Saturday, July 7, 2018

"Free for All XIX," by Andrew J. Ries

Constructor's Comments

The center stack originally had BACHELOR TAX at 37-Across, which David didn't think was commonly known enough.  Revising the grid proved to be a more challenging task than I originally thought, and the grid went from a 70-worder with one 15-letter answer to a 72-worder with four 15s.  I like that I was able to get TROUBLESHOOTING and SENSORY OVERLOAD to cut through the central stack, along with BARCADE.  This new grid layout necessitated the use of a lot of 3s, however—too many for my taste, but I thought the long stuff in the grid was worth the payoff, and I tried to keep the amount of abbreviations and propers in the short answers to a minimum.  I hope solvers enjoy.

Editor's Comments

Andrew J. Ries, aka the master of stagger stacks, is back with another of his signature offerings!  MISERY INDEX, JAMES CORDEN, and LET 'EM HAVE IT are all fun, lively entries with a sprinkling of unusual letters for extra zip.  But perhaps the most amazing thing about this puzzle is how Andrew squeezed in four additional top-notch 15s:  AFTERNOON PAPERS, MANDARIN ORANGES, TROUBLESHOOTING, and SENSORY OVERLOAD.  Andrew even made the midlength fill sparkle with bonuses like CHA-CHA, LOWBALL, JETLINER, BARCADE, and I DIG IT.  Sure, there may be a few more 3s than usual, but the puzzle as a whole impressed me so much that I looked past that.

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