARA as a long last name, instead of first+last

Only bright spots were YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (where my brain didn't even register the lack of leading 0) so no help on the "theme"

Also AUSTIN - my home town for 15 years

Nice to see EULER - cuz I'm a math geek

And GENOA - I see an Italian salami pizza in my future 🍕 😋

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Leonhard Euler lived from 1707 to 1783 the seventeen hundreds which constitue the 18th century. That'a the difference between a cardinal and an ordinal number.
Why the ???

bertoray 3:21 PM  

The theme's fun factor sadly eluded me this Sunday. There was no joy here in Mudville.

pmdm 3:23 PM  

I rarely work on weekends anymore. But when I do, if I don't post before leaving for church, I post late. Over 100 comments late. And I don't have any time to work out a tricky theme.

So I missed the theme until reading the blogs. I have to smile at Sharp. You think he hates Chen so much he won't visit XWordInfo to clarify a theme. Then again, you would think he dislikes anything that stumps him. I don't know if that's true and really don't care.

Just like I really don't care that much that I missed the theme. Yes, the construction is impressive. But I was put off by the PPP. Based upon the comments,others were not so much. I just wish I tried harder and longer to figure out the theme. Had I done so, I might have had a rewarding AHA moment.

Casimir 3:44 PM  

InterContinental Hotel Group owns Holiday Inn and it's different brands. This, a Doubletree competitor.

I agree completely that InterContinental Hotels are very nice!

G. Weissman 3:52 PM  

TINKER TO EVERS TO CHANCE pretty much says it all: this puzzle was a real stinker.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

What happened to the good old Sunday crosswords without gimmicky themes? Bad enough that some of the weekday ones have these. Doable but not enjoyable!

beverley 4:11 PM  

Just ugh.

bocamp 4:26 PM  

Well, this one was a bumpy ride (like an old Trans Continental flight buffeted in a crosswind, approaching a landing). In spite of that, I still finished in below-ave. time; go figure. LOL

Overall experience was well worth the effort, and I thank you, Mr. Kwong!

Got off on the wrong foot at 33A: mis-remembered the Bond movie as "You Only Live Once", so "twice" seemed to exemplify the notion of "repeating the number", i.e., once + once = twice. Thinking I needed to double/triple/etc. something in the the theme answers was my demise, not so much in solving the puzzle, but rather in the post-solve theme analysis.

I never did suss out the whole shebang. I might have been able to piece it all together if I'd spent more time on it; I guess I'll never know. Thanks to Rex's comments and those of my co-contributors, I was able to review the puzzle in a new light and with a great deal more admiration: wow, what a masterpiece! 😍

One of my problems is not spending a few extra seconds to suss out minor details that might be of use with future clues/answers, e.g. 11A "Dutch requirements". I immediately pictured "jumping rope" and dropped "ropes" right in. What I failed to do was to recognize that "Dutch" by itself did not completely define the idea of "jumping rope" (a slight tinge of "spidey-sense"). Had I asked myself, "what is that activity actually called", I would have easily come up with "double Dutch"; same with "double dealer", etc. which would have led to the discovery that all the theme clues were double numbers. Don't know if I'd have ever gotten 111A, tho, especially since it makes sense per se, e.g., a GPS or a passenger's suggestion could typically be a "rte".

All good stuff and fodder for improving the thought processes. 🤓

Peace 🕊

Ghostface Puzzlah 4:38 PM  

Oh, whoa

GILL I. 4:43 PM  

Hey @Casimir....what am I...chopped liver? Read my 12:20 post...or don't. (sigh)

siehomme 4:51 PM  

Never have I felt more out of sync with the constructor as I have with this puzzle. Like, we occupy completely different worlds, with very little overlap. Never mind the admirable but unenjoyable theme clues, even his regular clues were completely foreign to me. So. Many. Sports. Clues. So many names I had no idea of. The apex of my frustration doing this puzzle when I was staring at TINKERT_EVERSTOCHANCE and had no idea what I was reading. And this was after I got the theme! Oh, it was a tortuous solve. I suppose the fact that I finished at all is some consolation, but I was hating every moment of it. Blergh.

Anonymous 5:12 PM  

Can anyone explain (in)DWELT as an answer to "occupied?"

bocamp 5:23 PM  

I truly do feel for those Naticked by "Tinker to Evers to Chance . When I dropped that in with just a few crosses in place, I knew it was going to cause problems for some, with so many crosses not being gimmes.

Here's a quote from the above YouTube vid: "Born a Cubs fan, Carolyn Sills wrote this tribute to her favorite team, telling the tale of the greatest 'twin killers' of them all, double play artists Tinker, Evers and Chance. They helped the Cubs win the World Series in 1908... here's hoping they will do it again!"

I had a similar "Naticky" experience last year with an older puzzle which contained: "Nosferatu", which was completely unknown to me. As I recall, it had at least five crosses that were also dubious, three of which I guessed wrongly on; one of those crossings was the singer "Sia", who has turned up in many puzzles since, and whose name I've never forgotten.

Peace 🕊

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Very clever, for sure.

But somewhat annoying.

- Too many proper names. Never heard of a bunch of them, but they didn't end up being Naticks because I could get the crosses.

- I admit I haven't heard Tinker to Evers to Chance in a long time (I'm 69), but I have heard it often.

- I got the theme once I pieced together enough crosses to get INTERCONTINENTAL, and asked myself how that could possibly be a tree alternative.

- AUSTIN is sneaky.

- I would have thought the clue for TRAMP was more appropriate for TRoMP, which was a major problem for me.

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

I refuse to believe TINKER TO EVERS TO CHANCE wasn't just made up today and retroactively seeded through the internet as a big prank.

God, the only thing that makes me hate baseball more than watching baseball is doing the New York Times crossword puzzle.

bocamp 6:08 PM  

Dropped Austin in from the "a" in Capote. The series, "Home" (episode 7 - Austin) on Apple TV+. features the "Edgeland House" along Austin’s Colorado River. Hadn't realized there was another Colorado river than the more well-known one of Grand Canyon fame. 🤔

Peace 🕊

Bob Mills 6:12 PM  

The most far-fetched theme I've ever seen in the New York Times. What a disappointment.

William of Ockham 6:29 PM  

The puzzle itself is rather easy, fully sussing the clever theme is yet another

Another fun 21x21, I am shock-ed

Danchall 6:36 PM  

I found this puzzle to be a fun solve, but once I realized what was going on, I was even more impressed by the amazing construction. But the construction was not made it fun. Figuring out that there was a missing "double" in some of the clues was part of the fun, and this trick really isn't off the scale for a Sunday (or Thursday). I found fun in the red herring of the "twice" in the first theme answer before I figured out the real theme.

I've known Tinker to Evers to Chance since I was a kid, or at least 50 years ago. "Intercontinental" didn't leap to my consciousness, but once I saw enough crossers, I recognized it. The four largest hotel companies in the world are Wyndham Worldwide, Choice Hotels, Marriott International, and Intercontinental Hotels Group. (I didn't recognize Choice, but they own several chains I do.)

I don't love RTE in a grid, but I think today's twist at 111A is a wonderful excuse.

Cliff 6:57 PM  

Never got the theme. You Only Live Twice came quickly, and I thought, "Oh, so you only live once! repeat the number (sort of) and you get twice. So I spent the entire puzzle looking for similar wordplay, but of course found none. Just slogged through to the end. I'm a nearly 70 year old baseball fan and I've never heard of that double play combo. Needed almost every cross, and still it made no sense. Did not enjoy this one at all.

RAD2626 7:59 PM  

Like many, did not figure out the theme at all. Just solved as a themeless.

Surprised about the complaining about TINKER TO EVERS TO CHANCE. They have appeared in NYT CX clues or answers more than twenty times in the Shortz era. It really was the poem that got them enshrined in Cooperstown. Statistically among the poorer performers in the Hall at least until Bill Mazeroski who parlayed his famous home run into a HOF plaque.

Very tough week for baseball fans. First we lost Tom Seaver and now Lou Brock. Two true Hall of Famers as players and people.

Happy Labor Day.

Wanderlust 8:32 PM  

This needed a revealer. If you solve on a phone as I do, you don’t see the puzzle’s title unless you really go looking for it. (Although I think I still wouldn’t have gotten it if I had seen the title.) i thought it was a themeless with some nonsensical clues, until I saw the missing “double” on the clues to the long answers. But I didn’t get that the doubles were related to clue numbers or that the “double” theme also applied to a lot of short answers until I came here. I
might have liked it better if I had known what was going on. Maybe the the Times should find a way to make the title obvious when you solve on the app. But a revealer would have been better.

PHV 8:49 PM  

There was a poem about Tinker to Evers to Chance that was referred to by baseball announcers at least through the 1950s, so it's not as ancient might seem. Google Basrball's Sad Lexicon.

Unknown 9:37 PM  

Um....sigh. did not like at all.

Z 9:44 PM  

@Anon5:12 - DWELT is the past tense of dwell. “DWELT on” would be like some who obsessed on something. “DWELT in” would be in reference to someplace one occupied, I once DWELT in Delft.

@pmdm - Rex also didn’t check Wordplay or Crossword Fiend.

Renee Arnold 9:54 PM  

Just like his magic show, where what I did in front of the audience ended in being my cell phone number (!), the theme for me was nowhere to be found. I'm usually so proud when I discover the theme, but this just didn't resonate for me. Meh...

CDilly52 10:56 PM  

I just finished the puzzle after a long day of trying to catch up on work and house work and @Frantic, you said it all from my POV. Themeless solve. Enjoyed the experience. Missed the theme altogether.

Went back to look at the title and even then, “repeat the number” seems to be more like double so I just couldn’t get what RTE had to do with anything - especially since the abbreviation was not included. So the theme wasn’t - for me, but the puzzle was a good solve.

Best thing for me was the TINKER TO EVERS TO CHANCE, baseball fan that I am.

CDilly52 11:01 PM  

@Anon 7:25AM. I think the themers are only designed to go across, not down. Even knowing that the double numbers are par of the conceit, I still do t quite connect with the theme on this but enjoyed the “themeless” solve.

Richardf8 11:15 PM  

Theme? I thought it was just badly clued. Dealers Lie? Immediately thought of the comedy “Used Cars.” Of course dealers lie. A suggestion? Well my GPS suggests Rtes. OK.

Anonymous 11:55 PM  

Blew through it in under average time for me while ignoring the theme. There wasn't enough bite in the crosses on the seemingly improper clues for me to care either way what the construct was. If I look at at a finished puzzle with no errors and don't figure out the theme in less than a minute I simply move on. This puzzle is one of the worst examples I've seen of a convoluted theme with no aha! moment after you've finished. The rest of the puzzle offered so little resistance that the theme was wasted. Okay maybe constructors may dig it, but for every creator there are thousands of solvers, and the theme of this one didn't enthrall me in the least bit.

Anonymous 12:05 AM  

Totally agree with you both! Ended up having to look up both Sert and Omeara, not to mention being utterly flummoxed when I got Tinker to Evers to Chance.... Which was also crossed by Chu and Capote.... and I may be an idiot, but how is Eco (Natick for me at Irene Cara) related to logic?

Maybe just a Thursday style hint to the trick in the puzzle so that when you got Vee you might at least have a chance of knowing you were right....

TAB2TAB 1:27 AM  

Possibly the least enjoyable crossword I've done over my last two years of solving, with an uninferrable theme and clogged with so much uninferrable obscure PPP. I'll occasionally get stuck and have to google or check a letter or two, but this is the first time I've just stared at a dozen or more blank squares and just said, I don't care, I'm just going to look up the answers. Virtually every one was a PPP that I didn't know and at this point don't care. I have never paid attention to the clue numbers and never would have made the connection; only the 007 remotely struck me as a themer, and even after having all the letters (by cheating) I had no idea what a TINKERTOEVERSTOCHANCE could possibly be, I couldn't even guess where the spaces were. I see redeeming value in most puzzles but this was truly painful.

John Hoffman 4:04 AM  

Weird puzzle, weird theme, tremendous waste of time. Can’t think I’ve been angry like this before.

oliar 9:53 AM  

Really unenjoyable, because when we see something in the title of the puzzle, we assume the theme to be revealed in the answers, not the clues. If not, there really needed to be an explanation of the theme. "Fantasy" as a grammy winner was such a misdirect...unless you're on the lookout and have been fairly warned in advance, literally ANY clue could be one of these trick constructions. Then on top of this you have a layer of severely outdated fill..I don't care how many dang times something's been in an xword puzzle in a 150-year old newspaper, if it refers to a great sportsball play executed in 1908, it doesn't belong anywhere near a 21st century grid. Perfect example of a puzzle meant more for the constructor's enjoyment rather than the solver's.

Xword west 11:02 AM  

Finished but never understood what was happening or why. 77A was gibberish. Know Euler from the delightful film ‘Hidden Figures” Wish the nyt would take a look around at what other xwords are doing and up its game.

Michael Fleming 3:02 PM  

Not sure who would stay at a DoubleTree Inn and think it was an alternative to an Intercontinental... But I was obviously spending too much of my life in business travel or I would not have known that.

Unknown 4:53 PM  

No aha moments in this one. Noticed the double theme with double Dutch and double 07, but was baffled by the other theme answers so couldn’t put it together. Tinkle what now? And VEE? Even after explained, no. I figure if I could slog through this I can get through 2020.

Anonymous 5:13 PM  

Also totally agree.

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

So displeased with this puzzle that I’m leaving a comment here for the first time in decades. I depended way too much on Alexa and only understood the lame theme when I sought out Rex’s comments. No satisfaction, Little enjoyment; just another downer CoVid holiday weekend.

kitshef 5:36 PM  

Well, Rex beat me as I only saw two themers: 007 and double U.

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

This is probably the worst puzzle I've ever encountered in decades of solving. Theme was not just ridiculously obscure but also completely unsatisfying. And much of the fill was mediocre too. Blech!

Joe 6:40 PM  

I sort of agree with Rex on his take. Got the connection late between the Title and the clues to the long theme answers. Wowed after reading this re all of the double digit clues! Found the upper left corner to be the toughest.

Joe 6:45 PM  

I sort of agree with Rex on his take. Got the connection late between the Title and the clues to the long theme answers. Wowed after reading this re all of the double digit clues! Found the upper left corner to be the toughest.

StGulik 12:02 PM  

...I had been on the verge of walking away from the inaccessible NYTXW...and now THIS...

Burma Shave 12:26 PM  




rondo 12:45 PM  

I was filling it at a reasonable clip and had noticed the long themers were at 33 and 55, but knew that the 66a ONO clue should be 'Double Fantasy' and the light bulb went on. Not much trouble thereafter. RTE went in unnoticed so didn't need to think 'triple' there. A fully spelled out IRENECARA gets a yeah baby. Some good clues like "Play back" for REVIVAL. Liked it better than lotsa Sundays.

BS2 1:01 PM  



Unknown 4:13 PM  

ECO-logical was probably my favorite clue. I finished in good time (for me) without ever sussing the theme. Some obscurity, yes, but that's what makes for good crosswords IMO. My only slip was ENO for ONO.

spacecraft 6:00 PM  

I got it and all, but no thanks to the clues. EX: 68a, the clue refers to the phrase "AS it IS." ASIS has been explained already. Got the point of [Double]day all right, but I have never heard of LITTLE, etc. Had to do all crosses for that one. Better clue for 32d: "Last thing Hickock saw."

A rather cumbersome effort, maybe trying for too much by lining up themers with double-digit clues. As some have said, that went unnoticed till the very end, and by then no great aha. It made for a very choppy grid, with a ton of three-baggers. That's never fun. Second the nomination of IRENECARA for DOD; H.M. to Patti Page for ICRIED. Like the Eagles so far this season, a sub-par performance. Bogey.

Diana, LIW 7:37 PM  

Got most of the puz, did a check of a couple of words, finished the puz, and still didn't get the joke. I'll go look at what it is now. Don't make the Sunday Slog into a Thursday trick!!!!

Diana, LIW

Diana, LIW 7:39 PM  

OK - I read the explanation of the "trick." Pllllgggghhhhh

Lady Di

Hakala Road 10:08 PM  

Referred to in a Red Sox broadcast last month.

Liber ater 8:29 AM  

L T : (

Beth64 11:13 AM  

There's a mistake in 94 across. The author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is STEIG Larrson, not Stieg.

sutchey 12:56 PM  

Did it without figuring the theme. I guess you might call me clueless but I can see I was not alone! LOL

Orange Nightmare 11:29 PM  

I’m 54. I know tinkers to Evers to chance. My son is 21. He has known them since he was 10. Any true baseball fan would know this, it’s not that obscure.

And I didn’t see the theme either. Just thought it was an easy solve TBH

Unknown 8:20 AM  

I had this 95% solved before I gave up, still entirely ignorant of the theme. Didn't understand it until coming here. Little joy for me.

Theme answers should be longer than a 3-letter fill. There are four of these.

RE Tinkers to Evers to Chance - that was effortless for me. I thought it was much more widely known that it apparently is.


Katzzz 8:06 PM  

I second that emotion.

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